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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Whole Grain Hot Cereal


I developed a strong aversion to oatmeal "mush" that was served to me as a young child, so strong that I didn't try hot oatmeal for breakfast for decades. In spite of enjoying oatmeal in other applications (such as a salted oatmeal cookie) it took an introduction to steel-cut oats to help me overcome my dislike. As I've tried to include more whole grains in my diet, I've tried variations and the following is one of my favorites. Check out the link for multiple ideas for gussying-up hot cereal.


Whole Grain Hot Cereal

Adapted from a recipe by cookbook author Lisa Yockelson, published in The Washington Post, called Hot Cereal Merry-Go-Round:
Serves 5

4-5 c water, divided
1/4-1/3 c maple syrup, to taste, or other sweetener such as brown sugar or agave syrup 
1/2 teas salt
2 teas cinnamon or 1 teas ground cardamom (Tom gave me and Betsy a spekulaas spice mix that is great here, too), optional
1/2 c old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 c rolled wheat flakes
1/2 c rolled spelt flakes
1/3 c miller's bran (also know as unprocessed wheat bran)
1/4 c brown rice farina (also known as brown rice grits or creamy rice cereal
3 T golden flaxseed meal (I've used brown)
3/4 cup dried apples 
3 large dates (such as Mejdool), pitted and chopped
2-3 teas vanilla, optional
1/2 chopped toasted nuts, any kind

Bring 3 1/2 c water to boil in a large saucepan. Add maple syrup, spice, and salt, stirring well. Sprinkle the grains and flaxseed meal into the boiling water, making sure all ingredients are mixed in well. (The original recipe suggests adding each grain separately which certainly is a good technique but when I just dump in the "mix" everything stirs in satisfactorily.)

Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then stir in 1/3 c water, adjusting the heat so the mixture bubbles gently. At this time I usually add the dates and apples as well.  Repeat  in 5 minutes with another 1/3 c water and then another 1/3 c water, letting the cereal cook 5 minutes between additions. (I usually find an additional 1/3 c water necessary or it is too thick.)

Remove from the heat and add vanilla to taste. Divide into bowls, top with toasted nuts and milk or cream and serve.

Notes from Colette:

Some of these ingredients will take some hunting, but it is worth it and once you've found them you can buy them in quantities and have them ready at hand. Here's a little shopping advice:

Almost all of the grains can be found in Whole Foods or other stores with bulk sections, such as Winco. I have substituted oat bran for miller's bran. Brown rice farina can be hard to find under that name, but look at the ingredient list on a box of hot rice cereal and it may say brown rice grits--that's the stuff. I've used Bob's Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills (Gluten Free Rice & Shine Hot Cereal). The first time I made this, I coarsely ground some brown rice using a small coffee mill and that worked, too.

I usually measure at least two batches of the dry ingredients at a time and freeze a bag of "hot cereal mix" to use next time.

I've also made this with ginger syrup instead of maple and topped it with crystallized chopped ginger. This is a recipe that is quite flexible and you can try your favorite flavors.

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