Today’s guest post comes from Sarah Richcreek, co-owner of The Hot Cookie, an Indianapolis-based all-natural cookie company. Sarah follows her passion for delectable sweets on a daily basis (the fruits of her labor can be purchased here, but is also a fan of the savory side of life too. Here she shares her story for comfort found in an unlikely place.
Groats, you ask? “What the devil is a groat?” I can hear you say. Listen and I will educate you about the wonderfulness of groats. But first I’m going to tell you a story…
Once upon a time, I was in Seattle, venturing out alone for the day. I started off on the wrong foot by locking myself out of my friend’s house and then missing the bus. I am not accustomed to city buses or bus schedules and such, being from a small town. So I sat on the curb and cried as it rained, like it does 80 percent of the time in Seattle. A little Asian man, who couldn’t speak a lick of English, stopped and spoke to me. I think he was saying comforting words, but after a minute, he went on his way. I decided to stop being a total wuss and walked to my destination: the Pike Place Market, a foodie’s playground.
When I finally got to the market, I was in much need of comforting. The clouds parted and the sun shone a beam of light on a little café called The Crumpet Shop. This was the definition of my kind of place. (Though I curse them for not having a website.)
I went inside and scoured the menu, making sure not to miss a single thing. A bowl of groats was an item on the breakfast list. The person in front of me in line ordered this strange food and having a curious tongue, I had to have some too. The girl behind the counter asked me what kind of milk I wanted, sweetened with brown sugar or honey, with or without dried black currants. (I didn’t know what currants were at the time, so I had to ask. I’ve since been a huge fan.)
I sat down with my warm, sloshy bowl and pretended to read a newspaper so as not to look lonely or without purpose. Although I was, indeed, lonely. This bowl of groats was comfort food like I had never tasted before. It washed away all of my homesickness and the chill from the Seattle rain. I longed to share this experience with friends and family back home, so I bought some uncooked groats to take with me. You can find groats in most natural food stores like Wild Oats, the Downtown Farm Stand, etc. I did not know this, or I wouldn’t have walked around the market all day lugging a few extra pounds of groats.
OK, now, groats are “the hulled grains of various cereals, such as oats, wheat, barley, or buckwheat.” Thanks, Wikipedia. They are basically uncut, unground, and not rolled like the grains we are used to. The groats that I received at The Crumpet Shop were oat groats. (ha, rhymes.) Back home I replicated this dish to the best of my ability. Here’s how I do it.
makes 3 servings
- 1 cup of groats—whichever type you find, I’m partial to the oat groats
- 5 cups of water
- pinch of salt
- hot milk—steamed would be best, but I don’t have a steamer
- sweetener of choice—I like the brown sugar
- black currants—I don’t have any on hand right now, so I’m using dried blueberries
Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add salt and groats. Simmer uncovered for about 40 minutes. (I never said that this was quick.)
Drain off liquid. I save my liquid to make bread from it. (The extra starch in the water feeds the yeast and makes them happy, in turn giving me happy bread.)
If you are only making this for one person, dish out 1/2 cup or so of the cooked groats, and put the rest in the fridge. I do this all the time. It stays fresh for 3-4 days. You can save time by preparing the groats ahead to reheat and serve later.
Heat up 1 cup of milk for a single serving and add your sweetener of choice to the warm milk. I like 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of honey.
Pour over your groats to serve—I like my groats just barely poking through the milk in my bowl. Garnish with some dried fruit. I’m telling you, The Crumpet Shop had it right with the black currants.