One of the benefits of having your Grand Aunt (Grandma’s sis) stay with you for a few days is that you get to experience some of the cooking traditions that may have fallen by the wayside. My Aunt Helen is with us this week and yesterday she cooked us up a batch of Fried Oatmeal.
As the story goes, my great grandmother Magdalena was a wonderful cook. She was also one of those cooks who didn’t like to share recipes (guess she wouldn’t be a fan of food blogs) but thankfully her daughters managed to cajole the dishes out of her in her later years. Apparently in the Great Depression my grandmother and her sisters were fed a lot of oatmeal and frying it up was a way to make it seem like you weren’t eating the same old, same old.
Aunt Helen says that the traditional way is to use steel cut oats and make “real”, old-fashioned oatmeal for the base of this dish. But she didn’t have that the other day – she only had quick-cooking modern packets of Quaker oats in the cupboard. So she used that instead (I love this family trait!) and it tasted just as good, if not better. I’m betting the texture is different with the old fashioned oats, but if you’re in a pinch try this one instead. Fair Warning: this is one of those loosey-goosey types of recipes, so my measure-everything types should look away…
Fried Oatmeal (modern version)
* Several packets of instant-cooking oatmeal in various flavors (regular, raisin & cinnamon, maple & brown sugar, apple). How many you’ll need depends on the pan you have to fill and the number of people you’re feeding. Having an assortment adds more flavor to the dish and the raisins add a nice texture.
* Butter or margarine
* Maple syrup or jam
The Day Before You Want To Eat (or several hours before you want to eat)
Put the packets of oatmeal together on one bowl. Mix up the flavors. Boil enough water that each packet of dried oatmeal is accounted for, then pour the boiling water into the oatmeal slowly in batches. You don’t want this oatmeal to be runny or too wet because it’s going to need to set into a solid block when it chills. Pour the oatmeal into a loaf pan and put the pan in the fridge overnight or for several hours until solid.
What you’ll end up with is sweet and soft on the inside, slightly crispy on the outside. Perhaps you’d like to add jam, maple syrup, or some crunchy nuts on top. Create your own family tradition. I’m so glad I discovered this one from mine!