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Posts Tagged ‘Spar for the Spurtle’

Below is Kerri’s report on her great oatmeal adventure earlier this year. It’s spurtlicious!

Kerri with Bob. Yes, THAT Bob.


You may remember me from reading about the fun and exciting time Susan and I had preparing for the Spar for the Spurtle Contest we both entered back in July. If not for Susan’s keen eye and wonderful way of bringing her friends along into cool new ventures, I would not have known or cared about the Spar for the Spurtle.

We prepared like mad women to be sure we had just the right recipe and flavors to win, even holding taste-tests at our office. Finally, we made videos for our entries at Susan’s house and our precious friend Richard filmed and edited them to greatness. (He’s brilliant, by the way). Here’s Susan’s:

And mine:

Although I felt I had no chance against Susan’s amazing video and recipe, I was thrilled to receive a call from Matt at Bob’s Red Mill, the host of the contest who told me that I had been selected as one of 3 winners to go to all expenses paid to Portland for the national live cook-off at Bob’s. I nearly fainted. But off I went, recipe and all cooking gear in tow. The morning of the contest came early and started with a 2 hour tour of the Bob’s Red Mill plant.

It was amazing. You could eat off the floors in that place. They go to great lengths to preserve the integrity of the Gluten-Free grains and to only sell the best of the best from local farmers. Very impressive. Bob himself led our tour and we felt like royalty as we had our pictures taken and had lunch in the beautiful courtyard of the Bob’s Store where the cook-off was held.

Spurtle contestants

Ready, set, spar


When it came time to start the contest, we were first led in great pomp and circumstance through every aisle of the store marching behind a darling girl bagpiper, then the head of the Oregon Scottish Consulate addressed us to discuss his experience with what they call “porridge”, we call “oatmeal”. The judges were introduced and before we knew it, we were underway! 40 minutes to prepare, plate, and serve our recipes.

I delivered my plates first with my recipe “Raspberry Oatmeal Dumplings”—boy, was I nervous. Then the terrific gal to my right (she’s on my left, your right in the photo above), who had made “Apricot Oatmeal Pot stickers”. Both of our dishes were sweet, but the last gal to go had made a savory dish, “Italian Pinhead Torta”. The judges tasted, then stepped out of the room to decide who should win.

Drumroll please…….it wasn’t me. I was sad. I really thought I had it, but the judges had been given a specific task to choose the recipe which was the most likely to win the International Porridge Making contest in Scotland. They chose the Torta recipe as it put the oats (called pinheads) at the forefront and as the starring ingredient.

Italian Pinhead Torta


Surely they chose rightly, judging by the results of the International competition. Yep— on Saturday, Oct. 6th, Laurie won the specialty division with her Torta recipe in Scotland, and brought the trophy back to the US for Bob’s Red Mill.

I was happy for her (really!) and for all the good folks at Bob’s. They are a wonderful bunch of people, with terrific hearts and completely engaged in their mission. I highly recommend red Mill products to everyone as they are simply the best! I have seen it firsthand, and am a true believer. They are worth every penny. If you want to learn more or see this crazy Scottish contest for yourself, click here: http://www.goldenspurtle.com/

Now…to get started on next year’s winning recipe….

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So . . . in what I can only describe as a shocking lack of judgment and good taste, Kerri did not win the Spar for the Spurtle. Some woman from California won with a recipe for something called Italian Pinhead Torta. I’m sure it’s delicious and all, and I hope she beats the kilts off the Scots in October, but I am sad to report there will be no blogging from Scotland to be found here this year. (I’m only thinking of you, my readers–you’d have loved Scotland.)

But never mind! Life goes on and soon we’ll have a report from Kerri about her cook off experience, a new/old recipe for enchiladas (and photos from the enchilada class), and stories from my adventure in glass-blowing. Not to mention cows. (Don’t ask. I told you not to mention them.)

Plus, Julia Child’s 100th birthday is this Wednesday, August 15. There’s still time to plan a proper celebration, even if it’s just cooking with abandon.

Onward and upward, my friends!

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Finalists have been announced in the Bob’s Red Mill Spar for the Spurtle contest and (drumroll, please) . . .

I am not one of them.

Dang. I wonder if they were concerned about the availability of refried beans in Scotland? I’ve been to more than one Tex-Mex establishment in England, but not Scotland. But never mind about me, because the big announcement is . . .

