Covetousness is probably not the most noble of things to admit, but I am guilty nonetheless.
I have, at some point or another, yearned for the following:
• Eyeglasses. I do not wear them, but I have often thought that a well-chosen pair can make the wearer look instantly infinitely more interesting. I have a love of sunglasses for this same reason.
• A pair of slouchy, winter-white suede boots with layers upon layers of fringe and little silver beads adorning said fringe that would click as you walked. I thought them fabulous, and my heart tightened a bit every time I heard the distinctive sound they made as my classmate skipped about the playground. How I would have skipped had those boots been mine.
• Curly hair. Or straight. I had curls when I was an infant, fairly-straight hair in my teens, and now it falls somewhere (infuriatingly) in between.
• A jaunty accent. Or a mysterious one. Or a charming one, even. Now I know I have an accent, a Canadian one, and could easily move to a foreign country and attain this aspiration. Problem is, I like living in Canada. And, if we are being honest, I do not often hear comments on the lilting tone of the Canadian manner of speaking. Give me a good, rich Irish brogue or something equally melodic.
• The set of wicker Barbie doll furniture (loveseat, two chairs and a table) owned by my friend who lived up the street when I was six years old. How I wished it was mine. Looking back, I assume that this set was not an officially-branded Barbie product, as all of her furniture was molded plastic and this, this was the real thing. Delicate rattan interwoven into pattern upon pattern, with twists and arabesques and florets as decoration. My friend would bring her set over to play, which was fun, but deep down I wished it was mine. I imagined that my Peaches n' Cream Barbie, renamed Scarlett or something fittingly-dramatic, would flit gracefully about the verandah of her Dream Home as best as one without fully-operational joints could flit, only to finally alight upon the edge of the wicker settee as she entertained her gentlemen callers.
• Gorgeously-ripe, local strawberries in March. Crimson to their cores, such jewels that if you strung them on some silk you could wear them as a necklace. Juicy, luscious fruit, tasting of sun.
As you might surmise, dear reader, that last object of desire is my most recent fixation. My preoccupation developed when I looked at Helen's site a few weeks ago. Ooof. That first photo brought all my want for springtime into one perfect image, and it hit me with the weight of all the snow we have had this season. The mint is so green, the soup so vivid, the berries so vibrant, they belong in a jewelery box.
My longing was only exacerbated by two gloriously-sunshiney days that came that same week; the wind had turned mild, carrying the kiss of spring to our cheeks. Sadly, it was not long lived, and we were back to a windchill of -17°C by the weekend. But although the warmth was gone, my desire for strawberries remained.
I could not ignore the cold, and so I looked to make something that would appease my craving, but still took its inspiration from my meteorological circumstance. I settled on oatcakes, ones that incorporate cooked steel-cut oats, griddled little cakes that are substantial without heaviness. The oats contribute not only a slight chewiness and nuttiness, also a cobblestoned texture.
Of course I needed to have my strawberries. This was one of those occasions when the habit freezing local berries when in season comes in handy. A scarely-sweetened sauce, simply crushed fruit, a sprinkle of sugar and a squeeze of lemon, brought zest and brightness and smacking sharpness to the pleasantly-stodgy oatcakes. The most modest drizzle of maple syrup rounded out that edge, with a mellow sweetness that worked with both the berries and the oats.
Breakfast done, I could not help but smile in the knowledge that both our appetites and my want were satisfied.
Steel-cut oatcakes with the quickest strawberry sauce
Ingredients for the oatcakes
1 cup of all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup of prepared steel-cut oats
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup yogurt (I use nonfat)
1/2 cup milk (I use 1%)
3 tablespoons melted clarified butter or neutral oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ingrediens for the sauce
strawberries, frozen in my case, fresh if you are lucky
freshly-squeezed lemon juice
melted butter, optional for cooking
maple syrup, optional for serving
In a large bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, egg, yogurt, milk, oil and vanilla. Stir these wet ingredients into the dry, mixing until incorporated but not completely smooth. Allow to rest while you make the strawberry sauce.
For the sauce, take a few handfuls of strawberries, and put them in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of sugar. Cook, until the berries begin to soften and release their juices, about 5 minutes. Crush the berries using a potato masher or the back of a fork, until you have a coarse, chunky sauce. Taste, adding sugar accordingly and a pinch of salt if desired. Bring to a simmer and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the juices have reduced to your liking. Take the sauce off the heat and allow it to cool slightly while you prepare the oatcakes.
To cook the oatcakes, preheat a non-stick or cast iron griddle over medium high heat. Lightly brush with melted clarified butter if desired. Ladle about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the pan. Cook until the edges become dry and bubbles begin to form in the centre, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side until golden and puffed, about another 2 minutes. Remove to a platter and keep warm in a low oven if needed. Continue until all batter is used. Serve the oatcakes with the strawberry sauce and a drizzle of maple syrup.
Makes 20 small pancakes, serving about 4-6.
• This blueberry sauce (scroll down) would also be a fine accompaniment. And congratulations to Carrie and Andrew on their 50th post.
• For those with fresh berries, you might want to forgo cooking the sauce entirely, instead crushing the fresh berries and allowing them to soak in their juices, along with the sugar and lemon.