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Spar for the Spurtle

by Cassidy Stockton in Contests, Featured Articles, Golden Spurtle

Yes, it’s that time of year again—Golden Spurtle time! This year is vastly different from previous years, however. Instead of sending our trusty champion, Matthew Cox, we would like to send one of you! Yes, YOU! Today kicks off our month-long competition to find the best of the best to represent us in Scotland this year.

We’d like to invite you, whether you’re a home cook or professional chef, to submit a video demonstrating a unique recipe that makes use of Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats – the World’s Best Oats. From the entries, three finalists will be flown here to Portland, Oregon to compete in a live cook-off. The winner of that cook-off will travel with the Bob’s Red Mill team to compete in the 18th Annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship in Scotland.

To enter the Spar for the Spurtle contest, interested cooks should visit www.SparForTheSpurtle.com to submit a video demonstration of an original recipe that makes use of Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats. Videos should be no longer than three minutes and should demonstrate a creative use of the oats. Dishes can be sweet or savory – they just need to be able to be created from start to finish within 30 minutes.

The videos will be posted on www.SparForTheSpurtle.com where fans will be able to vote for their favorites. The top three contestants will be selected as the finalists to be flown to Portland for the live cook-off. Finalists will also receive a behind-the-scenes tour of the Bob’s Red Mill facility led by Bob Moore himself.

During the live 30-minute cook-off, the three finalists will prepare their oatmeal recipes from scratch for a panel of celebrity judges in conditions that mirror those of the Golden Spurtle competition. The winner will receive an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Scotland, including $2,500 in cash, to compete in the 18th Annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship!

Sounds pretty fun, doesn’t it? Need ideas? Head over to GoldenSpurtle.com to see past entries and former winners.

10 Tips for Making Home Videos Look Professional
Tips for Capturing Great Video Footage

You have until July 30th to enter.

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Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
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Lifestyles of the Rich and Christen: Blackberry Cornmeal Muffins (GF/CF)

by Guest in Featured Articles, Recipes

With kids underfoot, finding recipes that are easy and delicious can seem like a daunting task. Throw in making it gluten and dairy free: mission impossible. Especially for breakfast. Right?

Enter the muffin. Oh a glorious warm muffin filled with fresh berries. It’s like having dessert first thing in the morning. The great thing is you don’t have to feel guilty for serving these mini bites of heaven to your kids. They’ll love them and you’ll love how easy and good for them they are.

Hungry for more? Visit me at Lifestyles of the Rich & Christen and search for other gluten-free recipes!

Blackberry Cornmeal Muffins

  • 1/2 cup Vegan Butter, softened
  • 1 cup Agave Nectar
  • 2 Tbsp Ground Flaxseed
  • 6 Tbsp warm Water
  • 1/4 cup Orange or Berry Juice
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 cup Bob’s Gluten-free All purpose Baking Flour
  • 2/3 cup Cornmeal
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 cup Blackberries (or berry of choice)
  • Cinnamon for dusting

Pre-heat oven to 375. Beat the butter with the agave in a large bowl until light and fluffy. In a small bowl mix flax meal and warm water and allow to sit for a minute. Beat flax mix, juice and vanilla with butter mix. In a separate bowl mix the flour, corn meal and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just blended. Fold in berries. Lightly grease muffin cups or use liners. Fill about two-thirds full. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Enjoy!

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A perfect protein-packed snack!

Guest Post: Miss Fitbliss: Protein-Packed Crackers

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Gluten Free, Recipes

A perfect protein-packed snack!

When we first saw this recipe at Miss FitBliss, we knew you would love it. Here Joslyn gives you a quick guest post and link to the recipe. Enjoy!

I can be an extremely selfless person, even to my own detriment.  I’m the first one to come sprinting out of nowhere to fall on the sword for a complete stranger, and the last one in line at a buffet – just to make sure that everyone gets their fill before me.  It’s instinctual, it’s inexplicable, it’s annoying.  When I looked around my kitchen last week, I realized that the majority of the food that I make and prepare daily is for my husband.  Much of this habit is due to the fact that it’s a lot more fun to prepare juicy lasagnas, cheesecakes, and muffins than it is to prepare a salad.

