I believe that a bowl of oatmeal porridge with apples and honey or maple syrup, topped with either yogurt or nuts/seeds makes a perfect morning meal, easy, cheap, green, and balanced.

I detested oatmeal until I was 49 years old. I mean my throat closed if I even thought about eating it. This started at junior Girl Guide camp, where we were served porridge that came in a sharp-edged gelatinous pile of hard lumps and slime. I did a month-long Buddhist retreat in California in the fall of 2001. Every day at breakfast I watched silent, happy grownups gobble up huge bowls of smooth hot porridge laced with various condiments, including yogurt, dried fruit and nuts. After a couple of weeks (maybe the two when we fasted after lunch) I wondered if maybe I was wrong about oatmeal. Needless to say, I soon became an insufferable evangelistic convert.

I went home and to my local health food store, Waterloo's Eating Well, and asked Eileen if she knew how to cook oatmeal so it wasn't lumpy and slimy. She corrected my usage, pointing out that the word is mucilaginous. She suggested that porridge could be made smooth by soaking the oats overnight before simmering them in the morning. I experimented for years, often boiling over an oaty froth while I meditated or cooking a hard mess onto the bottom of the pot. Eventually I arrived at the perfect method: overnight in a slow-cooker. Three cups of large flake oats (I do buy organic these days) and a teaspoon or so of salt in a 4 quart slow cooker. Add water till it's an inch or so from the top.  This is not a science. You're going to refrigerate and reheat most of it, so you can put more or less water on the bottom of the reheating pot.
Turn on LOW overnight. Stir it well in the morning – there will be a stiffish layer on top.

On subsequent mornings I put a little water in a small pot, dice an apple onto the top of the oatmeal and cover the pot, reheating it on LOW.

I like to sweeten it with my neighbours' maple syrup, or sometimes honey and put a dollop of my homemade yogurt on top.

The batch below was cooked on the stove (stirring often or constantly) with raisins after soaking overnight. If you don't own a slow-cooker, that's the way to get smooooth porridge.

On a hot summer day I just put 1/2 cup of large flake oats in a bowl with a handful of raisins and a spoon of maple syrup, cover with boiling water and let sit till the water is absorbed. It's a bit chewy, tastes great with my canned peaches and yogurt on top. No weekly batch, no dirty pots, less electricity, all good.

Reader Tom Ashcraft likes millet for a change. His instructions and comments were worth a whole page.

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