Saturday, March 21, 2009

One pot: Baked oatmeal

Anyone who knows me knows that I don't cook a lot and when I do, it's not very complex. That's because I live with an amazing cook who is also my culinary slave as well as a recipe tester-at-large for America's Test Kitchen. My one-pot dishes and "bean delight" don't stand a chance against my sweetie's creations.

About a month ago, Cream Puffs in Venice [don't click on that link or you'll never come back -- she kicks my butt] blogged about a baked oatmeal breakfast dish that caught my attention. I read it three of four times finally convincing myself that I could do this, after all it was all in one pot. 

My sweetie was out of town and, honestly, I have no idea what a rolled oat is and how it's different from other oats. I saw we had a bag of flaked oats in the cupboard and that's what I used. 

This is a great little recipe and now that I've found it I'm less likely to skip breakfast. Here's my adaptation:

1 cup whole rolled oats (I use about 1 1/3 cups flaked oats because Sweetie likes the density. What's the difference between whole & flaked?)

1 tsp. cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. maple syrup (Sweetie says to try 1 1/2 tbsp of honey if you don't have maple syrup. We'll try that next time.)
1 tbsp. grated orange zest
2 medium apples, peeled and diced (I use whatever I have on hand, usually a crisp eating apple)
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (I use pecans, because we have lots of them)

1/4 cup fresh frozen blueberries (I freeze them in August and enjoy them through the winter. Once the raspberries ripen, I'll try a handful of them instead.)
1-1/4 cups milk 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9-inch pie plate or baking dish with butter or cooking spray

Combine all the ingredients in ONE (I love this part) large bowl and mix well.

Pour into the greased pie plate.

Bake in the centre of the oven for about 30 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed (don’t overcook or it will dry out).

Remove from the oven and let cool. Serve warm with yogurt (I like vanilla yogurt). Add extra honey or maple syrup as desired.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring has sprung

"Spring has sprung, grass has ris, I wonder where the birdies is?" -- nuggets of wisdom passed down from my father. 

Well, the birdies were tweeting today and not only on Twitter. We had lots and lots of rain today, a crash of thunder followed by more rain, then wind. Through it all, except for the thunder crash, the birdies were noisily doing what birdies do outside my window (except where the screens keep them from roosting). 

After all the wind, the sun appeared and I ran outside to take this photo. I ran because our weather has been so unpredictable, I didn't want to be caught in an unexpected snowstorm -- like the one we had ten days ago. 

But I'm not really worried about snow. I'm worried about crows. Our house is on their sunset flight path, which is an amazing sight to watch. I'm not so worried about their daily flight. I'm worried about their stops. 

Every couple of years they nest nearby and aggressively swoop, making contact with anything that appears to threaten their young 'uns. Like pathetic me, in the morning before coffee, dragging myself to the bus stop -- a threat?

We used to wave our arms wildly and shout disparaging remarks trying to intimidate them into moving to another back yard. Because we were scared. 

And then I watched Joshua Klein's TED Talk on "The amazing intelligence of crows." We were right to be scared. Crows are smart and they're going to take over the world. We were left with two choices: 1) sell the house and move to the desert; or 2) be nice to the crows. 

We're trying option 2, which includes speaking gently in short sentences, moving smoothly without sudden jerks or leaps off the ground, and leaving small twigs in easily accessible places, all the while wondering where the birdies is.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy birthday nonna

Nonna Filomena would have been 112 today. It's hard to believe I'm living in the third century since my grandmother was born. 

Because I'm near the end of the grandkids I only remember the older skinny version of nonna. She was an incredible 80-something who I'm sure passed down the obsessive compulsive disorder of cleaning the house before the cleaning lady arrived. I don't do it to the degree that nonna did. She would straddle the stairwell (feet on the railings!) to clean the light fixture so her cleaner wouldn't have to do it. I don't think the cleaning lady phase lasted very long since there wasn't much to do. Probably a thoughtful idea from one of her children but not very practical. 

After nonno died, we would visit once a week. In winter we would pass the time together watching tv shows: MASH, the short-lived Planet of the Apes, and her favourite, the Lawrence Welk Show. Nonna always laughed along with the MASH laugh track but I'm sure she didn't catch most of its humour. As young kids, I'm sure we didn't either.

Lawrence Welk would have been 106 last week.