This past week; it seems winter has arrived. The temperatures have dropped well below freezing, snow has fallen (not enough to plow), and our entire family has become horribly sick.
Just now we are starting to break through the illness, which is a relief to finally see the other-side to this horrible virus. Opening up the shades on Saturday morning, we discovered ice on the inside of our windows and the temperature was at -10 degrees Fahrenheit. I opened up the dampened down wood cook stove from the night before, stoked the red coals, and added new wood to bring it back to life. We quickly began to warm up the house. Our hot breakfast was actually made the night before and was waiting for us in the morning.
For breakfast, we decided to have homemade oatmeal. Our oatmeal recipe is from scratch, extremely easy, but definitely not typical. We created our recipe from two different books. Both books are an excellent example of cooking from scratch, cooking off grid, and conserving resources.
“Time needed for cooking [oatmeal]: Cereal products have a naturally delicious flavor, although not pronounced, which is brought out by long slow cooking, and the right proportion of water and salt. Long slow cooking used to mean four to six hours, but manufacturing process have cut the time considerably – to fifteen or twenty minutes in the case of some of the fine grained wheat products, and even three to five minutes for partially cooked cereals. However, a longer cooking only improves them.” (Berolzheimer)
Being off grid, the art of slow cooking can happen several ways, but for cooking oatmeal over six hours, our best solution has been adapted from another personal favorite book in my collection, Sailing the Farm by Kenneth Neumeyer. This book is a great asset for anyone wanting to live off the grid. Kenneth Neumeyer puts his ideas into practice as he converted his sail boat into an ocean going farm to live indefinitely away from humanity, until the loneliness brings him back to port. Great book!
“A thermos will hold heat for hours while it gently softens proteins and starches into forms the body can more readily assimilate. Valuable vitamins and enzymes are much less likely to be destroyed by slow cooking than by boiling for an hour. Besides saving fuel, you save your health” (Neumeyer).
Our recipe is simple, we preheat a wide mouth 24 oz. themos by Stanley by adding boiling hot water. We then dump the water out and add 1 cup of rolled oats into the wide mouth thermos. We then bring the water back to a boil on our wood cook stove and pour 2 cups of the hard boiling water over the rolled oats in the thermos. We add a 1/4 a teaspoon of salt and stir the entire contents with a large stir stick we have. We then seal the thermos tightly, and since it is the last thing we do that evening, we retire for the night to wake to gently cooked and very flavorful oatmeal. The oatmeal has a pleasant consistency throughout. A person can add more hot water to thin if desired. We all individually add our own toppings to our oatmeal for taste. We all top our oatmeal with a nice helping of butter and brown sugar. My son and I like dried blueberries. My wife and son both add milk, but my wife differs by not adding dried fruits.
This last Saturday, we really enjoyed our oatmeal for breakfast. Being sick this past week, it was nice on a queasy stomach, and it felt good on a sore throat. The house was warm and toasty, and the warmth of the oatmeal only brought more comfort during this below freezing day.
Berolzheimer, Ruth, ed. Woman’s World Cook Book. Chicago: Consolidated Book Publishers Inc., 1939. Print
Neumeyer, Kenneth. Sailing the Farm. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed, 1981. Print.