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Steel-Cut Irish Oatmeal, Pumpkin Pie Edition (Stove-top method)

You’d never guess from the 17 boxes of cereal in my pantry, but I am not a big cereal fan. My pantry is where cereal goes to die. A lot of us were raised to think of cereal as a healthy start, but in actual truth, it may be one of the most heavily processed foods that you consume in a day. I’ve posted before about my aversion to factory made food. As corporations wield their immense wealth to lobby lawmakers, my distrust of food made by a corporation that considers itself to be more accountable to its shareholders than its customers continues to grow.

But I digress.

Mornings are turning cold, and even though I am naturally awake before 5:00am most days, and like it that way, even I am beginning to struggle with getting up and running in the mornings when bed is warm, and the rest of the world is not. 5:00am is very early to have to face food, but my schedule doesn’t allow me the luxury of time in the mornings. While I have an amazing pit crew who routinely gets up and makes a hot breakfast for my son and me, even on mornings when he doesn’t need to be up until much later, and prefers the convenience of cold cereal himself, I thought I’d give him a break this week, and cook ahead, since our schedules will see little overlap, with me out early in the mornings, and him out well into the evening. What prompted today’s recipe We had planned a trip to Maryland this weekend, but plans were canceled due to the combined threats of hurricane and flooding on the coast, so we consoled ourselves with a day trip to western New York. It may be October on both sides of the border, but holy SMOKES Americans take their pumpkin spice season seriously! I found pumpkin spice mini-wheats, pumpkin spice frozen waffles, pumpkin spice candy corn, pumpkin spice pumpkin seeds, Kit Kats, Oreos, nachos, salsa, coffee creamer, pop-tarts, coffee, cookie butter… the list goes on. I love pumpkin anything, but as much fun as the gimicky prepared stuff is for an occasional treat, I still can’t bring myself to make any of it part of my family’s regular routine. But all the pumpkin stuff got me thinking about what I can do at home, with simple ingredients that have had minimal factory processing, and still get my pumpkin fix. I make all kinds of things at home, but I like to begin with things that are as close as possible to the form in which they were grown/raised/harvested, and take it from there. I have neither the acreage, nor the talent to grow and mill my own oats, and already had pure, plain pumpkin puree leftover in the freezer from another recipe, so that was my starting point.

Irish Oatmeal, Pumpkin Pie Edition

What

3 cups water
1 cup milk
1 cup steel-cut oats
1/4-1/3 cup pure pumpkin puree
pinch salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or poudre fort if you like a bit more punch- I blend my own, and that’s what I use. Recipe below)
1 tsp butter
2-4 tablespoons of real maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Raisins, nuts, shredded coconut, diced apples, dried cranberries whatever blows up your particular kilt, in whatever proportions do it for you.

How

In medium saucepan, bring milk and water just to a low boil. Milk will scald and smell like feet, so don’t overdo it. Reduce heat to low and add the oats. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in all other ingredients, and continue to stir, cooking on the lowest heat you can, until desired thickness has been reached. I like oatmeal thick enough to stand a spoon upright in, but it’s a matter of personal taste. Serve in small bowls or ramekins, topped with cinnamon sugar, chopped pecans, more raisins, or whatever appeals, and enjoy a house that smells fabulous, and the sensation of eating pumpkin pie for breakfast.

Enjoy

This keeps well in a container in the fridge. I make it by the bucketful so we can just scoop and microwave whatever amount is wanted on busy mornings.

Poudre Fort

This is a re-creation of a medieval spice blend that has become one of the first things I make every fall, and then spend the cold months adding it to pretty much everything. It has the same general aroma as pumpkin pie spice, but the addition of pepper gives it an extra kick. It is gorgeous blended with raisins, pumpkins, apples, and pretty much anywhere else that you might use cinnamon. This recipe comes straight out of ‘A Feast of Ice and Fire‘, the superlative Game of Thrones companion cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel & Sariann Lehrer.

1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon long pepper or grains of paradise (optional)

Combine all ingredients and store in a small, airtight bottle.

Or if you’re me, quadruple the batch, and keep it in a mason jar.

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