Baked Oatmeal

It’s a new year but I sure feel like 2014 has already been a full first few weeks. I was sick, there was a Polar Vortex, lots of snow, I couldn’t get to my first job of the year thanks to airlines, and that was all in the first week of January. Before all of this hecticness I ended the holidays and 2013 on a high note.

After Christmas in Brooklyn with friends and loved ones I headed up state to the Saeli Farm. I have been visiting “The Farm” as my family calls it for over 30 years and it is one of the places that holds the fondest memories for me and also feels like the warmest embrace on each visit. And then there are the wonderful people who make up this special place that keep drawing me back decade after decade. For the deficit of biological family on my mother’s side so many families have stepped in and welcomed me as a member of their brood, none more than the Saeli’s and none hold a dearer place in my heart and life.

It has been years since I have been here in winter and the white wonderland was glistening under fresh blankets of snow when I landed. The farmhouse was warm and the windows in the kitchen filled with steam. We baked and cooked side by side and enjoyed feasts around crowded but happy tables. We went for deep snowy walks, went tobogganing, sledding, ice skating in a barn, I held a caterpillar and jumped around yelling and laughing when I felt it move on my hand. We played games and I marveled at how my friends’ daughters have grown and how smart and funny they are! I love seeing my friends’ children grow up and revel in who they become.

It was a wonderful time filled with love, laughter, and lots and lots of playing, baking, and eating. On our last morning as snow fell again and everyone prepared to return to their lives and homes Maria made baked oatmeal. It was on the farm years and years ago that I was first introduced to baked oatmeal and I loved the idea. I never made it until a few years ago when I came across the recipe in SUPER NATURAL EVERYDAY. This is the recipe I hold onto and return to every time the seasons are cool and my oven wants to stay on and full of yummy things. This oatmeal as it bakes warms the air and scents it with a sweet aroma that makes me feel like I am home wherever I am. It reminds me of The Farm and the people I love so much.

Baked Oatmeal Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s SUPER NATURAL EVERYDAY


2 cups rolled oats

½ cup walnut halves or almonds or I use a combination of both, toasted and chopped if you so please (I am lazy and don’t toast them)

1/3 cup natural cane sugar or maple syrup

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

2 cups milk

1 large egg

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 bananas cut into ½ inch  pieces

1 ½ cups blueberries or I have used blackberries or mixed berries, even frozen berries

Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the top third of the oven.

Generously butter an 8-inch baking dish. In bowl mix together the oats, half of the nuts, sugar if you are using it, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk, maple syrup if you are using this as your sweetener, egg, butter, and vanilla.

Arrange the bananas in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle two-thirds of the berries over the top. Cover the fruit with the dry oat mixture. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the oats. Gently give the baking dish a couple of thwacks on the countertop to make sure the liquid moves down through the oats. Scatter the remaining berries and nuts across the top.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden and the oat mixture has set. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Yield: about 6 servings and is delicious hot, room temperature, or from the fridge.

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