I know the young and perennially fresh will disagree with me, but this clichéd standard is true: what goes around comes around.
Oh, and the second non-earth-shattering revelation? We eventually morph into our parents, no matter how much we scream, flail about, and drag our feet. Yes, all of us.
This thought occurred to me as I was contemplating a Sam’s Club sized container of oatmeal. This is not the tidy packeted and nicely (albeit artificially) flavored instant oatmeal; this is six pounds of raw oats.
I originally purchased the oatmeal to make oatmeal cookies for my youngest, who is a college student in LA. I’d spent the previous four years mailing chocolate chip cookies to her older brother in San Francisco, and as every mother knows, it’s best to quell sibling rivalry whenever possible. She wants an occasional care package, so I send her one. (Also $13 donuts, but that’s another story.)
Staring at the box and realizing that I have dangerously high cholesterol that Zocor is having a hard time taming, I decided I should occasionally make some oatmeal for myself.
No, gentle readers, you do not understand. Just thinking about making oatmeal is a monumental step for me, for you see I’ve been seriously scarred by the oatmeal of my youth. Just passing by that smiling Quaker in the grocery store gives me the heebee jeebies. My mother, bless her departed soul, was a mostly terrible cook. Her oatmeal was gummy and way too salty. We were forced to eat it every day. I could be mistaken, but none of us could stand her oatmeal, instead clamoring for chocolate Cream of Wheat. (Now that’s a real hot cereal!) I took a strong dislike to oatmeal and stretched it to a boycott that has spanned four decades.
Since I have no adult oatmeal experience, I read the instructions carefully. One minute in boiling water, two minutes in the microwave – it seemed simple enough. As per directions, the resulting oats floating in the pan were still hard and retained their round, oaty shape. I drizzled the bowl with a little honey and puddled a tablespoon or so of milk around my oatmeal mound (just like the good old days) but something was wrong. This might be the recommended recipe for cooking oatmeal but it’s not what I was looking for – my mother’s oatmeal.
The next time, I reduced the water and increased the cooking time to ten minutes. The result was a little better. Some of the oats had disintegrated and the texture wasn’t bad – a little lumpy. The oats tasted like they had been partially cooked. You don’t reach that conclusion using the box recipe.
The third time was a charm. After the initial boil, I put the flame to simmer and waited 15 minutes, making certain to stir occasionally, and voila! Here was the oatmeal of my youth, fully cooked and just this side of the gummy, gloppy mess my mother used to make. I liked it!
I’m telling you. What goes around comes around.
Happy Mother’s Day.