When there’s nothing else you can do, bake cookies.
I baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies in the tiny kitchen of the palliative care ward my friend Rachael was in 5 years ago, for the strangers who shared our space for those days and weeks, who came and went and sat and walked the halls carrying hearts raw with sadness. We’d go downstairs to Starbucks in a weak attempt to refuel, and on one afternoon I kept walking, out the door and across the street to the grocery store, where I bought butter and sugar and flour and eggs. I rummaged through the kitchen normally reserved for families and friends of patients to store and reheat food brought from home, digging out a bowl, spoon and makeshift measuring cup. The apartment-sized oven coughed itself on, then released the aroma of baking into the stale hospital air, bringing with it a sense of comfort and calm.
As I walked through the halls with a plate of warm cookies, people hunched in bedside chairs and huddled in common areas would look up with faint surprise. “You baked cookies? For us? Thank you.”
I baked this particular batch cookies for my almost-8-year-old boy, knowing that nowadays he tires of hugs after about one of them, unless they are delivered in cookie form. I made them with barley flour; barley is high in fibre, with more than twice as much (soluble and insoluble) as oatmeal. And although barley flour hasn’t quite caught on in most kitchens, it’s common and easy to find on grocery store shelves alongside the wheat flour. Barley flour is softer than you’d think – in fact, you don’t get the same tweedy texture with barley flour that you do with whole wheat flour.
And because in Canada, much of the germ is often removed from a grain of wheat milled to make flour, making whole wheat flour not really whole (up to 5% of the kernel can be removed to help reduce rancidity and prolong the shelf life of whole wheat flour) barley flour is a great alternative if you want to up your fibre but still make a delicious cookie. It produced a thinner, chewier, more spread out cookie, but in a good way; barley also has humectant properties, meaning they stay soft.
Just like a hug.
Barley Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups barley flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz. dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until pale and almost fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
Add the barley flour, baking soda and salt and stir or beat on low until almost combined; add the chocolate chunks and stir just until blended.
Drop dough by large spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined sheet and bake for 10-14 minutes (depending on their size) until golden around the edges but still soft in the middle. Let them set for a minute, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
April 16 2013 | dessert and grains and snacks | 19 Comments »
It seems everyone is making baked oatmeal these days – or maybe just Molly and Jeanette (hi!) – but each time I see it I think – I should give that a try with red lentils. And so this morning when I woke up to grey, and (yet more) snow on the ground, watched the neighbour scrape ice off the car windshield, and had to return from the bathroom to retrieve wooly socks to protect my feet from an ice-cold floor, I grumpily decided that this might be the day to give it a go.
When I wrote Spilling the Beans with my junior high school BFF Sue, baking possibilities opened up when she mentioned her habit of stirring a spoonful of lentils into her morning porridge to boost fibre and protein. Genius, I say. Those dry red lentils (they’re orange, really) are split through their middles, and when cooked, perfectly mimic oats. Only they’re far higher in fibre, and of course the bean-grain combo provides a complete protein. And what does everyone seem to want more of in their breakfasts? Protein and fibre.
I forgot the nuts, distracted by the question of whether to toast them or not (I burn nuts at the best of times – when I’m not getting a kid dressed and checking homework and making lunches and discovering that he needs to bring something made from a rock or mineral to school in ten minutes) and I loved Jeanette’s addition of coconut, but forgot that too, so excited was I by the prospect of lentils baked into oatmeal.
Yes, excited by lentils. I’m a fibre nerd. I come by it honestly – from my gastroenterologist dad who loves oatmeal for breakfast, and who in the eighties added sawdustlike oat bran to everything, including our (extra lean) homemade burgers. Turns out you actually do turn into your parents. Luckily, in my case it’s not a bad thing. Next time I have the opportunity to make breakfast for my dad, I know he’ll be equally excited by the prospect of lentils in his oatmeal.
And yes, they bake in beautifully, slipping by undetected by those not in the know. Wink.
Baked Oatmeal with Berries and Lentils
Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day via Orangette
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup dry red lentils
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries or both
1/3 cup shredded coconut (optional)
2 cups whole milk (or half 1%, half half & half)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 tsp. vanilla
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In an 8-inch square (or similar-sized) baking dish, mix together the oats, lentils, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Scatter with berries.
In another bowl, whisk together the milk, maple syrup, egg, butter and vanilla. Pour the mixture over the oats, and give it a gentle stir to distribute everything evenly.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and the oats have set. Serve warm, topped with milk or a splash of cream. Leftovers reheat beautifully.
April 04 2013 | breakfast and grains | 34 Comments »