The Week of Eating In: Day Four – Steel Cut Oats and the Seduction of Pastry

by James Boo on February 25, 2010 · 7 comments

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I'm taking the Week of Eating In Challenge!

Chocolate Babka - Oneg Heimishe Bakery - Hasidic Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
This is the babka that officially sank my streak of eating in. Say what you will about my lapse in willpower, but if you utter a lowly syllable about the babka, you are banned from my life.

I spent this morning slushing down Bedford for a medical appointment. While trudging back up from the heart of Hasidic Williamsburg, I wasn’t feeling very hungry, but when you’re in a neighborhood as unique as this, hunger tends to be less powerful than the impulse to pounce while you’re in striking distance of a genuine artifact.

Chocolate Babka - Oneg Heimishe Bakery - Hasidic Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
The irresistible temptation to take home an edible piece of whatever neighborhood one happens to occupy at any given moment is a core trait of many a worthy eater. I like to imagine myself as worthy; hence, when my friends knocked on my apartment door to help me shoot today’s video, $20 of Oneg Heimishe Bakery‘s richest, densest, crustiest chocolate babka awaited their embrace. I had a maple cheesecake in my freezer and could have whipped up a batch of cookies in twenty minutes, but this wasn’t about sating my sweet tooth – it was about recognizing a beauty beyond my person (mere kismet that this particular loaf of beauty was like a dark, sweet brownie folded and swirled into a luscious, streusel-topped sweet bread).

Gingersnap Steel Cut Oats
After indulging in my share of the babka, I introduced my guests to one of my favorite forms of breakfast. Steel cut oats, a heartier form of the rolled oats with processed sweeteners I grew up eating on camping trips and on approximated winter mornings in Orange County, are head and shoulders above their single-serving neighbors in the cereal aisle.

While steel cut oats are not nearly as convenient to cook, technology has granted us a few great compromises in the form of quick-cook steel cut oats. Trader Joe’s, McCann’s and Coach’s Oats all sell 10-minutes-or-less renditions of their more traditional steel cut oat offerings, and they’re all delicious.

I spoke to Erin Zimmer, editor of Serious Eats and New York’s own oatmeal luminary, about the relative quality of the quick-cook oats in my kitchen, and she gave me the thumbs up; the main differences in the quick-cook varieties seem to be a finer cut and a partial cook before packaging, putting consumers one step ahead of the groat game.

So, once you’ve gotten ahold of a can of oats, how exactly do you translate them into satisfaction?
Here’s my answer, in moving pictures:

Thursday’s Meals
-Yogurt with frozen berries and granola
-Quick-cook steel cut oats with ripe banana
-Chocolate babka from Oneg Heimishe’s and Oslo Coffee’s “Thor” through French press
-Quick-cook steel cut oats with a ginger, brown sugar and molasses
-Blood orange
-Leftovers from Day Three
-Raw carrots with homemade hummus

Bianca February 26, 2010 at 11:51 am


Danny February 26, 2010 at 12:07 pm

what?! there’s an oatmeal that’ll help me grow chest hair and a beard? where has this been all of my life?!?! i hope it works on asians.

the bananas + microwave looks like a smart move too. mmm….

Jen February 26, 2010 at 9:34 pm

So if I microwave oatmeal and bananas tomorrow morning for breakfast, will your band appear in my kitchen while I wait for it? That would really make my day. Serious.

I guess I’ll have to get over to the Hasids to buy some babbka, cause the one from Andres can’t compare with that one.

James Boo February 27, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Bianca – unh.

Danny – I actually slipped up in wording there; the oatmeal in question wasn’t actually McCann’s, but McMinoxidil. And, bananas are just the start… the ginger snap idea is pretty amazing, as let’s not forget our good friends cocoa and Nutella…

Jen – My band’s demands are pretty high (melodica players in particular tend to be divas), but I’ll happily play solo kitchen shows for payment in babka!

Addie Broyles February 27, 2010 at 5:31 pm

I’d have caved for that babbka, too. :)

tera February 27, 2010 at 6:40 pm

not a fan of oatmeal, but i liked your song :)

wasabi prime March 2, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Your videos = JOY. Seriously, you may have a new business model smash success: Ballads for Babka! If there’s any reason to break the chastity of having meals at home, that babka is IT. Desserts can be the most complicated to make, and that’s the one thing where I’ve never been able to recreate certain things at home, so I just say eff it, and buy what my sweet tooth’s desire craves. Consider it a hard-earned reward!

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