Childhood Sundays and a Recipe for Oatmeal-In-A-Pot

If I was a proper blogger, I’d probably post a picture of oatmeal with this post. But I’m not a proper blogger, and this isn’t oatmeal. This is Evie enjoying our one and only snowfall so far this year, and she’s cuter than oatmeal anyway.

When I was growing up, my dad always cooked us a big Sunday morning breakfast. It was something he really loved to do for us. He never got up particularly early – I recall “breakfast” most often happening around 11 o’clock – but there’s a certain sunny glow in my memories about those Sunday mornings, all of us gathered around the table, laughing, talking, eating those wonderful pancakes or waffles dripping with butter and syrup, or eggs cooked to order with a side of bacon and his specialty biscuits. Once, we watched him roll out his famous biscuit dough, pour a stick of melted butter across the surface, sprinkle a coat of cinnamon sugar thick enough to soak it all up, then roll the whole thing up into the cinnamon rolls that would become a regular Sunday morning feature and a family favorite. They were over-the-top delicious with a smear of grape jam. In our home, Sunday breakfast was our church service.

On school days, though, we’d each get up in turn, my three sisters and I, have our few minutes in the only bathroom to make ourselves presentable, get dressed, then make our way to the kitchen, where we could serve ourselves from the wide assortment of store-brand cereals on the shelf. If we ended up at the table together, we didn’t usually speak; usually, we had our noses in a book, or, as we got older, we might peruse the apartment-for-rent ads hopefully, a thing my own children do surreptitiously, so no offense, Mom! Then we’d gather our bags and head out to school. We walked for most of our school years, as the schools were all near our home, no matter the weather.

Nobody else wanted to take her outside, so I did the honors. She was delightful! And her heart’s desire? To eat the snow.

Sometimes, on cold winter mornings, my dad would get up before us and make a pot of oatmeal with raisins. I was the oldest and the first one down, and as he finished up his cooking, he’d smile and wink and wish me a good morning before disappearing to whatever work had gotten him up so early. My heart sank a little on those days, for that pot contained not only a bland, gooey, hot cereal that I detested, but my father’s love, and I was obliged to eat it in love regardless of personal preference. I hope he never knew I hated oatmeal.

My own oatmeal-in-a-pot is a dressed up version of the simple back-of-the-box recipe that my dad made. The addition of milk makes it a little creamier, the butter gives it that certain something that only butter can give, and you can mix and match your fruits and nuts to suit your moods and available ingredients. This is the big-family version, but you can absolutely scale it down to more manageable quantities. Oh, and don’t use quick oats, please. They are too gooey and no good for anything except no-bake cookies.


6 cups water
2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup sugar, plain or brown
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a healthy lump of butter
3-4 cups of fruits and nuts of your choice – Try raisins, apples and pecans, or blueberries and almonds, or cranberries and walnuts…even canned peaches are delicious!
Optional: ground flax seed for extra nutrition

Put the water, milk, salt and any dried fruits into a pot and bring to a boil. Add remaining ingredients, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook, stirring constantly, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the oats are tender. It’ll take several minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the porridge to rest for about ten minutes. It’ll continue to thicken as it cools. Stir in some ground flax seed, if using, and serve warm with milk or cream and additional sugar or honey, if desired.



8 Comment

  1. KristyB says:

    What sweet memories. I try to make a decent breakfast on the weekends, but our weekday mornings are the more typical boring cereal. I was up early with the little one this morning and decided to make a double batch of my favorite steel cut oats. I don’t make them a lot for everyone bc steel cut aren’t that cheap but I love the crunchy oat taste. My own recipe had ruined me for any fancy restaurant breakfast version :).

    Standard recipe, if you’re interested… (I doubled it for my 7).

    Combine 1 C milk and 3 C water in a large pot and bring to a simmer. In a large skillet, melt 1 T of butter and brown 1 C of steel oats for about 5 minutes, until they smell nutty. Combine the oats with the milk/water mixture in the big pot and set to simmering (low-med) for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a few shakes of salt and simmer for 10 more minutes, stirring more frequently as it begins to really thicken. Let rest off the heat for 5-10 minutes and serve with your favorite mixers. So tasty especially on a cold morning!

    1. Thanks, Kristy! I love steel cut oats, too, and they sell them at the bulk health food store, so they aren’t too expensive. More than rolled oats, for sure, but not prohibitive, as long as you don’t mind a fifty pound sack!

    2. It may not take me as long as I think to go thru that much πŸ˜‰

  2. Nice memories. I’m sure I have them (though my mother always prepared the breakfasts and occasionally my father the dinners), but my brain does not open up and let them out — terrible memory.

    Only my husband and I will eat oats, and lately they make my stomach hurt, so I rarely make them. My husband makes breakfast on Saturdays, like your dad did on Sundays. Always French Toast, for just him and the kids. Now just one kid.

    SO, I need to change your blog address on my sidebar, Miss Jennie?

    1. Yes, please, Miss Barbara, and I’ll get most of my old posts transferred over eventually. πŸ™‚

  3. My recipe is similar, except I do it in the microwave and use only 2 cups of oats for our family. 5 minutes on high, stir, 5 minutes, stir, then 3 minutes. Perfectly cooked and I have just the right bowl so they don’t boil over and make a mess. When I have to make more for our crew I’ll have to move to the stove, but for now this keeps me from standing over the stove and stirring. Oh! And we use a dollop of butter and unsweetened applesauce and cinnamon in ours and its wonderful . not as good as brown sugar, but still good.

  4. Anne Neulieb says:

    Most of my crew prefers baked oatmeal (and we use Barbara’s recipe for that😊). If I make stove top, I use Oh She Glows Apple Pie Oatmeal and it’s delicious!!!

  5. You know your dad loved you if he cared enough to make you a hot breakfast because he didn’t want you eating cold cereal on a cold morning. That’s so sweet. I hated my mom’s oatmeal, too. We all did. She used quick oats. Ick.

    I buy steel cut by the 50lb sack. We do rolled when I forget to make them the night before and there aren’t any other breakfast options handy. I always make my oatmeal with half or all milk. It’s so much better than water.

    I try to be creative with oatmeal, but nuts are so pricey we do not often have them. Most often, it’s just the classic raisins and cinnamon and brown sugar, but we all like that. We also like toasted coconut, banana slices and chocolate chips. Sometimes we have apple, cinnamon and raisins. I cooked sweet cherries in the oatmeal recently and topped it with toasted walnuts and cream-that was amazing.

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