Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oaties, scotch, and the kindness of strangers

A few weeks ago, I was whining a bit about the wintry weather and asked readers to let me know what helped them cope. Among the comments was one from Thomas, an astute, witty, and sometimes instructional (wanna know how to write a love song? Thom's your man) observer of fashion, media, music, movies among other cultural phenomena over at The Sunday Best. Thomas answered that he got by on whisky-tasting classes, oaties, and hugs. So a few days later, sitting down with a glass of Scotch to admire the winter sky, I jokingly posted "Thomas, some of those oaties please." Home sick the next day, I got a note from Thom saying that if I sent him my address, he'd pop some oaties in the mail come baking time. I wanted to politely refuse, I really did, but I was sick, weak, couldn't resist that promise of nurturing in my time of need. As soon as I accepted his offer, I felt embarrassed, and yesterday I felt embarrassed again when I got the e-mail that the oaties were on the way. But there was a photo attached, and looking at it, I thought, "hmmm, well, embarrassment is a small price to pay really."

What did worry me a bit, though, was that Thomas had mentioned the recipe being available on-line and I looked at a few which seemed rather like a basic oatmeal cookie. Now I've talked on this blog about being the mother of four (all long grown) and really, any self-respecting mom can whip up a batch of oatmeal cookies. So I was really, really hoping that these were something a bit different, something that justified letting a complete stranger (although the wonders of the web are such that Thomas has also become a friend, oddly but somehow credibly, at least to me) bake goodies and send them to me. And somehow they had to be perfect with Scotch to make it even more righteous, since they were offered in the context of single malt sipping.

So when this came in the mail today, I held my breath
then got out the scissors to open the package and read Thomas' thoughtful note and attached recipe (which he'd found on the web) and sniff these beauties which Thom says he made while tired and a bit tipsy on Oban
and, eating them in the same spirit they were made, I got out the Bowmore, poured myself a finger or two, and tasted.
And any embarrassment vanished -- the buttery, barely sweet, slightly savoury-nutty goodness of these is very different from the oatmeal cookies I know. These are the perfect accompaniment to Scotch and who knows how many more decades of my life I might have spent not knowing that had I not, first of all, begun blogging last summer, second, started a blog-commenting correspondence with Thomas a few months ago, and third, abandoned any shame to accept the kindness and superior knowledge of a fellow blogger, Scotch lover, and, coincidentally, islander. Thank you, Thomas. There's a glass of Lagavullin waiting next time you're up island.

EDITED LATER to add this link to the recipe Thomas sent me. And here's a link to Thomas' post on his whisky-tasting classes.


  1. What a sweet and thoughtful guy. They look and sound delicious.

  2. The wonder of the internet! So nice to hear when something so gracious comes of it. What a nice guy.

  3. Oh.. and glad to hear you're better. I've always been a fan of white wine and shortbread, but I think I could switch.

  4. Ah, thank you for all your kind words. It was, as the kids say, a pleasure. Do the kids still say that? I am so out of touch.

    The secret to oaties is to have a Scottish person make them. Or, at the very least, a quarter-Scottish person.

    I will have to pass on the Lagavulin though - I am more of a Speyside lad me-self. Lagavulin and Bowmore blow my head clean off.

  5. Wow, those look delicious. Thomas, I'm impressed! As the daughter of a man whose first and middle names are Stuart Gordon, I may be genetically predisposed to make oaties, so please share the recipe! But I will need some help selecting a single malt; I've been stuck in a Glenmorangie (Sherry wood aged) rut for years now.

  6. LBR, Jillian: Isn't he sweet?!
    Dana: or chocolates and red wine, but one needn't choose -- room for all, no?
    And I'll add the recipe link to the post.
    Thomas: so my Laphroaig's safe as well, then. and What kids?

  7. Pseu: I've posted the recipe so you can have oaties with your Glenmorangie (and can something so good really create a rut?) Have to see what Thomas' advice is for other tipples -- we're partial to the smoky Islays here, but I like Glenmorangie, Glenfiddich, Balvenie -- oh dear, sounds as if I like whatever's going, doesn't it!

  8. How delightful! Never refuse the kindness of strangers -- particularly when it involves nurturing foods and parcels.

  9. You're right mater, I didn't mean "switch," I meant "branch out."

    Reminds me of the Dec. 02 Gourmet, in which they recommend pairing a nice bottle with a homemade batch for your very dearest. They suggest:

    Port with Dark chocolate shortbread
    Torcolato dessert wine with Manchego biscuits
    Rose champagne with Buckwheat pepper crisps
    Ice wine with Vanilla bean thins
    Sherry with Prune and walnut crescents
    Muscat with Almond apricot biscotti

    I've never managed to try them, but have always wanted to! Recipes probably at epicurious. Cheers!

  10. Hurrah!! The secret is coconut!

    I became addicted to Oaties when Thomas and I went to New York. They were nowhere to be found in Vancouver, so I found this recipe on the web and, being the baking half between us, Thomas made them one weekend. I'm so glad he's spreading the Oaties love!!!

  11. so it's true, behind every man who bakes and mails Oaties, there's a brilliant young woman with mad research skills. Thank you ever so, and Happy birthday again. I do love the Oaties (and yes, the coconut is mmmmm)


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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