Old Fashioned Oatmeal

"Nana, please can I have oatmeal today?"
"Are you going to eat it this time?"
"Yes, I promise."

My nana passed away when I was seven, yet I remember these conversations like it was yesterday. There wasn't a special recipe handed down. All she did was mix packets of Quaker instant oats with boiling water. Not the image most would imagine of an Italian nana but she was busy working in a factory a few blocks from her Brooklyn apartment making hair notions, so instant oatmeal was an easy hot breakfast. My sister used to love the apples & cinnamon flavor and I since I so wanted to be like her, I would ask for it too. Then the bowl would arrive, steaming hot and I knew there was no way I could eat it. Guess I knew from an early age that pre-packaged food wasn't for me.

Nana would be happy to know, though, that oatmeal has become one of my favorite ways to start the day. Steel-cut oats have their cult following, and while I do enjoy them, there's something about old fashioned oats that leave with a smile and full belly. I especially love serving it with a drizzle of steamed milk and fresh fruit or jam, like the strawberry one in the picture above (recipe to follow this week).

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Old Fashioned Oatmeal

Serves 3 to 4

This hearty breakfast is quick, easy and inexpensive—especially if you buy oats in the bulk food section of the supermarket. I like mine with a hint of sweetness, hence the teaspoon of sugar. Leave it out if you like, and of course feel free to add whatever topping you like. A dash of cinnamon, chopped nuts, maple syrup, and jam are just a few ideas to get you started.

 2/3 cup regular oats (not quick cooking)

1 2/3 cups water

1 teaspoon sugar

pinch of salt

Add ingredients to a small pot. Cook over low heat until oats are soft and a creamy consistency, about 10 minutes. Keep covered if not serving immediately to avoid a "skin" from forming on top of oatmeal.