Friend is gone but her recipes remain

  • By Judyrae Kruse
  • Tuesday, January 11, 2005 9:00pm
  • Life

It sometimes takes a while, but bad news eventually and unfailingly does make the rounds.

We are saddened to learn of the death of prolific novelist, Granite Falls cook and Forum contributor Willo Davis Roberts.

At the same time, though, we are heartened that her popular books (multiple Edgar award winners) and her people-pleasing recipes will live on.

In case you’ve forgotten, in August 2003 she told us she’d turned to eating oatmeal (although she’d never liked it) after encountering some serious side effects from a cholesterol-lowering drug, and finding out that her son had brought his level down 70 points by eating oatmeal.

“Friends advised me to doctor it up with vanilla, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom and coriander, a quarter-teaspoon each per serving,’ she said. “I also learned that I could flavor the oats with Chinese five-spice seasoning.’”

Continuing her experimentation, she found online recipes using steel-cut oatmeal, which were even more palatable, and were (and are) available at Top Foods, Fred Meyer and Trader Joe’s.

“My first try,’ she said, “was the following recipe for oatmeal pilaf. I did not have the fennel, and had to use some dried ground spices, but it was still very tasty. I have since experimented with other vegetables, and find that carrots, corn, green beans, navy beans, etc., are all good. This tastes nothing like oatmeal!’”

And so, remembering Roberts today, here’s her pilaf recipe again.

Forum cooks have, of course, already reviewed this concoction and given it high ratings. As a matter of fact, this not only made a BIG hit at that time, readers tell me it has now become a favorite standby to serve with fish, chicken or even a roast.

Cooks have also given high marks to an apple, oat, nut and coconut dessert (“what my sons call apple crud,” she mentioned) as well as the following recipe for a topping she described as “good over puddings, fruit cobblers, ice cream, etc.,’ both of which appeared in a Jan. 23, 2004, Forum column.

Oatmeal pilaf

1cup steel-cut oatmeal

3tablespoons olive oil

1cup finely diced onion

1/2cup diced fennel

2tablespoons minced celery

1clove garlic, peeled and minced (4 cloves are not too much)

1tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1/2teaspoon minced fresh thyme

1/2teaspoon minced fresh marjoram

3cups unsalted, defatted chicken broth, warmed

Salt and pepper to taste

1cup frozen peas, thawed

1/2cup diced red bell pepper

1/2cup diced green bell pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread oatmeal over a baking sheet with sides and toast for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Heat olive oil in heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, stir in onion, fennel, celery, garlic and herbs; saute for 4 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

Add oats and stir to combine. Stir in warm broth. Raise heat and bring to boil, then lower heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer 25 minutes or until broth has been absorbed and oats are just tender. Remove from heat and stir in peas and red and green peppers. Serve hot.

Oat cinnamon crunch topping

1cup whole-wheat pastry flour

1/2cup sugar or 1/2 teaspoon stevia powder (available at health food stores)

1/2teaspoon cinnamon

Dash cloves (optional)

2/3cup rolled oats

1/2cup chopped walnuts

1/2cup butter, melted

In medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar or stevia powder, cinnamon and cloves. Add oats and walnuts and mix. Stir in butter and press mixture into oiled 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool, cover and refrigerate unless mixture is to be used within a few days. Serve over puddings, fruit cobblers, ice cream, etc.

The next Forum will appear in Friday’s Time Out section.

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