Category: oats

Donegal oatcakes.

Donegal oatcakes.

I grew up my whole life thinking that my Irish family was from Sligo. That’s it. Just Sligo. I never grew up hearing about anywhere else. My one Irish ancestor who came direct from the Emerald Isle that I heard the most stories from/about passed away in 1936, she was my great-great-grandmother Winifred Macken (Mackin) née Mahon. She was poor, and came here and worked as a maid. Never learned to read or write. She was very secretive and didn’t like to talk about the past- this only adds to the air of mystery surrounding her in my mind. Including the fact that she was married twice and nobody was 100% sure of the names of either man. Anyway, it’s very possible that she was indeed from Sligo (I can’t find a trace of her anywhere either way), but the other Irish side that came here around the same time, the Kieran/Rooney’s, hailed directly from Louth. We have plenty of info on them, including the house that Jane Rooney (née Kieran) was born in, which is still standing.

Sufficient to say, however: I have no family (that I know of) from Donegal.

Continue reading

Hearty black pumpernickel bread for a freezing winter’s day.

It was so cold, that there was ice caked on the storm windows. It hadn’t snowed (although there was plenty of snow on the ground already), there was just ice. So cold that the heating system couldn’t keep up and the house temperature was about 10 degrees lower than what we set it on. In other words, IT SUCKS.

And here’s the deal: I know cold. I’ve gotten up and gone to school in knee socks and a skirt in cold weather (for 6 years). I’ve walked in cold weather (and in snow) with a portfolio and box of paints, from the train to school and back. I’ve dealt with it. I’ve waited in it. I’ve stood in it. I’ve shoveled snow in it. I know I live in NY and cold weather is part of the deal. But -8° is NOT normal NY weather. That’s some Minnesota/Wisconsin/ mid-western shit. So before anyone says, “OMG Northerner stop bitching, it gets cold up there” just remember that. This is abnormal. We haven’t had temps this low since 1994. Usually we have 30° temps, sometimes 20°, and occasionally- maybe a few days every winter- in the teens. But in the negatives? Uh, no. Understand? Good. Moving on…

Delicious pumpernickel bread.

Anyway Jay had to get up at 5:30 a.m. and be at work by 7, so I of course was awake early. No matter how quiet you are, you will always disturb your significant other when you wake up before them. So despite my efforts to go back to sleep in my warm, cozy bed piled with down comforters and Irish wool blankets with the blinds tightly shut, by 6:45 a.m. I was up, browsing Facebook on my phone, thinking about warming the place up. And by 7:30 I had opened the blinds to see… ice. Remember when I said that sometimes all I did was creep out of bed to bake (or eat) and then I crawled back in? Uh huh.

But I don’t give up easily and so I stayed in bed until almost 9, when I realized I was not falling back to sleep and it hadn’t gotten any warmer out. That’s when I decided to bake.

Baking is awesome in this weather because you can “preheat” your oven a long time in advance. Leave that shit on and have some coffee, watch TV, lazily make your way in to get the flour, the eggs, etc, etc. No rush. And because I have a gas oven, it gets so hot so quick it can warm pretty much the kitchen, dining room and living room (and some of the hallway) immediately. Which is a blessing now, in the summer it’s a different story.

Continue reading

Black bottom, a new rhythm.

I love pie plates. Whenever I see one, I’m drawn to it. Big ones, small ones, ruffled ones, plain ones. I love them all. I don’t even make pie that often, but for whatever reason I just love ‘em. I don’t have all that many… maybe 6 or 7. But I just adore them. And really, when one has so many cute pie plates, they ought to be making more pies, amirite?

However pies are usually not my bag. I can make them just fine, but the crust is a pain in my ass & I’m always paranoid that the filling won’t set. I’m more comfortable with cakes than pies.

Black bottom oatmeal pie from a recipe by Four and Twenty Blackbirds pie shop.

