Friday, December 19, 2008

The Trials of Breakfast

I have the feeling that cooking steel-cut oats shouldn't be as much of a trial as it seems to be for me.

Ireland has subsisted off this breakfast dish for hundreds of years, probably, at least a very long time.  Other countries have likely done at least as well.  My friends, I know for a fact, can cook it handily, without incident.  I seem to be mystically disempowered to render a suitable portion of it.

The worst is when I follow the instructions.  In the microwave, the center of the bowl stays mushy and al dente while the rim of oats toast to a hard crust that defies scrubbing.  In a saucepan, all the water boils away and leaves the aforementioned hard crust coating the entire pan.

Someone suggested that I try a rice cooker, and I happen to have a polite little autmoatic number in my possession.  One of my friends derides it as the rice cooker that fails to cook rice, because once I was hosting a dinner party and loaded it up with rice and water and it didn't cook it promptly.  Of course rice is not a prompt dish, but it seemed to take an especially long time, like, three times as long as rice in an automatic rice cooker should take.  I couldn't argue with him about this, but I've used it successfully on other occasions and feel no stronge need to trash it in favor of another model.

But it does a fine job on steel-cut oats.  Half a cup of oats, one cup of filtered water, and one good twist of the salt grinder prodces a reasonable bowl for breakfast.  I've tried it with vanilla syrup (merely okay), raspberry syrup (delicious), and today I added a couple shots of Glogg.  I love the taste of Glogg but it doesn't work so well in oats.  It needs another fluid to carry it out without interruption, like club soda or vodka.

So today is the second day in a row I've enjoyed not-terrible steel-cut oats, thanks to the rice cooker.  If I got out more and saw people I'd probably have something else to talk about.

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