Post by Alison Hein.
Thick, steaming grains are an elemental part of my childhood memories – my mother would place a piping hot bowl of maple oatmeal on the table before me. Then, with precision, I would add a thick pat of butter to the center, allowing it to melt slightly before carefully strewing clumps of brown sugar on top. I would watch the sugar melt and spread to form a thin, sweet crust. Not quite done, I would carefully push the cereal gently toward the center of the bowl, and pour a scant ring of milk around the edges. Only then was it time to dig in, making sure never to stir, but to aim for that one perfect, prized bite of oatmeal, butter, sugar and milk.
I still enjoy hot cereal on a crisp fall or winter day, especially if I’m planning a brisk walk, mountain hike, or other outdoor adventure. Wanting to limit my butter / sugar intake, I experiment with varying flavors. Sometimes I’ll cook my oatmeal with diced apples, raisins and a touch of cinnamon. Other times, I’ll add unexpected twists, as in this recipe for Coconut Oatmeal.
Old-fashioned oats have a creamier texture than the quick-cooking variety, and only take a few extra minutes to cook. Cover the oatmeal and let it sit for a few minutes before serving, if you like, to allow the oaty flavor to percolate and the texture to soften. I keep it light with coconut water (now available at almost any grocery store) rather than coconut milk – significantly fewer calories, but still a light, infused tropical feeling. You can pour a touch of coconut milk on top, as I once did, for a breakfast in bed that will make memories.
¼ cup coconut flakes
1 cup coconut water
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of salt
½ cup rolled oats
Preheat oven to 350°. Spread coconut flakes out onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 1 to 3 minutes, until they turn a light golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
Pour coconut water, vanilla and salt into a small heavy saucepan. Bring liquid to a boil. Stir in oats, and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until oats are soft and mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes. Spoon oatmeal into a bowl and top with toasted coconut. Serve hot.
Makes 1 serving.