Oatmeal Cookies with Red Fife and Honey

I'm not the best 'friend' that one could have.  I mean to be.  I think about my friends all of the time.  You see, I don't do 'close' very well.  I'm also extremely selective about who my friends are... and aren't.  I think that my friend thing stems from some of my early friend experiences - most of which were very good - and a sense of feeling somehow inherently different (which I attribute to listening to too many sermons about being in the world but not of the world - what does that even mean? - and to having 'special' musical superhero powers from an early age) from most of the people around me.  The funny thing is that when I talk to people about my friend thing, most people have a similar experience and process.  I'm not alone in my feelings.
All of this brings me to my two best friends.  I'm not including D in that number.  He is different 'cause there are fringe benefits galore with that one.  My two best friends are KT and TVP (that's a funny one - 'cause he's totally not a vegetarian).  TVP and I have been best friends for about 20 years which is a damn long time.  We went through a lot together... the big stuff... BIG all caps.  KT and I have been best friends for almost 10 years and 'cause she's a girl we get to do girlie things together sometimes which is good for me 'cause I'm not much of a girlie girl.  Between us we've made it through kids, marriages, coming out, surgeries, depression, being completely broke, working together, trips, MRI's (almost) and lots of alcohol.  Both KT and TVP are probably the most understanding friends a girl like me could have.
I'm terrible with stuff that most people would consider a deal breaker for a best friend.  For example:
Time - I don't have much free time and what I do have often finds me completely given up on the day and sprawled out on the couch.  I'd say 80 percent of the time just the thought of dragging my ass out to do something makes me stuff my head further into the couch.
Birthdays - I care... a lot.  I'll make you dinner or cake or cupcakes but I'm terrible with presents.  Not because I don't want to get a present for my BFF but because it requires me to go out and enter a shop. I really don't like shopping.  What do you do when your best friend is the one person that you will happily go to the shop with?  How can I buy presents for the person who's with me?  How do I buy presents when I've got kids with me? (I'm sorry, it's very hard for me to do any personal shopping when my 6 yr old is with me) Sometimes I'm just plain broke.
Phone - Now arguably, phone calls are quickly becoming passé thanks to texting. (thank Jeebus) However, as a later teen and onwards being on the phone for any time longer than 20 minutes (still a long time thank you) sends me into a bit of a panic.  I'm not a phone talker (neither is KT - perfect).

All of those things do not mean that my friends aren't on my mind.  They are.  All the time.  I love my friends.  I care deeply.  I would cook or bake for my friends anytime and KT can attest to the fact that she regularly gets a loaf of bread or some cookies.  I can tell you what they love to eat and what they hate.  I know exactly what to make for them that will make them happy.  These cookies are a testament to how much I think about my friends.  KT's favourite thing in the whole world (almost) is oatmeal.  When I saw this recipe on a blog I was smitten - had to try it.  I got the dough together and was about to throw in raisins or chocolate chips (all great ideas BTW) and then thought of KT.  She hates hates hates hates chocolate (great for me... no sharing) and can't eat raisins of any kind.  I was craving some serious simplicity as well and decided that for 'recipe testing purposes' that these cookies would go it alone - no 'helpers'.

The result:
A cookie that is soft (!) and almost cakey. A little dry (I'm going to experiment with a couple of tbsp's of applesauce or squash puree next time) but absolutely delicious.  Not too sweet (some chocolate chips?) but definitely not savoury.  I was very happy with the outcome AND that these cookies were made with whole wheat flour/oats and honey.  If you want to you could omit the sugar entirely.  I haven't gotten these cookies off to KT yet and I feel kind of bad because it's been a couple of days but the point is that she can eat them and she will love them.

Oatmeal Cookies with Red Fife and Honey adapted from 'Honest Fare'
makes about 2 dozen med/small cookies

1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup Red Fife or whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups oats (regular not 'quick')
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted or coconut oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp milk

Combine the flours, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.  Mix well and set aside.
Combine the honey, melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla, beaten egg and milk.   Mix well.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
At this point you can add in:
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried blueberries or goji berries....  You get the point.
Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes (I refrigerated mine for about 40 minutes altogether and it was fine so I think that even an hour wouldn't hurt)
Preheat oven to 325° F
Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silicon liner.
Spoon out about 1 1/2 tbsp sized dough balls and place on the cookie sheet with about an inch and a half for the cookies to spread.
Bake for 10 - 15 minutes or until the cookies are just turning golden brown (honey can burn easily - so says 'Honest Fare' - therefor you need to keep an eye out so that they don't burn).
Remove immediately to cool on a wire rack.

