Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gruel and Unusual Punishment

This morning, Mandy told Maya to "Ask Grammy if she'll cook us some oatmeal for breakfast?"

And Maya did that -came and asked me for that food item. I obliged too -fixing it -for the most part -the same way I have always cooked oatmeal for my kids -with a big blob of butter and several spoons worth of brown sugar added to the water to melt and then, adding in the oatmeal. Today and the other day though, I added a bit more to this item -an apple, pared and cut into small pieces and today, I even tossed some raisins into the mix.

I love oatmeal with things added to it -to give it some flavor, some zest -a few more nutrients too. My kids have always eaten oatmeal too -fixed like that -with no hassles, nary a one! Maya -and even Kurtis -will eat it this way too.

But as we were enjoying this concoction this morning, I got to remembering how things were -back when I was a kid -and my Mom couldn't convince me to eat oatmeal then. No way, Jose! Not for love nor money would I even consider eating that stuff back then!

Mom and Grandma both thought oatmeal to be a wondrous breakfast meal. Cook it up, pour some milk on it, sprinkle maybe a tiny bit of white sugar and that was it though.

And gosh, how I hated it!

Their oatmeal was always grayish in color, usually lumpy in texture too. And that teensy bit of sugar on top of the milk on top of the oatmeal just never cut it for me back then.

When my kids came along, was about the time Quaker Oats began making the instant oatmeal that had dried fruits, or other types of flavorings in the packets and thanks to their advertising, one of my kids suggested that they would like to try that.

So I obliged them. Watched as they ate the stuff and I tried it then too. Hmmm. It's amazing what a bit of extra flavor can do for a substance so bland, so yucky looking (and tasting)!

I decided to try experimenting a bit with cooked oatmeal and when I hit on the idea of some butter and brown sugar, it met with immediate approval with all three of my kids and has been a "comfort" type breakfast food for them ever since. And yes, for me too!

I was wondering this morning as we were eating, if my Mom and/or Grandma had tried jazzing the oatmeal up -just a tiny bit -way back when, if I would have become an oatmeal lover early on then too?

My kids also love grits -with butter, salt and pepper on them too -as do I. And grits was something never on the breakfast menu when I was growing up. Once in a while Mom would buy some cream of wheat but even that didn't appeal to me then but I will eat it occasionally now -just not a big favorite of mine though.

How many of you ate oatmeal as a child? How many of you liked it then too? And do you like it now or not?

No, this isn't a scientific survey and no, it's not a paid post for anything either.

I'm just curious about how things come about and our taste buds change or accept other foods over time, that's all.

And how about other foods too? What foods wouldn't you eat when you were young but maybe love now -or perhaps you still don't like certain foods to this day?

I also had a fixation for most of my childhood that I refused to eat lima beans, coleslaw and also, grape jelly. Turnips, parsnips and rutabagas were also on my "Will not touch with a ten foot pole" list back then too. Today, I love limas, coleslaw and grape jelly but the turnips, parsnips and rutabagas are still on my "not well-liked" listing. If someone served them to me, I'd be polite and take a small portion but it's highly unlikely they will ever grace my table here!

I cook lots of things that never were served in this house when I was growing up -haluski (fried cabbage and noodles), halupki (stuff cabbage) -for openers. I never had shrimp, clams , crabs, lobster or scallops until I was about 19, maybe 20 years old. As a child, I remember one time Grandma had made oyster stew and I wouldn't taste it but when I was around 20-21, and I tried it for the first time, I loved it!

I love hot spiced crabs but my son is the only one of my kids who was ever even willing to try them but I never had them, never learned how to eat them until I was about 20 and living in Maryland -where hot spiced crabs are a big favorite. Think Chesapeake Bay, ya know!

I also love oriental food -so do my kids -and I attribute their liking that to my being a bit of an experimental cook -willing to try to learn to fix foods from different cultures. Growing up, about the only ethnic food we ate (that wasn't Swedish in origin) was spaghetti!

Yes, mealtime back then was a lot on the boring and very bland side much of the time -quite unlike the meals I serve today which frequently are very, very spicy! Sometimes much to my son-in-law's chagrin as he doesn't care much for spicy seasonings, much less stuff that is heavily seasoned and might endanger your tongue or the back of your throat -not to mention other parts of your system as the stuff makes it way through, ya know!