My friend Kerri, who also entered the contest? She IS a finalist!

(Cue balloon drop, confetti, and serious whooping and hollering.)

We were hoping that trip to Portland was for two so I could bring you all along via blog, but at the moment it doesn’t look like that’s the case. So I’ll be cheering from afar as Kerri heads off to win the cook off. Because the rules say that trip to Scotland is for two…and y’all want to (virtually) go to Scotland with us, don’t you? I thought so!

Here’s a link to the official announcement.

Congratulations, Kerri! Go bring home that Spurtle!

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You may remember my post about this fabulous contest put on by Bob’s Red Mill? Well, kids—it’s game time. I entered my contest video today. You can watch it here (and if you could “like” the video on the contest page I would really appreciate it).

My genius co-worker Richard filmed and edited the video. The film shoot was quite hilarious; I wish you could have all been there as the studio audience, it’s a shame only four of us were in on the fun. Kerri borrowed my kitchen for her video (I’ll send a link for hers when I get it), Vikki came over to serve as crew and continuity coordinator, and a good time was had by all.

I do have a whole new level of appreciation for the people on Food Network. It is remarkably difficult to speak coherently and cook at the same time.

If I make it in the top 3 I’ll get to go to Portland for a cook off–and if I win that, I’ll get to go to Scotland. If I get to do either one I’ll take you all with me! Er, virtually, via blog posts, that is.

So….have you ever entered a contest? What was it like? How’d it turn out? I’d love to hear about it!

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"Spar for the Spurtle"
What’s a spurtle, you ask? It’s a 15th-century cooking implement, of course, a “rod-like instrument that is traditionally used to stir porridge and prevent it from becoming lumpy.” Porridge, in this case, meaning oatmeal.

All clear? No? Keep reading, I have a story to tell.

Once upon a time, there was a delightful man named Bob who opened a mill up in Oregon. This mill produces a ton of delicious products, one of them being steel-cut oats. A couple of years ago, Bob sent one of his employees to enter the Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship in Scotland…and he won!

Now Bob and Co. have opened up the contest to amateurs, civilians, home cooks, people, in short, like us. Last year a woman named Merry Graham (that’s “Merry with an e,” not to be confused with my friend “Mary with an a” Graham) won the U.S. contest with her recipe for Black Bean Porridge Patties with Pico de Gallo.

Click the pic for the recipe.

You know what’s coming, right? I am SO entering this contest. So is my friend and office cooking cohort, Kerri…but that still leaves one slot in the U.S. finals for you. (Kerri and I are obviously destined to take two out of three spots, but you’re welcome to fight it out for the other one. We’d love to meet you and–with all the love in the world–kick your butt in the Oregon cook-off).

Last year’s finalists with Bob (in the middle). Will it be you (with Kerri & me) this year?

So here’s the scoop: To enter, you need to create a unique recipe that makes use of Bob’s Red Mill’s Steel Cut Oats. Then submit a video of you making your dish—just pretend you’re one of The Next Food Network Star finalists. Better get to cooking and filming, though; the deadline to enter is July 20.

From the entries, three finalists will be flown to Portland, Ore. to compete in a live cook-off in early August. The winner of the cook-off will receive an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Scotland, including $2,500 in cash, to help represent team Bob’s Red Mill in the 19th Annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship this October.

So….you in? Before you say “aye” here’s a fun little twist from the official rules: The recipe should demonstrate a creative use of the oats – or, as the Scots say, a “blending and harmony of the porridge with the other ingredients.” Dishes can be sweet or savory – they just need to be cooked on the stovetop using only two burners and able to be created from start to finish within 30 minutes. Oats may be soaked or toasted prior to the start of the 30 minutes, but they cannot be cooked in any way.

The degree of difficulty just ramped up, didn’t it? Never mind, it just requires a little extra creativity. Here’s a link to the official rules and whatnot. If you enter (and I hope you do) let me know where to find your video and I’ll post a link to it. Once Kerri and I have our videos up I’ll post links to them, too.

Golden Spurtle

The Golden Spurtle! (You can come over and admire it after I win.)

Good luck, lads and lasses! It’s time for “a brawl of epic proportions.” Game on!

P.S. This isn’t a sponsored post or anything, I just wanted to give you fair warning about my upcoming trips to Portland and Scotland. Not that I’m overly confident or anything (perish the thought!) but I do feel pretty good about my recipe.

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