But when this realization hit me, I resolved then and there to start to make small changes toward accommodating myself in the kitchen more often.  These crackers were first in line to accomplish this goal.  They are completely gluten-free and packed with protein from amaranth and almond flours.  And although the baking and prep process was a bit of a challenge, the outcome really made it worth the work.  Here’s the link if you want to give them a try: http://glutenfreecooking.about.com/od/pizzasflatbreadswraps/r/gfcrackers.htm

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Steel Cut Oats are much larger pieces than Scottish Oats

Steel Cut, Rolled, Instant, Scottish?

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Whole Grains 101

When we think of oatmeal, we typically picture good old-fashioned rolled oats (or maybe quick oats). When you visit the store, especially our store, you find many varieties that may make you wonder what the difference is between them. What makes steel cut different from rolled? What makes instant different than quick? What makes Scottish different than Irish? Here’s a handy little explanation that will *hopefully* clear up any confusion.

Oat Groats:

I just love that groat rhymes with oat! The groat is the de-hulled oat grain. Some grains are called berries, but oats are known as groats. Quite simply, the most intact form of the grain available in the market. Use this version of oats as you would other whole grains. Oat groats are a bit softer than wheat berries and make a wonderful addition to pilafs and soups. We have some wonderful recipes using oat groats, such as this Creamy Mushroom and Grains Soup- a favorite at my house!

The oat groat is the whole oat kernel with the hull removed. Photo borrowed from culinate.com.

Rolled Oats:

The most common form of oats, rolled oats are made from oat groats that have been steamed to allow them to pass through the roller mills without cracking and breaking. Rolled oats are available in many different varieties, each of which refers to the thickness of the flake and cooking time required. The smallest and thinnest oat product is Instant, followed by Quick Cooking, Regular (Old Fashioned) and Extra Thick.

Instant oats have also been pre-cooked to make them truly instant. Just add hot water and you’ll have oatmeal. Most brands add sweeteners to their instant oats, but ours are simple, plain oats.

Most recipes calling for rolled oats are referring to quick cooking or regular, but using extra thick will add an extra chewiness that some find quite appealing.

The most common oat product, rolled oats are flat flakes.

Steel Cut Oats:

Steel Cut= Pinhead= Irish Oats. Steel cut oats are made from whole oat groats that have been chopped into two or three pieces, making for a much chewier cereal. They are almost exclusively used for breakfast, as they do not soften very well in baking applications. These are the oats used in the Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship and you will find that they are cooked prior to being used in any recipes. You can find many wonderful recipes on the Golden Spurtle website, as well as our own, using steel cut oats.

What makes steel cut oats particularly attractive for breakfast, and the reason we tout them as the perfect fuel for your day, is how the body breaks them down. Because of their size and shape, the body breaks them down more slowly than rolled oats, preventing spikes in blood sugar and keeping you full longer.

Steel Cut Oats are much larger pieces than Scottish Oats

Scottish Oats:

The true oatmeal, Scottish oats are ground on our stone mills from whole oat groats. They are not rolled, they are not cut, they are ground. The texture of Scottish oatmeal is fairly fine, though more coarsely ground than flour. In the United Kingdom, this is what they imagine when you say oatmeal. In the United States, this is what we imagine when we use the term porridge. It’s creamy, thick and almost instant when combined with boiling water. This is what people would have made hundreds of years ago, before modern roller mills were invented.

Scottish oats are wonderful for baking, as they are truly a more coarsely ground flour- like cornmeal. Oatmeal, cornmeal, flaxseed meal- get it? Meal is the next grind up from flour and below farina. We have some great recipes on our site using Scottish oatmeal, including one of our favorites- Scottish Oatcakes.

Scottish Oatmeal is very finely ground. Photo borrowed from recipetips.com

I hope this has helped answer the question of what makes each variety different. If you’ve still got a question or two, please leave it in the comments and I’ll find you an answer.

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(C) 2010 RecipeRenovator.com ­­

Guest Post: The Recipe Renovator: Stuffed Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Persimmons

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Gluten Free, Recipes

(C) 2010 RecipeRenovator.com ­­

This recipe comes from Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator. We just love her blog because she takes ‘sinful’ recipes and turns them into something we can all feel good about eating. She was kind enough to share this amazing recipe for stuffed acorn squash with us and will be contributing more recipes throughout the holiday season. Thanks, Stephanie! Enjoy!

