15 April 2008

I'm such a pinhead

Or...how crunchy turned into mushy

Or....don't go shopping when you're hungry.

Or...read the ENTIRE label before you commit something to your shopping trolley...or better yet, before you take it home.

And no, I'm not intentionally jumping onto the pinhead/steelcut/Irish/Scottish oats bandwagon. I accidentally fell into it.

A few weeks ago I was in a crunchy mood and wanted to make some granola. Unfortunately, I was weak with hunger when I went shopping and and didn't read the cannister label carefuly enough: I saw "oats" on the label and simply found a home for the can in my shopping cart. It was only when I got home when I saw the error of my ways.

It wasn't a lovely container of rolled oats (quick cook or regular). It was a can of pinhead oats.

I suppose another sort of person would simply get back into her car and sheepishly exchange it for what she really wanted.

Not I.

It would have been, in some weirdly inexplicable way, admitting defeat. I mean pinhead oats are a perfectly wonderful foodstuff so why should I return them?

Yeah, I'm stubborn.

And my crunchy mood was pushed aside to figure out what to do with something I think of as...mushy.

I was also a pinhead virgin. Before now, I've only eaten oatmeal made with rolled oats--and usually the instant kind (peaches and cream, if you're interested). My dad, who eats a tureen of soupy oatmeal every morning, also limits himself to rolled oats, so he wouldn't have been of much use.

Did I mention that these things have a nine-year shelf life? I was bound and determined to put them to use before 2017.

Thank goodness for the Web. After paging through what seemed like an unending list of porridgy variants, I found various other uses for these pelletty pieces, including
  • rice substitutes,
  • baked goods
  • burgers and stirfries

But with all these choices, what did I do?

I made porridge--not just "any" porridge, but Duncan Hilditch's porridge. If I'm going to learn how to make a good porridge, it might as well be using the directives of a porridge making champion.

I'd like to say that I wanted to try it in the way it was supposed to be eaten, but in fact I read somewhere that I could make a pot of it, stick it in the fridge and then microwave servings in the morning. In other words, an instant, homemade, hot and healthy breakfast. I was also weary of muffins, scones and other bready baked goods and needed a bit of a break.

Each morning that week, I spooned a serving into a bowl, microwaved it and poured buttermilk on it and stirred in a spoon of marmelade.

Maybe it was the vague similarities to the cream of wheat my mum made when I was little(r), but I think I actually prefer pinhead oats over rolled oats: it was nutty tasting, with a tapioca pudding-like texture (and I really, really like tapioca pudding).

Needless to say, you may notice steel cut oats showing up in recipes over the next little while.

Which only means...I'm a pinhead.


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glamah16 said...

You know I have never tried this type.Next time I purchase, it will be this variety.

Sara said...

How interesting, I've never heard of those. I look forward to seeing what you make with them.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Too incredible! I just picked up a bag (no tins here) of pin head oat two weeks ago. Not looking for anything in particular, just saw it and thought I should find out what it was. Didn't know what pinhead was. Got it home and put it up front so as not to forget it and it sat there until I went to make my grits casserole over the weekend. I like to put oatmeal in it because it's healthy but I don't want to change the taste and texture of the grits. Pinhead oatmeal will now be the oatmeal of choice in my grits casserole! Loved it! The universe is so small or is that just the blogsphere!

K and S said...

Oh no!...but, I'm glad that you have decided to try them and share your experiences with them with us :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I'm curious to see what you come up with -- I've never used pinhead oats, either, but could easily be convinced to give them a try.

Brilynn said...

I really like steel cut oats. I usually make a big pot and then eat it throughout the week. Lately I'm been having it with peanut butter and jam...

Anonymous said...

How marvellous! Would you believe that I've never heard of or seen pinhead/steel cut oats before? I'm going to have to check the local organic store and see if they have it since they sure as heck don't stock it at the local supermarket!

Deborah said...

I've never even seen this type of oats at my store. I don't really love rolled oats for breakfast, so maybe I should try to find some of these and try them out. I'm excited to see what else you do with them!

Anonymous said...

My husband eats his with peanut butter (he goes through an astonishing amount of it), and I like mine with a little honey and cinnamon. And I'm so curious about the Alton Brown fruitcake recipe that you mentioned over at my blog, that I'm going to have to check it out!

Anonymous said...

LOL! I never heard of pinhead oats before. Glad everything turned out well. ;-)


Elizabeth said...

I too had an urge to make granola recently. I couldn't find rolled oats anywhere in our neighbourhood! Not the health food store or the supermarket. I THOUGHT I found them at the supermarket when I saw "steel cut" oats (I wonder if it was the same trick of the light that made us both think they were rolled oats) that turned out to be steel cut whole oat groats. I made the granola with them anyway and it turned out fabulously.

I'd still like to get rolled oats though. Any idea where that can be done in Toronto? (Have bike, will travel to get rolled oats)


Joy said...

Ha ha I love the word pinhead. I'm going to use it for myself when I've done something dizzy! If these are what I think they are you can use them to make Scottish oatcakes. Perfect with cheese. I also use them in parkin and have even used them for a savoury stuffing with plenty of stock, nuts, herbs and fried fruit. Yum.

jasmine said...

Hello all

You know, only when I started looking for recipes did I learn pinhead/steelcut oats happen to be en vogue right now. There were a number of news articles extolling its virtues in February and March.

Elizabeth: email me and I'll give you some ideas, but you should be able to find some in any major grocery shop.

Joy: Yes, I believe you are using a similar type to these as I've also seen recipes like the ones you mention.


Elizabeth said...

I didn't realize that steelcut oats were in vogue either. I have emailed you as per your suggestion.

The really big supermarket near us has zero rolled oats. Unless I'm looking in the wrong aisle.


Elizabeth said...

Excuse me for appearing to reply to myself.

It turns out that it isn't that I was looking in the wrong aisle at our supermarket. I was looking for the wrong thing in amongst the several brands of quick oats.

I didn't know that "rolled oats" equals "large flake oats". (Since when have they stopped calling them "rolled oats"?)


P.S. I'd swear that those "large flake oats" weren't there the first two or three times I looked on that shelf!