From My Father’s Kitchen: Oatmeal Obsession

MEATY MEALS FOR DAD: Mustardy Turkey Meatloaf; Five Spice Brisket; Parpadelle with Lamb Bolognese; Penne Gratin with Sausage, Fennel and Mushrooms; Broiled Flank Steak with Sautéed Wild Mushrooms and Chive-Parsley Butter

Oftentimes, the grill is still considered a man’s domain. My friend Keith even went so far as to say (perhaps obnoxiously) that if a girl grilled for him on a date, it would make him uncomfortable. As Father’s Day approaches, the web has been saturated with man food—not just stuff to throw on the grill, but also bacon hash for breakfast, Brisket Sandwiches for dinner, and the like.

But my dad is not a grill guy, nor a meat guy. In fact, even though my grandfather and uncle founded a family business that primarily distributes Weber grills, I’m not sure my father knows how to use one (though he expressed an interest in learning this summer). And, last winter, after dining with a group of militant vegans on New Year’s Eve, he changed his food philosophy and decided to no longer eat meat. His new pescatarianism has driven my mother, the household cook and devout lover of red meat, into a state of fish-induced delirium.

But beyond seafood, and beyond the white carbs that have been our joint indulgence for years, my dad’s eating habits, manly or not, are defined by oatmeal. Pretty much the only time he will pick up a pan (with intention to use, not clean it) is in the morning, when it’s time for his daily bowl of rolled oats. Since I’m hard-pressed to find an interesting recipe for such a humble breakfast, especially close to Father’s Day, I decided to ask the man himself for the secrets to his extraordinary oatmeal-making skill.

Full disclosure: as of last week, I moved back to my parents’ apartment for the summer and have begun subletting my room to my friend Alix. It’s a strange adjustment after two years of living with Caitlyn, and if the state of my childhood bedroom (with piles of clothes lining the floor) is any indication, I am still in denial about where my home currently is. But if I’m going to have to get used to sharing frying pans, remote controls, and daily routines with my parents, I might as well get used to eating my dad’s daily oatmeal, if he happens to be in the mood to share that too.

Tuesday morning, I watched my dad carefully measure out his oats and water, slice up some fruit, and pull the whole magical health nut breakfast of champions together in less than ten minutes. Tomorrow night, I think I’ll stick to more traditional Father’s Day fare, if not from the manly arsenal of grilled meats, than at least from the category of dinner (I’ll probably make Linguine with Littlenecks, Tomatoes, and Corn or Lightly Fried Tilapia with Caper Brown Butter with Squash Chips with Basil and Balsamic Drizzle). But when the next special day arises, I’ll know just how to surprise my dad with his favorite breakfast, even if he would probably make it better himself.

From my kitchen, wishing Puff Daddy J a happy day, to yours,



“City” Oatmeal with Blueberries and Dried Cherries
Makes 1-2 servings (depending on how manly you are)

The secret to this oatmeal is the brand of grains my dad likes to use–Old Wessex All Natural 5 Grain Cereal (if using a different brand, make sure to check the cooking instructions on the packaging as they might be slightly different). He likes to call this version his “city” oatmeal because you don’t need fresh ingredients to make it. His summer “Island” oatmeal uses fresh peaches and blueberries, while this one just requires frozen (which turns the oats a bluish color). But the true brilliance comes at the end of the cooking process, when he covers the pot with his bowl to warm it.


1/2 cup oats or grain mix
1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons dried cherries
1 tablespoon brown sugar (to taste)
Greek yogurt (optional)

In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to boil. Slowly stir in the oats. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the blueberries, cherries, and an additional 1/4 cup of water (this will make the cherries plump up). Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Turn off the heat, and cover the saucepan with the bottom of your bowl (see above). Let the oatmeal rest for a minute. Then scoop the cereal into your (warm!) bowl, and top with brown sugar and a spoonful of Greek yogurt (if using). Enjoy.

  • chrissy6

    Never thought of adding brown sugar and greek yogurt… looks good tho.

  • Frankie

    The cherries…What a way to begin the day. Too yummy.

  • Maddie

    I saw my artichoke-obsessed mom in your last post, Phoebe, and now I see my dad in this one. He introduced me to slow-cooked, steel-cut oats, and my life is all the better for it. This recipe sounds flavorful and wholesome—the perfect way to start Father’s Day!

    • BGSK

      Maddie, so glad to hear my dad isn’t the only oatmeal guy! I can’t say I am an oats convert just yet, but we’ll see where I am by the end of the summer after a few more breakfasts of them!

  • Carolyn Cope

    Okay, I love this post. If I told you all the reasons why, I’d just be rewriting it. Happy Father’s Day to your dad, and good luck to you all with the move! My sister lived back home for two years, and it worked out berzerkly well. In addition, she now lives on her own again. :)

    • BGSK

      Thanks for the encouragement, Carolyn! I actually lived with the rents for my first year out of college (pre-BGSK times), so I know I can handle it. Really, the main conflicts come about in the kitchen when I eat my mom’s food!

  • tasteofbeirut

    This bowl of oatmeal looks so delicious! I love it! the idea of having it for breakfast is a very appealing one, I must say, especially with yogurt (I don’t care for milk!)

  • Sara

    I’m obsessed with oatmeal, so obviously I’m pretty pumped that you dedicated a post to it. I love whipping banana slices into mine then topping the bowl with a spoonful of peanut butter, some granola and a drizzle of maple syrup. I like to change it around a lot, though – my mix-ins and toppings can get pretty crazy (the other day I mixed in pumpkin butter and cottage cheese….yum!). I’m pretty sure oatmeal purists would hate me, haha.

    • BGSK

      pumpkin butter? That is pretty crazy! Sounds absolutely delicious. You may convince me to give up my morning eggs with oatmeal ideas like that :)

  • Megan Lane

    i’m definitely going to try this, yum!

  • happyolks

    spice up his morning routine with a surprise of zucchini and carrots with nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger… it’s sure to please!

  • Kernochan

    I’ve been lucky enough to have your father’s signature dish, and it stuck with me all day. Good stuff.

  • ebcdaughter

    My goodness this is DELICIOUS! Just tried my own version working with what I had (regular quaker oatmeal, dried cranberries instead of cherries, and honey b/c my brown sugar had dried up). New favorite, especially with the greek yogurt (I mixed some vanilla and honey into plain greek) – it gets warm and runny and AMAZING! Thanks!

  • Heather

    This oatmeal recipe is brilliant! I love the fact that your dad taught you how to make it. It brings fond memories of my Daddy making breakfast for me as a child. Though he’s gone now, I always loved my Dad’s humble take on breakfast. Why is it fathers are so great about this?:) Anyhow, I’m going to definitely try the bowl warming method next time I cook! I love this idea- especially for when I reheat soup on the stove!!:) Also can’t wait to make this oatmeal recipe:)

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