Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Of breakfast, oatmeal (or porridge) and steel cut oats

My son is sitting on his chair having breakfast, sipping cold milk out of a blue plastic cup and spooning dry cereal into his mouth. He is chatting away, and often opens his mouth to show us the content and laughs happily when we make disgusted faces. Every once in a while he offers us a cornflake and we gently refuse, thanking him.

My eyes flit towards the clock on the oven.


We are tired, we want to go to bed.

My son doesn't usually have breakfast that early. And no, we usually don't let him eat cereal in the wee hours of the morning.

Let me turn the clock back a couple of hours. My son screaming red faced and snotty, waking everyone  in the whole building except my daughter (thank goodness for that!). Me cradling him in my arms, trying to calm him. Him sobbing and pushing me away. 

He woke up the first time at midnight, crying. I went into his room, stroked his cheek and gave him his pacifier and went back to bed. When I had just fallen asleep he started crying again. Up I got, stuffed the dummy back into his mouth and left. He has been doing this a lot lately, he sometimes has bad dreams or wakes up and is afraid of the dark. The third time he woke up crying I found him sitting in his bed. He said his ear was hurting.

I took him into our bed and tried to get him to calm down and sleep again, to no avail. Finally I remembered some drops I had in the medicine cabinet and put some into his ear. He was not happy and started crying even louder, turning his head and making the drops run out all over my pillow. He cried and screeched. He pushed and kicked. He wanted Daddy. Then he wanted Mommy. Then he wanted neither of us. When the drops didn't start working I gave him some paracetamol. It took a little convincing but it was hurting enough that he miraculously gave in. We waited and waited. And waited. There were more tears, more tossing and turning.

Then suddenly, in between tears, he told me he wanted to get up. So I stood up and held him in my arms, thinking the pain would perhaps diminish.

But no, he wanted to stand. And then, sniffling but calmer, he requested shoes.

"Your houseshoes?" I asked, with my fingers crossed. The thought of a tantrum to go out in the middle of the night made me sick to my stomach.


I gave a sigh of relief, went to get them and put them on him. Then he took my hand and said:

"Vieni Mommy. Come" and led me into the kitchen.

When I asked what he wanted to do he said: "Breakfast" . I told him it was nighttime but he insisted he was hungry and I remembered he hadn't had much at all for dinner.

So I gave him breakfast, because I realized he was probably really hungry. And because I wanted to avoid another crying marathon. And mostly out of relief because there was no more mention of pain.

So despite my son being up at 2:04am eating cereal, F and I were happy to watch him play and laugh and chat.

Thank you paracetamol.

Talking about breakfast, I have been on an oatmeal kick. Or porridge if you please. Made with steel cut oats. I only recently started using these because I've never seen them here and a relative sent me a care package. I know they are all the rage on the other side of the pond and most of you probably know how to make them, but some of you may find these simple instructions handy if you don't. I know I would have. I had to do a little research on the Internet before learning.

Also, just the other day a friend was asking me what porridge means. He had read a book that often mentioned it (I guess it was not translated?) and could not figure out exactly what it was. So this is for him too.

I make a big batch on the week end and then heat it up in single servings in the morning with a little semi-skimmed milk (but you can use anything from cream to coconut milk to anything else you fancy) and whatever else I feel like. The texture doesn't spoil, it actually turns creamier although keeping its toothsomeness.

Here are a couple of combinations I had recently.

Oatmeal with chopped up dried sour plums and Farm Candy ginger spice sugar.

Oatmeal with maple syrup, cinnamon and bananas.

Ingredients (roughly 4 servings)
1 cup steel-cut oats
3 cups water
1 tbsp butter
a pinch of salt

Melt the butter in a sauce pan and add in the oats. Let them toast for a few minutes, then pour in the water and add the salt. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Let sit on your stovetop for about 10-12 hours, covered. I usually do this the night before so they are ready to warm up with milk or other in the morning.


  1. You can't go wrong with oatmeal for breakfast, even if it is the middle of the night! I've been soaking my oats in apple juice recently then leaving overnight and eating the next morning with raisins, pecans, blueberries and milk. But sometimes you can't beat a hot breakfast :-)

    1. So wait, you soak them in apple juice without cooking them? Definitely want more info on that. I was jut thinking of blueberries as my next addition. Sounds delicious.

  2. Oh, your poor baby. What a tough night -- on him and you! You sound like a real saint of a mom. (And you've definitely earned a nap.)

    As for oatmeal, for some reason I've never been able to make steel-cut oats look or taste nearly as good as everybody else's does. I shouldn't give up, though -- maybe one more try...?

    1. More worried about the neighbors looks the next morning than a saint of a mom. Hehe ;o)
      I really think making a larger batch ahead of time makes them creamier when you heat them up again with some milk.

  3. Tough night for boy and parents! Remember those days! Glad it is over and you are indulging him!

  4. I will have to try your version because I never have good luck with steel cut oats, instead I usually resort for the quick cooking type. Porridge is a staple comfort food in our house, and me and my kids eat it for dinner sometimes (when my husband is not around)

    1. Let me know how it works for you. I used to use rolled oats too and will start again when my stash finishes. I agree, it is total comfort food.

  5. I adore oats of any sort. I am living many of these wild toddler experiences right now. It's the hardest thing in the world. Love and patience- and a way to vent....phew, hang in there.

  6. Having a toddler can be exhausting and they can sometimes bring out the worst in you after you have used up all the love and patience you can muster. It is tough. In the first 18 months you can just see first times parents wondering what all the fuss is about. I mean, once they sleep through the night it really isn't that difficult, right? And then come the terrible twos (and threes and fours with my first). Going through it while you are pregnant is even more difficult... it is so different from the first pregnancy, isn't it? You hang in there too. I thought things would never get easier and my daughter now is dream.

  7. What a long night you must have had and how exhausted you must have been the following day. I've had nights like that and you just have to run on reserves. Such difficult times but they pass! xx

  8. Oh dear, it sounds like it was a rough night all round! Glad to hear that it had a happy ending :) And I go through oatmeal phases-sometimes I just cannot get enough of them! This looks wonderful!

  9. sounds like an intense night! i don't have any little people of my own but I know it can be a big job with any sick people on hand. This recipe looks lovely either way. i'm glad to have found your blog and i'll be sure to pop over sometime again to see what you're cooking. feel free to drop by my web-home sometime! x

  10. I love oatmeal, but frankly, I've never tried Steel Cut Oats. They've just always sounded too time consuming for me - but after seeing these variations, I may just have to buck up and give them a go!

  11. Funny! I just bought two bags of steel cut oats and rolled oats last night. It's been so long since I've had them.

  12. What a night! I find oats and porridge have a soothing power of their own. It is true that porridge is not popular at all in Italy, and I've never seen steel cut oats as well. I have grown into it lately, and now it is my favourite breakfast.

  13. I love your starytelling. Always perfect and I always find myself nodding my head and smiling.

    I just rediscovered the joys of oatmeal when I was in, of all places, New York City - I met a friend of mine a couple of mornings at a café for breakfast and we got the oatmeal. Heaven! It reminds me of winter Sunday mornings of my childhood. Yours looks fantastic!


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