The busyness continues here, severely cutting into my writing time. Truly the adage that you can have anything you want, but not everything you want applies to more than just finances, it also applies to time management.
Besides my (more than) full-time job being extra demanding at this time, it’s also Spring which is the most critical season to gardeners. I’ve decided that I’ll scale back my usual food gardening this year for a few reasons, but I still have to manage the perennial beds and keep the small lawn in the back tended.
March and April were really rainy so it was difficult to find a day or two that fit my requirements of being dry enough (meaning that a day or two had passed to dry out the soil) and when I could step away from the work computer for several hours. Finally, the universe provided me with not just one but two days like that last weekend. Hooray! I spent both days weeding, dividing and moving plants, and pruning. I can’t say I’m completely done, but I’ve made enough progress that I am happy.
The weather here has not just been very wet, it’s also been quite cool. Warm, hearty food like baked oatmeal is perfect in these conditions.
I first tried making baked oatmeal a few weeks ago so I could bring some to my mother. I had plenty left for myself and was happy to find that it froze well, too. Last Monday night I decided to make another batch, tweaking the recipe a bit to better meet my personal tastes.
As I made the recipe for the second time I ended up changing the recipe a bit more than originally planned since I ran low on some ingredients and made substitutions. This recipe as presented in the book has several suggestions for modifications to create different flavor combinations, so I knew that changing the type of dried fruit would work.
While changing the amount of sugar in a baked item such as bread or cake can affect the structure and texture, I felt confident decreasing the sugar in this recipe, too, since here the sugar is more for flavoring. (I like sweets, but find that the amount of sweetness I prefer is usually less than in standard items.)
Finally, the biggest change I made was in substituting other flaked grains for some of the oatmeal. I had planned to swap rolled quinoa for a small portion of the old-fashioned rolled oats, however it turned out that I was much lower on rolled oats than I thought so additional substitution was required.
Why rolled quinoa? Quinoa is a seed that provides a complete protein. Like the whole grains in this recipe, it also is very filling and high in fiber. While I do like the taste of standard, whole quinoa, I’ve found that I don’t like the texture of rolled quinoa as much, so when I substitute rolled quinoa in a recipe, I don’t do a complete or large substitution.
The result is even more delicious to me. 🙂 Bracketed notes throughout the recipe indicate how to adjust this recipe back to the original version. I hope you enjoy it, too!
1 cup steel-cut oats
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups water
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats [original recipe: 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, and omit other rolled grains]
1/2 cup rolled quinoa
1 cup rolled barley
1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar [original recipe: 3/4 cup packed brown sugar]
1 1/2 cups peeled and diced apple
1/2 cup dried cranberries [original recipe: 1/2 cup diced dried apricots plus 1/4 cup diced crystallized ginger]
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened, plain almond milk [original recipe: 1/2 cup milk]
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch square baking dish (or coat with non-stick spray as I did).
Place the steel-cut oats and the butter in a large bowl. Bring the water to a boil, and pour over the oats. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, stir in the rolled grains, brown sugar, apple, dried fruit, salt and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, almond milk [or milk], and vanilla. Stir into the oat mixture. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
(Note that this *entirely* fills a 9-inch baking dish to the top, so be careful when filling. I placed the baking dish on a cookie sheet as it baked just in case there was a spill, but it is not a very “wet” mixture and should not bubble over.)
Bake, until the center is set, 35 to 40 minutes. (I found that it needed a full 40 minutes or even a bit longer in my oven.) Remove from the oven, and serve warm with milk or cream for breakfast, or warm with whipped cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt for dessert. (Or just eat plain, without the dairy accompaniments, like me. Yum!)
Yields 16 servings. This freezes well, so make it, portion and freeze, and you’ll have healthy breakfasts for many hurried mornings!