Oatmeal, Oatmeal and More Oatmeal
I won’t admit it but some might think I’m somewhat of an oatmeal snob. You know, you’ve heard people being wine or car snobs but a snob dealing with oatmeal?
Mind you, over the last few years, I’ve begun to crave good oatmeal. Because of my schedule, cooking it every day can be too much of a burden. Especially if we’re talking about the slow cooking oats. Weekends are best to indulge – one typically has more time to experiment so the choice is between the slow cooking or quick oats.
My main oatmeal includes raisins and cinnamon and often I’ll add those prior to cooking and subsequently. Sometimes, I’ll add OJ or apple juice as a sweetener. My experimentation with oatmeal can take me to many different places. If variety is in order, I may add vanilla and walnuts or sliced almonds to the mix. Sliced bananas can add an interesting flavor and consistency although that inclination will only be done if the bananas are perfectly ripe.
Typically, my oatmeal is quick thick – that way, it gives me an excuse to experiment further by adding some vanilla flavored soymilk, almond milk or yogurt. The soy or almond milk adds some sweetness so I’m not too worried about brown sugar or honey at this point. Sometimes, I deviate away from soymilk and may add coconut milk. If the preference is sans milk, my oatmeal is typically a thinner consistency. For taste or consistency, I might use honey, brown sugar or Truvia as a sweetener. Agave is another option to add some sweetness. Organic strawberry jelly or raspberry jelly adds consistency and lots of flavor.
When the peaches begin to be harvested in southwest Michigan, there’s nothing compared with adding ripe, juicy, sweet peaches to my thick oatmeal. Of course, other fruits in season may be appropriate: apple pieces, blueberries, strawberries and oranges.
In winter, when good fresh fruit is hard to find, dried fruit play a key role. This includes raisins, Craisins, dried cherries, apricots and whatever else I can find.
I never tried Reese’s oatmeal, you know, adding peanut butter and chocolate, preferably to a thicker based oatmeal. Once you imagine it, it’s only a matter of time before oatmeal takes on a very interesting chocolate peanut butter flavor.
Quick oats or slow? Organic or not? Does oatmeal taste better the day after like cold pizza can?
When I’m traveling, I may have a little more time to enjoy breakfast. The key criteria regarding a hotel is a good breakfast included in the price. You might be in a strange city and not know your way around or the weather is bad so being well satiated early in the day is key.
There are two hotels in The Villages that I’ve visited over the last several years. Both hotels were conveniently located, friendly and clean and competitively priced. The only significant difference was the breakfast. My preference is the Comfort Suites, $5 more per night but their breakfast buffet was quite a good value – especially the oatmeal bar. The raisins were nicely displayed and they didn’t stick together like someone was in a hurry to get the breakfast displayed for those grumpy guests. Their brown sugar was loose and smooth enabling visitors to easily handle that light sprinkle over their oats. The oatmeal was thick and at the same time, not too thick where it was difficult to handle. Comfort Suites also included walnuts as part of their oatmeal station and at $7 per pound, suggested to me they excelled at breakfast, in particular, at the oatmeal bar. Definitely customer centric.
Across the street, the Holiday Inn included oatmeal for breakfast, although one needs to be careful when a hotel mentions oatmeal. Unfortunately, this hotel came in the individual packets of Quaker Oats, of course, individually sweetened and a fresh start to a new day wasn’t the first thing that came to mind. The hot water was close by and I tried it the first day and the taste indicated to me that I will not be back to this supposed oatmeal bar. In lieu of their inferior bar, I choose raisin bran with skim milk. Each day, I’d grab my coffee and then looked for the fresh oatmeal only to quickly realize I chose the wrong hotel.
My first three hotel criteria is location/security, overall value and a good breakfast (which of course includes a great oatmeal bar). Finding a good breakfast virtually guarantees my day will start out right.
Now seriously, am I an oatmeal snob?