On September 9, 1973, I was standing next to my new wife, Teresa, at her parents farm near Roseau, MN. We had been married the evening before and were opening our gifts under the oak trees in front of the house on this beautiful Sunday morning. We had just opened our fifth toaster, four of which we would later exchange at the local hardware store. Actually we should have kept them all since a toaster only lasts ten years. We would be on our last one now.
Then we opened a package containing a Betty Crocker's Cookbook. Someone said, "It even has a recipe for oatmeal!" Two of Teresa's aunts snickered to themselves. "Oatmeal! Uff da, who vould need a recipe for oatmeal?" Well I would, for one. But I kept quiet. These aunts were formidable farmwives, used to cooking large joints of beef and unmentionable parts of pigs. They probably had twelve-quart kettles of oatmeal simmering on the back burner right now.
I felt bad for my cookbook and slid it under a couple of toasters. I could make a sandwich or a salad. Bacon and eggs was intuitive, but anything more complicated would need a guidebook. Over the years I learned a lot from Betty Crocker, but every time I opened the book, I was reminded of that slapdown in '73.
Just last night I was making biscuits. I only make biscuits every few months so I needed the recipe. I do make oatmeal fairly often. I use a half cup of water and a half cup of oatmeal. Add the oatmeal to boiling water and simmer until the water's absorbed. I like a chewy oatmeal. With brown sugar and cream it's the perfect bedtime snack, but that's just me. I know different people have other preferences. I decided to see what Betty recommended.
I was shocked to find there was no recipe for just plain oatmeal. Oatmeal cookies, yes, and muffins, etc., etc. All these years I'd been living a lie. Or at least a fib. As I cast my mind back to that Sunday norming so long ago I saw her standing there. There was Betty herself in the back row of onlookers, smiling sardonically. "Read the box, Joe," she said. "Just read the box."
|Recipe for mushy oatmeal.|