What’s Cooking Wednesday: Oatmeal

whatscookingwednesday.jpgOK, you’re thinking “yawn” right? Maybe you’re even actually yawning. But wait! Oatmeal can be exciting!

Maybe “exciting” is pushing it, so how about healthy?

Oatmeal is good for you!

And we’ll get back to that in a minute, but first: I know that many of you come here for great Italian or Calabrian recipes, but I’d also like to broaden the scope of What’s Cooking Wednesday a bit to, every now and again, include all kinds of basic foods that I like–some will be particularly Italian/Calabrian but there will also be others from back home.

And where the food allows, I’d also like to provide health information and why you should include these foods in your diet.

I quietly started doing this a couple weeks ago when I told you about blood oranges, inspired by the fact that we were having bags and bags of the delicious fruits delivered to our house by friends and neighbors.

Quaker Oats dudeWell since the arrival of Mr. Quaker (via my mom), my new daily breakfast has been rolled oats, oatmeal, or porridge to some of you, and I’d love to share my latest obsession.

First thing you might have noticed is that I have to have my oats shipped in. I’ve never seen them in a grocery store here, and I know at least one other expat brings hers in from the States as well.

Needless to say, P is baffled by this breakfast as is evidenced by his exclamation the other day after I had mentioned I was hungry and about to make breakfast: “Wow, you really *are* eating!” Gee thanks.

You see Italians by and large simply have coffee and a brioche for breakfast, if that; P doesn’t eat anything. All for the most important meal of the day. Crazy, isn’t it?

I have hope, though, that he can be swayed like Delinissima‘s other half; I just have to sell him on the texture I think.

What is oatmeal?

Oatmeal is rolled or crushed oats, cereal grains that come from the common oat plant (avena sativa); oats can also used as livestock feed and an ingredient in beer. Oat extract is becoming a more common ingredient in skin lotions.

Health benefits of oatmeal

Since 1997, oatmeal has been permitted by the Food & Drug Administration to tout its effectiveness in combating cholesterol on its label; now according to new research published in the January/February 2008 issue of the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, it seems that oatmeal is even better than we thought.

“The Oatmeal-Cholesterol Connection: 10 Years Later” by Dr. Mark B. Andon and Dr. James W. Anderson puts forth that 15 years of studies have shown, without exception, that:

  • total cholesterol levels are lowered through oat consumption;
  • low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the “bad” cholesterol) is reduced without adverse effects on high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL, the “good” cholesterol), or triglyceride concentrations.

The cholesterol-lowering effects come from the soluble fiber in oats, which can also aid diabetics because it slows the digestion of starch, helping to avoid spikes in sugar levels.

Oats are also a good source of insoluble fiber, which can help fight cancer, as well as protein, vitamin E, zinc, selenium, copper, iron, manganese, and magnesium, and may also offer an alternative to wheat for those with Celiac Disease (although this is constantly being debated).

A cup of oatmeal a day is what’s going to give you these great benefits, so eat up!

What about steel cut oats?

Oatmeal - 13/365 by JustABigGeek on FlickrSteel cut oats are the inner portion of the oat kernel cut coarsely into a few pieces so that they actually resemble rice; accordingly, they are less processed than what we know as traditional oatmeal. Steel cut oats take longer to cook than rolled oats, but as they are less processed, may hold even greater nutritional value than rolled oats.

For some great steel cut oats recipes, check out the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.

How to enjoy oatmeal

The most important thing is to stay away from the pre-prepared packets because they contain so much sugar (although truth be told I do enjoy me some Peaches & Cream every now and again).

It really doesn’t take any longer to prepare a bowl of regular Quaker Oats from scratch, plus you have control over what is added to them. As mentioned, steel cut oats do take longer to cook, but remember you’ll probably be getting more health benefits too.

Here’s my basic recipe:

Oatmeal with Brown Sugar, Raisins, and Cinnamon on Flickr

4 heaping tablespoons rolled oats

Enough milk to cover them in the pot

Teaspoon of brown sugar

Handful of raisins

Pinch of salt

Sprinkle of cinnamon to garnish


Mix and let cook for about two minutes or until cooked to your taste,

stirring to prevent sticking.

The thickness is really up to you, so do experiment. I don’t like my oatmeal too, too thick, but not too liquidy either.

One might say I like it “just right.”

And although some of you may think the flavors go horribly together, for whatever reason I just love a spremuta d’arancia, a freshly-squeezed orange juice, with my oatmeal.

Spremuta d’arancia on Flickr

Maybe I just love to make something healthy even healthier–or maybe I’m just trying to detox after yesterday’s World Nutella Day!

So do you eat oatmeal? How do you prepare it?