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Persimmons

Makes 2 main course servings or 4 side servings

  • 1 acorn squash
  • ½ C.  red quinoa or golden quinoa
  • 2 small persimmons (about ¾ C. chopped)
  • ½ C. swiss chard
  • ¼ C. pine nuts
  • ½ C. Daiya dairy-free cheese or parmesan
  • 3 sage leaves ( ¼-½ t. dried sage)
  • ½ t. sea salt
  • ¼ t. chipotle chili powder
  • ¼ t. cumin

Preheat the oven to 350°. Wash the squash, then slice off each end. Cut in half (it’s a little easier to cut them in half lengthwise, but the finished dish looks more like an acorn if you cut it crosswise as pictured). Scoop out the seeds using a grapefruit spoon. Put the seeds in a small bowl of water.

Place the squash cut-side down in an oiled baking pan. Bake 30-40 minutes until soft. Leave the oven on.

Meanwhile, rinse and drain the quinoa, then add 1 C. water or vegetable broth (add ½ t. miso if using water). Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 15 minutes on low. Turn off and let sit, then fluff with a fork.

Remove all the stringy bits of the squash from the seeds and rinse them clean. Place in a small saucepan with a cup of filtered water and 2-3 t. of sea salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Drain.

Chop the chard and place in a large bowl. Core the persimmons and chop into about 1/2” dice. Add to the bowl. Mince the sage leaves. Add the pine nuts, cooked quinoa, cheese, spices, and stir to mix.

When the squash is cooked, put the baking pan on your work counter, then flip the squash right-side up. Using a grapefruit spoon and a fork to hold it steady, scoop out the squash flesh, adding it to your filling bowl. Be careful not to poke through the skin. Leave about ½ inch of flesh inside.

Mix the squash evenly into the filling, then pack it into a rounded 1 cup measure and put it into the squash halves. Put the squash seeds in one corner of the pan, adding a small amount of olive oil and some smoked paprika. Stir to coat.

Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes until the filling is hot and the cheese is melted. Top with toasted seeds and a drizzle of garlic olive oil.

This recipe was originally published on The Recipe Renovator.  All rights reserved.

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Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
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Matt proudly holds the Golden Spurtle in preparation for the competition.

2010 Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Golden Spurtle

Matt proudly holds the Golden Spurtle in preparation for the competition.

The day of the competition was a beautiful, sunny fall day in the small village of Carrbridge, Scotland. The air was crisp and emotions were high. Matt and I chopped and prepped all of our ingredients and were ready to roll without much anxiety at about half past eleven. The traditional parade began at 11:45 am with Matt proudly holding the Golden Spurtle. A lively band of Scottish pipers and drummers followed behind our champ, leading the way for a rather rowdy bunch of competitors and spectators.

Matt put his best foot forward and made us proud!

Matt competed in the first heat and performed admirably with his porridge and specialty Savory Oat Fritters looking better than ever. Sadly, this was not our day. We did not make it into the second round of the competition and pinned all of our hopes on our fritters. While the judges and the spectators loved our “little oat cakes,” they did not win the Specialty Category. Instead the category was won by our good friend from Calgary, Catherine Caldwell, with her concoction that was named Canadian Cranberry Apple Crunch. I will admit that I did get the lucky privilege of tasting her dish and it was outstanding. Catherine and her husband, John, stayed at the Fairwinds with us last year and are simply the nicest folks and we’re very pleased that she won.

Neil Robertson with the coveted Golden Spurtle- congrats, Neil!

The big winner was Neil Robertson from Auchtermuchty, who won using his own invention, the Spon—a double-sided spoon of sorts. His oats won the hearts of the judges and secured him as the new World Porridge Champion.

Matt, Cassidy and Dennis pose with our lucky Toucans, because "Two can, better than one." Dennis brought these for us from the Guiness Brewery in Ireland. They didn't win us the spurtle this year- but maybe next year.

Now, I know what you’re thinking and let me assure you that our team was a bit disappointed not to win, but we gave it our best shot and we are proud of the work we put in creating our dishes. We’re busy thinking about what next year will be like and very happy for the winners—especially Catherine. Really, it was hard for me not to root for her- she is a sweet woman who may just love porridge more than we do, if that’s possible.

Catherine accepts her award. As soon as I can get my hands on it, I will post her winning recipe.

Congrats Catherine!

