Monday, January 14, 2013

The Garden in Winter

Although the garden is now dormant, much beauty can be found there during this time of year.

Stone wall

Tree shadow




Magnolia buds

Stone bench


Garlic chives








Cozy perch

View from my study

Favorite slippers

Mornings in January, oatmeal is a common breakfast in our house--the old fashioned kind, not quick oats or single serving "oatmeal" with all kinds of added junk. Just traditional, organic rolled oats cooked in milk and topped with pecans and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

Recently Chris and I have been seeing a lot of steel cut oats around, also known as Irish or Scotch oats or, back in the olden days, as porridge. It seems to be kind of a fad right now, so we decided to give it a try. The oats are not rolled, but instead are whole grain and cut with a steel device. I 'm not sure what the significance of steel is, as opposed to another metal, but this is what they look like:

Their nutritional value is no different from rolled oats, but the texture is quite different: they're much chewier and denser. The flavor is nuttier too. They're also slightly less processed than rolled oats and more filling. I spooned the same amount in my bowl as I usually have of rolled oats and couldn't finish it. Another difference is that they take a lot longer to cook--more than twice as long as rolled oats. Here's how they look when finished and drizzled with maple syrup:

Overall, we prefer the flavor and texture of rolled oats, but steel cut oats are worth a try. At the very least, they'll transport you to the kitchen of Downton Abbey, for all of you fans out there, although it's most likely not what would have been served to the Crawleys.

Steel Cut Oats

3 cups milk (or water)
1 cup steel cut oats
Maple syrup

Bring the milk to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Add the oats and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover the oats and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until the oats have softened.

Remove the oats from the heat and let sit, covered, 5 to 10 minutes more, or until they have the chewiness that you prefer. Top with a drizzle of maple syrup.


  1. Hi,
    Bob's Red Steel cut oatmeal is a favorite in our house but we haven't yet tried with pecans. Can't wait to try. Also, for busy mornings, we prep the double boiler the night before with all except the skim milk so breakfast makes itself while everyone hustles for the morning dash.
    Love your blog ~

    1. Hi Francisca, Thanks for your note. Will have to try Bob's Red Steel Cut Oats. We just used ones that I got in bulk at the Coop. Good idea about the double boiler--will have to try that too!