[tags] oatmeal, oats, what’s cooking wednesday, steel cut oats, orange juice, spremuta, spremuta d’arancia [/tags]

44 Beans of Wisdom to “What’s Cooking Wednesday: Oatmeal”
  1. I use Quaker Oats to make oatmeal cookies, does that count?

    I cheat when it comes to breakfast and use Quaker’s Low-Sugar instant Maple and Brown Sugar mix (with milk, not water and I don’t microwave it). I usually add a banana. I guess I should pack a box or two.

    nyc/caribbean ragazza’s last blog post..J. Crew’s yellow purse in Rome, Terroni and Whitney Houston

    I say cookies count, but again, I think I’m still on a sugar high from yesterday πŸ˜‰

    And *definitely* pack that oatmeal! You’ll miss it, I promise you.

  2. ally bean

    To your basic recipe I’d add a pinch of cardamom– perks up my oatmeal with a bit of exotic flavor. Of course, plain oatmeal with bananas and walnuts on top of it is good too. And then there’s chopped apples and maple syrup cooked into the oatmeal which is mighty tasty.

    All in all I think that I like oatmeal just about any ‘ole way!

    Ally, I don’t think I’ve ever had cardamom, and I’m doubtful that I’d find it here…but if I do, I’ll give it a pinch! And I agree with you–oatmeal any way is pretty darn tasty πŸ™‚

  3. 02.06.2008

    I wasn’t yawning, till you kept talking about it!

    I almost always have fruit for breakfast. I tend to feel pain if I go straight to other foods.
    I do think it would good if I could manage to have oatmeal for after dinner dessert though, instead of some sugary pastry type of stuff. I have told myself this many times, I have yet to do it though. I will take your post as a nudge in that direction. I could certainly do, and have, had oatmeal cookies for dessert.
    On Oprah yesterday there was mention (by audience member) of cooking oatmeal in apple juice (instead of milk or water), sounds odd to me, but the person said it is really good.

    Taffiny, did you click on the “yawn” link? It’s a post that talks about the phenomenon of yawning just by seeing the word πŸ™‚

    Also, I don’t eat breakfast right in the morning either–maybe around 9 or 9:30 is when I get hungry–so I consider my oatmeal a mid-morning snack really.

    Interesting idea about the apple juice. I’d try it, but we don’t have apple juice here πŸ™

  4. 02.06.2008

    I’m fond of baked oatmeal:

    1 cup of rolled oats
    2 cups of milk
    half of a granny smith apple, grated
    1/2 tsp almond extract
    a handful of slivered almonds
    a handful of dried cherries
    a tablespoon or two of dark brown sugar

    Mix together and bake in a buttered souffle dish at 425 for 40 minutes. This allows for a workout before breakfast and makes me feel even MORE virtuous!

    anno’s last blog post..Still Waters May Run Deep…

    YUM! I want to be virtuous too! I’ll definitely try this–thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  5. 02.06.2008

    Make that 40 minutes to an hour, depending on how hungry you are (less time) or how much chewy oatmeal crust you prefer (more time).

    anno’s last blog post..Still Waters May Run Deep…

    Gotcha. I think I’d like *less* chewy crust, so I’d probably be good at the 40 minute mark πŸ™‚

  6. 02.06.2008

    I’m so not into Oatmeal. I want to be. I’ve tried it a bazillion times, because it seems like something that I would like. But I don’t. I do love oatmeal cookies though πŸ™‚

    kacey’s last blog post..The Perfect Spice Rack

    All we can do is try Kacey. I tried sweet potatoes and mushrooms for about 15 years before I liked them, so you never know πŸ˜‰

  7. 02.06.2008

    I loooove oatmeal, especially steel cut; you can soak ’em overnight and they’ll cook faster in the AM, or you can cook them the night before and re-heat with a little milk the next day. I like mine super thick. Not too long ago, I wrote some haiku in their praise, so great is my love of the humble oat:

    In Praise of Oats

    I usually eat oatmeal with some nuts for xtra protein (walnuts or pecans), and either some maple syrup or brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Sometimes other spices, like allspice or cardamon if I’m feeling fancy and am motivated to drag the spice grinder out.

    Mmmm. Oats.

    Us vs. Food’s last blog post..Super Bowl Snackdown II: Potstickers

    I’m sorry, I’m still a little confused–do you or do you not like oats πŸ˜‰ I told my mom to be on the look out for steel cut oats as I’d love to try them–great tips about soaking/reheating. You know, now that you mention the super thick version, I realize that some days I do make it like that too. I like to change it up I guess πŸ˜‰

  8. 02.06.2008

    I can’t believe there’s no good ol’ Quaker oatmeal there. I get my supply almost everywhere here. I love oatmeals for breakfast as well,especially with brown sugar and milk.

    grace’s last blog post..Guess who was in the radio?