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Matt and Cassidy taste cheese at Valvona & Crolla

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Golden Spurtle

Matt and Cassidy taste cheese at Valvona & Crolla

After nearly 30 hours of travel, our team finally planted our tired feet on Carrbridge soil yesterday for the 17th Annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship. I will be the first to admit that the journey was a bit harrowing and not at all smooth once we took off from Portland, Oregon on Thursday morning.

Where to begin? The trip started with a luggage malfunction at the airport, which we topped off with a gut-wrenching, bumpy flight to Newark where we had a four-hour layover. Next we boarded for Edinburgh for another bumpy ride that I was just sure would bring up my less-than-stellar dinner. Fortunately, we landed safe and sound in Scotland first thing Friday morning.

Our first mission was to make it to Valvona and Crolla, a lovely specialty food store that had secured pancetta and pecorino for our Savory Oat Fritters. Did you know it’s nearly impossible to ship meat and cheese from the United States to the United Kingdom? Well, it is. The folks at V & C were incredibly nice and let us taste all the pecorino to find just the right one. I could have spent hours in that tiny little store.

All the traffic in Edinburgh delayed our arrival at V&C, which meant we missed our train to Carrbridge. We had another two hours to kill until a train to Inverness where we would find another two hour layover. By the time we made it to Carrbridge we were seriously road weary, but the welcome we received by Lindsay and Alison at the Fairwinds Hotel was so warm that our weariness fell away.

Today dawned early (oh so early!) to an amazing fall day that was warm and sunny, not at all like the wet Scotland you hear so much about. The fall colors are just coming on here and you really feel like you fell into a fairytale. After breakfast we started what we thought would be our easiest and fastest practice yet, but as Murphy’s Law proves far too often, if something can go wrong it will. And, my word, did it ever go wrong.

Frying pancetta and preparing our red sauce for the final practice.

I guess it could have been worse- our oats might not have made it or Matt might have broken his hand or… well, this was pretty bad.  The timer was set and we were running through the full-blown dish, everything was going smoothly until we put our fritters in the deep-fryer basket and submerged them in the oil and heard… nothing. Not a crackle or a pop- not a sound. That is about the worst noise a deep fryer can make. Long story short- it wasn’t working and wouldn’t be working for the competition. Matt and I tried a few things and settled on a flattened fritter that will be pan-fried. It tastes the same, maybe not so pretty, but still tasty and that’s over half the battle right there.

We were beat after that, but finally feeling confident again by the time we met up with the rest of the competitors for a mixer and a bit of lively chatter at the town hall. The competition starts around 11:30 am tomorrow, so wish us luck and check back here to find out how we did. You can find more photos of our journey so far on Flikr, here.

Cheers!

I made friends with a highland cow, which put me back in the spirit for tomorrow.

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Here we go again!

Scotland Bound

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Golden Spurtle

Here we go again!

Our intrepid team from Bob’s Red Mill embarks early tomorrow morning for Scotland. We had our last state-side practice this morning and made our dish in record time. Matt is feeling pretty confident and our team is ready to get on the road (er, plane).

I’ll be posting updates and photos from our trip here on our blog, on our Facebook page and on Twitter. Cheer us on and watch to see if we can bring home the Golden Spurtle one more time!

Cheers!

P.S. In case you missed it, check out Bob’s Savory Oat Fritters to see what we’re taking as our specialty dish.

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Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
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Six Days and Counting!

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Golden Spurtle

Can Matt keep the trophy? Watch here to find out how we do on Sunday.

We have a mere six days until the 2010 Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship! Boxes have shipped, lists are being made and we’re all scrambling like mad to be sure we won’t forget anything (read: trophy). We hope we can secure ourselves another win and we’re feeling pretty confident. Matt is full of energy to take on the Scotts and Bob is just pleased as punch that we’re heading back to one of his favorite spots.

After the competition, we’ll be taking a bit of much-needed R and R, so I’ve lined up some great guest posts and have an awesome giveaway that I’ll tell you a bit more about tomorrow. Keep up to date with our progress here, on Twitter and on Facebook.

We need your support to be the best we can possibly be and I know Matt would love to hear from you over the next few days. Leave us comments here or give us a holler on Facebook and Twitter and show Matt just how much you love him!

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They take some time, but Bob's Savory Oat Fritters are worth the effort.

