Top of the Muffin to You!

9 12 2009

Or, Study for Steel-Cut Oat Cookies

Whenever I go to a museum, which is fairly often, seeing as I live in a city full of great ones, I always wonder about the little half-completed drawings, paintings, and sculptures labeled “Study for XYZ.”  Did the artist ever really intend for that particular piece to be displayed?  I understand the value in looking at these next to the final work, but I want to know at what point do your half-finished thoughts and handiworks become art in their own right?  Does it have to do with fame, either of the artist or of the work?  Are these the carefully hand-selected studies chosen from rooms full of crappy ones?  Where do they draw the line, so to speak?

And it really only seems to be a phenomenon in drawing, painting, and sculpture.  You don’t see this in photography exhibits.  You don’t watch the rehearsals of a play unless you have some specific reason to be there.  You generally don’t get to see all the miles of footage cut from films.  And do you really want to be on the receiving end of someone’s cooking experiment?  Maybe.  I guess it depends on the cook, their level of skill, and how much you trust them.

Oatmeal-Pecan Muffin Top

One time when I was a kid, my mom and I baked my favorite oatmeal cookies using a different recipe.  It was one we had found on the back of a new discovery: Steel-Cut Irish Oats.  I remember them being some of the best oatmeal cookies I’d ever had, chewier than usual, with a more substantial texture and great oat flavor.  The recipe has since been lost, but when I read Andrea’s recipe for Cooked Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies, starring Irish oats, I sat up and took notice.  And then did nothing about it for over six months.  But last weekend I decided to cook the rest of the Irish oats I had, and save some for the express purpose of making cookies.

I changed Andrea’s recipe a bit, reducing the baking powder, increasing the butter, adding salt and pecans, and omitting the pumpkin.  I was looking for something golden brown and butterscotchy, with lots of chewy steel-cut oats.  What I got were muffin tops.  They did make great on-the-go breakfasts for the days I choose to get twenty minutes more of sleep in the morning in lieu of sitting down and eating something (read: every day).

So does anybody really need my recipe for “Study in Steel-Cut Oat Cookies?”  Probably not.  Is it worth telling the story?  I think so, but then, I’m no art historian.  Incidentally, Andrea is.  Maybe I’ll ask her.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.



3 responses

10 12 2009
hungry dog

I want the recipe!

In regard to your musings about what makes a sketch or draft significant, I think it has everything to do with the artist’s level of fame. I don’t think it matters what the final piece finally looked like or how it ranked in their body of work…I think people consider such works-in-progress to be glimpses into the artist’s mind.

12 12 2009

hungry dog – Ok, here’s what I did: cream 3 oz. unsalted butter with 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup maple syrup, and a hefty (maybe 1 tsp.) salt. Stir in an egg and 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Then 1/2 cup cooked Irish oats, followed by 1 cup flour, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 cup rolled oats, and 1/2 cup pecans. Drop by spoonfuls on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 F about 12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the top is no longer wet.

And I hadn’t considered that aspect – that the sketch is like a diary of sorts. Interesting.

12 12 2009
hungry dog

Awesome, thanks for the recipe!

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