    I know Grace. Oats just aren’t a part of the Italian diet, at least not traditionally I suppose. Bummer too because I really love oatmeal cookies–which of course you can’t buy here and to make them myself, I have to have the oatmeal shipped in…and then do I really want to “waste” in on cookies? You see the dilemma πŸ˜‰

  9. Denzylle

    Being of Scottish grandparentage, I use Scotts Porridge Oats, and serve it with salt. Not only is that the traditional way, but I also don’t have a sweet tooth.

    (PS. I hope you don’t get multiples of this. I tried three times previously and kept getting an error. I’m not a spammer!)

    I believe you Denzylle! And it only showed up once–sorry about the errors! I read some great history about Scotland vs. England over at the Wikipedia oatmeal page πŸ™‚

  10. 02.06.2008

    Many great ideas here, thanks! This is so funny because six hours ago at work I was thinking to myself that I should look up what oatmeal really is good for because I seemed to recall reading something about that – and then I come home only to find that you wrote about this today!

    I’m not a big breakfast eater, but oatmeal is actually my staple for lunch. I always keep a package at work, then all I need is jam or even just a little sugar and milk and I have the cheapest, quickest, most filling and nutritive lunch I could ever ask for. I usually prepare it in the microwave just because I’m lazy and I make it very simple: Half a cup rolled oats (or whatever you like to call them) to a cup of water, a pinch of salt, microwave for a few minutes until it’s done. I usually put jam or applesauce on top and pour milk on top of everything. This week I’ve even substituted the milk for “oat milk” so lots of goodies for me!

    But is there really no oatmeal in Italy? Not even at Coop? I have seen Quaker here but Euroshopper is so much cheaper and surely they must be available down there too… Have you really looked everywhere, even at Coop?

    Annika’s last blog post..a new favorite

    Annika, I don’t even *have* a Coop near me! Seriously you don’t know how deprived of civilized things we are in the deep south πŸ˜‰ Actually I know Michelle in Milan brings her Quaker oats from America so it seems that if there is something here, it’s not what we’re used to πŸ™

    So funny that you were thinking of looking up oatmeal! There are a lot of good links buried in here too, so go crazy πŸ™‚

  11. 02.06.2008

    Oh,I so hate oatmeal except in cookies. It looks delicious in your photo but I wouldn’t eat it. I do love the blood orange juice…ciao

    rositta’s last blog post..Just Another Snow Day

    Don’t worry Rositta, I’m eating your share I think πŸ˜‰ And I’m happy that you noticed that the juice has just a touch of “blood” in it–it’s mostly regular oranges with a splash of the red stuff πŸ˜‰

  12. Lilian

    Thanks for featuring a grain that certainly should be eaten more often by more people. I can understand why it’s not a usual part of the Italian diet, though–oats are more commonly eaten in northern Europe. They’ve been popular in the U.S. for ages, it seems (probably because immigrants from Scotland, England, Ireland, Germany, and Scandinavia brought their various oat cookery traditions with them). Most Americans have had oats in porridge, granola, cookies, muffins, or bread–but did you know that they can be cooked in so many other ways? I often add rolled oats to soups (especially pureed ones), as a thickener (an alternative to flour or rice), for example. Otherwise, I prefer to eat the steel-cut oats (for their texture and nutty flavor) and usually cook them in plenty of water (as I like my porridge on the “thin gruel” side), using the double boiler method, which allows one to do other things while the oats are cooking. They need only be stirred occasionally. I’ve never tried cooking them in milk, as you do–but it sounds good, so I will.

    I’m not convinced that apple juice and cardamom can’t be found where you live in Italy. I’m amazed that you’ve never tasted cardamom. You must! It’s truly one of the most wonderful spices, and always very complementary in any food (savory or sweet) to which you’re adding cinnamon.

    Lilian, well yes, oats aren’t really grown here, so it would make sense that they’re not a traditional part of the diet either–we don’t even eat polenta down here in the deep south! I’m so intrigued by these steel oats–I can’t wait to try them!

    As for the availability of certain items, I live *nowhere* near a real city–there is just no demand for anything remotely exotic. i.e., not traditionally Italian–or more exactly Calabrese! Seriously, as most people don’t eat polenta down here, not every store carries it. Now it’s not hard to find by any means, but it’s just not in every store.

    I’m sure these things exist in Rome, Florence, Milan, and other places with heavy concentrations of expats (although they might be expensive as “our” stuff usually is–I can now find peanut butter about forty minutes away from here but it costs 5 euros for a tiny jar!), but really, there’s no apple juice. No grape or cranberry juice either. No brown sugar either, by the way–have to have that shipped too! Add those to cheddar cheese, baking powder without vanilla already added, pretzels, oh the list goes on and on….

