Last summer, Chris and I built our first bona fide (and, dare I say, AWESOME) garden. I was thrilled every day to open the curtains and see tomato plants that were 8′ tall, okra that reached the sky, enough peppers to reach around the world, basil plants like bushes… You get the drift. How did I make it 32 years without ever having an even remotely respectable garden?
With all of that produce, I quickly realized I needed to learn how to can things. And so I did. Thanks to the Internet, the “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving,” and “Canning for a New Generation,” it is now a new year and we are still chowing down on such delights as honeyed green cayenne peppers, pickled banana peppers, bruschetta in a jar, green tomato relish, bread and butter pickles, and green tomato salsa, made almost entirely from ingredients we raised from seed last April (oh, the babies!).The garden did something else to me, too – I mean, in addition to turning me into a giddy, canning, obnoxious five-year-old, jumping and clapping her hands upon the discovery of every newly formed piece of produce. It reaffirmed in me a strong desire to know what my food looks like when it’s growing… to know where it comes from… to understand what goes into it.
Basically, it made me want to know what the heck it is I’m putting into my stomach.Around our last harvest (above), I carried this thinking over to the most fantastic of meals (breakfast, of course) and started looking for options that a) can be harvested locally, b) don’t have any ingredients in them that I can’t pronounce or picture in my mind’s eye (YES, oats; NO, disodium hydro-wtf-icide), and c) are easy and fast to make.
And I found it! Drum roll please: I give you…. the STEEL CUT OAT. Yes, yes, this meandering post has really been leading up to one thing: a record of my new-found love for the small but mighty steel cut oat. I mean, really – your breakfast could potentially be a single ingredient (if you’re boring and don’t like to add delicious things like brown sugar, dried cranberries, or walnuts to your oatmeal, that is). If you buy them at the farmers’ market from a cute little Amish girl like I did, you even satisfy the “local” part of the above food requirements.
The best part? Steel cut oats normally take FOR-EVVVV-ERRRRR to cook, but not with this recipe. From the Bitten Word (my stomach thanks you, Bitten Word!):
OVERNIGHT STEEL CUT OATMEAL RECIPE
1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats
6 cups water
1/4 cup walnuts, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, or other fancy oatmeal toppings
- In a large saucepan, combine the oats and water. Bring to a boil, and boil the oats for 1 minute. Cover and let stand overnight at room temperature.
- The next day, uncover the oats and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the oatmeal is cooked and creamy but still a little bit chewy, about 10 minutes. Spoon the oatmeal into bowls, top with your oatmeal-accoutrements of desire, and sweeten to taste with brown sugar.
- If you want to make it ahead, the prepared oatmeal can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Rewarm in a microwave oven and thin with water if necessary before serving.