Friday, October 26, 2012

"Oatmeal" A Warm Comfort Food & An "Oatmeal Walnut Bread" Recipe

It has been cool here on Long Island, as October is winding down. The colors of the leaves on the trees are spectacular especially when they twirl in the air and touch the ground. It seems in spots you are walking on a crisp carpet of colors. Today was a chilly, windy, overcast day with rain in the forecast for the weekend. Days that are gloomy with rain makes me want to just curl up on the couch with a warm, soft, blanket and read a good book or watch a movie. It also brings to mind the thoughts of a cup of hot tea and warm comfort foods like a big bowl of warm oatmeal. Yes, I did say oatmeal! I remember when I was a young child my mom would always make oatmeal on a cool day or when it snowed out. It was so good and tasty that with each spoonful, it warmed up your belly. My mother would tell my brothers and myself that, “Eating oatmeal or any hot cereal would stick to your bones and keep you warm throughout the day”. I guess that is why I am thinking of oatmeal on a day like today, it makes me feel like I am home again, sitting at the kitchen table with my family as a young girl.

As I look at the calendar I am reminded that October 29th is "National Oatmeal Day." Can that be possible, that oatmeal has its own day? I guess so and there are so many more ways to make oatmeal than just in a bowl. Before I share an oatmeal recipe with you, there are many facts about oatmeal that you should be aware of after all it has its own day.

Oatmeal, also known as white oats is ground and can be crushed, rolled, and steel-cut. Instant oatmeal is pre-cooked and dried, usually with sweetener and flavoring is added. Both types of rolled oats may be eaten uncooked as in muesli. It can be called by many different names such as; porridge, gruel, and farina. Oatmeal is also used as a thickening agent for soups and stews. It is an ingredient used in baking, as a stuffing for poultry, and is also know as a major component of the Scottish dish called Haggis. An oatmeal bath, made by adding a cup of finely ground oatmeal to the bathwater is commonly used to ease the discomfort related with such things as chickenpox, poison ivy, sunburn, and dry skin.

There are so many health benefits to enjoying a bowl of oatmeal, that in recent years an increase of consumption has been reported. It is found that easting a bowl of oatmeal can lower blood cholesterol, because of its soluble fiber content. In 1997 the FDA found that a food with a lot of oat bran or rolled-oats may reduce the risk of heart disease when combined with a low fat diet. Oatmeal also contains more B- vitamins, plus it encourages slow digestion and stabilizes blood-glucose levels. You can dress up your oatmeal with healthy berries, nuts, fruits, and honey, which will enhance your oatmeal’s disease-fighting properties.

My recipe this week is an “Oatmeal Walnut Bread”. The crunch of walnuts, the rich molasses and the nutty flavors of the oats create a wonderful tasty warm bread. A perfect comfort food for a rainy, cool, gloomy day.
 "Oatmeal Walnut Bread"

2 cups of Bread Flour
1 package of Red Star  Platinum Yeast (1/4 oz)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup of water
4 Tbsp of Molasses
2 Tbsp of Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup Quick rolled oats
1 cup of whole wheat flour
3/4 cup Walnuts, chopped
Egg, water, and rolled oats for topping

In large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/4 cups bread flour, yeast and salt; blend well. Heat 1 cup water, molasses, vegetable oil and rolled oats until warm. (120° -130° F) Add to flour mixture. Blend at low speed until moistened; beat 3 minutes at medium speed. By hand, gradually stir in whole wheat flour, nuts and enough remaining bread flour to make your dough firm. Knead on floured surface 5-8 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Use additional flour if necessary. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl and turn to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place about 15-20 minutes.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; punch down to remove air bubbles. Roll or pat dough to a rectangle, approximately 14x7. Starting with shorter side, roll up tightly, pressing dough into roll with each turn. Pinch edges and ends to seal. Place in a greased 8 x 4-inch loaf pan. Cover; let rise until indentation remains after lightly touching the side of the loaf, about 30-40 minutes. Combine egg and 1 tablespoon water; brush top of loaf. Sprinkle with rolled oats. Bake in preheated 375° F oven 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from pan; cool.
Till Next Time………………………………................

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