The warmth of brown sugar, wafting to the nose. Crisped edges, chewy centers, a tug of something more substantial than simply flours and sugars together. Flecked through with raisins or wondrously crunchy with walnuts? It doesn’t matter to me. Sometimes, I like them plain and simply. Two kinds of sugar, fat yellow eggs, a pinch of nutmeg, a twirl of flours, and the secret ingredient. That’s all I need on a rain-soaked afternoon.
Before this week, I had not eaten an oatmeal cookie in nearly three years.
In every gluten-free cooking class or appearance I have made in the last few months, at least one person has asked, “What about oats?” When I was first diagnosed, I mourned the loss of my morning bowl of thick rolled oats. Even though pure oats do not contain gluten, almost all oats produced in the United States are contaminated. They are made in giant factories that also produce wheat (flour on the conveyor belts), stored next to wheat grains, and grown in fields next to wheat. Did you know that if oats are grown in the same field that contained wheat the season before, those could be contaminated?
It all seemed so daunting. I just assumed I would never eat oats again.
Last winter, I posted this recipe for gluten-free granola. At the time, I had begun eating McCann’s steel-cut oats, nearly every day, after hearing it was safe. However, I found myself feeling grumbly in the stomach, and a little unwell. I gave up on the McCann’s.
Back to no oatmeal.
This fall, however, I am singing with oats still stuck in my teeth. Bob’s Red Mill has begun selling certified gluten-free oats, both the thick rolled oats and the steel cut. This has been in the planning for years. They have been working with over 200 farmers, in the United States and Canada, to ensure that pure oats are grown and transported. And then they are tested, and tested again. By the time they reach us, in those wide plastic bags, they are safe for celiacs.
(With one proviso. There is a tiny percentage of folks with celiac who react to gluten-free oats as well. Something in the protein structure of oats reacts badly with those folks’ systems. So sorry, if that is you.)
The thing is, I think that McCann’s probably is safe. My mistake was this. In my glee to eat oats again, I ate them every single day for weeks. Heaping bowls of oatmeal on some mornings and granola on other days. You know what caused the grumbling in my stomach? My system just wasn’t used to all that fiber!
So if you are eating gluten-free oats for the first time in awhile, go easy. Have a ¼ cup the first morning. Wait a week. Have a little more. Build up your system. You want this. It’s worth the wait.
And when you can eat oatmeal so easily that you have almost forgotten the days when you mourned the loss of that morning bowl, set aside the afternoon to bake oatmeal cookies. Rain pounding on the roof, the light fading fast in the sky, and cookie dough sticking to the back of the spoon. Don’t try to resist licking it. You will.
Oatmeal cookies. What a comfort to have them back again.
* * *
In a little gleeful p.s. —
I have to profess my humble happiness at being nominated for three Food Blog Awards this year. Three! Honestly, this year has been so tremendous, and busy, that I simply haven’t been the active member of the food blog community that I have been in the past. I really didn’t expect this. I’m dead chuffed.
I’m also honored. Look at this group of fierce, funny people, writing their hearts out, and taking photographs that astound me. Many of these people have become my dear friends.
Being here is plenty.
But I will say this, for all the gluten-free folks (and the people who love them) who happen to be reading. When the words “gluten-free” are attached to awards, people pay attention. That means more awareness for all of us.
(This is especially important when people leave comments on the nominations like this one: “This whole gluten free eating is a scam. It is a way to draw attention to oneself. Many physicians agree that it is a fad, that’s all.”)
And so, if you would like to vote, click on the following categories:
Voting closes on Friday night, one minute before midnight (EST), so time is of the essence.
Thank you, to everyone, who has been reading.
gluten-free oatmeal cookies, adapted from The Best Recipe
These lovely cookies take just a bit of coddling. Mixing slowly and not too much; refrigerating the dough; turning the tray halfway through the baking; sitting through the agonizing wait until they have sat, cooling, outside the oven, before you can eat them.
Don’t be swayed by this. Make these. Curl up on the couch with your sweetie (or yourself), with a hot cup of tea and one (or two) of these. Wonderful comfort.
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup teff flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 sticks butter (16 tablespoons), softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed in
1 cup organic cane sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups certified gluten-free oats
Mixing the dry ingredients. Mix all the flours together, and then add the other dry ingredients. If you have a flour sifter, you can sift the dry ingredients for an even finer flour mix.
Creaming the butter and sugar. Put the softened butter into your favorite mixer and beat it, just a bit. Add in the two sugars. Mix until just combined. Add the eggs and vanilla. When it has all combined, coherently, stop the mixer.
Making the dough. Slowly, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Add one-quarter of a cup at a time, then mix. Repeat until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated. Add the oats and mix it all up.
Refrigerating the dough. Put the oatmeal cookie dough into the refrigerator. Chill for at least two hours.
Preheating the oven. Turn the oven to 350°. When the oven has come to full heat, pull the dough from the refrigerator.
Baking the cookies. Scoop some of the dough with that 1/4 cup measuring cup and plop into on a parchment-paper-covered baking sheet. (or, as you can see, I used a Silpat. Thank you, Bronwyn!) Leave a lot of room between the cookies. These will spread a bit. Slide the tray into the oven. Bake for 9 minutes. Turn the tray around (and if you are doing two trays at once, switch places between the bottom and top racks). Bake for another 9 minutes. Check to see that the edges are crisp and the centers still just a bit squishy. Take out the cookies.
here’s the hard part. Let the cookies sit for at least 30 minutes before serving them. (I know. Good luck.)
Makes approximately 20 cookies.