Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Get It While It's Hot!

The past few years, Joyce and I have slowly developed a new habit on cold winter evenings--specifically, Saturday evenings--more specifically, Saturday suppertimes. Steel-cut oats. We often buy them in bulk at Mustard Seed Market, filling a plastic bag from one of those dispensers that work with such efficiency that you can have a bag of oats as heavy as a bowling ball if you're not careful. Bob's Red Mill also produces it in cellophane bags. We can--and do--get them at our local grocery store.

On Saturdays, about noon, I put two cups of steel-cut oats and six cups of water (and a pinch of salt) in the CrockPot, set the device on Warm (not High, not Low), and by supper time (5-ish), the oats are perfect. In our bowls we mix in some other things. I like some walnuts and raisins and honey; Joyce prefers maple syrup to the honey--but likes the other additives. Hot, filling, nutritious ... all those good things. And we get to feel so virtuous afterwards--the way you feel after you work out--or read a classic novel--or see a Shakespeare play.

The other night we were talking about oats (why?), and we started reminiscing about the hot cereals we ate as kids. Joyce remembered eating Quaker Oats (Akron had been home to the mill--her ancestors had worked there), and I remembered a far more complicated story in our house. Each of the five of us (Mom-Dad-Dickie-Danny-Davi) had a different preference for hot cereal, which my dad would fix for us on cold mornings. But there was no way he was going to prepare four or five different breakfast cereals. So we alternated--at least until we got old enough to fix an alternative ourselves. I--lazy soul--did not really do this often, but Dickie did.

Dad's and Mom's favorite was Quaker Oats--so we had that the most often. I remember there was another product, too--Mother's Oats. I just this morning learned that it had begun as a separate product, but Quaker bought the company in 1911 and offered that product side by side with its own. Anyway, our toppings in those days of long ago were just sugar and milk. Dad, by the way, always called it UT-meal because he had heard someone say that years ago.

Dickie preferred Instant Ralston, a whole-wheat cereal that I didn't care for. To me, it tasted ... dusty? Like eating grass? And besides, if older brother Dickie liked it, then it had to suck, right? He would also stir in some wheat germ, which to me sounded as if he were inviting a infection of some sort. I mean, germs are bad, aren't they?

My favorite was Cream of Wheat--Dad called it "farina:--that white, pasty cereal that I haven't eaten in more than a half-century. I loaded it up with sugar and milk, though, and loved the stuff. I think I put brown sugar on it sometimes. I remember that it formed some kind of little crust on top when it cooled.

Davi liked (I think I remember?) both oatmeal and Cream of Wheat--though I don't think he cared for Instant Ralston, either.

There were other cereals that we tried. Maypo, for example, a maple-flavored oatmeal that was popular back in the mid-1950s. I loved their TV commercials. Here's one via YouTube: "I Want My Maypo!"

There was also something that Dad called "corn meal mush"--I think another name is "polenta." We didn't have it very often, but I kind of liked it--and now that I know what it is (and know that Bob's Red Mill makes it), I may have to give it a whirl (so to speak). Dad would also make cornmeal pancakes ("corncakes," we called them) sometimes--though he far preferred buckwheats. My grandfather Osborn had liked corncakes, and so did my uncle Ronald (Grandpa's son). Dickie still makes them now and then; I used to--but haven't done so for years.

Oh, by the way, Joyce and I never eat all the steel-cut oats in one sitting. I usually have the leftovers at a supper later in the week--so I get to feel virtuous twice during the week. And who can set a price on that?

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