Every once in a  while, though, a pie recipe crosses my path and I think “Holy crap that sounds good.” This is one of those. Truth be told most of the pie recipes from Four & Twenty Blackbirds are those kinda pies. Like that salty honey pie.

Continue reading

Dark chocolate hazelnut granola -with chocolate chips, ’cause it’s healthy. Right?

What have I become!?

I made GRANOLA. Not just granola, but granola with AGAVE NECTAR not sugar. WHAT? I know. I can’t believe it either. But it was delicious.

I had never used agave before this, but I had heard a lot of good things. I tasted it and because it was sweet but not sickeningly so, I thought it’d be a good syrup to use in granola. Healthier than sugar, but without the “honey” taste that honey provides. Sometimes you just don’t want to have that flavor profile. So I got my amber agave and went to work!

Dark chocolate chocolate chip granola with hazelnuts. Extremely easy, made with Agave nectar!

So Chrismas is over, and we’ve all indulged a lot since Thanksgiving. Not only that, but NYE is coming, and there’s certainly more indulgence & debauchery to come. Annnnnd with that said, I figured a little lighter fare was in order. Less sugar, more agave.

Continue reading

Haulin’ oats.

Use steel-cut oats to make an easy 'overnight oats' recipe flavored with maple pumpkin butter.

Bad pun. Sorry. For those of you born after the early 90’s, I was making a pun referring to Hall & Oates, a 1970’s/1980’s duo who’s songs “Maneater”, “Kiss On My List” & “Private Eyes” are insanely well-known. But yeah. It was a bad pun.

On the plus side? This is a great idea.

I first saw it on This Homemade Life & I thought it was genius. Problem is, I don’t like oatmeal. I like oatmeal cookies… but not oatmeal. But I still wanted to try it anyway. Jay loves oatmeal, my parents love oatmeal, the whole world loves oatmeal. I was starting to feel like a leper. Truth be told, I’m not a breakfast person. If I’m away on vacation, I can maybe get in the mood for a breakfast or two. Especially on the road at an awesome Mom & Pop style diner. Otherwise, nope. I mean, I love breakfast foods. I’ve been known to have a bowl of cereal or two, & I do enjoy a good breakfast-for-dinner now & then. But I don’t want oatmeal when I’m having it- I want a big ol’ stack of buttermilk pancakes or waffles with butter & maple syrup. And don’t forget: lots of crispy bacon.

So to avoid the stigma of being the only person alive who doesn’t like oatmeal, I thought I’d do my own, more seasonal spin on the “overnight oats” in a jar: maple pumpkin oats.

An easy way to make maple pumpkin overnight oats using maple pumpkin butter.

Continue reading

Jammin’ little 5-minute muffins.

Tis the season for  warm, yummy breakfasts before heading out to school. Even though it isn’t really cold at all yet (not here in New York at least) and even though in the morning most kids aren’t drinking this, at least not here in the states.

;

But I’m no kid. I love my coffee, and I love that mug. I also love snacking on something sweet while having my first cup (or second, or third) of the day. So of course, when there’s nothing around to snack on, I have to make something to snack on. And that’s how this post came to be. Jammy little muffins that are hearty & delicious, yet super quick to make.

And another thing? I’m not even writing up a recipe for these.

Nope.

;

It’s not that I’m philosophically opposed to it all of a sudden. It’s just that you don’t need one.

All you need to start is the basic muffin recipe that I love & adore so much. It really is the BEST muffin base ever. Add chocolate chips, fresh berries, trail mix, top it off with some cinnamon-sugar, streusel or just some oats. You could even add a slice of plum or peach on top… whatever- and it always works. You can use cake flour, all-purpose flour, even whole wheat pastry flour. You can even substitute all granulated sugar or all light brown sugar instead of doing half/half, and I bet you could use honey or agave too (but I never tried). It’s the easiest and most customizable recipe in the history of muffin-making. For these, I used half dark brown sugar and half granulated.

