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03 October 2008

winning him over to oatmeal

oatmeal pancakes with blueberry compote

The Chef and I don't always agree.

If you've been reading this site for awhile, you know how the Chef and I feel about each other. From the time I announced his existence on this site in June of 2006, it was quite clear I was moony and madly in love. If he had his own website, he would have used entirely different words to say the same thing. We're made for each other.

Our love has changed, of course. We can never go back to the exuberance of finding love and feeling it flourish with each moment. These days, our love is more mundane, and deeper, than in those first days.

Now, our love is the worn place on the couch where he sits with the remote in his hand, flipping to Jon Stewart, while I lay with my head in his lap, exhausted and exhilarated from a day of being with Little Bean. Plates scraped clean of food sit on the coffee table before us. I'm in my pajamas, again. He smells of the restaurant. His socks are dirty. We should be in bed; we're both tired, and the baby will be crying in only a few hours. But these moments at the end of the day — devoid of adventure and out-loud romance — are our favorites together. We know each other so well that his hand on my shoulder feels like an extension of my body. We don't need to talk much. We're no longer in that first gush of knowing each other, when we want to share all our stories for the first time. He strokes my hair. I hold his hand. We laugh and gnash our teeth at politics. My eyelids droop. I don't fight it. I fall asleep, curled into him, feeling safe.

And at 6 in the morning, I open my eyes and look over to the corner, to see him sitting in the rocking chair, feeding our daughter. He looks down at her with adoration, the awe in his eyes clear, behind his smudged glasses. His bathrobe needs washing — there is always laundry to be done — and his hair is a hilarious mess. He looks so beautiful to me that I'll never be able to say it. When I see him cradling her in his arms, and see her look up at him with wide eyes, I tear up a little. And then I drift back to sleep.

We couldn't know those moments when we first met. I love being here now.

Reading this, and everything else I have written about him, you might assume that we have the perfect relationship. Clearly, we never fight, right?

What, are you crazy?

Put two passionate, strong-hearted people into a relationship, have them share every intimate detail of each other's bodies and minds, and repeat, day after day for years. Do you really expect there to be no disagreements?

The other day, the Chef and I were driving to his restaurant, Little Bean in back, asleep in her car seat. We were talking about the techniques he wants to teach in the cookbook we are writing. Somehow, we began talking about artichokes. They used to intimidate me, those thorny creatures. I wanted him to demonstrate, with photographs, how to take them apart and reach the thistly heart. He wanted to use the space for something else. "No, but artichokes are really scary to some people. It would help," I told him, gesturing with my hands while I drove. (That drives him crazy.)
"They can use baby artichokes if they're scared. We have more important things to show," he said, waving his hand and looking out the window. (I hate when he won't look at me.)
We spent the rest of the ride going back and forth, talking about the first days of cooking, about what's important to him in this book, about our different perspectives. That all sounds pleasant, doesn't it? Actually, we sometimes interrupted each other, spoke abruptly, and never did come to a consensus.

That was a great conversation. Really.

Disagreement? It's good for people. Honest, kind debate -- not the staged presentations we've been seeing in the national spotlight -- is how our brains grow. And I think if we had never fought, we would be a little unhealthy at this point. What would we be hiding from each other? There have been tense discussions in the kitchen at midnight, misunderstandings that blurted into bigger problems, conversations in bed that hurt for a bit. Honestly, there haven't been many, but there have been some doozies. Every one of those moments has taught us something important.

We don't yell at each other. Or call names. That's the last resort of people who don't know how to talk. And we work at it -- we won't go to bed mad, even if it means staying up until our eyelids start to hurt.

(Frankly, most disagreements never make it that far. Staying mad at each other through a meal is too painful not to bend and apologize.)

We try to save our arguments for matters that really matter. After the scare we had with Little Bean after her birth, only the consequential deserves our attention.

And would you be surprised to find that most of the times our disagreements end in laughter? In fact, the other day we had a few festering moments that ended in a spontaneous pillow fight, both of us falling on the bed and giggling.

I love sour and sweet together.

So, for those of you who have been wondering (and the angry woman who wrote to me this week, insisting I must be lying about our relationship because no one is that perfect): yes, we fight.

I just haven't written about it here. This is a food blog, after all.

But I will tell you about one major disagreement we seem to have solved this week.

The Chef won't eat oatmeal.

I adore oatmeal. Before I had to go gluten-free, I ate steel-cut oats every morning. Not because I had been told they are healthy, but because I just plain love the taste. The heft of them. The way my belly is filled with warm softness after I finish my bowl. Once I found gluten-free oats, I would have happily returned to my earlier habit.

