Friday, March 20, 2020 – Live to Blog from the Couch
TGIF! I mean, really, what a crazy week! The weekend is here and it is time to relax with a delicious breakfast (snack, lunch, dinner, late night snack, etc.) of baked oatmeal.
Nothing warms the soul like oatmeal and baked oatmeal gives it that little something special. (I sound like a cooking show host, eh? However, this is the only thing I can really bake from scratch. Well, except springele.) The recipe I used was given to me by the staff of Pendle Hill, a Quaker retreat center outside of Philadelphia. I was attending a retreat there and found myself quite drawn to the oatmeal. VERY drawn to it. By the third day, I was found sitting in the corner of the dining room, hunched over the morning’s pan of fresh baked oatmeal, and hissing “My Preciousssss!” at anyone who came close. I just had to get that recipe! Fortunately, the Pendle Hill staff were quite gracious about sharing it with me. Of course, it might just have been to get me to agree to leave after I had chained myself to the oven. I’ll never know for sure…since I’ve been banned for life from Pendle Hill. Seems an odd thing for gentle-soul, peace-loving Quakers, don’t you think?
But, again, I am digressing. Let’s begin with a picture of the finished product from yesterday’s batch. I recommend you use either an 8×8 or 9×9 inch baking pan. It can be either metal or a silicon as shown here. I prefer the silicon for durability. However, you will probably have to put it on a baking sheet before it goes into the oven as the oatmeal concoction is heavy and the silicon pan is not very rigid. For this recipe you’ll need TWO pans. Don’t worry, you can freeze one for next week…or tomorrow…or dinner tonight. 🙂
It takes about 15 minutes to mix up the oatmeal concoction, which is just long enough to pre-heat your oven to the cooking temperature of 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly stir together these ingredients:
- 3 cups milk (I use lactose free skim milk and you can also use almond, rice, or soy milk)
- 1 – 23 oz. jar of applesauce (I use unsweetened without cinnamon)
- 2 oz. oil (I use canola oil)
- 1 Tbsp vanilla (You know, the bigger spoon. I prefer vanilla extract rather than the artificial flavored vanilla)
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- 1 cup craisins or raisins (For convenience, I buy the 6 oz. bags of craisins at the grocery store and dump the whole thing in…well…not the bag too…you know what I mean.)
- 2 Tbsp baking powder (Again, the bigger spoon)
- 3/4 tsp nutmeg (That’s the smaller spoon)
- 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon (Bigger spoon)
- 1/2 Tbsp salt (Bigger spoon again)
- 1 cup brown sugar (I have also used the “half & half” blend of Splenda and brown sugar for slightly fewer calories)
Once you’ve stirred up this very liquid concoction, it is time to add the oatmeal. You’ll need 10 cups of old fashioned oatmeal or rolled oats. (You can use the quick oaks – the stuff that has been pulverized into oblivion for “quick” cooking – but don’t invite me to eat it. You know I’ve got a thing about “quick” oatmeal.) Typically, I will put five slightly rounded cups of oatmeal into the liquid concoction and then stir it up well before adding the final five cups.
Note: This recipe does not require any toilet paper so you don’t have to keep stocking up.
Oatmeal Fact followed by Oatmeal Opinion: “Quick” oatmeal takes 2 minutes to cook in a microwave while real oatmeal (old fashioned rolled oats) takes 3 minutes. This means it is only 60 seconds between absolutely pathetic mush and the utterly delightful and delicious Food of the Gods. (Not that the microwave should ever be used to make oatmeal.)
Now that the mix is ready, distribute it equally between the pans. I’m not obsessive/compulsive or anything like that, but, just to be thorough, and exact, to the ounce, and sometimes the kilogram, I use a food scale to measure out equal portions between the two pans. Now it is ready to bake!
By this time your oven should be at 350 degrees. Place the pans on the middle shelf and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. The last 10 minutes are the most critical…and dangerous. As the aroma of baking oatmeal rises it will fill your senses and you are at risk of losing all self control. Everything in you will scream, “I want that oatmeal and I want it NOW!” but resist the urge. Let it finish its mystical transformation and become all it can be for you. You won’t regret it. It is worth the wait.
Okay, that’s it. Enjoy! Let me know what you think.
Sock Offensive Update: I’m still wearing the same pair of socks – Bert (on the left) and Ernie (on the right). All is going as planned but laundry day is coming up. I may need to throw in some perfectly clean socks so Clemencia doesn’t get suspicious.
Really, TGIF. It has been a tough week for all of us. I’ve had fun writing these blogs and I hope they have been a brief but nice diversion for you too. I also hope they have inspired you to connect or reconnect with others. Yesterday Clemencia and I hosted what now appears to be our first weekly Virtual Coffee Break/Happy Hour. I have 100 seats in my Zoom account. Ten people showed up and that number exceeded my expectations by 10. If you’d like to join us next week, Thursday, March 26th (which also happens to be Clemencia’s birthday) come on by. The connection information is below my signature.
Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, and remember to leave the last item on the shelf because someone else may need it more than you.