I spent my early childhood growing up in Wisconsin. I probably do not need to mention this, but the winters in Wisconsin are rather chilly. I was young so other than having to bundle up, I do not have too many bad memories of the frigid days between Fall and Spring. In fact, quite the contrary. I loved playing in the snow; making snowmen, igloos, and snow angels. I remember sticking out my tongue to get my fair share of new fallen flakes, but the food of winter was even better, if not novel. Warm rich stews, lots of baked goods, and hot cereal in the morning were a staple in our house. My favorite piping hot breakfast was cream of rice. My mom would take the time to make sure there was not a lump in my bowl with the exception of the brown sugar jewels that exploded in my mouth without warning. The ewey gooey blending of that same sweet nectar with melting butter was almost more than I could bare. And the splash of milk that helped to keep the porridge from giving the gift of sandpaper tongue was spot on. My mom knew exactly how I liked it and made sure to recreate it that way each and every time she made it. This may have been out of necessity though as she had her hands full with five of the pickiest eaters I know…at least at the time.
Since then, we have all broadened our culinary horizons, some more than others, but one thing that I wold have never eaten as a child is now part of my breakfast repertoire: oatmeal. As a child, the lumps would have been a deal breaker. But recently, I stumbled upon seared oatmeal while out to breakfast at a local breakfast cafe. It was being served with browned butter and sage. After having, I went home and scoured the internet for possible recipes/proportions. I found more than a handful, but the most important ingredient seemed to be the use of steel cut oats, NOT old fashioned. From there, I was sort of on my own as I was looking for a certain consistency and size. On my first attempt, something amazing happened. As I took my first bite, I was rushed back to my kitchen table in about 2nd grade, alternating between watching my mom cook breakfast, making faces at my sister, and looking out the window as the snow gently covered the sidewalk in a blanket of white.
This seared oatmeal is not only comforting on a nostalgic level, but in my belly, too! I get all warm and fuzzy while eating it and it satisfies my stomach so much so that I do not end up with any mid-morning grumbles you know where. And what’s more is that it is so easy to whip up; making eight portions that store well in the fridge. Once you have it down, you don’t even need a recipe, but here it is as quick reference:
- 1 1/2 cups steel cut oats
- 2 cups of vanilla coconut milk
- 2 cups of water
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- a pinch of salt (to taste)
- a dollop of vanilla paste
Simply add all the ingredients into a medium pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. And cook for 20 to 30 minutes until thickened up and the oats become tender. While the mixture is simmering away, prepare an 8″x8″ square pan by lightly greasing and covering with parchment paper. I leave two sides with extra paper so that I can use as a way of pulling out of the pan. Once thickened, pour into pan and let cool. Once cool, cover and refrigerate. Once solid, I take out of pan and cut into four squares and the each square in half diagonally in order to make triangles. Store in baggies based on servings. I put two in bag; one for me, one for hubby.
I like to do this all the day before and then in the morning, I simply pull out a Baggie, turn on the burner, add some butter, and add the oat triangles to the pan when up to proper heat–a bit over medium in this case. Sear on each side and serve.
The butter browns as it cooks the oatmeal and really adds a great flavor, so I do not suggest substituting. You can fry off some sage to crumble on top which is amazing. Other options include mint, tarragon, or any other herb that you think goes both ways–sweet or savory. You could also sprinkle brown sugar or powdered sugar on top or drizzle with pure maple syrup. Really the possibilities are endless.