mercredi 1 mars 2006

A paragon of virtue and health.

Sadly, it just doesn't photograph well.

As part of my new endeavours to lead a slightly healthier lifestyle (mass drinking aside), I've started making oatmeal for breakfast when I have the time. No, not those nasty packets of instant oats that are mealy and look like the lint found underneath your couch and just gross. No, proper steel-cut oats, which apparently are all the rage these days.

Now, McCann's, which you can find at Trader Joes and other supermarkets, is the most well-known name brand when it comes to steel-cut oats, but shh! You can buy them in bulk from Whole Foods for $0.99/lb $1.09/lb (highway robbery!), which is just surprising - there's something at Whole Foods that's cheaper than other supermarkets? Sure, it doesn't then come in a pretty can, but you can make do, can't you? (Or, you can be me and find a nice tin to put them in so that your aesthetic kitchen sensibilities aren't offended - and so that you don't have an accident where your oats spill everywhere because you didn't close the bag tightly. Not that that's happened, because the oats reside in a tin in my cupboards. I believe in preventative measures).

One of the previous biggest deterrents, with regards to cooking steel-cut oats, is that I heard you had to cook them for something like 30-40 minutes, which is an eternity in the morning if you're like me and want something to eat rightaway. But then, I found out that was just false! No, you can cook steel-cut oats in approximately 10 minutes, which is about how long it takes to scramble eggs (if you do them the way I do, over low heat) or to hard-boil an egg.

In essence, what you need is the proper ratio of water:oats, which is 4:1. For me, I cook 1/4 c. oats, which then uses 1 c. of water. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it's plenty, at least for me.

I toast the oats with about 1 teaspoon of olive oil. You can tell when they're toasted - there's a nice oaty smell, but beware, because they burn easily. I suppose you don't have to toast the oats, but it's a quick step. Then I add the water and let it boil all furiously, stirring occassionally, until it's the consistency I want, which is on the thicker side. I don't know whether this is the proper way to cook oats or not, but it works and is fast, and that's all I really need. And that's it!

I'm a big texture person when it comes to food, and I've found that steel-cut oats, cooked this way, are in fact not mushy, but a little springy in the mouth, which I like. And they're absolutely nothing like those nasty instant oatmeal packets.

Of course, it's not oatmeal if you don't add something to it, and I've been experimenting with mix-ins. I really like butter and brown sugar, but it makes the oats almost too decadently rich (not that I have a problem with this). Maple syrup, raisins, and salt are nice also. I need the balance of sweet and salty. In my opinion, it doesn't really matter what you use as topping for you can still feel all virtuous, because HEY, you're eating oatmeal.