Notes on Oats
- Every night before I go to bed, I pour some milk into a bowl, add a spoonful (or two) or peanut butter, a dash of brown sugar, and a squirt of honey, stir it all together, and then dump some oats in there. I stick this lovely concoction in the fridge and then in the morning I eat it. They call this “overnight oats.”
- I started making overnight oats around six weeks ago. At the time I was on what university administrators call a “short work break,” meaning I was effectively unemployed. I finished my PhD in May, so I no longer even had scholastic obligations to occupy my time during the prolonged emptiness of summer vacation. My days largely consisted of rolling out of bed at 10:00am or later, absent-mindedly watching TV for a while, maybe trying to read a book or something, staring blankly at the internet, and not infrequently ending up in a bar well before “acceptable” hours. There were projects that I had every intention of working on, of course. A book proposal, journal articles, that sort of thing. But without the looming threat of deadlines or hectoring emails from an advisor, these projects languished. Procrastination flourished while productiveness withered on the vine. My life lacked structure, and without it I was functionally useless.
- Some people, and I won’t name names here, like to put exotic seeds, or other strange and sundry thing in their overnight oats. Others, often these same people, make their oats in a mason jar. Indeed, when I went to look on Google for an image to illustrate this post, it was nothing but mason jar oats, as far as the eye could see. Such behavior is ridiculous and, frankly, sad. Just another example of the bourgeoisification of working class cuisine, like those “upscale” barbecue restaurants that charge $16 for a plate of brisket. Culinary gentrification must be stopped. Please keep your faux “rustic” artesian Williamsburg bullshit aesthetic away from my (store brand) oats. Thank you.
- In searching for ways to structure my life this summer, I decided to develop a morning routine. “I’ll get up every day and make a real breakfast,” I thought. “Surely that will set me on the path to success and happiness.” So I bought a carton of eggs and a pack of bacon, and for a few mornings scrambled eggs and bacon. I learned that the secret to good scrambled eggs is to cook them slowly, over low heat. I also learned that I really hate cleaning grease out of pans, and that if you typically wake up at 10:00, then by the time you’re done cooking and eating and cleaning, it’s already noon and the day is half gone. So I stopped making bacon and eggs.
- The name overnight oats is kind of stupid. It’s just cold oatmeal. We don’t need to make everything sound so fancy.
- Making cold oatmeal is the easiest routine you’ll ever pick up. You just throw some stuff in a bowl, stick it in the fridge for 6–8 hours, and voila, a tasty breakfast accompanied by the faint sense of having done something good for yourself. No cooking. Minimal clean-up. Zero thinking required. It’s the perfect breakfast for coddled, lazy millenials like myself. I love it.
- One time I sliced up a banana and put it on my oats. I didn’t like it. Now I eat the banana separately. I’m not saying that’s the only way to do it, but it’s what works for me.