Put one cup of rolled oatmeal and one teaspoonful of salt in the top of a double boiler. Add two and one-half cups of boiling water, stir with a fork, and cook two or three minutes on top of the stove. Then set into the lower part of the double boiler containing boiling water and let it cook, without stirring, forty-five minutes or longer. Oatmeal.
I am now going to prepare that simple and very common dish, oatmeal, but I think, like the common dish of potatoes, it is very often spoiled in the cooking. The two difficulties in making a palatable dish of oatmeal are that it is too frequently stirred, and that it is not cooked long enough. The time is not objectionable, in such a thing as that, for the reason that while the oatmeal is cooking you can be doing ever so many things; I suppose one reason why the old-fashioned oatmeal has gone out of use is because it took such a long time to cook it—twentyfour hours not being any too long. This steam-cooked oatmeal will cook very nicely in three-quarters of an hour, and most any housekeeper gives an hour to the preparation of a breakfast.
By all means have a double boiler or a tea-kettle steamer, or something that you can put over hot water, so that you will not need to stir the oatmeal at all from the time it is put over until it is done, as the stirring will make it pasty. Use two cupfuls of rolled oatmeal. Put in two teaspoonfuls of salt, after which put in two and one-half times as much water as you have oatmeal. This is a very good proportion, tuough it can be varied to suit the taste. As it is a starchy food it should be put, like potatoes and other starchy vegetables and grains, into boiling water, or have boiling water put onto it To insure its starting to cook quickly I will am it right over the fire for a few minutes, so that it will begin to boil. Then 1 will put it in this steamer, in the top of the teakettle until it finishes cooking. When you put the water in you will need to stir it a little to mix it, and it is very much better to stir it with a fork; it does not mash it as much as a spoon does.
There is a great deal said, pro and con, about oatmeal as an article of diet Some writers and speakers are condemning it as being too harsh. I think it is like a good many things, the value of which we must determine ourselves. If we can eat oatmeal, and it does not hurt us, we know that there is very good nutriment in it; if it does hurt us, we can substitute something else. Properly cooked it is digestible for most people, I think, and this rule of cooking it applies just as well to the various other cereals, excepting as to time, and possibly the proportion of water. Any of the preparations of wheat especially may be cooked in the same way. The California breakfast food is a most palatable dish, and will take the place of oatmeal, especially in summer.
Oatmeal has more fat than wheat has, but not so much as cornmeal. If your family do not like these breakfast foods try and persuade them by every possible means to eat them, by serving them in various ways. Oat meal is very nice with baked apples or apple sauce. Dish up the oatmeal, put the apples on top, and then pour your cream over that, and people who are not fond of oatmeal will eat it in this way when they cannot eat it plain. Apple sauce is also nice with wheat
You get your fruit and mush in combination; it saves time, and you also get a healthful dish. I presume there are some in the room who do not like sugar and cream, but I shall have to serve it in the most common way, as I cannot suit all tastes. It is said that if we would eat our oatmeal without sugar, but with plenty of cream, it would be very much better for us. Oatmeal mush should never be eaten by itself. While it does not need mastication it does need to be mixed with the saliva, and that is one reason why it is sometimes indigestible. When it gets into the stomach the gastric juice has very little action on the starch. The saliva which is mixed with the food in the mouth is what tells in the digestion of the starch.
Title: A Handbook of Agriculture. Author: Wisconsin Farmers' Institutes. Publisher) Wisconsin Farmers' Institutes., 1895. Original from: the University of California. Digitized: Sep 2, 2009