Okay, that’s it. Each day in October, as temperatures hovered in the 70s and 80s, I reassured myself that tomorrow would feel like fall. Well, maybe not tomorrow, but the day after that. Or the one after that. Or not at all.
But it’s November, people — stuff-your-face-with-turkey month — and I barely need a jacket. Don’t get me wrong; the weather has been wonderfully sunny and breezy, a refreshing 63°F, even. But it just doesn’t feel like I should be gearing up for pumpkin pie and cornbread stuffing.
I’ve been trying. I’ve made sweet potatoes and apple spice cakes and so many other “fall” dishes that you’d think I ate them cozied up beside a roaring fireplace. I guess I figured I could will the arrival of autumn weather. But alas, my efforts were in vain…
I will concede, however, that recently the mornings have felt like fall, with the crisp sort of air that turns the tip of my nose red and makes my eyes water. The first morning this happened, I was so happy that at least something felt fall-ish that I broke open my jar of steel-cut oats and made a big pot of oatmeal.
As far as I’m concerned, on cold mornings nothing beats a big bowl of hot cereal, and steel-cut “Irish” oatmeal is one of my favorites. Steel-cut oats come from the inner portion of oat kernels and have been cut into only two or three pieces. They have a nuttier flavor and chewier texture than the more familiar rolled oats, which are flake oats that have been steamed, rolled and toasted.
To make the naturally nutty flavor of steel-cut oats even nuttier, I toast mine lightly before cooking them. I figure if I am going to be warm and toasty, the cereal should be too.
So let’s go, Autumn, time to get down to business. This hot cereal will only fool me into believing it feels like fall for so long, and turkey day is just around the corner.
Toasty Steel-Cut Oatmeal
Note: Because they are thicker than rolled oats, steel-cut oats take longer to cook. One way to get around this is to soak the oats in the water overnight, but I’ve found that cuts down on some of the nuttiness the toasting step adds. I tend to make a big batch, divide the leftovers into individual portions, and reheat the leftovers with some milk for a quick breakfast.
4 cups water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup steel-cut oats (such as McCann’s)
Suggested toppings: Milk, cream, brown sugar, toasted nuts, maple syrup, dried cranberries, raisins, cinnamon, chopped apples, bananas — the possibilities are endless, really.
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan.
Meanwhile, as the water is heating, heat a medium frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the oats and cooking them until they are lightly toasted and give off a nutty aroma, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to over cook the oats; you want them to be nutty and toasty, but not browned.
Once the oats are toasted and the water has come to a boil, add the salt to the water, then stir in the oats, stirring until the oat/water mixture is smooth and the oats have just begun to thicken, about 30 seconds. Reduce heat and simmer the oatmeal for about 30 minutes, until all of the water has been absorbed.
Serve with whatever toppings you choose! My favorite is a simple mix of milk and dark brown sugar, but anything goes.
Yield: 3-4 servings