Recipe Corner: Staffordshire Oatcakes

by Harry on December 17, 2008

Talking of made up family traditions, Staffordshire Oatcakes a la Brighouse Mothersname household are a nice light-ish alternative to regular pancakes. I was first served them as a teenager by the Leek, Staffs, native parents of a friend of my sister’s; then completely forgot about them until coming across them in a children’s story several years ago. You’re supposed to use half medium oatmeal (scottish oatmeal in the US) and half regular flour, but I prefer to use oat flour with just a couple of spoons of medium oatmeal for texture. I make them when my eldest has friends over for sleepovers and they are always popular; I make the batter the night before, and its all ready to cook in the morning. You can serve them with butter and syrup (Golden Syrup is best, but maple is fine); or, for a light lunch, with grated cheese on top (fold the pancake to melt the cheese, gruyere is best).

1 teaspoon dried yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 cups oat flour and 3 tablespoons of medium/scottish oatmeal
2 cups water and 2 cups milk
(or 4 cups of liquid, with milk and water in whatever proportion you want, really).
2 tablespoons of melted butter

Dissolve the yeast and sugar into the liquid, and leave covered for 10 minutes.
Add all the other ingredients except the butter, and whisk thoroughly so there are no lumps.
Leave in a mixing bowl, covered with plastic wrap, for at least an hour (overnight is fine; 2 days is fine, frankly) in a not-too-warm place.

Just before cooking, mix in the melted butter. Cook like pancakes on a moderate griddle in butter. Serve immediately (or keep them in a hot oven, but don’t stack them, please). You can add more flour, or more liquid, any time you want, to get the consistency you prefer; this recipe should make the consistency a bit thicker than crepes.

Wild Rumpus

by Henry Farrell on December 17, 2008

“Ari”:, over at _Edge of the American West_, comes across a site “saying”: that the Wild Things were Jewish.

The original concept for the book featured horses instead of monsters. Sendak said he switched when he discovered that he could not draw horses. The Wild Things (except “Goat Boy”, of course) were named after (and are presumably caricatures of) Maurice’s aunts and uncles: Aaron, Bernard, Emil, Moishe and Tzippy.

Moishe doll

Maybe this is common knowledge to lots of folks; I did know the story about the horses. But it reminds me that when I was reading _Where the Wild Things Are_ to my son two nights ago, I spotted that the moon in Max’s bedroom is three quarters full in the early illustrations, changes to a full moon when he begins his travels, and remains full when he returns to his bedroom, and (presumably) normality, linear time, and all that good stuff. Suggestions about what this is supposed to mean (and other _WTWTA_ trivia) welcome in comments.

“Bush-Era Culture” (Shudder)

by Scott McLemee on December 17, 2008

At the blog newcritics, Chuck Tryon points out something I would have missed otherwise, given the need to avoid national news magazines in the interest of anger management:

Newsweek, of all places, has a fascinating intellectual exercise in which they ask several of their film and media writers to name one popular culture text that “exemplifies what it was like to be alive in the age of George W. Bush.” Obviously, the idea of capturing the zeitgeist of eight often turbulent years with a divided electorate and a fractured media landscape is an impossibility. No single text can encompass the tragedy of September 11, the war in Iraq, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the housing bubble and collapse, and our news media’s often vacuous response to all of these events. But the Newsweek writers offer some interesting choices, ones that collectively seem to move toward capturing some sense of Bush-era culture.

I tend to think Battlestar Galactica wins, hand’s down. (Per earlier item.) See the rest of Chuck T’s entry here.


by John Q on December 17, 2008

That’s the new target interest rate announced by the US Federal Reserve today (with a margin of up to 25 basis points). It’s also, following the $50 billion Madoff fraud and the increasingly widespread suspicion that the entire bailout scheme has been operated to promote the interests of Goldman Sachs at the expense of its competitors and the general public, an upper bound for the credibility of the global financial system. And it’s a pretty good estimate of the probability that we’re going to avoid a recession worse than any since the Great Depression.

Without a household name like Citigroup or GS going bust, it’s hard to convey the seriousness of the latest news in an environment where we are already inured to financial cataclysms. But it seems pretty clear that the last couple of days spell the end for both hedge funds (many of which have lost a fortune with Madoff and all of which are subject to invidious comparisons with his decades-long Ponzi scheme) and money market funds, which can’t possibly cover their costs given a funds rate of 0.25 per cent.