Sunday, January 16, 2011


I had some odd eating habits at a kid. Who am I kidding? I have some odd eating habits now. I've kicked some of the stranger, unexplainable remnants of my childhood through my efforts to stop eating junk (hello bacon bits on cottage cheese ... don't ask, but it was a staple) but some remain or have experienced a limited evolution.

I never really liked oatmeal, except in one very specific preparation. I would eat Quaker Instant apple and cinnamon from the little packets. Only apple and cinnamon, nothing else was acceptable. Still, the texture and consistency of properly prepared instant oatmeal completely grossed me out, so I would make what I called oatmeal balls. I would use the tiniest amount of water possible to create minimal binding (I'm talking teaspoons) and stir the oatmeal so the little bit of mositure created a solid lump of oatmeal that really ended up rolled in dried oats. Any excess water so that the concotion was even remotely stirrable and the whole thing went right into the garbage.

I still don't like stirrable oatmeal and it's a dish I could never order at a breakfast joint for that reason. I do, however, recognize that a nice cup of oatmeal is a good, hearty breakfast and, even better, it's something I can prepare at the office. I'm not the type to be hungry when I first wake up, and I don't spend too much time in the house in the morning before jetting off to work, so breakfast has always been a challenge for me.
After lots of experiementing, I ended up with this basic solution: In one of the little disposable cups by the office coffee machine, I sprinkle in a bit of instant oatmeal. The 5 grain cereal I keep in my filing cabinet was an accidental purchase and it is not instant. The microwave instructions are bullshit too - it explodes on me every time. So now, lest I waste it, I add just a little bit of the 5 greain to the instant oatmeal - maybe a 1:5 or 6 ratio. That way I'm getting some of the whole grains, flax seeds, etc along with the lower quality instant oatmeal. Then a scant handful of trail mix, nuts, raisins or whatever of that ilk I happen to have is tossed in. Sometimes I add a touch of salt if the nuts/fruit won't supply it.

I very carefully stir the mixture (yup, there are dried oats on my office floor as we speak....) and walk back to the coffee maker for just a shot of hot water. I suppose you could actually add the appropriate amount of water, but then it's just really oatmeal with toppings stirred in, right? I much prefer my dense, grown-up oatmeal balls. Hey, it's keeping me away from pastry and bagels.

1 comment:

  1. I was always an apple and cinnamon oatmeal girl, too! I still use the instant packets on mornings when I go to the gym, but at home I've branched out to making my own mix starting with fast-cooking Quaker oats. I stir 1 c of milk into 1/2 c of oats and microwave for 2 minutes, stirring at the 1 minute mark. After cooking I mix in some cinnamon, vanilla or almond extract, sliced almonds and dried fruit (usually craisins, golden raisins, blueberries, or cherries). Delicious and ready in less than 3 minutes. That picture of the bowl of fruit is making my hungry!