Autumn has fallen

After this blazing hot summer, it was especially good to feel that crisp morning air signaling the turning towards autumn. The leaves are giving a terrific color show, my knitting has kicked back into gear, and all the good warming foods are begging to be brought to the forefront again: pumpkin, butternut squash, beans, rice, oats, kale, cranberries… what kind of foods say “fall” to you?

We recently replaced our wonderful old Aroma rice cooker, after it gave out following a decade of hard use. In general, we don’t go for bells and whistles, but the delay timer on the new one (as well as the price… this model, Aroma ARC-2000, over $50 at Amazon but only $29.99 at Costco) were quite attractive. It came with a steamer basket, and also acts as a slow-cooker. I’m not the only one who finds rice cookers to be extremely versatile and useful!

The very first thing I made in the new pot was a big batch of steel-cut oats. We all love the nutty flavor and chewy texture of these nourishing grains, but they’re a bit of a pain. Usually, you have to cook them for at least half an hour, stirring frequently… something too fussy and time-consuming to have ready for family members who must catch trains and buses early in the morning. But with the delay timer, it could not have been easier! Two cups of oats and eight cups of cool water, with a six-hour delay and the “brown rice” setting, produced a big steaming pot of perfection in the morning. (Some folks suggest mixing with boiling water the night before, but that along with the cooking makes for a very gluey mush… not terribly appetizing!)

The second batch a few days later left almost a cup and a half of leftovers. I’ve tossed these cold oats into bread dough with wonderful results, but I didn’t need more bread at the moment. We were headed over to a friend’s farm later in the day, and I decided to make a cake with my oats. The trick was that I’m avoiding gluten, one of my friend’s children can’t have eggs, and her husband can’t have dairy. Could I make an edible cake with no butter, eggs, or wheat flour? The answer was “yes,” and it turned out to be packed with fall flavors… delicious enough that I wanted to share it with you!

Fall cake

Fall Cake
1 1/2 c. leftover steel-cut oats
1/2 c. coconut oil, melted (or a stick of butter at room temperature)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
3 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer (or two eggs)
6 T. warm water (omit if using eggs)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. gluten-free flour mix (I used Authentic Foods multi-blend, which includes xanthan gum; if you use something else like Bob’s Red Mill gf flour, be sure to add a bit of xanthan or guar gum), or 1 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (freshly grated is the best!)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, but the unsweetened pure pumpkin)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped and toasted (if you don’t have a toaster oven, just pop into your oven on a cookie sheet for a few minutes while it’s heating up)
5 oz. (1/2 bag) dairy-free chocolate chips

Set oven to 350F. Grease a 11×7 pan.

Mix together oil and sugars until well-blended. Whisk together egg replacer and water, then add to sugar and oil; mix well. Add the oats, vanilla, and pumpkin; stir until blended.

Sift together the gf flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg; add to batter and stir just until blended. Gently stir in pecans and chocolate chips, spread into prepared pan. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until a little browned and a toothpick comes out clean.



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