    As for cardamom, I’m not really *that* kind of a spicy girl (I like things hot-spicy, but I’m not so much into spices generally except in cider), so I’m not sure I’d like it, but as the saying goes, I’ll try anything once–twice if I like it πŸ˜‰

  13. 02.06.2008

    Dear Sontrice,
    I adore OATMEAL !! I am you sister in Oatmeal Love! Scottish oats being my favorite for their nut- like texture.! I like to eat them with salt and brown sugar and that just does it for me!!

    If you are in the mood to party, I’m having a birthday celebration for Karen Cole today. We’re coming to see you kindof (you’ll see what I mean)

    Hi to you and the pupster!!


    I’m there Constance! Thanks πŸ™‚

  14. 02.06.2008

    Mcanns all the way!!!! I make a huge amount since it takes so long and I savor it. Agave on top and some soy milk.

    Thanks so much for the birthday wishes, Michelle. Truly appreciated.

    Karen Cole’s last blog post..MY MOMMY TAUGHT ME TO SHARE

    I really need to get of this. You all have me *so* intrigued! Hope you had a lovely birthday πŸ™‚

  15. 02.06.2008

    When I was a youngun’ -many, many moons ago -I hated, absolutely loathed, abhorred and despised oatmeal! Wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole, ya know. I don’t know when I became a fan of it, but now, I love it and so do my kids (all long since grownups). My daughter will sometimes cajole me in the morning to make a pot of oatmeal for us for breakfast and if I do, it is always going to have at the very least, some butter and brown sugar added to the water to dissolve before I add the oatmeal. Sometimes I toss in raisins, date, walnuts, even have added apples to it too once in a blue moon. But oatmeal in my house HAS to have butter and brown sugar – both are a absolute necessities of oatmeal-eating life.

    jeni Hill Ertmer’s last blog post..Pleasantries

    Jeni my family always put butter in oatmeal too–funny that only you and I have mentioned this…maybe it’s another central PA thing? I cut it out just to be more heart smart, but it sure is good in there. I remember it well πŸ™‚

  16. 02.06.2008

    No yawns here, we love oatmeal. In fact we just ran out of it. I can get ‘fiochi d’avena’ from COOP, it’s the rough stuff and it makes a great, chewy, nutty porridge. ( Friends have described my porridge as ‘naval’ I guess coz you can eat it in rough seas without it slopping in your bowl).

    I’m happy to eat it any time of day and often have it for lunch with chopped fruit. Here is a great tip from my friends in France, cover your oatmeal in apple juice and leave it to soak in the fridge overnight. It goes all soft and creamy and doesn’t need to be cooked. We mix in grated apple and chopped nuts with a big dollop of Greek yoghurt on top. Buonissimo!

    Amanda, I love these suggestions–and I love the “naval” description! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  17. 02.07.2008

    Oh I so badly want to like oatmeal. Mike eats it a lot on the winter and I love the smell of it. Love oatmeal cookies and muffins, but I cannot stand the texture of plain ole oatmeal in my mouth. No matter what I do I can’t bring myself to swallow it, if I even manage to get it in my mouth. It’s truly disappointing.

    Shan’s last blog post..what’s cooking wednesday – buffalo chicken soup

    That’s too bad Shan. I think the texture is what’s going to keep P away for a long, long time too.

  18. Oatmeal is a breakfast staple at our house. I like to make Alton Brown’s recipe for steel cut oats. You make a huge batch and then keep it in the fridge for the rest of the week. We heat it up and pour Coffeemate French Vanilla on it and plop some sliced bananas, dried fruits and toasted pecans on top. Delicious!

    Susan from StickyGooeyCreamyChewy’s last blog post..Grab Your Coffee and Come on Over…

    Oh Susan, what a great idea with the Coffeemate–every now and again my mom send me some of that too πŸ˜‰

  19. 02.07.2008

    i eat oatmeal every morning that ends in Y,
    i love it.


    i spoil myself with the john mc cann’s steel cut *sometimes*
    because the lovely can says:
    ~~World’s Columbian Exhibition, Chicago, 1893.~~
    all the gold seals make me feel special
    i love using the can for other things…
    the CAN itself makes my heart feel good.

