Therese Moore loves oatmeal. As in, looooooooooves oatmeal. She loves it so much that she began playing with it, treating it as the grain it is and not just as a receptacle for copious amounts of sugar and cream. Friends and family told her that her oatmeal creations deserved a wider audience, and thus 3 Bear Oats was born.
Moore now sells her creative oatmeal dishes ($5-$8, depending on size) at the Mill City Farmers Market, and they’re a welcome addition to the other prepared foods available there. She cooks up big batches of organic steel-cut oats to the point where they’re done but still sturdy, deftly avoiding the sadness that is overly mushy gruel. Then she creates a variety of options, sweet and savory, sourcing her additional ingredients locally as much as possible (including items from several other Mill City vendors). She buys the oats themselves from the Wedge Co-op, which in turns brings them in from Canada, but Moore is on the hunt for locally grown, organic steel-cut oats to use in the future.
On a recent visit, we tried the five flavors she had available and were delighted with the wide range of flavors. Little Bear’s Breakfast (above) was perhaps the most traditional of all, with cinnamon-coated apple chunks, granola, honey, and walnuts, a great mix of textures and a not-cloying sweetness offset by the generous amount of cinnamon.
The Petite Canadienne combined crunchy bacon pieces with maple syrup and Cheddar cheese, a pleasing nod to bacon and pancakes. A chilled-overnight oatmeal with chocolate, peanut butter, and bananas divided our group of tasters; some liked the cream-pie texture and flavor, others thought it a bit too sweet and weren’t thrilled about the chilled aspect.
But what made us all wildly happy were the most savory options. The Shangri-La, which came topped with some zippy curry powder, tandoori spice, coconut flakes, and bits of cashew and crystallized ginger, was delicious. A little fiery (but not threateningly so), it had all of us saying, “Who knew you could do this with oatmeal?”
The same phrase was repeated when we tried the Cottage Garden, another Asian variant, this time with a generous collection of crunchy vegetables tossed with kimchi and sesame oil. The kimchi was a powerful wake-up call that paired with the oatmeal the way it does with rice. Several tasters pointed to this as their favorite, and as the one that surprised them the most. (And perhaps as the one they’d most like to try to recreate at home.)
You can find 3 Bears oatmeal dishes at the Mill City Farmers Market every Saturday morning through the market season (until the end of October). Flavors offered will vary from week to week and will include offerings such as the Yogi Bear (black beans, avocado, hummus, and green goddess dressing) and Orso Toscano (basil, garlic, leeks, sauteed mushrooms, olive oil, and Parmesan).