Except, the Chef thinks oatmeal is gross. Now, I maintain that's because he ate instant oatmeal out of a packet when he was a kid, just like I did. This is the man who regards American cheese as an abomination. Anything that artificial doesn't move him. Therefore, he doesn't want oatmeal.

However, on the few occasions when I have made up a pot of oatmeal for myself, and offered him some with brown sugar, blueberries and pecans, he looks up from his bowl and says, with wonder, "Hey, this is good."

Well, exactly.

Except, when I say, "Hey honey, how about oatmeal for breakfast," he doesn't even look up from the newspaper before he says no thank you.


This week, however, I came up with a recipe for oatmeal pancakes. And guess what? He loved them. "Hey, these taste like oatmeal, but they're pancakes. You can make these for me again."

I looked at him for a moment, until he heard his own words.

"Okay, I'll make them next time," he said, laughing.

Being married to each other is never boring. All it takes is a little compromise. And some pillow fights.

oatmeal pancakes with blueberry compote II


These pancakes, adapted from a recipe in The Joy of Cooking, are enough to sway the most stubborn oatmeal loather. Soft with cooked oatmeal, but crisp on the edges, they taste like childhood Sunday brunches. (I can't wait to make these for Little Bean someday.) However, they seem to do best in small sizes. When I made them the width of the pan, they sagged in the middle. Stack up the pint-sized pancakes and plunge your fork into the middle.

I found that oat flour makes these pancakes nearly indistinguishable from regular pancakes. Until Bob's Red Mill starts making oat flour from their gluten-free oats, we simply have to make our own. We have an especially powerful blender, thanks to the generosity of a good friend, which turns any grain into flour within minutes. But a strong food processor and some steel-cut oats work well too. Try it. You'll want to make everything with oat flour soon.

Oatmeal pancakes

1/2 cup oat flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups cooked oatmeal
1/2 cup milk (or soymilk, for those of you who have to be dairy-free)

Combine the oat flour, sweet rice flour, baking powder, and kosher salt. Set aside.

Whisk the two eggs well.

Combine the oatmeal and milk. Slide them into the eggs and stir them together, quickly. (If the oatmeal is hot, the eggs will begin to cook a bit when they meet. This is why you want everything ready to go.) The batter will be lumpy with the oatmeal.

Grease a small skillet with canola oil or butter. Put it on medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the skillet. Don't touch the pancake until bubbles appear on the top of the pancake and begin to pop. Flip the pancake. One minute later, put the pancake aside.

Make yourself a stack of pancakes, keeping the first ones warm in the oven (at 200°).

Makes 8 small pancakes.

Blueberry compote

2 pints fresh blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice
cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

Bring the sugar and orange juice to boil. Add in 1/2 of the blueberries, as well as the cinnamon stick. Turn the heat down to simmer and allow everything to cook until the blueberries start to fall apart.

Mix together the cornstarch and water to make a slurry.

Add the remaining blueberries to the mixture. Stir and let simmer for a minute. Take out the cinnamon stick.

Dollop in a little bit of the slurry and stir the mixture. Continue this until the compote has reached the thickness you desire.

Take the compote off the heat and spoon it on top of the blueberries.

Save the rest of the compote, cooled, for the top of ice cream, or folded into yogurt.


At 10:06 PM, Blogger The Chatty Housewife said...

I have been drooling over the idea of gluten free oats and can't wait to get some. I was too lazy to order them over the net, so I am so glad you mentioned Bob's has them! I can't wait to see if our grocery stores in the area carry them, I bet they do! I never even thought to check if his were gluten free.

This recipe looks amazing. Yum!

At 10:12 PM, Blogger Liz said...

FYI- I just got word on Thursday that Bob's is pulling their GF oat products because they're not happy with the quality of them- I guess the taste and smell is not consistent. They're re-vamping their processing and will resume producing them as soon as they are able.

So now might be a good time to stock up on those oats! Those pancakes sound great.

At 11:57 PM, Blogger Hannah S-Q said...


I wanna try this. Thank you. And congrats on winning him over.


At 12:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the chef (for now, this moment, anyways).
I am over oats for the moment and all moments, and also the fact that I am bereft with the fact that 1950s wallpaper glue is a gluten fest, and I am sick from scraping.
Even when the child is 13, you will find yourself falling asleep in your husband's (or whomever's) lap.
I have learned today that semolina and corn flour sometimes are confused, by good, smart people even, and factory conveyer belts are primed with flour.
I am only eating peanut butter, apples and chicken for the rest of my life.

At 3:41 AM, Blogger sweetpea said...

You sound like Tina and in, in almost every way with regard to disagreements. Especially the part about not going to bed mad! Some how, and this dates back to our very first disagreement, every single fight ends with Tina making me pancakes. It is a tradition that has held up for 10 years now, the only tweeking, GF as of two years ago. I still can't add the GF oatmeal into my diet but when I get the not to do that, I am getting these after our next disagreement!

