But after donning my fall trench coat for weeks (during the workday, anyway), I finally relented. I yanked out those fleecy, warm blankets from the steamer trunk in my living room. I've added an extra blanket to my bedding. I've been mingling with a pair of flannel pyjamas, nearly letting go of my tank top and shorts ensemble. Most telling, you'll find me most nights parked in front of my television watching Law & Order, mug of Lady Grey in hand. Oh, what an exciting life I lead! Rest assured, as busy as the city is, we Torontonians sleep. There might be drinks and dancing on the weekends, but come Tuesday night, we urban dwellers are undoubtedly catching up on some much-needed R&R. Even the most energetic of us need time to re-fuel. At least that's how I envision it in my world of generalizations.
And so I've made my way back into the kitchen, hovering over flames. Sounds a little Gordon Ramsay-ish, doesn't it? Well, when I'm finished cooking and you peer down into the abyss that is my sink and spot all of the dirty dishes waiting for you there, Hell's Kitchen is not much of an exaggeration. This week I listened to the Tragically Hip on repeat and stuffed mushrooms with the patience of a three-year-old. Tonight I'm planning a meal of eggs, these Brussels sprouts and this Thai-inspired salad that makes me want to pick up the Fresh line of cookbooks and see what all of the fuss is about myself. But first, we need to talk about oatmeal.
I know talking about oatmeal with others is often akin to talking about chores. Everyone knows they should be eating breakfast, oatmeal in particular, but nobody eats it, or they do it begrudgingly, or they eat it because they are doing their best to lower their cholesterol. Here's the thing. Oatmeal is delicious, or can be when prepared right. This pumpkin oatmeal is delicious, as is this carrot cake variation. Don't tell anyone, but it's also good with this chocolate hazelnut spread we all secretly adore or a generous scoop of peanut butter and jam. But it is also delicious baked. If you are not an oatmeal person or do not care to eat first thing, this is portable and tastes like dessert. Dessert, readers. And if there's one thing most people are generally game for, it's an excuse to eat sweets before noon.
I love Heidi Swanson's version. This one is clearly based on that. But berries are no longer in season here, despite my daydreaming and November's deceptively warm temperatures, and I have an abundance of crabapple sauce on hand from a pick I went on back in August. I don't know about you, but applesauce isn't something I through a lot of. Not like hummus, anyway. And as a single person living alone, it's tricky to pawn off on others. Here, come over for some...applesauce. You see why one might not keep friends. It's not exactly the same as saying, hey, come on over for some coffee and homemade cookies! (that would be spiked coffee, if you are one of my friends) or, even better, I have five bottles of wine that need to be used up, how much time have you got? This is how you move up in the world, people.
This baked apple oatmeal, conversely, is satisfying and perfect for those chilly mornings where you're caught at
It just so happens that throwing together a batch of baked oatmeal is easy peasy. One bowl, a few on-hand ingredients, some time suntanning in the oven and poof, breakfast for the week. It's the kind of thing you can pull off even after a day crammed with meetings, the word DEADLINE ominously running through your mind at warp speed. You want to pull a rabbit out of a hat? Make baked oatmeal. It won't necessarily make you popular among friends, but it will keep you in the running. And after too many nights in front of the television drinking tea, you'll need something to keep up your credibility.
Baked Apple Oatmeal
Adapted from Heidi Swanson
Yields 6 generous portions
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 - 1/2 cup organic cane sugar, depending on taste
1 cup almonds, roughly chopped (feel at liberty to substitute)
2 cups milk (I used light vanilla soy milk)
3 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tbsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Generous pinch of sea salt
1 cooking apple (I used Gala), sliced into thin wedges
1.5 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp vegetable (grapeseed) oil or unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 375F.
In one bowl, mix together all dry ingredients (oats, sugar, almonds, chia seeds, flax seeds, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda) until combined.
In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients (applesauce, milk, egg, oil OR butter.)
Make a well in the dry ingredients and slowly whisk in the wet ingredients. You'll end up with a pretty wet batter, so you know.
Grease an 8-inch square baking dish and pour in the mixture. Top with the apples and bake, uncovered, for 35-45 minutes, until cooked and set. You'll know it's finished when the edges start to move away from the sides of the pan. Serve warm or cold with a drizzle of maple syrup and a dollop of yogurt, if desired.