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Mindfulness and Black Pepper Oatcakes

March 2, 2012

I have yoga to thank for these crackers.

I was on my back, my arms at my sides, palms facing up with my legs straight–Savasana or Corpse pose as it’s known in yoga. To the untrained eye I probably looked at peace, maybe even corpse-like. My body was still; my mind was anything but. It was racing like a gerbil spinning on a wheel. This is always the hardest pose for me. I can lie still now without fidgeting for at least five minutes, which is significant progress to be celebrated. But the mindfulness part of the pose–where I clear my head–is impossible except for when I’m tired and I fall asleep, but that’s not the point either. I took a deep breath and tried to exhale the mind chatter. I expelled the parchment paper that I forgot at the store, but the void quickly filled with the RSVP I didn’t mail, the one that was due on Monday.

My nose itched, but I suppressed the urge to scratch it. Yes, progress!

Does an itchy nose really mean that someone is talking about you? Who would be talking about me at seven in the morning? Shoot I forgot to call my sister back. Do we have bread for breakfast? Crap, Greg needs a lunch packed for today. Weren’t they supposed to deliver the wine yesterday? Today is Wednesday, right? No, it’s Thursday, duh, that’s why I’m at yoga. When was the delivery scheduled for? Will I ever see the sun again? I’m out of vitamin D. Do those supplements even work? Okay, parchment paper, vitamin D supplements, and…. What else? There was something else I needed from the store. I know it. Stop, stop, stop. Make it stop.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. There, now that’s better.

What was that? Is someone snoring? Greg? I need to start getting to bed earlier. Damn it, there I go again. What is wrong with me? Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. But the tape in my head begins again.

Crackers.

I was thinking about crackers as our yoga teacher Kat eased us out of our final Savasana and into our busy days. Perhaps I could tolerate my mind’s chatter if it went on about something of vital importance. But no, I was thinking about making crackers and slathering them with the creamy blue that was tucked away in the cheese drawer at home, hardly the stuff Nobel Prizes are made of. Did I mention that it was 7 a.m.? The nurturing voice in my head—one of many voices—reminded me to stop flogging myself, but I couldn’t help but feel as though I had failed, again.

I was over it–the self-flagellation that is–by the time we sat down to breakfast, but I wasn’t over my craving for these perfectly spiced, toasty oat treats. Later that day, I whipped up a batch while my blue cheese softened on the counter. The dough felt good in my hands–the coarse oats against my worn palms. I added a splash more of the cold water until it felt right–supple, cohesive, but not clingy. A light sprinkle of wheat flour on the counter. Back and forth, back and forth. Turn. Back and forth, back and forth again. The dough complied with each pass of the old wooden rolling pin, transforming into a smooth canvas. I marveled at the contrast of the black pepper against the flecks of oats. It reminded me of a moonless night sky in Montana.

At last, my mind was quiet.

Black Pepper Oatcakes

I started with James Martin’s recipe. The first two times I made these I cooked them on a griddle. They were crisp and delicious, but the edges of my crackers always curled.

Ingredients

OATCAKES:

    2 cups rolled oats
    3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
    cold water

GLAZE (optional):

    2 tablespoons milk
    1 teaspoon granulated sugar
    coarse sea salt

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Place one cup of rolled oats in the bowl of a food processor. Process until very fine like a flour.
  3. Add the remaining cup of oats, butter, salt and pepper. Pulse until coarse crumbs appear.
  4. With the processor running, slowly add enough water just until the mixture resembles large curds. Don’t wait for it to form a ball and ride on the blade, or you risk overdoing it.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Bring it together with your hands adding more water if necessary. You want a soft, cohesive dough that isn’t sticky.
  6. Roll the dough out to an 1/8-inch thickness. Using a pastry cutter, cookie cutter, or knife cut the dough into any shapes you like. Transfer the crackers to a large baking sheet.
  7. Combine the milk and sugar in a small bowl stirring to dissolve the sugar. Brush the tops of the crackers and sprinkle with salt.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly browned.
  9. Allow crackers to cool on the sheet for five minutes then remove to a wire rack.
  10. Store in airtight containers when completely cool.

Makes 3 dozen 1.5-inch crackers.



These Whole Wheat Crackers are my other go-to whole grain crackers.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one smitten with oatmeal and black pepper. I can’t wait to try these Savory Oatmeal Cookies with Rosemary, Black Pepper, and Parmesan from emmycooks.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 2, 2012 1:21 pm

    I love your writing. It is SO HARD to quiet the mind. But, once you learn to surrender your mind and your body – it is amazing….probably like your oatcakes.

  2. March 2, 2012 1:29 pm

    Cool recipe! Would definitely love trying these.

  3. March 2, 2012 1:55 pm

    Beautiful!

  4. March 2, 2012 4:31 pm

    I am with you on the mind racing during savasana..I can never shut mine off. I had to buy an eye pillow to help with my wandering eyes. Although if I were to create these oatcakes mid thought I would let my mind race!

  5. March 2, 2012 10:00 pm

    I want to make these AND the whole wheat crackers! Glad to hear that your finally achieved a moment of meditation while baking–there’s something very peaceful about being in motion in the kitchen, isn’t there?

  6. March 5, 2012 2:51 pm

    I can empathize with a racing mind during Savasna! I am usually thinking about what to eat for dinner when I get home, since my yoga class is early evening. I have been practicing Iyengar yoga for almost 12 years now and I will admit that with practice it is possible to quiet the mind, but it took me years to do it.
    The crackers look fantastic. I never think of crackers of something that you can make yourself. Impressive.

  7. March 6, 2012 10:30 am

    I had to chuckle reading this post. I can never quiet my mind…now those crackers with a little blue will be dancing around in my mind.

  8. March 9, 2012 11:04 am

    Looks delicious! thanks for sharing x

    http://www.beckspick.com

  9. March 9, 2012 5:09 pm

    Made oatcakes myself! Except I used Olive Oil instead of butter- I’m def. interested to see how your version tastes.

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