Oat Cuisine

Now that the weather has turned decidedly autumnal, many of us are eschewing a smoothie and a bowl of Shreddies for something a little more substantial in the morning.

Oats are a staple found in just about every Canadian home, whether quick cooking or steel cut, there is nothing to make you feel like you can walk to school-or bike to the office-like a hot bowl of porridge.  The variations on this fabled cereal are innumerable and the preparation can be a cause for domestic and international debate.

I know couples who have broken up because the oats were started in cold salted water and slow cooked, releasing the starch and resulting in what I will politely refer to as salty slimy glop. Others prefer their porridge more “al dente.” It probably depends on how your mama cooked it. Either way, there are two distinct preparations and each has a fiercely loyal advocacy /support group. In our house, leftover oatmeal from breakfast was always mixed with molasses and made into what is still my favourite bread.

This is a grain that can serve you in many ways. Most families have a treasured oatmeal cookie recipe, divided into two types; flat and buttery or “puffy” and more cake-like. Again, the advocates on each side of the oatmeal fence are staunchly loyal.

Recently I saw a commercial that professed that each oat was “hand picked.” I find this a little difficult to believe, I think the manufacturers are just trying to get in on the “hand (insert past tense verb here)” bandwagon. This is typical Madison Avenue overkill.  Hand picked or not, they are low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. Oats are also a good source of Dietary Fibre, Thiamin, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Manganese.

Some guests snoop in their hosts medicine cabinet, some take note of what is in the cupboard. When I see a bag or jar or can of oats I am reassured that I am in good company, and I can relax and have a cup of tea and few oatmeal cookies. Flat and buttery, please. Just like the recipe below, one of my favorites from Mad Hungry.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


3/4 c all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pans

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

6 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/4 tsp water

1 cup rolled oats

6 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter or line 2 rimmed baking sheets.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugars, egg, vanilla and water. Add the flour mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips.
  5. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheets, spacing the dough 1 inch apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly gold in colour.
  6. Remove to cooling racks.
  7. Hints: If using salted butter, omit salt in recipe. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through baking to ensure even baking. Let cookies rest on hot baking sheet 1-2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack

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