Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Good Hot Breakfast

This was something my mother believed in with all her heart and soul, and I ate one every morning of my childhood. And always…no matter what else was served…there was oatmeal. Not the instant or quick-cook stuff they have today, but the real thing. Steel-cut 100% whole grain Irish oats. It took a long time to cook and the first thing in the morning…before she started the coffee…she put the pot on to boil.

My earliest memories of coming into the kitchen first thing after I got up was the smell of oatmeal simmering and gently bubbling on the back burner. In the true Scottish fashion, it was eaten with butter and salt. No sugar or milk.

Yesterday I ventured to Whole Foods to purchase McCann’s Irish Oats as I had a down-home hankering for that “good hot breakfast” again. Cooked in the old-fashioned “keep an eye on the pot on the back burner” tradition while I fed the dogs and tidied up the house. But I cheated a little.

My friend Richard in Minnesota sent me some maple sugar he distilled from the sap he obtained from tapping his maple trees. It just cried out to be on the oatmeal and so instead of salt, I had a delicious maple taste. I also used a butter substitute that is reputed to be “heart healthy.” But my mother would be happy. It was a good hot breakfast. And to top it off, afterward I made my bed. Another tribute to my mother.

And then I scrubbed the oatmeal pot. I can still see Momma standing at the sink doing that morning chore. It is comforting to continue this tradition sixty years and half a continent away from my childhood.


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