“You have to eat oatmeal or you’ll dry up.  Anyone knows that.”
~Kay Thompson (Eloise)
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The other day I had my mother over for dinner so she could catch up with Curtis, since he’s only home for a week.  She brought me a couple of issues of Taste of Home and this recipe (April/May ’11) struck me.  I couldn’t wait to make it, and it did not disappoint.  This is not the oatmeal you had at camp, folks.

I woke up needing something comforting.  First of all, Curtis set up a slackline in the yard, and encouraged me to try it.

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Do not try this at home.
It IS an amazing core workout though 😉
Not that I needed much encouraging, since it looked fun.  Simply trying was a great workout although now, a day later, when I walk you can hear an audible “ow” “ow” “ow.”  In addition to that, after having rain, murk and gloom for 10 straight days, the sun finally came out and I could not resist soaking up as much as I could, resulting in….yes, you guessed it…a nice fry on my milky Irish skin.

After surviving my night of pain, the warm, sweet and satisfying comfort of this dish was the perfect medicine.  Now, in the past oatmeal would not be my first choice in the morning, although I would eat it now and then because it’s good for you.  This is a different story though…not a breakfast to plod through…one to savor and look forward to.  A real treat.

Irish Oatmeal Brulee
8 cups milk 
2 cups steel cut oats
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise (optional)
1 orange peel strip (1 to 3 inches)
dash salt
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup maple syrup
cream, optional
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

In a large heavy saucepan, bring milk to a boil over medium heat.  Add the oats, cinnamon, orange peel and salt.  Reduce heat; simmer for 30 minutes or until thick and creamy, stirring occasionally.
Remove from the heat; discard cinnamon, star anise and orange peel.  Stir in the cranberries, raisins, syrup and a small amount of cream, if desired.  Cover and let stand for 2 minutes.
Transfer to eight ungreased 6 ounce ramekins.  Place on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.  Broil 8 inches from the heat for 4-7 minutes or until sugar is caramelized.  Serve  immediately.

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