27 December 2010

[a bowl full of] comfort and joy

Baked oatmeal. It's warm and filling and unpretentious. It's easy to put together and tastes just as good the next day. Though I make it all year, this stuff really hits the spot in wintertime, especially when you can accompany it with a sunny bowl of fruit you picked and froze back in August . . . peaches and blueberries for us.
Baked oatmeal, if not completely limited to Lancaster County, certainly does not enjoy the fame of other breakfast foods. When I went to college in Michigan, few of my fellow students (who had come from all parts of the country) had heard of baked oatmeal. Horrors! So for readers hitherto deprived of this comforting carbohydrate delight, I am posting my version.

Even if you think you hate oatmeal, try this, because it is nothing like the usual gelatinous mush that plummets like a lead sinker to the bottom of your stomach. I'm not a fan of "usual" oatmeal, can you tell?! Think of a lightly sweetened and dense cake.

Baked Oatmeal
(mostly from my mom, with some tweaks inspired by this)

3 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt*
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs, beaten with fork
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar (I use raw, but brown is good too)

1. Stir together oats, salt, milk, yogurt, oil, and honey in large bowl. Cover with a towel and leave on counter for 12-24 hours.
2. In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour beaten eggs into bowl and stir to combine. Sprinkle baking powder over top (to prevent clumps) and stir very well (again to prevent clumps).
3. Pour mixture into greased 9x9 pan, or a dish with comparable dimensions, and sprinkle sugar over top.
4. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Spoon into bowls. Serve with blueberries, peaches, sliced bananas, or any other fruit you have sitting around, and pour milk over top. (Some people prefer their baked oatmeal without extra milk. I think it's incomplete without.)

*Or whey, which is usually what I use, because I have it sitting around from draining yogurt. Drained yogurt, by the way, is one of our favorite things in the fridge. Intensely rich and so thick, it's like eating cream cheese . . . except really good for you. I line a mesh sieve with coffee filters, set it over a bowl, and dump in a big jar of homemade yogurt. After about a day in the refrigerator, you will have about half the volume of yogurt you started with, plus lots of nutritious and useful whey. I put it in bread, and baked oatmeal of course.


Fast option: use quick oats and skip the soaking step. But I like the texture with rolled oats, and they are less processed.

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