Thursday, January 6, 2011

I Am Not Lazy #4: My Oatmeal

I am writing this post for 4 reasons. A) I haven't written a recipe post in awhile. B) In a dramatically ironic plot twist, I actually have been sort of lazy lately (or at least busy), and it's going to be a bit before I get another "real" post done, so this is one I can write fairly easily to tide over my rabid fans. C) I have had numerous* requests and inquiries concerning how I make my own oatmeal, and why am I here if not to respond to the demands of my readers? D) I am in New York City for Christmas, but the Blizzard of 2010 is preventing me from doing typical new York things like get pushed into piles of trash and interact with the locals. There are literally cars abandoned in intersections with five feet of snow piled around them. All the airports are closed. The trains aren't running. People are roaming wild in the street. I expect a phone call from my employer any moment telling me that there has been a coup, and I, a lowly member of the steerage, now have a key role in the revamped ruling class, at least where accounting office politics are concerned. Hey, we all have to dream about something...


Anyway, you may recall that, in my very first post over a year (!!) ago, I mentioned that I make a large pot of oatmeal on Sunday night, which I then divide up into little containers that comprise my breakfast for the rest of the week. I'm now going to walk you through the rather boring process. But there will be quips!

Ingredients, complete with pictures, for you visual learners out there (like me!):
  • Oats. Lots of them. Note the following: I use the quick oats as opposed to the old-fashioned ones, because they taste better (I think) and are, obviously, faster to make. I don't have four minutes to waste just to make my oatmeal old-fashioned. If I wanted to waste time being old-fashioned, I'd be writing this on Internet Explorer (ho ho ho!). I also use rolled as opposed to steel-cut oats, also for time and taste purposes, as well as monetary reasons, as steel-cut oats are generally more expensive, and I'm a middle-class Midwesterner. Along those same lines, note that I also use generic oats. I buy them from Jewel, Target, Wal-Mart, wherever. I've tried Quaker, and I've discovered that an oat is an oat, and I won't be sucked into paying extra for the name. Finally, I get the largest container they have. I am not here to fool around. This usually runs somewhere around $2.50. (Consider this picture a spoiler of what is to come.)
  • Brown Sugar. None of this white sugar nonsense (vomalom). And certainly none of this artificial sweetener poppycock (double vomalom). Don't even try to cheat with brown sugar Splenda. Brown sugar and real brown sugar only. I guess raw sugar is great too, if you don't want to be too exclusive. (You know what brown sugar looks like. Please see above.)
  • Cinnamon. Lots of it. As you will see, I definitely splurge on the expensive stuff. I mean, come on, it says "Fine Spices From Around the World" right there on the label! It might be from Canada!

  • Vanilla. A recent addition to the ingredients list, so this is hot-off-the-presses gossip. I've only started using this in the last month or two. I'm not too particular on the type of vanilla, though I will note that the artificial stuff is generally nast. Probably worth it to get the real stuff. Currently I'm using vanilla that my old roommate JH brought back for me from Mexico, and it's pretty good stuff.

  • Water. Apparently Chicago's tap water contains all sorts of helpful things, so you can't possibly hope for your oatmeal to come out as flavorful as mine, but don't let that get you down.
  • Salt is optional according to the directions, but I never use it. If you do, I'm silently calling you a sissy over the internet. And shaking my head at your impending heart attack.
Once you have assembled all of those key ingredients, it's time for the magic. I make four servings at a time because the back of the oats container gives proportions for one, two, and three servings, so in a stroke of genius, I double the two servings proportions. I have never tried to figure out five servings (so hard), so one day a week I am left at the mercy of either instant oatmeal or picking up something along the way to work. I use these sweet Pyrex containers, because I reheat them in the microwave in the morning, and I'm not keen on cancer.
  1. Boil water. 3 1/2 cups. I have never read How to Boil Water, so who knows, maybe I go about it all wrong. Don't trust me on this one. However, I DO know that when you make more than one serving, you really shouldn't try to use the microwave. Sorry. Man up and learn how to use that stove. This is what boiling water looks like. I think.:

  2. Add 2 cups of oats to the boiling water. It makes a delightful sssssshhhhh noise.

  3. Reduce the heat to medium (This is optional. I usually forget, and obviously my oatmeal is still stupendous. The directions might even say reduce the heat to low. What do they know?) Let the oats cook, stirring frequently for one minute. A bit longer won't kill anyone. And you really do need to stir, especially if you neglect to turn down the heat, or it'll overflow. Take a look at this. I know, right, YUM!

  4. Turn off the heat. Not a picture, of this, sorry, but if you get stuck on this step and need a picture, email me, and I'll get you one.
  5. Add brown sugar. How much, you ask? Well, usually I am paranoid about following recipes, but for whatever reason, this is the one time I don't. I usually just proceed like so: And now my secret is out--I have fat fingers.

  6. Add cinnamon. If you're a normal person, probably a teaspoon or two. If you're me, you add a lot. And then you add more.

  7. Add vanilla. Again, I just kind of dump some in. The amount you need can really depend on the quality of the vanilla.

  8. Stir. (Note that this is not me. Plaid oppresses me.)
  9. Taste!
  10. Burn your finger and tongue. They will be healed by approximately Wednesday. Curse.
  11. Determine oatmeal needs more of something. Usually more vanilla and cinnamon in my case.
  12. Add more.
  13. Dump into containers. Because of the goopy nature of oatmeal and my extreme uncoordination, I usually end up with this: plops on the table (that would be a great name for a band).

  14. Lean over and lick spillage directly off of table because it is so warm and delicious.*
*Did I have you fooled? I swear I at least have the decency to wipe it up with my finger and then lick my finger.

Now, while I use cinnamon and vanilla 95% of the time, in the past I have used peanut butter, Nutella, pumpkin spice, a nutmeg/allspice/cinnamon combo, M&Ms, dried fruit, and almonds. You can experiment if you like, but keep in mind that it will be a few days before you eat some of it, so fresh fruit is not really an option. Unless you are David Sedaris's dad. Final result: delicious!

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