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The Lost Art of Oatmeal

Winter Solstice 2023

This morning, I made oatmeal for breakfast. I’ve been known to eat oatmeal for dinner, or even an early lunch (or late breakfast). I don’t really believe in brunch. I don’t engage in hybrids, which lack a true identity.

It occurred to me that making a good bowl of oatmeal is a lost art, at least in America. I’m not sure that other nations have taken much of an interest in preparing what was known during my childhood as porridge. The term is Scots in origin.

The Irish make steel-cut oatmeal over there. I tried, Lord knows I tried cooking it. An hour later, the stuff was still hard. Boiling rice is easier. The cans, however, were real collector’s items. I see that there is now an instant version of McCann’s Steel Cut Irish oatmeal, in maple and brown sugar, Non-GMO and gluten-free so Mother Nature can be trusted by the paranoiacs.

I was prompted to create this essay by the image of William Penn on the corporate Quaker Oats cylinder shown in my essay “The New Normal” for the California Winter Solstice 2017.

So much has changed since then!

Bill Penn has gotten at least one appalling facelift, and forced into wokedom, which was a heinous act of aggression perpetrated by the peace-freaks upon a true pacifist. His Quaker aphorism, peddled by penny-pinching globalists, was:

Nothing is better for thee than me.

That saying also got a facelift, in 2020, reworked into: Rules for thee, but not for me.

I’ve accordingly updated my foodstuff choices. I now use old fashioned rolled oats from Bob’s Red Mill.

Bob is another matter. In 2021, when other (profitable) online businesses decided to ditch the brick-and-mortar shelf-life, Bob (whom I consider a bit of a curmudgeon) stopped online sales from his website.

Go figure. Cause it doesn’t add up to me.

But back to the art of making morning oatmeal.

During the time when I lived in the Rental Dump, awaiting the construction of my Dream House, I confronted the truly awful awfulness of living in an all-electric house. Cooking on a glorified hot plate did not endear me to cooking anything. The steam-method of making oatmeal proved to me that the people who push any form of energy other than petroleum-fueled are miserable misanthropes of the lowest order.

Of course, they’re the minority, which is what makes Them the Elites, to whom no one listens anymore, if they ever did in the first place. Talking to yourselves in your haughty hot-air bubble is their contribution to the patriotic, nationalistic, God-fearing, individualistic, ingeniously constructive and resourceful American society they revile.

I say, Let them eat oatmeal, cooked on the electric burner!”

I’m so enamoured of archaic methods of cooking that I’d once asked Dear Husband to construct a cast-iron Kettle Arm in the fireplace of our Peach House when we were re-doing the old firebox (another vanishing part of a way of life in California, mandated out-of-existence for at least a decade now). He scoffed at me as being very unrealistic. That aspect is what appealed to me the most!

For truly creamy and nutty-flavored oatmeal, start with high-quality rolled oats. Bob’s Red Mill may have competitors in this arena, and I sincerely hope he does because you can’t count on any one non-globalist capitalist enterprise to survive the FJB years.

It is important to use a heavy pot. I use enamel-over-cast-iron by Le Creuset. Those pots (though not the cocottes) are, once again, made in France.

For one large bowl of the porridge, use 3/4 cup of the rolled oats. Add the same amount of cold water. This 1:1 ratio remains fairly constant, but atmospheric conditions in your kitchen greatly affect evaporation whilst the mush is cooking. I use a medium flame to start, then, when the mixture comes to a slow boil, I lower the heat on the gas burner to let the oats slow-cook.

Once the concoction has turned sticky, add enough 2% milk to your taste. Allow this substance to slowly heat, until it looks edible. Ladle into a bowl. I add some cinnamon and brown sugar, then top off the creation with a splash of whole milk.

If the ambient air is cold, and, in winter, it very well might be — place the bowl in the microwave for about 5 seconds on high. The microwave in my kitchen is used about as much as my cell phone is used in my daily life, which means I have only the most casual acquaintance with the device(s).

Sliced fruit, such as peaches, add a nice zing to this old-fashioned meal.

The art of making good oatmeal is not achieved over night, or even over one day, but, given enough practice, you can prepare oatmeal that would do William Penn proud!


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