Purple Porch Co-Op

My Saturday morning routine involves making a huge pot of steel cut oats in my rice cooker, which I parcel out so I can have oatmeal for breakfast the rest of the week.  I’m always looking for an opportunity to use the rice cooker, especially given the amount of kitchen counter real estate it takes up.  But this really is the superior way to make oatmeal.

Cafe at Purple Porch

Cafe at Purple Porch

Anyways, this past weekend, I checked the pantry and I was out of oats.  No sweat—I hopped on my bike and pedaled down to South Bend’s Purple Porch Co-Op.  Purple Porch has been hooking Benders up with fresh vegetables and locally sourced groceries for ages, but last year they finally opened up a storefront on the corner of Colfax and Hill.  It is open to the public and also accepts members.  They have a fantastic little cafe with many options for vegetarians.  And if you need produce, kitchen basics—or, say, a four pound bag of steel cut oats—they have you covered.  They also sell locally roasted Zen coffee beans, which is definitely the best coffee to be had in the Bend.  And McK claims their eggs are the best in town.  I am not such an egg snob, so I usually settle for Meijer or the farmer’s market.

On this trip, I stocked up on oats, homemade apple butter, rye flour and Japanese sweet potatoes.

Oats at Purple Porch

Oats at Purple Porch

I even ran into a coworker at the checkout.  Purple Porch is one of the great institutions of downtown South Bend—unique, fills a great need, and brings the community together.

Oh, and I bet you could use an oatmeal recipe!

Meg’s Apple Cinnamon Irish Oatmeal:


  • *2 cups steel cut oats.  Sometimes called groats or `Irish Oats’.  Don’t get the fast cook kind.
  • *3ish cups of water.
  • *1.5ish cups of whole milk.
  • *1 TBSP brown sugar (or more to taste)
  • *2/3 TBSP cinnamon (or more to taste)
  • *Pinch of salt.
  • *7 TSPs apple butter.


In a rice cooker, pour in all of the ingredient except the apple butter.  (If you aren’t gadgety, you can do all of this in a medium pot on medium-high heat, just check and stir often.)  Set the rice cooker on the brown rice setting, give it a good stir, and then close it and let it go.  Every ten minutes or so, pop the top of the cooker and give it a stir.  After about 30 minutes it will start to have the oatmeal consistency.  I usually let it go 40 or so minutes total.  You can eat it right away, but even better—parcel out your oatmeal into small mason jars and stir a tsp of the apple butter into each jar.  Seal and store in your fridge.  The oats will absorb more of the liquid and the apple butter As they sit.

To reheat: Pop a jar when you are ready for breakfast, microwave 30 seconds, add a tsp of whole milk, give it a good stir, microwave 30 more seconds… one more stir and enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon Irish Oatmeal, ready for the week ahead.

Apple Cinnamon Irish Oatmeal, ready for the week ahead.


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