At 8:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This info on GF oats is very helpful. I finally discovered millet bread and buckwheat. I'm happy for some variety from rice flour! Thanks! Your eloquent and touching prose regarding disagreements with the Chef is good reading.

At 8:24 AM, Blogger shady charbonnet said...

Oh yeah! I'm putting bananas in these!

At 10:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

mmmh. this looks goood...
i started to mix in a little oatmeal with basic pancake recipes a while back. (about one tablespoon oats for every 4 tablespoons flour, you just need more liquids) gives pancakes a very interesting texture. yummy.

At 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never made oat pancakes, but I do eat GF oatmeal on a regular basis — made with half apple juice and half water, raisins or dates, pecans, vanilla, cinnamon and coconut milk. And whatever else I can find to throw in the mix. There are a few people with celiac who just don't tolerate GF oats well, but I'm thankful I'm not one of them. I'll definitely try the pancakes one of these day. They look wonderful.
Take care,

At 10:57 AM, Blogger Emily Jolie said...

Hi Shauna,

I've visited your blog a number of times before, but never commented, and I felt today was the day to leave a foot print here and let you know how much I appreciate your writing.

I just ordered your book as a birthday gift for my husband. I love reading about your relationship with the Chef. Your love reminds me of the love my husband and I have for each other. :)

I wanted to share with you a technique my husband and I use to disperse charged energy if we've had an argument, which works fabulously - much like your and the Chef's pillow fights. :)

Are you familiar with the 'gratitude dance?' If not, check out the following link on youtube:

If we're both grumpy after an argument or miscommunication, this is such a great way to break the tension. You can't help but smile when you're doing the gratitude dance, and it has us both cracking up laughing together in no time!

I'm looking forward to your book!

with care and gratitude,


At 11:42 AM, Blogger Gluten Free Mama said...

Hi Shauna! I started reading a book that I think you would enjoy. It's all about eating traditionally and locally. It's called Real Food, What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck. Check it out! When I began reading it, I thought of you :)

At 12:31 PM, Blogger Alyssa said...

Can the cooked oatmeal be steel cut oats or does it need to be rolled oats? I have steel cut oatmeal almost every morning for breakfast because it's low sugar (I need to eat low GI) and I dislike eggs. It fills me up the best!

At 3:12 PM, Blogger Lauren Denneson said...

I loved the part about the 'angry woman who thinks you're lying about your relationship!' Tell her, yes, some relationships are that perfect! My partner and I never fight, and rarely argue (which mostly end up being hearty debates about things like the nature of man or how humans process decisions). But, in all fairness, I am well aware of the rarity of our relationship; how well we understand one another and genuinely care for one another (from what I read in your blog, it is much like your relationship with the Chef). With the difference, of course, being that he will eat oatmeal (doused in raspberry jam)! ;)

At 9:07 PM, Blogger jill elise said...

Those look fantastic. I wanted pancakes for dinner tonight but got lazy, I'm glad I did because I will make oat pancakes when I do!

At 2:23 AM, Blogger Tiara said...

I get the same comments about my marriage, but the thing is, we aren't perfect either! We laugh, love, cry, and yes, disagree and sometimes fight. However, we don't call each other names, scream at each other, or go to sleep angry. We keep working at it 'til we can laugh again because staying mad hurts too much. We respect each other, which to me makes all the difference.

Thank you for being a part of such a beautiful relationship and sharing glimpses of it with the rest of us. Oh how lucky Little Bean is to have such an amazing example set for her!

And oatmeal pancakes!? As a former oatmeal hater I try to find ways to love it now, and this looks perfect.

At 4:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite word today: mundane
My favorite image: curled into him
My favorite line: I love sweet and sour together.


At 8:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to give my two cents about blueberries on pancakes: I've found that these tasty berries make their own thickening! I can pull them from the freezer, dump into pot and cover, heat to boiling (stirring often to keep them from burning), and they will pop and thicken right up with their own insides. It makes a delicious sauce as is, or you can add sweetener if you want.

Kris in VA

At 9:00 AM, Blogger Hockey Mom said...

Oh, yum! We just celebrated our 21st anniversary at this wonderful B&B in NC. They were told of my celiac, and I had crepes & french toast! It was such a wonderful experience to not have to explain over and over what is safe.

You guys have the kind of marriage that will only grow. Remember, the goal is to love your spouse MORE than the day you married him, not just as much!

At 3:33 PM, Blogger Hilah said...

do they have gluten free oat flour? I've never seen that before.