    [[ i like to add fresh pecans when i have them
    and one little bit of brown sugar
    unless it is my birthday–like YESTERDAY,
    on Nutella Day,
    when i add tons of brown sugar…
    and, thanks ever-so, Michele, for the Birthday Wishes!!! ]]

    somepinkflowers’s last blog post..a super bowl of somepinkflowers

    spf, when I saw that can on Flickr, I knew I had to have it. And I will someday! And I think I’ll splurge for your birthday (two days ago) and add more brown sugar too πŸ˜‰

  20. 02.07.2008

    We eat a lot of oatmeal at our house and I’m pretty particular about it. I used the Old Fashioned Oats, also know as Large Flake. I follow the package directions for amounts but after that it’s all me. I put some dried currants in while it cooks so they really soft and puffy. To serve, I sprinkle on cinnamon, brown sugar, some crunch granola and then I drizzle it with maple syrup. to die for.

    Kind of crosses out the healthy part of oatmeal though.

    Karen’s last blog post..What’s cooking Wednesday

    Goodness that sounds positively delicious…really calls to my sweet tooth (although it doesn’t take much) πŸ˜‰

  21. Lilian

    Michelle, after your description of ingredient deprivation, I’m wondering where you buy your food. Are there any supermarkets nearby (or shops with aisles in which you can wander), or are you visiting small specialist vendors (of old: the butcher, baker, et al) who must hand you everything over a counter? I’m sorry to hear that it’s near-impossible to obtain apple, cranberry, and grape juices–though these, and cheddar cheese, are easier to live without (I think) than peanut butter. If I were you, I would just buy some roasted peanuts–surely those are available–and make freshly-ground peanut butter in a blender (or, lacking that, with a large mortar and pestle), adding salt and additional oil (peanut, preferably–though other vegetable oils would do) to taste.

    I wonder if the brown sugar is being sold by another name–there must be some kind of unrefined or less-refined sugar for sale.

    When I was in Italy last (2003–too long ago), I had no difficulty finding very high quality oats–in the muesli sold just about everywhere. I believe the muesli was coming from Germany; it wasn’t prohibitively expensive. The kind I bought also did not have too many nuts and fruit mixed into it–you could easily pick out the pieces.

    As for cardamom, well, that you would have to seek out in a city, I suppose. You could find it (preferably not already ground, but merely decorticated, or, even better, still in the hull) at any shop selling food from the Middle East or India. The staff of an Indian restaurant would probably also be able to tell you where you might buy the spice–but perhaps Indian restaurants are rather scarce in Calabria. (I don’t remember seeing any, but then I wasn’t looking for them.)

    Lilian, thanks so much for your concern! Yes we have real supermarkets–although the really big ones are about 45 minutes away or more–but, for another example, I have to go to Catanzaro (45 minutes minimum) before I find a decent tortilla. There is just *no* demand for this stuff here right now, although I’m sure that will change sooner or later.

    But remember that my friend in Milan brings her Quaker Oats from America too so it doesn’t seem that what we’re looking for is readily available even up there.

    Brown sugar, in particular, has been discussed extensively over at Expats in Italy, and by all accounts, the version we’re used to isn’t found easily *anywhere* in Italy; there are different versions of unrefined sugar, of course, but they don’t have the same flavor, are dry, and certainly don’t provide the right substitute for baking πŸ™

    Peanut butter *is* actually sold here, although like I said, it’s quite expensive. My mom and other friends have supplied me with that, but believe it or not, I really don’t eat very much of it anymore–I know it may sound like I’m complaining about not having a lot of things, but really, I can do without it all. You get used to it. I don’t drink grape or cranberry juice anyway, and apple juice gives me heartburn so I really shouldn’t–plus all those have so much sugar and concentrate in anyway that I’m better off with the freshly-squeezed that I drink now. No loss for me on those!

    As for Indian restaurants being scarce in Calabria–I’ve never seen *one* or even an Indian resident come to think of it. There’s apparently *a* Chinese restaurant in Catanzaro–40 minutes away. Not surprisingly, you can’t even buy those ingredients here to make your own Chinese food (a friend of mine brought hers with her from Hawaii); we do have plenty of Chinese immigrants down here, so I imagine these things are coming. Unfortunately for the supply and restaurant scene, the Middle Eastern immigrants tend to move on from here after they get their papers in order, otherwise we’d have a lot more “exotic” ingredients coming in. One group of Kurds had a restaurant in my village before I arrived, but they moved on too πŸ™

    Anyway Lilian, believe me, I’ve looked for these things within an hour radius and get back up and suggestions over at the Expats in Italy site–any more than that, and even oatmeal isn’t worth it πŸ˜‰ I can’t say for certain, of course, that these things are *nowhere* to be found, but they certainly aren’t readily available as I’ve been here for 5 years and do keep an eye out.

