Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, aliens didn't abduct me, and I didn't get shanghied into a guerilla army in a small South American country.  Instead, I went on vacation with Danny and several other people, and holy crap, that was a butt-ton of work.  We went to New Hampshire for some spring skiing (and snowboarding!  woo!).  To keep costs down, Danny and I bought/cooked everything we'd need for a week of good eating.  Chili, curried chicken, cholent, lentil soup, meatballs and sauce, and my dad baked us a huge tray of ziti.  We relied on oatmeal for breakfast; fast, filling, and cement-like, it fits the bill for perfect pre-ski b-fast.

At this point in time, I would like to revise my opinion of oatmeal.  Since childhood, I have viewed this breakfast food as lumpy, mushy, gross, and only good for my cholesterol and bowel regularity.  It was something I'd come to eat when my cholesterol and bowel movements were of interest to me, hopefully in several decades.  However, I had a revelation.  After eating sweet oatmeal for like 4 days straight in NH, on a whim I decided to try it savory.  My grandma used to eat it that way for as long as I can remember, but for whatever reason I saw that as completely upside down.  Maybe because you can't put chocolate chips into savory oatmeal?  Sounds about right...  But anyway, I put a scraping of butter for flavor, some cheese, salt, and pepper into my bowl full of glop, stirred it up so the cheese melted, and lo and behold, it was not unlike the otherworldy cheesey grits my friend B. made one time.  She would probably die upon reading this comparison, but it did it for me, a Noo Yawka who just doesn't know any better.

I mean, melty cheesey delciousness that early in the morning?  The only thing missing was some hot sauce.  I think the key is to make oatmeal like Danny makes oatmeal, stir it and stir it until it's roughly the consistancy of mortar, and THEN add the cheese.  

I've been fantasizing over how this can be improved.  First of all, oatmeal and milk?  Dirt cheap.  Can't improve upon that.  Butter... well, I just use enough to give it the hint of flavor, but I could probably duplicate the creaminess with whole milk instead of the 1% we used.  And really, butter isn't completely necessary, so you could leave that out.  The cheese... well, we used munster which was great, but a good sharp cheddar would totally rock, jarlsberg would be lovely, gouda would taste great (maybe even smoked gouda?), and I will likely try this at some point with pecorino romano.  

Another addition that occured to me is a runny fried egg.  My aunt makes the best eggs ever, and I figured out how she does it!  She cracks them when the pan is still cold, so they cook very slowly and gradually, which gives the bottoms enough time to get crispy.  Then she puts liberal amounts of pepper, paprika (obv, not the hot one... but this reminds me that I need to get my hands on pimenton, the smoked variety which I bet would blow my face off because it would taste so good), and dried basil on top, and cooks them just until the yolk begins to set.  I would love one of those babies on top of my oatmeal.  Hellz yes.  

Maybe I'd put some sauteed greens with garlic or thawed spinach between my oatmeal and egg too, come to think of it.  The more I think of it, the better it sounds.  This is now morphing from a one-dish breakfast to a brunch/lunch/dinner dish.  For the non-kosher among us who like to go whole hog - literally - why not add some crumbled bacon?  

Trust me, you'll be full until dinnertime.