Hilah in TN

At 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We just got back from a wedding in SF and the groom's father said some amazing things. (there were two groom's actually) He had been involved in the church for most of his life, and he noticed that most people break up (especially in Hollywood) for "irreconcilable differences." He said there is no such thing, and you should not end a marriage because of that. He added that there are only three things you need to do in a marriage: to love, to honor and to negotiate. Then he ended his speech by reading the lyrics to The Beatles, "All You Need is Love."

It was magical, there were gluten-free items at the reception, and we were thrilled to share in our friends' celebration of their commitment.

But Booth still hates oatmeal. He will eat it only in my GF muffins.

At 6:30 AM, Blogger Clara said...

I thought I'd let you know that there is a company that makes certified gluten free oats. It is Cream Hill Estates. They make oat flour and rolled oats. You can see them here:

I've been using both for a few months now and have had no problems. I really LOVE them!

At 6:31 AM, Blogger Clara said...

Oh, I forgot to ad that I can find the Cream Hill Estates brand oat flour and rolled oats at all of my local health food stores, but of course, they're also available online!

At 8:26 AM, Blogger Allison the Meep said...

You guys are so so so cute.

And these pancakes sound amazing! Thanks for all the inspiration you provide.

At 9:09 AM, Blogger Becky said...

A few things I want to share:
My favorite GF breakfast is Ricotta pancakes, I had them with gluten right before going GF and loved them. So, I scoured for recipes and found one on epicurious. I just substitute Pamela's mix for the flour and they are fantastic - the best pancakes I've eaten in my life. You have to make them small, basically silver dollar sized, to keep them nice, maybe similar to this.

I also heard recently that Bob's is having issues with shipping their GF Oats, but I will try this recipe with the ones I have left from my last batch.

Lastly, my uncle gave my sister and I this advice before we married - "It's ok to go to bed mad, you've slept pissed off before."
It was funny and while I like the idea of resolving issues before sleeping, it also recognizes that tomorrow will still come and a loving couple will work through problems at the time that is right for both of them!

At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was using google to find a good recipe for dinner tonight... then I got bored and opened my reader instead. Voila' There you were with these lovely pancakes and blueberry topping. Yum. Breakfast for dinner is one of my favorites! Oh, and I sub coconut milk for regular milk in pancakes and they are superb!


At 5:52 PM, Blogger Sophie said...

What a really beautiful post. A breath of fresh air! Healthy sincerity at it's best. If I was single, I'd probably be a little sad, wishing for this kind of love. Thankfully, I've been blessed too :).

As for oatmeal, I love it, I just can't seem to find a very affordable gluten-free brand :(.

At 8:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You two are adorable, no matter the dispute!
Those pancakes look amazing! I want to try them, too! (but I am not allowed to make them very often because I eat them straight out of the pan, standing next to the stove, pouring the next one! My dad HATES it!)
And tell the Chef not to worry: American Cheese freaks me out, too.

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear god! Those pancakes seemed to die for. I shall try them tomorrow morning. Gluten free oats? I think I saw something somewhere, I will comeback If I find it.

At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never seen using already cooked oatmeal in pancakes. That's a really good idea, considering the fact that i'm oatmeal obsessed! haha

I just read your whole About Me and it was just so beautiful. You really are an amazing and captivating writer. I'm so happy I found your site! I've had stomach problems ever since I was a baby and no one has ever been able to tell me what is wrong. I got my first colonoscopy when I was 17, then an endoscopy at 18. So far, the only thing that has really helped is a vegan diet, with lots of raw foods.

Anyway, I've written a book here, but just wanted to say I love your site!


At 11:51 PM, Blogger Karen said...

I am living in Seattle for school and I was wondering where you grocery shop to get all of your different grains and flours?


At 11:25 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

When do you add the oat flour mixture?

At 2:49 PM, Blogger amy said...

FYI, you can use a wiped-out coffee grinder to grind the oats into flour, if you don't have a vita-mix or a grain mill. I did it for years. But the vita-mix makes it much faster!!! :)

At 2:47 PM, Blogger Tia Colleen said...

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but these are my very favorite pancakes. So perfect.

At 1:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am new to your site, but read your book before. Love both. My problem is I have ibs so i can't eat alot of things, and my boyfriend has upper gi problems and cant tolerate butter, margarine, grease. what kinds of shortening would be safe to cook with for him? I love to bake and cook safe food for us both.
Any suggestions?

At 10:06 PM, Blogger Valen said...

Just made these and they were perfect! So healthy since its practically just oats and an egg! I love oatmeal, but I can so see oatmeal haters loving this!

At 9:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SO FOXING GOOD! oh my goodness my picky 6 year old devoured these. i even left out most of the sugar in the sauce. hahaha. keep it up girl!

At 12:03 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I have the same question as a previous blogger....when do you merge the oatmeal and dry ingredients? Thanks


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