  22. 02.07.2008

    I do love oatmeal! I like it just plain in the bowl with a little cream over the top. Growing up, we didn’t eat oatmeal. My Mom always prepared Farina, or the other brand “Cream of Wheat”. She called it Gris for some reason. I loved Gris prepared in the same way as I like my oatmeal.

    Thanks for all the nutritious facts. Makes me hungry for breakfast.

    Debbie Egizio’s last blog post..Valentine Fashions for the girl

    Debbie, I love Cream of Wheat too! You intrigued me with the “Gris” reference, so I looked it up and I see that Gris is actually a brand name of Cream of Wheat from Croatia. Anyway, you also made me think of “grits,” and I know that when I first tried grits, I thought, hey, this tastes a lot like Cream of Wheat only it’s salty instead of sweet (the big difference, of course, being that cream of wheat is from wheat and grits are from corn) πŸ˜‰ Mmmm all around….

  23. 02.07.2008

    I love me some oatmeal! I used to eat it every morning for breakfast for YEARS — literally! Then I switched to eating high-fiber, high-protein cereal. I still have some old-fashioned rolled oats in my cabinet though, so I’m going to break them out for old time’s sake tomorrow morning! πŸ™‚

    Zandria’s last blog post..Do You Need a Gym to Work Out? Think Again.

    Zandria, I’m sure they’ll be happy to see the light of day again πŸ™‚

  24. 02.07.2008

    I LOVE oatmeal! Love it! Being basically a lazy person, I make up individual servings in zip lock bags. I buy a large container of Quaker Oats, measure out 1 cup, sprinkle some salt and cinnamon into the bag, and add two packets of splenda. When I am ready to eat in the mornings, I dump out the zip lock bag into a microwave safe bowl and reseal the empty zip lock bag. I save the bags and refill them when I buy a new box of oatmeal! I add milk, usually skim, and cook in the microwave. Microwaves cook at different levels, so you just have to experiment as to the length of cooking time.


    Fran, what a great idea–and so green with the reuse of the bags πŸ™‚

  25. 02.07.2008

    I learned more than I ever thought possible about oatmeal from your post and the comments. It has also reminded me to make oatmeal, which I never do, and I like it! Oh how I wish I could be at your table to have the fresh spremuta with it, and of course a good strong cappuccino!

    Jeni, I’m just about to squeeze some more…hurry!

  26. I was gonna say I use soy milk but seeing as how a lot of ingredients are scarce around you, I bet soy milk would be too. I use a little bit of honey or maple syrup in place of the sugar.

    Sometimes I just add the raw oats and honey to plain yogurt and eat it that way.

    You’re reminding me that I need to get back to eating oatmeal again. I’ve been skipping breakfast lately.

    Wandering Chopsticks’s last blog post..German Oven Pancakes

    Yes! Back to breakfast! Actually I *have* seen soy milk here, but I’ve yet to try it in anything. I will eventually–it’s on my list for 2008 πŸ™‚ I’ve tried honey in oatmeal–delicious! I’ll have to try the plain yogurt thing too as a few of you have recommended it. So many new things to try! Grazie!

  27. 02.07.2008

    Well, gee…looks like I’m in for some unquenched cravings! πŸ™‚ Just kidding. I am not that big of an oatmeal fan. I can eat it, but I’d rather my folks ship in taco seasoning, jambalaya mixes, velvetta cheese, those little hot tamale candies (none of which can be found here, either!)

    Hard to believe, you guys, but they don’t have this stuff here! I didn’t have near the problem finding “my” stuff when I lived in Paris as I here in Calabria.

    As a funny example, I was in one of the “major” grocery stores in Catanzaro the other day looking for canned corn. They didn’t have a canned veggie aisle. Anywhere! We asked. We had to go to a different store down the street to complete the recipe. (This is the same store, by the way, that sells the tortillas (uncle ben’s brand) – they are big time! πŸ™‚

    Cherrye’s last blog post..Once Again…

    Oh girl, it would’ve been easier to come to my house–I have canned corn in stock! But yes, all that good Tex Mex stuff is definitely lacking around here πŸ™ But we have lots of olives! And oranges! Woohoo!

  28. Dawn

    Oh my God! I so envy you! You have oatmeal. πŸ™‚ It’s so funny how when I was growing up, I hated oatmeal. However, Now I would tap dance from here to to Naples for a bowl of oatmeal.
    Your new site is wonderful and I love it. I also love the recipes section because I love to cook when I’m not working like a beast.:-) I also saw many different recipes for Nutella that I must try in my free time. God bless the people who created Nutella!!! πŸ™‚ Have a great day!!!!

    And another corner of Calabria heard from! It *is* funny the things that you end up missing just because you can’t have them. I’ll bring some to the next Calabrian Women’s Summit…pancake mix and syrup too! We definitely have to do a brunch! Yes yes yes!

