09 February 2009

Feeling Your Oats

I'm not sure how it happened, but over the years my concept of oatmeal went from stuff you cook in a pot to instant stuff that looked like cardboard poured out of a paper packet and nuked (microwaved). When I was younger, I bought all raw ingredients and made my own baked granola. And from that I evolved into artificially flavored microwave oatmeal? How did I let that happen? The heavily advertised packets promised a vast array of exotic and comforting flavor sensations, but all ended up strongly flavored and tasting artificial. The more flavors I tried, the less interest I had. Eventually, I stopped eating oatmeal completely.

Tae loves porridge, which is what most of the English speaking world calls oatmeal. I like natural and organic and as close to basics as possible. So, I eventually stumbled on Scottish oats when looking for a healthy, basic product to make for her.

Scottish Oats are stone ground and retain the germ, the oil, and the fiber. The indigestible parts are discarded, and everything else is in there. Although there is probably a microwave recipe for them, they don't take all that long to cook and the difference is amazing. Cooking from scratch takes me about 8 minutes, and most of the time, I'm not involved. I dare you to try this properly cooked Scottish porridge alongside your favorite flavored microwave artificially flavored totally processed oatmeal and do a 'taste test'. You'll be eating Scottish Oats and loving it.

The two variations of oats we normally buy are one of these listed next. Although we prefer the Barry Farms oats, we get oats from whichever vendor we are ordering from next.

Barry Farms (our preferred)
Purcell Mountain Farms

Since my oat-eating daughter is vegan, I'll give the vegan recipe here that I make for her regularly. But you can easily substitute another liquid and another sweetener as you wish.

This recipe makes 1 large serving or enough for two if you are adding fresh fruit and flax meal, and all that healthy sort of thing. We actually use this as 1 serving for a human, plus leftovers for our dog, Juno. We'll eventually talk about the dog, but suffice it to say that she is mainly vegetarian and considers herself a true four footed gourmet. And she LOVES this porridge... When Juno needed ear medicine and hated getting it, a little bit of this oatmeal bribed her into not only allowing the medicine, but had her begging for ear medicine...

Toasting the oats before cooking them adds another dimension of flavor. Don't skip that step.

Scottish Oats

1/4 c Scottish oats
pinch salt
1 c almond milk
1/2 t agave nectar

Heat a 1 qt non-stick saucepan over medium low heat.

Add the oats. Toast the oats for a minute or two until they start smelling nutty.

Add the salt, almond milk and agave.

Raise heat to medium.

Using a large spoon, mix the oats and liquid together. You can whisk it together if you wish to eliminate the lumps.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.

Simmer for about 6 minutes, stirring regularly. If you like thinner oats, stop sooner, if you like thick oats, cook a few minutes longer. As in risotto, the more you stir, the creamier your oats will be. At the minimum, stir enough to keep the oats from sticking or burning.

These oats make a filling breakfast and taste great. Add fruit, flax, yogurt, whatever to them. But try them and you'll be a convert.

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