Spiced Oatmeal: Edible Morning Mush


I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’ve had some pretty decadent meals recently.

(And you haven’t even heard about the roasted foie gras with a candied almond crust or the pasta tossed with truffle oil and topped with Oscietra caviar I recently devoured at Gunther’s in Singapore.)

My own kitchen, however, is where I can right some of these delectable wrongs.

And I’ve chosen to start with breakfast, a meal that I usually skip. Well, unless it involves eggs and super-crispy bacon. And perhaps a stack of pancakes. But I digress …

Now, having read about the virtues of oatmeal as a cholesterol and fat fighter, I decided to put aside my years-long aversion to the morning mush and take the plunge.

But how to make it palatable? That was the trick.

I tried fresh blueberries and raspberries. Nice, but still rather blah.

I considered just putting aside my old-fashioned rolled oats and buying some of those flavored, sugar-loaded instant oatmeal packages but, thankfully, sense prevailed.

And then I was flipping through a new cookbook by a former colleague of mine at The Baltimore Sun, Sara Engram. Sara, who left journalism and founded TSP Spices, which sells organic spices in user-friendly small packages like one-teaspoon packets, recently co-wrote a cookbook sharing her favorite spice-spiked recipes.

And, there in her “Breakfast” section, I found the oatmeal recipe I’d been looking for.

The recipe is super easy — i.e. not requiring some overnight soak of oats like some recipes do — and definitely doable for harried morning cooks. (That would be me.)

It calls for a melange of dried fruit (I used a combination of dried cranberries and raisins) and a cocktail of spices (I did cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, allspice and a sprinkling of nutmeg). After a few minutes of boiling and stirring, breakfast is on the table. And it’s a delicious one, at that.

Now, I know what you’re thinking — this girl has to turn to a cookbook to teach her how to make oatmeal? Well, I suppose I may need more help in some areas than most cooks. 

And hey, if you’re going to have to eat a bowl of sludge for breakfast, I’m all for any recipe that actually makes it taste good.

Enjoy …

Quick, Spiced Oatmeal

(From “The Spice Kitchen: Everyday Cooking With Organic Spices” by Sara Engram & Katie Luber with Kimberly Toqe.)

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (raisins, dates, cranberries perhaps)
  • 1 teaspoon ground spice (you can use cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, anise seed, cloves or a combination of these spices)

Serves 2

In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the water and salt to boil over medium heat. Add the oats, dried fruit and spices and cook, stirring occasionally, for five to seven minutes, or until the oatmeal reaches your desired consistency. Serve with milk, if desired, or add a touch of brown sugar or maple syrup if you like it a little sweeter.

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