Ah oatmeal. Oatmeal that staple of breakfast diet, a healthy cholesterol reducing whole grain, cheap to grow, fast to make, loved by all…most everyone. Except me. Me, the girl who will eat snails with a grin on her face has one food she’s really never embraced and it’s mother frakking traditional breakfast oatmeal. In fact when that’s all that’s offered I will often skip breakfast rather than eat it. Oats are delicious and have a great flavor, I just find the gelatinous muck that people eat for breakfast oddly unpleasant in both taste and texture. Someone once noted that it’s because I try to eat it plain and that oatmeal is delicious but that’s after you load it up with sugar, and cream and fruit. Well then pish posh all I can think is that you lose all those healthy advantages. At that point you may as well be making the multitudes of delicious things I do like oats in. Bread, cakes, waffles, scones…cookies!
Oh hey it’s national Oatmeal Cookie Day. Well then cookies it is.
Oats were a grain largely considered inferior until the American Cereal renaissance of the 19th century. Until a conglomerate of evangelical Christians came together to form Quaker Oats (none of them actually being quakers mind you) the oat was eaten in few places. The Greeks and Romans considered it to be little more than an infected/sickly strain of wheat. While Asian in origin it hardly shows up in Asian cooking. Middle east—forget about it. Yet hand it to a Scotsman and he’ll eat for days.
Why? Well the grain is one of few suited best for extremely wet, moist regions. Aside from rice which gets grown in flooded patties, oat requires far more moisture than any other cereal grain. The kernels are extremely tough and fibrous which makes it harder and more time consuming to process for consumption. There is also a higher risk of rancidity from fat oxidation—oats are higher in fat as well as fat consuming enzymes. Moisture triggers the enzymes, the fats break down and voila—rotten oats. For whatever reason the wet climate of Scotland and temperament of its people provided the perfect land for this grain to grow, thrive and survive in diets. Just slightly to the south the English despised the grain. Now my understanding is that the climate of England is pretty darn wet so I doubt growing the stuff was a problem. Nope the Brits just had a thing against the oat…they were defined by it!
Samuel Johnson’s Definitions (published in 1755) was the most widely used dictionary in England for 130 years until the first installment of the golden standard Oxford English Dictionary. Impressive not just because it was the first dictionary, Definitions is thought to have been almost entirely developed by Johnson with minimal clerical help and only in 9 years. It also incorporated far more, uh, opinion than you might be used to seeing in our current dictionaries. How do I mean? Well let’s look at the English evaluation of oats: “A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland appears to support the people.” Now supposedly, never one to miss an opportunity to insult the English, my Scottish ancestors would quip back “And England is noted for the excellence of her horses, Scotland for the excellence of her men.” Though unlike Johnson’s line, I’m not sure who to credit that gem to.
So now why do we all know the happy, smiling man on boxes of Quaker Oats? Good ol’ fashioned American ingenuity. Well technically they were German immigrants but I think once you’ve moved to America and built an empire out of nothing all thanks to glorious mechanization and processing techniques of the Industrial Revolution, you are sufficiently American to me! Take that as you will—I’m not espousing rhetoric here. The American Dream was to do exactly this…now if it was done on the backs of union labor or fingerless children; well that’s a debate for blogs more politically open than mine. No thank you let’s just get to the cookies.
I LOVE this recipe and the fact that it’s vegan just means I can make it for literally anyone I know. Except the anti-raisin crowd. Some people just can’t help themselves from being difficult can they? Just love to discriminate against a classic cookie flavor. Fine! You can malign this recipe with chocolate chips if you like but me, I am equal opportunity for my cookie additives and some days you just can’t beat a craving for this soft, moist and raisin studded treat. A surprisingly healthy one too thanks to grapeseed oil and flaxseed. These are cookies that are good for the heart.
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Modified slightly from Vegan with a Vengeance Read more