So you start off with that recipe and a jar of your favorite jam. Or a few jars of jam. Same exact idea as with the Nutella muffins. You mix up the batter, pop it in some pretty liners

;

Then you just swirl a little jam into the top of each muffin before baking, or spoon it into the middle of the muffin before baking. I sprinkled the tops of mine with some sugar & steel cut oats, too. Add another dollop of jam of you want. If you want to make peanut butter & jelly/jam cupcakes, then just take out half the butter and replace it with an equal amount peanut butter. You might also need to use a mixer if you do that- peanut butter is thick.

Psst: If you’re using a homemade jam with fruit/berry chunks in it, you can push the chunks down inside of the muffin, leaving the looser part on top. That way it’s like an added surprise!

;

Bake it, take it out, let it cool a little… and eat it.

;

The end.

;

Would you like some scones & tea? Some jelly? Some tea-jelly?

Now that Halloween is over, it seems like its a landslide right through the holidays. Although before the mad rush of December starts, & before the long cold winter sets in (blah), it’s nice to take advantage of the down time, lazy weekends & of course, the beautiful fall weather. It finally got here! We had to battle 80° degree days, tons of rain & even snow right before Halloween, then 35° degree nights for a while there… but finally we got a bit of fall-ish weather. Cooler, but actually more on the cold side. Drier. Gorgeous changing leaves finally. Nice weather for a heavy sweater & apple cider or tea around the fire pit at night. It’s no secret I like my tea. All kinds, from regular old Lipton, to fancier ones like Stash’s Earl Grey Black or Licorice Spice, to classic ones like Twining’s Irish Breakfast, to healthy ones like Yogi Egyptian Licorice to even fancier ones like, oh, say anything from Teavana. Ahh, Teavana.

Teavana teas are the best. I am in love with them. My personal favorites (for drinking) are Cacao Mint Black, Samurai Chai Mate/White Ayurvedic Chai blend and JavaVana Mate. However I haven’t found one yet that I’m not into. My mother has a ton of them that her friend Mara (hi, Mara!) sent her in a ‘Tea Lovers’ gift set, so that’s where I go when I want to try a new flavor. Or when I want to experiment. Like, for example, what I wanted to do when I got this particular book.

A few months ago, I ordered a book that I had been sorta lusting over for a while. It’s called Canning For a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry by Liana Krissoff/photographs by Rinne Allen. It arrived on a warm (okay- muggy, hot & slightly stifling), beautiful August day during which I had been out gardening, so I only briefly flipped through it at first. After cleaning up, coming inside & showering, I settled in with a can of ice cold Coke Zero & pored over every page. What a freakin’ gorgeous book! Filled with amazing recipes (not just canning but baking too!) and glorious photos. If you don’t have it, buy it. You won’t regret it.

One of the recipes in this book was a recipe for tea jelly. Just jelly made with tea. Well, tea, sugar, pectin and lemon juice. Sort of like an iced tea jelly, or a sweet tea jelly. I knew I had to make it. So I did. And the tea I used was Teavana’s Frutto Bianco Pearls white tea, which is described as:

Tropical fruits effortlessly complement hand-rolled, delicate white tea pearls. A blend of kiwi, coconut and candied tropical fruit bits tempt you to pull up a hammock and sip your cares away! Ingredients: white tea, apples, rose hips, lemongrass, citrus pieces, kiwi bits, coconut chips, lemon myrtle, candied pineapple & papaya.

-From Teavana.com

I know, it sounds to die for. It is. And I thought it’d make a fantastic jelly.

The tea in the canister.