    Hey I’m wondering if you made it to the newest Chinese restaurant in Calabria yet….

  29. 02.07.2008

    Oh pancakes from a box. I do miss, those, too…and bagels and big fat soft fluffy pretzels…

    We gotta stop this!

    Cherrye’s last blog post..Once Again…

    I just saw a great recipe for homemade pretzels….

  30. 02.07.2008

    Well, I like oatmeal…when I make it. I have had others wallpaper paste that they try to pass off as oatmeal…blech. I like mine a bit more *liquidy*.

    I pretty much use your recipe but I like to put walnuts, honey or maple syrup in mine. Sometimes I also add strawberries or blueberries. Mmmmmmm. And a nice scoop of flax seed…for the health benefits!

    My Melange’s last blog post..Italiano Imparante

  31. 02.07.2008

    Another good recipe is to cook apples in with the oatmeal and add a little cardamom. YUM! BTW… I adapted Shan’s buffalo chicken soup recipe and it could easily be made in Italy – I’ll send it to you. It tastes JUST like wings! YAY!

    jen of a2eatwrite’s last blog post..What’s Cooking Wednesday: Cornmeal Pancakes with Apples

    Thanks Jen…and I can’t wait for that recipe!

  32. 02.07.2008

    I’m a crazy oatmeal nut! Especially in the winter when I want something warm and stick-to-my-ribs in the AM. I usually make mine with raisins, sliced almonds and some honey or maple syrup to sweeten it. Perfect-o!

    I definitely want to try the baked oatmeal recipe someone posted, too! That sounds delish!

    smtwngrl’s last blog post..On the Weather, Politics, and Britney Spears

    I’m a winter oatmeal girl too–I’m just hungrier in the morning πŸ™‚

  33. 02.07.2008

    Sognatrice, I’ve found oatmeal (fiocchi di avena) at the health food store (along with real maple syrup to drizzle on top!) It’s not the instant kind of course, but it’s pretty darn good (and locally available for those oatmeal emergencies!)

    Valerie’s last blog post..Carnevale!

    Thanks for the tip Valerie–I’ll have a look-see πŸ™‚

  34. Bobbie in Alaska

    I love oatmeal. I keep saying I am going to try the steel cut, but always stick with the tried and true – Quaker. My favorite way is to add a little milk, butter and a spoonful of maple syrup. Once in a while a banana sliced up is good too.

    Mmm another butter-adder. I have to admit that I really do *love* the taste of butter in there–it’s how I grew up eating it. And I know what you mean about sticking to the reliable; it’s just so good!

  35. 02.08.2008

    I *heart* oatmeal and always have. My step children are against it, exclaiming “Ewwee, porridge!” They haven’t the faintest idea of how good it actually tastes. I’m always encouraging them to try things and low and behold, they end up saying “mmhhh” rather than “ewwe”!
    I grew up with oatmeal on the stovetop daily. My gran’s was always the best. Creamy and good. We ate it with honey and milk. Brown sugar too. I’m not a fan of raisins in other foods, generally speaking, but I do love raisins. I think I prefer them uncooked out of the box. Hers had raisins. I love brown sugar and do put more on than I should but I love the taste. It is not a weird combination for me to have fresh orange with oatmeal. More fiber! πŸ™‚ Fresh orange is absolutely my favorite drink and my beverage of choice in the morning, even if it’s snowing! Yeah to oatmeal. (I also love semolina (cream of wheat) although not healthy like the oats.
    I hope “P” comes ’round and realise how good it actually is, and how good he’ll feel to eat brekkie. πŸ™‚

    Ciao Bella! Your feelings about raisins are kind of how I feel about nuts–I love them eaten by themselves, but I don’t tend to like them *in* things except, maybe, some cookies. I like the idea of them in oatmeal, but I know I would like that surprise crunch. I know–weird!

    Also, oatmeal and orange juice forever!!!

    cheeky’s last blog post..A Sign of Promise

  36. 02.08.2008

    Best of all, you can cook the steel cut oats in the crockpot overnight, which saves tons of time in the morning! For instructions on cooking them in the crockpot, go here:

    Let it Snow Let us Slow

    LaDonna’s last blog post..Quick–I Need Your Recipes!

    Thanks so much for the link! Mmmmm….

  37. 02.09.2008

    I had some really great oatmeal last week- I added some slivered almonds and craisins. Growing up we always had it with butter, a splash of milk, and brown sugar. That way is still mmmm yummy!

    nyjlm’s last blog post..Preparations

    My mom just sent me some craisins–so tasty!

  38. 02.12.2008

    I recently discovered steel cut oatmeal and I have been enjoying it a lot recently.

