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Cheap and Good: Oatmeal Three Ways

Oats have a lot going for them, in comparison to other grains.

From a growing standpoint, places which ordinarily have not been ‘friendly’ to grains such as wheat (find a latitude on any globe where in your own mind – versus anyone else’s – you say, “It’s cold there” and you will find oats growing well there: parts of the former Soviet Union, Norway, Scotland, Canada and the northern US and so on). Weather conditions that make for poor growing conditions for wheat and many other grains (wet conditions, cool conditions, humid conditions, etc.) don’t seem to bother oats.

From a nutritional position, oats can more than hold their own with other grains. They are a great source of minerals such as manganese and selenium (which is something that we actually find it hard to get enough of in today’s diets), phosphorus and magnesium. It’s a great source of fiber.oats

In a one-cup cooked serving (which starts out as ½ cup uncooked), it’s got over 6 grams of protein all by itself and provides Omega 3 as well as Omega 6 fatty acids and a whole bunch of other stuff that frankly are really good for us in terms of vitamins and minerals. They are also a great base in terms of combining them with other food stuffs that will take advantage of the protein and other goodies in oats.

And don’t forget the fiber (because Aunt Toby’s all about the fiber).

Another item about oats which is actually sort of controversial is the issue of gluten. Oats, by themselves, out in the field, don’t have any gluten, so on the face of it, oats would seem a terrific food for people with gluten sensitivities, celiac diseases, inflammation issues and so on….EXCEPT, that people don’t buy oats straight out of the field. They buy oat-something – oats that have been processed, and unless you live in a place where oats and NOTHING BUT OATS can be grown, the mill that has been hulling, cutting, chopping, or whatever-ing the oats into the form that you buy, has also been doing the same things to a whole lot of other grains as well – like barley and wheat and so on. So, when you buy processed oats, you are actually getting oats with gluten contamination from those other grains. Unless the company making the processed product basically creates a mill that handles nothing but oats, consumers will be getting some gluten in their product. However – research indicates that a small amount of oats might be tolerated by people with gluten problems – but that they need to be closely monitored. Can Celiacs Eat Oats?

That being said, oats have their uses for the rest of us. Combining oats with other things is something that we are all very familiar with, if only we’d think about it. First example: the breakfast bowl of oatmeal. Do you know anyone who just cooks up oatmeal and then throws it in a bowl and eats it without…adding something else? OK – so you know people who throw in raisins and/or brown sugar. If nothing else, they should also be putting milk on it, right? Or maybe they are New Wave and throw some vanilla yoghurt and nuts on top. Bingo – more protein, more good fats. As far as I know, the only creatures that eat oats all by themselves are horses.

We like oats a lot Chez Siberia. In the winter, they are a favorite breakfast with milk or yoghurt.

Basic Oatmeal (not ‘quick oats’ or anything like this – made with plain, old thick cut, steel cut, or rolled oats)
For each person, take ½ c. dried, uncooked oats and combine with 1 cup of water in a saucepan.
Slowly, bring to a boil.
Cover the pot, turn down the heat to as low as you can get it.
Check after 5 minutes and stir. If it’s thick enough, put out in the bowls; otherwise, cover again and check in another five min.
Serve with things like: milk, yoghurt, (soy milk if you use that), dried fruit (if you use this, you might not need sugar), and brown sugar or honey if you feel the need.

At other times of the year, they make their appearance in everything from meat loaf to cookies and bars, bread, and the DH’s famous granola and muesli. So, that is what you will get here:

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (modified from The Fanny Farmer Cookbook, 1979 – makes 50-60 cookies)
1 stick of butter
½ cup veg shortening
1.5 cups of sugar (we prefer splitting it 50/50 between white and whatever brown sugar we’ve got)
2 eggs
1 tsp of vanilla
2.5 c. of general purpose flour (if you have specialty flours in your kitchen, a 50/50 split between bread and cake flour works really well)
2 tsp of baking soda
1 cup of oats (we use thick cut, but any rolled or cut oats will do; I have no experience with steel cut oats)
1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips.

Sift the flour and baking soda together. Cream the sugar(s), butter and shortening together. Add the eggs and vanilla followed by the flour and soda mixture. Check it for ‘looseness’ – it basically should be thick and heavy enough that you could really make cookies with it already; if it is too ‘loose’, then add, by tablespoons, more flour until it is. Once it’s really ‘cookie dough’, THEN add the oats and the chips. Put on greased cookie sheets by tablespoonfuls. Bake in a 375 degrees F oven for 11 min. Take off and cool on a rack. Baking Notes: Bake these between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. because otherwise, they disappear within moments – quite magically. Also, don’t try to make them either with all vegetable shortening or all butter. Does not produce a cookie that either holds its shape or resists breaking. These cookies are actually ship-able and will arrive 99% in one piece.

Granola (again, modified from The Fanny Farmer Cookbook, 1979)
Dutch Oven or other large heat-proof baking pot or dish
¾ cup light olive oil(find the stuff with the label, “For sautéing and baking”)
4 cups of oats (rolls, thick cut)
1/2 sesame seeds
½ c wheat germ (and keep your wheat germ in the freezer until you use it; the oils will go rancid if you do not)
1 cup dried coconut (not baking coconut, which has been coated with glycerin and corn starch, ok? – look for ‘dried coconut’ or ‘desiccated coconut’ in health food stores, natural foods, etc.)
1 cup honey (please do yourself a favor and do NOT use commercial stuff like clover honey – get something like wild flower that has some taste to it, ok?)
¾ cup hulled sunflower seeds
1 cup nuts (roasted unsalted peanuts, slivered almonds, cashews, whatever you can get)
1 cup small dried fruit (currants, raisins, craisins tm, chopped dates, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and mix with the oil. In a large heavy pot, combine the oats, sesame seeds, wheat germ and coconut. Combine the honey with the oil and water, stirring well and mix into the dry ingredients a little at t eimt. When all the particles are covered with the honey mixture, put the pot into the oven and bake for 15 min. Stir well, Reduce the heat to 275 degrees F and repeat the procedure, stirring every 10-15 min. for 1/5 -2 hours, until the granola is thoroughly toasted. Let the granola cool, then stin in the sunflower seeds nuts and dried fruit. Store in the freezer or refrigerator in tightly sealed containers. Baking notes: This is a rather “soft” granola – this will not have crunchy clumps in it. If you want to produce that, then split up the granola onto cookie sheets, go through basically the same procedure, but don’t stir it up so often; it will clump up and get a lot more crunchy. Also, make the decision right from the get-go about what sort of granola you are going to make and if the rest of the family doesn’t like it, well, then..too bad. Unfortunately, at Chez Siberia, the DH offered to make custom batches for people and now he’s basically tied to the wheel of making ‘granola with nothing in it,” “granola with only nuts” and so on, which is most annoying.

Oatmeal Bread (Maryetta’s Oatmeal Bread from Beard on Bread, 1974)
4 cups boiling water
3 cups rolled oats (we use thick cut but regular rolled will do)
7.5 – 8 cups all purpose flour, preferably unbleached (we use bread flour, but regular will do)
2 packages of active dry yeast (we use 2 Tblsp. Of dried yeast that we get from the natural foods store)
4 Tablespoons of vegetable oil (we use the olive oil meant for ‘sautéing and baking’)
½ cup of molasses (we us ½ cup of our wildflower honey – again, any darker honey will do; the darker the better – best would be buckwheat honey)

Pour the boiling water over the oatmeal in a large bowl and leave to cool.
Stir in 2 cups of flour and the yeast and place in a warm, draft free spot and allow to rise, uncovered until double in bulk.
Punch down and work in the oil, molasses(or honey) and enough of the remaining flour to make s stiff dough.
Turn out on a floured board and counter and knead, adding flour if necessary, to make a smooth, pliable, firm dough; which will take about 10 minutes of good, solid kneading.
Divide dough into three equal pieces and form into loaves to fit three greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pans.
Allow to rise again, uncovered, until doubled in bulk.
Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven 40-60 minutes, until the bread sounds hollw when rapped.
Cool on racks before slicing.
Freezes well.

(photos courtesy of Racheliscocnut&lime and Pam-I-Am)

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  1. Shannon says:

    Great information!

    P.S. Those cookies look so good – I’m drooling!

  2. Toby Wollin says:

    Shannon – those cookies are my downfall because I can always rationalize eating about 6 of them at one time based on ‘it’s oatmeal so it’s good for me” – I’m working on that.

  3. Lea says:

    I’ve been making these cookies pretty much non-stop this summer:

    Cream together 1/2 c butter, 1/2 c sugar, and 2 tbs brown sugar. Add 1 egg and vanilla. Add 2 c shredded zucchini. Add 1 1/2 c flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, and dash of salt (all combined). Add 1 c oats. Add chocolate chips/chunks. Bake at 350 for about 13 minutes.

    the original recipe called for 1 c granola, but I use oatmeal instead (and throw in the brown sugar). My husband likes these more than any other cookie I’ve ever made. Great way to use up all of the zucchini I’ve got too! I do admit to eating more than I should, using the justification that they have oatmeal AND a vegetable in them.

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