Pan-Fried Oats with Sour Cherries

I have a garden full of vegetables crying out to be picked and cooked, and yet here I am in the dark kitchen frying up chunks of thick-cut oats and pecans and sour cherries in brown butter and glazing it all in maple syrup. I swear that it’s my inner temperature gauge that’s causing the fall craving. The nights have been dipping into the ‘40s or lower (love you, Minnesota) and I guess I am just like any other animal of the woods; that is, my diet is not as intentional as I think it is. Nature sways me.

My love for oatmeal came late, as I came from an eggs-for-breakfast—steak-and-eggs, even—tribe. I remember my friend Sarah teaching me how to make oatmeal in her sunny kitchen one day while we were in college. She emphasized the point of doneness as that moment when the oatmeal turned sticky and held together, and made sure we shoved a wedge of butter into the center of each bowl.

I’ve never heard of anyone else craving leftover oatmeal, but I do love it more the second day than the first—probably because I’ve taken to frying the chunks of it in a hot pan full of brown butter until it pops and the edges turn brown and crispy. The dark edges have an addictive quality of their own, but they also serve to emphasize the creaminess of the interior. And lately I’ve made this little pan concoction even better by adding whole pecans to the pan to toast and plump black sour cherries, expensive though they are (about 58 cents each by my estimation), and glazing all of it with a sticky coat of maple syrup.

These particular oats are a gift from Noreen Thomas of Doubting Thomas Farms, located just outside of Fargo-Moorhead. Her place is other-worldly-magical. During a visit there to film her and her Icelandic sheep for this week’s TV show, she handed me a bag of oats—organic oats from their fields that they had hand-rolled at the farm, “using a bicycle-powered oat roller that we’ve rigged up.”

Picture that one for a second. I might have to go see this thing for myself.

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