For those of you following the Practical Cook on Twitter, you know I love Mark Bittman. Even more, I love that he’s been picking a fight with the 1,000 pound gorilla that is McDonald’s, with their new oatmeal offering. Because they find a way to supersize everything and give it an acronym. Who wants some more FMO?
For the Practical Cook, oatmeal is a kitchen staple. It can serve as a hearty meal, an ingrediente secreto, or the star of the show in a dessert. One of the Practical Cook’s rules is to avoid the “hidden” brownie. In other words, if I eat a brownie, it should be a brownie, and not some fake-out instant oatmeal or yogurt that’s loaded with sugar. I want my Krispy Kremes to be caloric bombshells of Hot Now goodness, and my oatmeal to be healthy, not the other way around.
Without further delay, here’s oatmeal in three ways.
Morning Oatmeal Au Naturel
Step 1. Make some oatmeal. Try the stove, the microwave, whatever you like. Go for old-fashioned or quick, feel free to take on steel-cut or Irish, but please do not become reliant on the instant stuff without reading the ingredients. I fell prey to it recently during a late-afternoon trip with the Junior Practical Cooks. Learn from my mistakes.
Step 2. Decorate your oatmeal. Here are some options:
- Frozen blueberries and toasted pecans (microwave them on a paper towel for a minute or so, the flavor improvement is worth the trouble). Fresh blueberries work here, too, but the frozen ones cool down oatmeal quickly to an edible temp, a bonus during a hectic morning. Finish with some milk and a dash of maple syrup, honey, or brown sugar.
- Dates and toasted walnuts. Search for Medjool Dates in your store. They are in fact nature’s candy, and once pitted and chopped a bit, melt into oatmeal like little caramels. Walnuts provide a crunchy counterpoint, and there’s no needs for additional sweeteners.
- Dried cranberries and toasted almonds. (Noticing a theme here with the toasting?) A natural pairing, this combo adds a great sweet/tart/crunch punch.
Oatmeal as a Secret Ingredient
This ground has been fairly well-trodden by the Practical Cook. Try oatmeal in your Peanut Butter Powerhouse Snacks and All-Purpose Blueberry Muffin recipe. It’s an inexpensive and quick way to add whole grains, and it doesn’t have the same wheaty weightiness of whole wheat flour, if you’re not into that.
Oatmeal Cookies Recipe, Starring Oatmeal
For the big finish, cookies. This picture includes a turkey template. Pay no mind to it, you’ll be seeing it again in November. There is no call for turkeys in the springtime. And this recipe comes from the mom of a pro football player, proving that eating oatmeal will make you a professional athlete. (Note that the Practical Cook is fond of hyperbole and makes no claims to the truth of this statement.)
Measure and set aside:
2 cups old-fashioned (or rolled) oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional (the recipe says optional, the Practical Cook says not optional!)
Cream with a stand or hand-held mixer in a large bowl:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened but not melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
Slowly add dry ingredients to the creamed sugar mixture. Mix. Drop by 2 level Tablespoons (or bust out and buy yourself a cookie scoop and thank me later), or small walnut size. Do not press down. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 13-15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Try not to eat all of them at once. I dare you.
How do you like your oatmeal? Leave a comment, send an email, Tweet away, the hotline is open.
Coming up tomorrow, the Secret Art of Sandwiches: From Types to Presentation.