Denise Day Spencer

January 13, 2007

Steel-cut oats

Filed under: Home Front — denisedayspencer @ 2:26 am

Well, I survived my special day noting half a century of life so far. Everyone was very good to me. No depression yet. But I do find myself wondering, nontheless, what the coming years will hold.

I’m speaking, of course, about oatmeal.

I previously mentioned that Michael gave me a couple of really cool birthday gifts. One was three bags of assorted organic bread flour. It seems that while he was ordering my present, Michael decided to get a little something for himself: a bag of steel-cut oats.

My husband has been on an oatmeal kick lately. He had been a patron of Quaker rolled oats, and had been experimenting. Water vs. milk? Brown sugar or white? How much margarine? Which pan to cook it in? He had pulled recipes off the internet. (Yes, there are oatmeal recipes on the internet.) He had chatted with other oatmeal enthusiasts. (Yes, there are oatmeal enthusiasts.) I guess it was one of them who told him about the joys of steel-cut oats.

So Michael’s latest thing is preparing this chewier cousin of the rolled oat in a crockpot. He sets everything up the night before, turns the pot on “low,” and has a ready-made hot breakfast waiting for him in the morning. It seems a bit odd to me to have to wash a big crockpot just for one cup of oatmeal, but I’ve learned not to argue too much with Michael when he’s in the excited phase of a new fad. And he’s definitely excited about oatmeal these days.

That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? At our house we’ve rounded the corner from “middle-age crazy” and are placidly plodding onward toward “senior bland.” My husband isn’t buying a new red sports car or taking hang-gliding lessons. He’s making oatmeal. I’m grateful–really I am! It’s just that I can’t help but wonder what will come next.

You see, I find myself remembering Michael’s father, including Dad’s many digestive ailments. As he got older he had more inward upsets, and being a smart man with nothing better to do, he began a quest to figure out which foods bothered him. This soon extended to not only which foods, but in what form. Dad became obsessed with food preparation. His theory was that the smaller each individual piece of nourishment, the easier a meal would be on his stomach.

Now it’s one thing for a person to decide to cut his steak in smaller bites, but Dad carried his plan to the extreme. He began dissecting edible items to a point of near infinity. Michael’s mother did her best to be tolerant and supportive. But when he began putting his Rice Krispies into the blender, even Mom thought he had gone over the edge. I mean, how big is a Rice Krispy to start with? She confided to us when Dad wasn’t listening, “He grinds them up ’til they’re just dust!” and shook her head as she walked away.

So I’m afraid to ask where we may be going with this oatmeal thing. This morning Michael left me a hefty portion of steel-cut oatmeal in the crockpot. He’s still trying to figure out how to alter the instructions to make enough for just one person, and until he gets there I’m enjoying the leftovers. As I poured the porridge into my bowl, though, it looked more like rice soup than oatmeal. I had to doctor it up and cook it a bit more in the microwave to thicken it. I didn’t want to start my day like Scrooge eating his pitiful bowl of gruel by a cold hearth. (I’m frugal, but not that frugal!)

At lunch I told Michael that he needs to perfect his recipe. He didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. “It was way too watery,” I explained. “Didn’t you think it was too watery?”

“Well, you have to strain it,” was his response. “I strained mine.”

“What?!” I cried. “You’re not supposed to have to strain oatmeal!”

I became aware of a sinking feeling deep inside; this does not bode well for our future. Now what do I have to look forward to? Pureeing “Cream of Wheat?” Counting grains of rice?

Or…maybe sometimes a bowl of steel-cut oats is really just a bowl of steel-cut oats. At this point, I sure hope so.



  1. […] Denise is blogging about my oatmeal habit. The persecution never ends.   This entry was posted on Friday, January 12th, 2007 at 9:31 pm by Michael Spencer and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. šŸ™‚ Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site. […]

    Pingback by The Boars Head Tavern » Blog Archive » — January 13, 2007 @ 3:05 am | Reply

  2. I met with Brad the other day to talk about the meeting that I had missed. Afterwards we just shot the breeze and he asked, “So is your dad on any new kicks lately?” I had to think for a second because my mind was genuinely blank. Then it hit me. “Oatmeal!” After a short story, Brad responded with “… Wow, that’s funny.”

    Comment by Clay Spencer — January 13, 2007 @ 3:35 am | Reply

  3. He may be stuck on oatmeal, but his constipation issue is all cleared up!!! hehe Be sure to post any of the great oatmeal recipies…

    Nice post Denise!

    Comment by Dennis — January 13, 2007 @ 7:20 am | Reply

  4. Sorry.

    Comment by Derek — January 13, 2007 @ 7:44 pm | Reply

  5. The absolute best oatmeal that I’ve ever had is Snoqualmie Falls Lodge… the FAQs link from the manufacturer tells about it and has a recipes link:
    In addition to having great oatmeal, the pancake & waffle mix is fabulous!

    Comment by Malu Lani — January 16, 2007 @ 8:04 am | Reply

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