Bob’s Savory Oat Fritters

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Golden Spurtle, Recipes

The oat mixture is sticky, keeping your hands slightly wet will help.

You’ve been so patient with us as we perfect our recipe for Bob’s Savory Oat Fritters and we are finally ready to share it with you! Matt and I have been chopping and dicing and frying for months now and we can hardly believe the 2010 Golden Spurtle Competition is only 10 days away! This last year as World Porridge Champions went far too quickly, but we think we’re ready. Our last practice session left us with a whopping 60 seconds to spare! You can make our Savory Oat Fritters in 30 minutes, but you might enjoy yourself more if you take it a bit slower.

They take some time, but Bob's Savory Oat Fritters are worth the effort.

Bob’s Savory Oat Fritters

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill® World Champion Steel Cut Oats
  • 2-1/2 cups Chicken Broth (1 cup separate)
  • 1/3 cup Shallots, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 package dried Porcini Mushrooms
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup raw Pancetta, fat removed, cut into cut into ¼ inch about the size of a bean or a kernel of fresh corn (save two or three scraps of fat for cooking)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh Thyme
  • 12 to 16: 1/2-inch cubes Soft Northern Pecorino (di Pienza), Gruyère, or your favorite soft flavorful melting cheese
  • 3 large Eggs
  • 1/3 cup Milk
  • 1-1/2 cups Unbleached White Flour
  • 2 cups Bread Crumbs*
  • 3-5 cups Safflower Oil for Frying (enough to cover an entire ball or fill your deep fryer according to the manufacturer’s instructions)
  1. If using a deep fryer, begin heating oil to approximately 360°F.
  2. Reconstitute mushrooms in 1 cup of heated chicken broth. Drain mushrooms, save broth for cooking. Chop mushrooms so that they are about 1/4 inch square.
  3. In a medium-size pan, add fat scraps and raw pancetta. Cook until browned and crispy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  4. In a medium-size pot, heat the olive oil and cook shallots until translucent (about 1 minute). Add 2-1/2 cups chicken broth (include the one cup used for mushrooms), steel cut oats and mushrooms. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until oats drink up most of the liquid (about 15-20 minutes). When mixture has thickened and oats are cooked, remove from heat and add thyme and pancetta.
  5. Let mixture cool until no steam is released when stirred. To speed up cooling process, place the pot of oats in an ice bath stirring constantly. When oats are warm to touch, but not hot, add 1 egg, stirring to combine. Add parmesan, stirring to combine. If using a pot of oil, rather than a deep fryer, begin heating oil to approximately 360°F.
  6. Taking three medium bowls, place unbleached white flour in the first bowl. Place two eggs and milk in second bowl and whip to combine. In the third bowl, place bread crumbs.
  7. Using wet hands, scoop 1/4 cup of oatmeal mixture into your hand, forming a ball. The mixture will be sticky and it is handy to have a bowl of water nearby to wash-up as you go. Press one piece of Pecorino into the center of the ball, forming the mixture around the cheese. Dip first in flour, second in eggs, third in bread crumbs. Place on a dry plate until ready for frying. Continue to make balls until the mixture is gone.
  8. Depending on the size of the fryer, place as many balls as you can into the oil at once so that they lay evenly in the bottom of the basket or pot. Fry for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel to soak up excess oil. Continue frying until all balls are cooked.
  9. Serve with our simple tomato sauce or your favorite tomato sauce.

*To make the best bread crumbs, take one baguette of French bread and slice length-wise. Let sit out two to three days until dry or toast in oven (about 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes, just keep an eye on it to be sure it doesn’t burn). Crunch the baguette with a rolling pin or pastry blender until you have a bowl of bread crumbs that are almost uniform in size and shape. A food processor will work well, too.

Simple Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano whole plum Tomatoes (look for the cans that do not contain basil) with juices
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp finely minced Garlic
  • 1/4 tsp dried Oregano
  • 1/4 tsp crushed Red Pepper Flakes or more to taste
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp finely minced fresh Parsley

In a large heated sauté pan, add the olive oil, then the garlic over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and their juices, using a spoon to break up the tomatoes. Add the salt, pepper, oregano and red pepper flakes, and stir to combine. Turn heat to low, partially cover and allow to simmer for about an hour. Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom to combine. When sauce is thick, remove from heat and add parsley. Stir to combine. Makes about 2 cups.

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Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
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