Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Taking Time to Smell the Oats

After our recent 10-day vacation in the Netherlands and Belgium on a Viking River Cruise (, I've been craving the steel-cut oatmeal they served on the ship. I enjoy the five-minute type oatmeal at least once a week at home, but it doesn't compare to the Irish style of oatmeal.

I tried to cook it once before (after a trip to Scotland) and decided it was too much trouble to cook. When I mentioned this to an Irish friend here in Georgetown, Texas last week, she said she prepares a large batch and stores the leftovers in the refrigerator. When you're ready for more, all you have to do is warm it up. That made it sound feasible, but I stayed with my five-minute style.

Then, the April 15, 2013 issue of Bottom Line/Personal (, a newsletter I read regularly talked about cooking steel-cut oatmeal in a rice cooker. In the article the author mentioned soaking the oatmeal overnight to speed up the cooking time. My desire for the oatmeal I had enjoyed every day on the ship grew.

Yesterday, while shopping for groceries, I picked up a box of McCann's Irish Oatmeal ( and checked the cooking instructions. It mentioned a short-cut method. By boiling for a minute and storing overnight in the refrigerator, the cooking time is reduced from 30 minutes to 9-12 minutes. I bought the box and tried it.

Wow! It was even better than what I had on the ship. I brought the water to a boil and added the oatmeal last night, let it simmer for two minutes (one minute seemed to pass too quickly), and then put it in the refrigerator until this morning. I took it out while having coffee and didn't start cooking it until an hour later. After bringing the oatmeal to a boil, I turned the burner down to until the oats simmered.

It seemed to stick to the bottom of the pan more than my regular oatmeal, so I ended up lowering the heat several times and stirring more frequently. By the end of the time, I was stirring constantly. When the consistency seemed right (about 12 minutes), I turned off the burner, added a little butter, covered the pot and let it set for five minutes.

On the ship they had walnuts, half and half, fruit, etc. I added only sugar.

The McCann recipe:
Boil 4 cups of water, add 1 cup of oats, stir well. When the porridge is smooth and beginning to thicken, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

This supposedly makes four servings with 150 calories each. I like a little more so I divided it into three servings at 200 calories each and stored away two of the servings for another day.

What's this got to do with writing? I've been so busy preparing the Kindle edition for my new novel, Love Lives On, I didn't have time to watch TV and get weather reports. Something happened here and the temperatures dropped from the 80s and 90s to the 40s. Perfect oatmeal weather.

Now, back to work.

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