Honey, Red Fife Bread and some history

More about red Fife...
I've been talking about it for a while but it's now time to fill in some blanks on Red Fife flour and why I've started using it instead of whole wheat.

Red Fife is refuted to have hailed from Scotland, brought over by a farmer named David Fife - hence the 'Fife' part of the name.  We don't really know whether the seeds themselves were indigenous to Scotland.  There are rumours that the seeds originated in the Ukraine as well.  Fife settled in Ontario, near Stirling in fact, and farmed using the seeds that he brought over with him.  He discovered that the grain was incredible adaptable to Canada's climate and produced well as a result.  According to 'The Canadian Encyclopedia' Red Fife flour was very popular even in the prairies but eventually fell out of use because even it froze in the fields when there were early frosts (I'm not quite sure what wouldn't freeze in a frost but maybe they're referring to it taking a little too long to mature).  In the book 'Earth to Table' I read that most of the grain that we use presently in Canada comes from Red Fife.  The book also argues that because Red Fife is a heritage grain it may produce a lower yield than more recent grains which would also explain why it fell out of use.
An article in the Ottawa Citizen reported that it might well be the 'Wheat Belly Diet' dude that has prompted more people to go looking for heritage grains that have been unaltered and turned into 'frankengrain' - I think that word is funny.  The 'Wheat Belly Diet' dude believes that so many of us have become gluten intolerant (as well as a host of other diseases) because of the more recent development of easy and reliable growing 'frankengrain' and it's processing.
Me? I like that Red Fife is grown and milled locally.  I like that, at least as far as north america is concerned, it's a grain that hails from where I live.  I like that it's heritage and it hasn't been messed with and that the milling is done by people I can talk to if I want to.
I also like that it's damn fine to bake with.  I've been using it in everything.  It's replaced my whole wheat flour use and has now exceeded how much I ever used whole wheat flour in the first place.  I'm finding out more about this fine grain as I go but for now I'm more happy with the locale and the baking results than I am anything else.

This bread nicely showcases the Red Fife flour.  It's a simple bread.  Not gunked up with oats or molasses or carrots or anything else.  Just plain old bread.  Great for sandwiches or toast... and fantastic when it goes stale for french toast and the tastiest strata you ever did eat.

Honey, Red Fife Bread adapted from 'local milk'
makes two small loaves

2 1/4 cups warm water
1 tbsp yeast
1 tsp honey + 1/4 cup honey
3 cups red fife (or whole wheat) flour
2 1/2 - 3 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tbsp salt (I use sea salt)
1 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp unsulphured molasses

Grease a non-reactived bowl and set aside.
Combine a 1/2 cup of warm water, 1 tsp of honey and the yeast together.  Stir just a little and set aside in a draft free spot for about 10 minutes.  The mixture should be foamy and have almost doubled in bulk.
Meanwhile, combine red fife flour and 2 cups of the all purpose (set the rest aside).  Add in the salt and mix.
Once the yeast has proofed add the butter, molasses and the rest of the honey to it.  Mix just until everything combines.  Add the yeast mixture, along with the rest of the warm water to the flour mixture and mix until it forms a dough ball - if you need to add some extra flour here to get to that 'dough needing consistency' then go for it.  Just add a little at a time though.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 6 - 8 minutes or until the dough is  firm, springy, silky and smooth.
Place the dough into the greased bowl and rotate to make sure all sides get greased.  Cover with a clean cloth and set to a warm, draft free spot.  Let it rise for an 1 1/2 or until the dough has doubled in size.
Grease two small loaf pans (or I used a small baking dish for one of mine).
Gently punch the dough down and knead into 2 small loaf shapes. Place in the loaf pans and cover with  the clean cloth and set aside to rise for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Bake the bread for 30 - 35 minutes or until the bread is solid enough that is sounds hollow when you knock on it.
Remove from the loaf pans and cool completely before cutting.
Freezes well.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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