My son-in-law might label some of my cooking as "Cruel and unusual punishment to the tastebuds" but I think bland stuff -like the grey oatmeal -is "Gruel and unusual" punishment, myself.

Come on now and tell me what you like or dislike -even hate -in the foodstuff categories, will ya?


... Paige said...

I'm weird then cause I like mine plain, milk & sugar

Vic Grace said...

I don't remember having oatmeal as a child but I eat it now sometimes. I get the old fashioned stuff and I put cottage cheese in it with almonds. Maybe a little sweetener.

There is not much I won't eat but I didn't like fish as a kid and I don't like it much now.

Travis said...

No grape jelly? I could have lived for a couple of weeks easy on PB&GJ. The thing I couldn't stand was orange marmalade. Or strawberry preserves.


But I loved me some grape jelly.

dr sardonicus said...

Maybe oatmeal has evolved over the years. I like oatmeal better now than whan I was growing up. Could be due to some chemical additives that are bad for me, though...

Paula said...

Oh Man, me too! I HATED oatmeal when I was a kid and Mom even threw raisins in now and again, but I found it completely revolting. I do eat it now, but only the flavored packaged kind.
I also hated broccoli and remember spitting it out on my plate one time when I was only 3 or 4. Grandma and Grandpa were over for dinner and boy did I get in trouble. I love broccoli now. Go figure!

Shelby said...

I am not very fond of oatmeal, but I'll eat it, assuming there's not much else. My daughter loves it. Of course she has to add lots of sugar, brown sugar and butter and of course, cinnamon (and a wee pinch of salt).

Cheers! :)

Palm Springs Savant said...

in my family I'm known as "mr bland" because I don't like spicy or exotic foods. Things I really don't like include beets, any shellfish, and sausage. blech

Mary said...


You've taken me back in time. Before we walked to school each morning in winter, Mom would make us a hot breakfast of oatmeal and toast with hot chocolate. She didn't put fancy stuff in the oatmeal but it was smooth and she always added lots of brown sugar and milk. I guess I've always had a sweet tooth because when she wasn't looking, I would add more brown sugar. I still like oatmeal with brown sugar but don't have it often because of my diabetes. When I do have it, it is a treat and I use very little brown sugar.

If we happened to have to eat breakfast at Grandma's for some reason, she cooked bacon, sausage, eggs and warmed up potatoes with homemade biscuits. She always made a huge breakfast for the men folk before they went out to work in the barn or the fields. There was always fruit as well. But back then we worked hard and played hard and burned off the calories. Today, many people don't do hard manual labor and so that type of breakfast would spell disaster.

One food I will not eat is brussels sprouts. I like cabbage and all the other veggies, but brussel sprouts is something that I hate.

When I was a kid, I wouldn't eat liver. My grandparents butchered their own meat and Grandma had liver and onions about once a month. I hated (or said I did) the liver, but would eat the gravy and loved it. One day Grandpa said to me you might as well eat the devil as drink his broth. So I gave in and actually tried the liver. I loved it and still do love beef liver to this day. We don't have it often. Maybe once a year.

Take care, my friend. I really enjoyed my visit here tonight.


Sandi McBride said...

Jeni, I can't see you eating grits, lol...of course we love them, we grew up on them. On oatmeal, too. Mama always dressed her oatmeal, too...raisins and applesauce, but she cooked it in just a little water so she could add lots of hot milk to it...peaches and cream were another favorite in the oatmeal...brownsugar and cinnamon...I could go eat some right now! Great post!

Suldog said...

I love oatmeal, just plainly cooked with some milk and a spoon or two of sugar. It always gives me a good feeling, as well as being tasty, because it was one of the things my Dad used to fix for me quite often on a Saturday or Sunday morning. He was a wonderful cook, and I miss his meals - always served with love.

What do I hate? Melted cheese, in some instances. I like pizza, and I like grilled cheese sandwiches, but when you start pouring melted cheese over potatoes or vegetables, yuck.

fermicat said...

I started craving home cooked vegetables in college, and it shocked my folks! But the biggest evolution in my taste buds has been my love of ever more spicy foods. I remember when I used to think jalapenos were hot and now I can eat them like pickles!