This is kind of a long post, but, honestly, this is a *quick* breakfast. Once you've got it down, you can make it in less than ten minutes flat.
You know that whole thing about necessity being the Mother of Invention and all? Yeah, that IS how it works.
So, I'm up in Northern California, at my friend's cabin in the woods. The grocery store is literally 45 minutes away from the house, so it's not like I can pop over to the store for a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg. Plus, my friend is not a cook, so the options in her pantry are not very option-y. *And* there's an electric 2-burner hotplate and a toaster oven. It's not quite camping, because, you know, I'm in a house, but it's probably as close to camping as one can be in a house.
And I'm sick of plain oatmeal with bananas... What's a girl to do? Well, this girl came up with this hearty, tasty, warming Chai Infused Oatmeal with Apples.
Did I already mention that there are no measuring cups in this "I'm almost camping" scenario? Yeah... No measuring cups, so I use a little glass ramekin which is a little more than cupcake sized. You know those cute little pyrex things? They hold about 3/4 of a cup.
Sweetener of choice
Earth Balance, if you'd like
So... The ratio for oatmeal is 2 parts water to one part oatmeal, but you're going to be cooking the apples first and some evaporation is going to occur while you're cooking them. You're going to want to start with 3 parts liquid (We're working with a single, albeit large, serving. If you're going to go all crazy and make this oatmeal for your entire neighborhood or whatever, you may need to change the water ratio a bit. That's on you. I would suggest making it for yourself, first, to see how things go.).
Okay, in a pot in the stove, put 2 parts water and 1 part chai.
Add your sweetener (Oh, come on, you know how sweet you like your oatmeal! Put that amount in! I like to use brown sugar, but Agave is tasty, too. If your chai is sweetened, take that into consideration).
Now, put your heat up high and get your liquid to boiling.
While your liquid is headed towards a boil, peel, core and chop up your apple. I like mine fairly small. Larger than a pea, but not by much. Smaller than a grape. Maybe the size of half a grape?
Whenever you're done chopping up your apple, add it to your liquid and boil it until your apple is soft. (This is when most of your evaporation is occurring.) I like to use a fork to poke at my apple pieces until they're exactly the way that I like them. I'm a little impatient. The whole poking it with a fork thing makes it go faster, kind of like hitting the elevator button a lot. If you appreciate a more al dente apple, you should note that you may not need as much liquid... In that case, use 2.5 parts of liquid and try to make about a third of that chai.
Stir your apple while it's cooking so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot---remember, you've got some kind of sweetener in there and sweetener *likes* to make things stick. If you stir it with a fork, you can randomly poke the apples at the same time, making everything cook faster. (Seriously, if you push the buttons on the elevator a lot, it makes the elevator go faster.)
When your apple is soft, which kind of takes a while, add a liberal pinch of salt.. The salt helps make your oatmeal better. The starches of your oatmeal won't release as much if there's salt in there and it won't be some horrible version of some glutenous porridge from your Oliver Twist nightmares.
Now it's time to add your oats. Do not use the quick oats. They're not as good for you and they don't taste right. I can't eat Steal Cut oats, so I don't know what they'd taste like, and I'm not sure of the ratio of liquid, but, hey, what's the fun in cooking if you can't experiment a bit, right?
Now, you have two options.
You can either turn down the heat to really, really low, if you have a gas range, and go do something else--like take a shower or check your email or whatever you like to do in the morning. When you come back, your oatmeal will be done and you can put it into a bowl, add some Earth Balance and eat it up.
Or, if you have an electric stove or are as impatient as I am, you can keep things at a serious boil and stir the heck out of that oatmeal to make sure that it doesn't stick for about 5 minutes. Then put it into a bowl, add some Earth Balance and eat it up.
Then say, "Yum!" because it's totally tasty!
You can also eat this with bananas, which is really good, if you haven't been eating oatmeal with bananas for breakfast for two straight weeks. Just change the liquid ration to 2:1, don't do the apple part and while your oats are cooking, take a few breaks from the stirring to cut up a banaba into your bowl. I know. I know. I thought the same thing! Bananas and oatmeal? That's not a good mix, but it is. It really, really is. Then, add your cooked oatmeal to the bowl with your chopped bananas, add some Earth Balance, eat it up and say, "Yum!