improvements (oatmeal)


Before we were married, everyday for breakfast my husband would mix quick oats with boiling water and just a bit of brown sugar. It was terrible – bland and mushy. At least he was eating healthy. But oatmeal doesn’t have to be bad.

The first trick is to toast the oats. Do it. Every time. It’s so much tastier. This recipe uses just a bit of butter to toast the oats on the stove, which I know makes the uber-healthy oatmeal just a tad less healthy. But one time I used quick oats to weigh down a blind-baked pie shell, and later on, those oats made some very tasty oatmeal. So no matter what kind of oats you’re using and how you toast them – get them toasted!


I also like to use steel-cut oats. The resulting oatmeal has a texture more like hot tapioca pudding than a bowl of mush. They do take a lot longer to cook, relegating this recipe to a weekend morning. But what better way to start out a weekend than this filling and warm bowl of goodness?

Oatmeal (from Cooks Illustrated – no changes)
Serves 3 to 4

One thing to note – if you don’t make a full recipe, you’ll want to use a bit less liquid and a tad lower temperature.

3 cups water
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup steel-cut oats
¼ teaspoon table salt

1. Bring water and milk to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, heat butter in medium skillet over medium heat until just beginning to foam; add oats and toast, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until golden and fragrant with butterscotch-like aroma, 1½ to 2 minutes.

2. Stir toasted oats into the simmering liquid, reduce heat to medium-low; simmer gently, until mixture thickens and resembles gravy, about 20 minutes. Add salt and stir lightly with spoon handle. Continue simmering, stirring occasionally with wooden spoon handle, until oats absorb almost all liquid and oatmeal is thick and creamy, with a pudding-like consistency, about 7 to 10 minutes. Off heat, let oatmeal stand uncovered 5 minutes. Serve immediately with brown sugar or maple syrup.


  1. Connie says:

    Steel-cut oatmeal can be cooked the night before and heated in the microwave, making it quite possible for weekday breakfasts.