It has come to my attention that much of the world is Doing It Wrong. This is the obvious conclusion from the many supermarket shelf-feet of misguided “Instant”, “Quick”, and “Flavored” products. Oatmeal porridge done right is a fine start to any day; but like many of the best things in life, you can’t hurry it up.
What you want is a big bag full of basic oatmeal. The controversy over Rolled vs Steel-cut is lively; supermarket stalwart Quaker offers both. I’ve actually noticed more flavor variation between one brand and another of rolled or steel-cut than between the two in general. And I think basic Quaker Oats are just fine. Currently we’re working our way through a bag of Anita’s Organics old-fashioned, which is OK, but I think we’ll veer back to something steel-cut next time; variety is good.
[The Quaker Oats label suggests major minor-religion branding opportunities. Visualize these labels: Unitarian pancakes, Pentecostal pickles, Sufi pistachios, Shinto nori, Animist corn chips.]
Cooking makes a difference. Lauren checked in Deborah Madison’s massive Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and came up with all sorts of variations including overnight slow-cookers and double boilers.
My Approach · I think plain old boiling water and time are what you need. You boil the water first, fling some salt in, then the oats. Between 2 and 2½ parts water to one part cereal, depending how thick you want it. Your porridge isn’t going to be ready for a half hour or more, so this isn’t a good option for rushed weekday mornings.
While it’s cooking, you squeeze some citrus fruits (organic grapefruit for me, but tastes differ), send the kid down to the store for whipping cream, and start the coffee.
When it’s ready it’s not an undifferentiated mass; rather, the individual oats are clearly visible. Dish ’em out, spoon the darkest brown sugar you can find (Demerara or an alternative) on top, pour whichever mixture of cream and milk meets your fancy over that, and enjoy with that fresh-squeezed juice on the side, and coffee to follow.