Monday, February 23, 2015

Monday Food Post - Slow-cooker Steel-Cut Oatmeal - 6 to 8 servings

This recipe made a whole lot of oatmeal.  I am trying to put some healthy meals on the table, which includes breakfast.  Back in the day when I was a child and it was a cold, damp and miserable day, Mum always put a nourishing bowl of porridge on the table.  It was one of our favorite winter breakfasts, literally did warm you up from the inside out.  

There were days walking to school when we could not see a hand in front of our face. Those were the days of 'smog' and we would walk one behind the other, just like you see how elephants do it now, hanging on to each other's tail in single file, except that we would be hanging on to a piece of clothing.  
(I found this interesting article on smog.)  

I grew up in an industrialized area of England and could hear the whistle of the factory just down the road, to announce the beginning and the end of the working day. I have no memory of what it made or even what it was called, but it wasn't too far from Brunswick Park near the railway track.  We were living in a house owned by the constabulary.  Dad, and you may know if you've been following my blog for a while, retired as a Detective Inspector with the Staffordshire Police Force.   Those police houses are now privately owned and I think the factory was torn down years ago.  I don't believe it is as industrialized now.  Maybe our English blogging friend Valerie from Mixed Bag can educate us, as she lives not too far away from where I grew up.  

"Back to me porridge".  I got the recipe here.  I made this a little while ago and put it on the night before I knew it was going to snow (January 26th, 2015).  

Slow-cooker Steel-Cut Oatmeal - makes 6 to 8 servings

Unsalted butter

8-1/2 cups water
2 cups steel-cut oats
1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk or 1-3/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Total time: 10 minutes, plus 7 to 8 hours cooking time.

Coat the inside of your slow cooker with a thin layer of butter.

Add the water, oats, coconut or whole milk, brown sugar and salt. 

Stir to combine.

Cover and cook on low until the oats are cooked through and creamy, about 7 to 8 hours.

Stir in the vanilla and serve immediately.

What did we think of this recipe?   One of us gave it a thumb's up and the other didn't.  Gregg wasn't a fan.  It's not everyone's cup of tea I know.  In all fairness he has never liked oatmeal/porridge but it doesn't stop me from trying, when it's been long enough between fixing it, especially if I'm in my 'but it's so good for you' kick."  I know he's teasing me but he actually said he feels like Oliver being given gruel and made me laugh as he lifted his bowl up and said, "Please sir, can I have more?" then quickly took it back knowing I would actually give him more.  "Nuh-uh, no thanks", he said.

Don't worry folks, in another couple of years I'll try again.

If you are curious what gruel actually is, like I was, I found this here.

"Here's a simple recipe for flour gruel:

2 teaspoons of flour

1 teaspoon of salt

Boil one cup water.  Separately, drip water on flour and salt until it makes a paste.  Add the paste to the boiling water.  Stir to a semi-fluid consistency.  Strain to eliminate film.  Serve warm.  

Did orphans really eat it?  You bet they did.

....they contracted with the water-works to lay on an unlimited supply of water, and with a corn factory to supply periodically small amounts of oatmeal, and issued three meals of thin gruel a day, with an onion twice a week, and half a roll on Sundays.

Charles Dickins,

Oliver Twist"

I enjoyed my bowl of porridge but next time would cut the recipe in half as I will be eating this for breakfast several mornings.  Which is fine but even I like a change and I have always been a little too frugal to throw good food away.  Actually, the second time I tasted it, was even better than the first.  I measure out a cup of oatmeal, reheat and then added half a cup of blueberries and a drizzle of home-grown honey that my father-in-law's cousin's gave us a few weeks ago.  It was so yummy.  

I often say this I know but I love my crockpot/slow-cooker.  Steel-cut oats takes a while to cook.  I am not firing on all pistons first thing in the morning, so having it all ready to go when you get up is great, for those of us who like porridge that is.  Also definitely a nostalgia food for me.

You can make short-cuts in calories I'm thinking.  Lower-percent milk or non-fat coconut milk, and spraying the inside of the crockpot with cooking spray rather than butter.