It did indeed make a beautiful looking jelly…

I have to say, I love all the recipes for tea-infused jellies & jams (as if you couldn’t tell?). It’s such an easy way to really make an average every day item stand out. It turns an ordinary preserve into something different, something that people can’t quite put their finger on. My family has a big history with tea; being Irish, my Nana Agnes’ side of the family drank tea like it was going out of style..I was raised on it, although coffee was a big part of life too, tea seemed to be the main component. It was always around.. black teas, green teas, herbal teas, sweetened with milk & sugar or just honey. When I was sick as a kid, my mom or nana would make me a big mug of tea with milk & sugar, and even now whenever I’m not feeling my best, I find that it’s a great cure. Tea is a huge part of my childhood memories. Now that I’m older, & my tastes have matured slightly, I like fancier stuff; but I always have a soft spot for a hot cup of black tea or English breakfast tea with milk & sugar.

So I made the jelly, labeled it, and put it aside. I sent a jar to Lyns (upon her request & also as payment for all the chutney’s she sent!) and promptly shoved my jars to the back of the line. Then recently, one Sunday morning, I was looking for another jam and found it! And I thought, “I need to make something special to serve this with.” So I took out a jar and I made some scones from the book, Regan’s Oat Scones, just specifically to have with this delicious jelly, for a brunch/lunch kinda thing.

Speaking of, you can use any tea you like, even herbal tea if you can’t tolerate caffeine, to make this jelly. Liana says she’s had excellent results with Oolong & Earl Grey, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use pretty much any kind of tea there is. Even pre-measured tea bags (although you’d typically need about 3 teabags to each tablespoon loose tea required). Trader Joe’s makes a white pomegranate tea that’d probably give lovely results, & my mother drinks a spicy vanilla chai by Bigelow that would also make a great jelly. Peppermint teas, citrus teas, musky teas. EXPERIMENT! Use a wintery blend for winter, a spring-y one for warmer weather… it’d be such a fun way to try new teas in a different way.

TEA JELLY (adapted from Liana Krisstoff’s book, Canning For a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry)

Makes 3 half-pint jars

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons loose tea leaves
  • 2 ¼ cups boiling water
  • ¼ cup strained fresh lemon juice
  • 3 ¼ cups sugar
  • 3 cups of Green Apple Pectin stock (see recipe below) or what I did- 1 package Certo liquid pectin

Directions:

  1. Prepare for water bath canning: Sterilize the jars and keep them hot (in water) in the canning pot, put a small plate in the freezer, and put the flat lids in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Put the tea leaves in a heatproof bowl and pour in the boiling water. Let steep for 5 minutes*, then pour through a sieve into a 6-to 8-quart saucepan.
  3. Stir the pectin/pectin stock, lemon juice and sugar into the tea. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture registers about 220° F on a candy thermometer or a small dab of it passes the freezer test (place some on the frozen plate and put back in the freezer for one minute, then remove; if the mixture wrinkles when you nudge it, it’s ready), about 25-30 minutes.
  4. Ladle boiling water from the canning pot into the bowl with the lids. Using a jar lifter, remove the jars from the canning pot, carefully pouring the water from each one back into the pot, and place them upright on a clean, folded dish towel. Drain the water off the jar lids.
  5. Ladle the hot jelly into the jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace at the top. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then put a flat lid & band on each jar, adjusting the band so it’s fingertip tight.
  6. Return the jars to the canning pot in a canning rack, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes to process. Remove the jars to the folded towel and do not disturb for 12 hours, except to check the seal after one hour by pressing down on the center of each lid; if it can be pushed down it hasn’t sealed, and must be refrigerated immediately. After 12 hours, label sealed jars & store.

Instead of printing labels, I just tied some of the labels that come with the book (YES! Labels come with the book! SO CUTE!) on with some twine.

How cute are they? Very. How awful is my handwriting? Very.

The deliciously special item I chose to make to eat it with was a scone. Not just any scone- but one made with oats, yogurt and honey (or maple syrup, but I used honey). Add the tea-infused jelly as a topping and it’s a free train ride to dreamy-town. I love scones anyway, but these are totally different than any other scones I’ve made. And with the jelly; seriously just forget it. No words. I halved this recipe because 5 eggs was a bit ridiculous at the time, although I wish I hadn’t! You can never have too many scones… especially these beautiful scones right here.