    Kevin’s last blog post..Shrimp Tom Yum Goong Soup

    Another vote for steel cut! Thanks Kevin πŸ™‚

  39. jody

    I like mine the way you make it. I do add some cinnamon to it as well.

    Jody, you’ve made me come back to this post, and guess what…now I’m hungry for oatmeal πŸ˜‰ Thanks for commenting!

  40. Melissa

    Okay, so I’m up here in Milan, which is a “particular” place, and not technically on the peninsula, but I have been able to track down some important expat foods here and in Florence.

    Brown Sugar
    My friend found some at the very expensive American imported food store, along with condensed milk, but I one-upped her by getting a bag of the good stuff at COOP. I haven’t baked with it because of the Baking Powder Mystery.

    Peanut Butter
    Yes, it is around 5€ a jar at a regular supermercato, but if you pick it up at an Asian (usually Chinese, but sometimes Korean) market, it costs less than 2€. Note: Please don’t attempt to make your own peanut butter with a mortar and pestle. It’s a lot easier just to open a bottle of wine and read the blogs…

    While you’re picking up your Peanut Butter at an obscenely low price and marveling at all the translations (Erdnusscreme Mit ErdnussstΓΌckchen!), you can find some of that cardamom, usually in the shell, or “coat” or something, in a little plastic packet next to the other bagged spices. Now is the right time to bring out the mortar and pestle.

    Powdered Milk
    Yes, you can find powdered milk at COOP, EsseLunga, etc., but for 20€ a can! Instead, double-check while you’re still at the aforementioned Asian Market. Not all of them carry PM, but some do and at a much more reasonable 7€ for a can of the same size. Because PM is usually only given to babies as formula, the inflated prices are connected to some sort of European price-fixing scandal I read about somewhere.

    Now where can I find the thrift stores?

    Thanks for all your suggestions Melissa–particularly the warning on the peanut butter. Believe me, I wasn’t about to make any–my JIF is flown in from the US thankyouverymuch πŸ˜‰ (Same with my brown sugar.)

    The baking powder mystery? Yeah I have that shipped in too, but they tell me that “lievito per dolci” is just baking powder with vanilla added, so that a bustina equals about a teaspoon (and leave out the vanilla if your recipe calls for vanilla). More info at Expats in Italy.

    As for my local Asian market, sorry to say, we don’t have one–not even within an hour radius, probably even farther than that. We have a good number of Chinese people around, though, so hopefully they’ll start bringing some of their goods in and putting them up for sale for the rest of us.

    I *thought* I saw cardamom when I was in Palermo, though, and then I looked closer and had just misread the bag…so close!

    That said, Palermo *did* have thrift stores! Closed when we walked by, but there were at least 2 right on the main drag–one of which had a big American flag painted on the front of it b/c obviously thrift stores are American. Thought to take a photo and then didn’t, but it was hilarious πŸ˜‰

  41. helena

    There’s nothing in the fridge for dinner and I’ve finished the wonderful Sicilian anchovies on olive bread…our local Greek baker is a genius…so it’s oatmeal for dinner…yes, that’s weird but I’ve had such a gruelling day at work – Perugia murder case and all – super fast comfort food is all I can manage, so I’ll add some raisins and cinnamon and a drizzle of honey, then run a hot bath and go sit in it and eat the hot oatmeal.

    That sounds lovely to me actually; I love all breakfast foods for dinner…something so comforting about it.

    Are you writing about the Perugia case? I just got finished reading the Corriere della Sera article; I’ve been following it closely as well, although just as a personal interest from my legal background (and interest in Italy, of course).

  42. helena

    I’m a journalist – acting foreign editor on occasions – and screeds on Perugia came thru yesterday. Cases like this get a lot of international coverage and interest. We all hope that young people/students studying far from home are safe. That could be us or our loved ones. When the worst happens, it feels a bit close. We have a similarly distressing case involving foreign students here in Australia, which occurred several days ago.

    I hadn’t heard about the Australian case. Can’t imagine the nightmares the parents of these students are living πŸ™

  43. lily v

    hi there,

    I also share a deep seeded love for oats! I will be studying in Florence Italy for the next two months and it had not occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to buy oats here. As this was updated a few years ago, I was wondering if anyone had any developments on where to find oats in Italy (Florence specifically if possible)?

    Any suggestions much appreciated!

    michelle Reply:

    Hi Lily, you won’t have any trouble finding oats in grocery stores in Florence, from what I hear — it’s still difficult for me down here in Calabria, but the cities are very well stocked these days πŸ™‚ In bocca al lupo!

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

Calabria Guidebook

Calabria travel guide by Michelle Fabio



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake