I was never fond of oatmeal as a kid. I’m not sure why, but once I tried McCann’s Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal*, I figured it out. Rolled oats, have a texture akin to wallpaper paste. Those little packages of ‘quick’ oatmeal that you make with boiling water? Worse. And so sugary sweet, what’s the point?
Steel cut oats are not processed the same way rolled oats are. Because they are the inner part of the oat cut, and I’m just guessing here, with steel blades into a couple of pieces, they have more flavor and better texture. Yes, they take longer to prepare, about 30 minutes. But once you’ve tried steel cut oatmeal, you will never be able to eat Quaker Oatmeal again.
But let’s not discount the poor rolled oat. While rolled oats are steamed and then, (guess what?) rolled, they cook quicker, making them ideal for cooking. I use rolled oats to make oatmeal bread or Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies.
Now that school has started again, we are back on our breakfast schedule, dad is breakfast guy during the week. We have Steel Cut Oatmeal 2 or 3 times a week, but because they take 30 minutes to prepare, someone starts the oats and covers them. Then we all take turns checking and stirring, while we play tag team in the showers. The recipe is on the back of the can; 4 cups of water, 1 cup of oats, a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low for about 30 minutes or until done.
The real magic of Steel Cut Oatmeal is in the “accoutrements” as we call them. I put out every anti-oxidant that every nutrition book has ever told me we “have” to eat. So we top the oatmeal with fresh or dried blueberries, chopped walnuts (beneficial fat), cinnamon, and a little brown sugar. I add flax seed(beneficial omega 3 fat) or flax meal to mine.
There are lots of great combinations. What about dried apricot, ginger and almond? Cinnamon, apple and walnut?
I use rolled oats to make Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies. I guess I feel if I’m adding oatmeal, I’m making them a little bit healthier. My family would probably kick me out on the street if I never let them them have treats. So, while we don’t have dessert or sugary stuff every day, I will happily make them cookies (well, usually Sophie, my 5th grader bakes) once a week or so.
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, (This recipe is as old as I can remember. It’s my mom’s recipe from the 60′s)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt (you know how I love kosher salt? This is when you use plain table salt!)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. hot water
2 cups uncooked rolled oats
3/4 cups brown sugar
3/4 cups white sugar
1 cup shortening
1 cup walnuts (obviously optional)
1 lg. package chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla
Sift flour, salt and baking soda into a bowl. (Truth be told? I haven’t sifted for years…I don’t even own a sifter any more…stirring is just fine.)
Mix shortening, (or butter**) eggs, vanilla and sugars until light and fluffy.
Add hot water and slowly add the flour mixture just until mixed.
Mix in oats, walnuts, and chocolate chips just until mixed.
Drop dough on parchment or silpat lined cookie sheets. Sometimes I make big cookies, sometimes I make small cookies…the cooking time will depend on how big you like them.
Bake at 375* for between 10 and 14 minutes (depending on the size of the cookie)
* While I love the cute can from Trader Joe’s, it runs me about $5 a pound. So, I bought it once, as a container, and then refill it with steel cut oats from Whole Foods, (or any other health food store) for about $1 a pound.
** So here’s the word on butter versus shortening. Using all butter will give you a thinner, crisper cookie. For a puffier, higher cookie, use all shortening. For a softer cookie, use all brown sugar. It just depends on what kind of a chocolate chip cookie your family likes.