REGAN’S OAT SCONES (from Canning For a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry)

Ingredients:

  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking (not instant) oats, plus extra for sprinkling (if desired)
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup
  • 5 large eggs
  • turbinado sugar (optional, for sprinkling)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt. Using your fingertips, two knives held together, or a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the largest pieces are the size of peas.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, honey or maple syrup, and 4 of the eggs. Pour the mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just incorporated; do not overmix.. The dough will be somewhat sticky.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a well-floured surface. Flour your hands, then pat the dough out to ¾” to 1″ inch thick. Cut into 2 ½” inch rounds and place on the prepared baking sheets. Gather up leftover dough, handling it as little as possible, and pat it out to cut more rounds. If the kitchen is warm, put the baking sheets in the fridge for 30 minutes or so to firm up, so they don’t spread too much in the oven.
  5. In a small bowl whisk the remaining egg together with 2 teaspoons cold water and brush the tops of the scones with it. Sprinkle with oats or turbinado sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating and switching the pans halfway through, until deep golden brown. Remove to wire racks.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature, preferably split & spread with jam or jelly.

I got about 19 scones using the above recipe halved & using my 3-inch biscuit cutter to make them. You may think that’s plenty, but not when there are a ton of grabby hands around asking for baked goods all the time! I also used oats & gold crystal sugar (instead of turbinado) on top. They were so amazing, I could barely stop eating them. Thankfully, they’re (slightly) healthier than most scones. Sweet, but not too sweet. They’d work beautifully alongside a savory jelly too, I bet. Like a pepper jelly that’s on the sweeter side?

As I mentioned above in the tea jelly recipe, the author Liana prefers to use a homemade pectin stock for her jellies & jams. I am not so particular, but I’ll include the directions for doing so here just in case you’re far more ambitious than I. I’m lazy, remember? But now is a great time to do this because of the crazy amount of apples available. It’s apple season, after all. Make some & stock up on it if you’re not a lazy bitch. Like me.

GREEN APPLE PECTIN STOCK (also from Canning For a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry)

Makes 3 cups

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds Granny Smith apples

Directions:

  1. Cut the apples into eighths, removing the stems, and put the apples- peels, cores, seeds & all- in a 6-to 8-quart saucepan. Add 6 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the apples are completely broken down and the peels have separated from the pulp, 30-40 minutes.
  2. Set a very large, very fine mesh sieve (or jelly bag) over a deep bowl or pot. Pour the apples and their juice into the sieve and let drain for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally but not pressing down too hard on the solids; discard the solids. You should have about 5 ½ cups juice.
  3. Rinse the saucepan and pour in the apple juice. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the juice is reduced to about 3 cups (pour into a large heatproof measuring cup to check it), about 20 minutes.
  4. Transfer to a clean container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for several months.

Lyns had tried the jar I sent her long before I remembered mine, and she said it was amazing- I have to agree. This tea made a spectacular jelly! It also just goes to show you that you don’t have to make the pectin stock to get a delicious jelly. Of course, I’m sure it feels slightly more rewarding if you do. But lazy bitches unite- we don’t need no stinking apple stock. We have modern convenience at our fingertips.

..

And the scones, they are phenomenal. Together, they’d be a great pair on Thanksgiving morning for breakfast. They have a sweet/not sweet borderline flavor that makes them more biscuit-y & perfect for accompanying a hearty bacon & eggs breakfast too. Also would be excellent on a cold winter’s night, right before bed. I had mine warm, and I definitely think they’re best eaten that way. Warm yours up if you’re eating them the next day, etc, or even toast them.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, it’s almost that time! With each post, as I did for Halloween, I’m going to post a vintage or retro postcard, just because I like ‘em.