We are fond of the four seasons in Canada, it gives us a chance to change our wardrobe, our outdoor fitness activities and it gives us a chance to indulge in seasonal cuisine. Now that it actually feels like winter it’s a good time to indulge in a wintry morning standards like oatmeal or that classic Canadian breakfast favourite, Red River Cereal. On a hot summer day, maybe not so much, but Canadian winters and Red River Cereal have been going hand in hand and mitten in mitten since the early nineteen twenties.
Read all about the amazing woman who invented the cereal here!
Red River Cereal was first produced in Manitoba in 1924, and named after the Red River of the North and the Winnipeg valley through which it flows, though the cereal is now produced in the Toronto area and is owned by the food giant Smuckers. Wheat, rye and flax are in no short supply in central Canada, so it makes sense that these three grains would be brought together. The rye and wheat and flax are cracked for easier assimilation, though some of the flax is left whole (see, “Why we have molars”).
To make a porridge out of the dried cereal, the recommended water to cereal ratio is four parts to one. You start the cereal in cold water and bring it up to the boil, then turn it down to a low simmer and let it cook for about ten minutes. The longer you let it cook, the softer the grains get, and if you really like it soft you may find yourself adding a little water so it doesn’t dry out. On the other hand, many folks like the crunchy texture that slightly undercooked grains provide. Served hot with maybe a little brown sugar or maple syrup and topped with milk it’s hard to beat.
At our house, especially in the cold winter months, whenever we feel like making oatmeal molasses bread we start the day with a pot of Red River cereal mixed with oatmeal, and use the intentional leftovers in the bread.
Recently a friend gave us a recipe for Red River Cereal Cookies. Basically it is a recipe for oatmeal cookies with a few additions like dried fruit, seeds and nuts, but the Red River Cereal goes in uncooked, and the grains stay nutty and crunchy even after cooking, which gives a real distinctive crunch to the cookies. Part granola bar, part cookie, these are so good you will find yourself reaching for two or three with your tea, but don’t sweat it. In the winter we need a few extra calories, and the goodness of complex carbohydrates and whole grains.
Red River Cereal for an afternoon tea or midnight snack. Who knew?
Red River Cereal cookies
1 cup flour
2 cups oats
1/3 cup Red River Cereal
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup butter
1 ¼ cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup currants
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup walnuts
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven to 350 F. In the first bowl mix flour, oats Red River Cereal, baking soda and salt. In the second bowl cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy and mix in eggs and vanilla. Mix the first bowl with the second bowl and add fruit and nuts. Use a tablespoon to size the cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are crispy.