(The photo above I cropped from a fine photo shot by Julia Adamson, who lives near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Thanks, Julia!)
These days I eat a bowl of hot oatmeal every morning. I prefer “old-fashioned” oats, rather than the supposedly “quick” oatmeal, which I’ve always suspected comes from oat fragments swept up from around the rolling machines which flatten the oat groats. Old-fashioned oats don’t really take that much longer to cook.
Over the years I’ve experimented with many variations of the basic porridge. Of course sugar and milk are traditionally eaten with oatmeal, but there are all sorts of other additives which can greatly enhance the rather bland taste and texture of plain old oatmeal.
Many years ago my ex-wife Betsy and I noticed that a bowl of oatmeal wasn’t quite enough to keep us going until lunch. At about ten or eleven AM hunger pangs would strike. “Hmm..” I thought. “It probably needs more protein and fat”. We tried adding about one-quarter cup of raw wheat germ to the pot. Actually we started out using Kretschmer toasted wheat germ, a Quaker Oats product which comes in a jar. Then we noticed that raw wheat germ was less than half the cost per pound at a Mennonite bulk-food store not far away, up in Scotland County. Raw wheat germ has an unpleasantly raw taste when eaten straight, but cooking it with the oatmeal cooked the oil, I suppose, and it really enhances the taste and staying power of the porridge. Raw wheat germ can also be lightly toasted in a dry frying pan for use on boxed cold cereals, which also don’t have much staying power.
The next variation became a favorite of mine. I assume Betsy liked it as well, but she gave me quite a bit of leeway if I got up early and made the oatmeal before she got up! I’d lightly grind a small handful of raw unsalted sunflower seeds in a small ceramic mortar and pestle and add the fragments to the pot. Sometimes I’d peel and dice one-quarter of an apple and add it to the mix. I still do that. A sliced banana topping on a bowl of oatmeal is a welcome variation from time to time. A dollop of butter is good too, either cooked in with the oatmeal or applied afterwards.
I learned another cereal technique from Betsy’s father Chris, a shoe-store proprietor who grew up poor in the Missouri Ozarks. He would top oatmeal with a handful of commercial boxed cereal. A box of ridiculously over-priced cereal would last a long time used in that manner. His Depression boyhood made him a thrifty soul.
Look again at the photo at the top of this post. Have you ever seen a breeze wafting across a field of oats? Each seed dangles loosely from a thin and limber stem and the slightest breeze causes delightful waves of movement across the field, reminding me of wind blowing across water.
A sublime sight!