After a couple of weeks of traveling and sitting in a car I have landed home safely. I could go on for hours telling travel stories, the best of which includes shooting a gun with cowboys in Arizona. My copilot Diane and I were in a small town outside of the Grand Canyon on Route 66 when a snow storm hit. We somehow stumbled upon the “club house” hangout for the cowboys that do street performances and fake robberies on the trains going to the Grand Canyon. The place was half antique store and half shooting range. For $5 you got 5 shots at the target about 15 feet away. After I hit the target in 1.5 seconds the head cowboy in charge of the gang, Buck, said under his breath “I pity the guy” and we all got a good laugh.
Outside of a pizza I made in Minnesota made from my foraged fiddlehead ferns, burdock leaves, and wild asparagus there was a lot of mediocre restaurant food (homemade pies were a major bonus and so was Colorado’s display of culinary arts). Since I got home, my cousin’s beef and chicken have filled the platters come dinnertime, and I am pretty proud to say even my older brother Gary liked this baked oatmeal– no weird hippie stuff in this recipe!
This oatmeal is a bit chewy, nutty, and fruity with a slight crunch from the nuts. It has much more nutritional integrity than a bowl of cereal for breakfast, lending fiber from the oats, vitamin E, omega 3 fats, and manganese from walnuts, and rich antioxidants from blueberries. This recipe was inspired by Heidi Swanson’s recipe found in Super Natural Every Day. Options to make it vegan include a flax-seed replacer instead of an egg (1 TBSP ground up flax-seeds with 2-3 TBSP water) and coconut oil for butter. You can also add 2 Tbsp of ground flax-seed, or raw wheat germ to the dry mixture if desired. If you don’t have sweet cherries, you could use raisins (that pair well with almonds instead of walnuts) or even bananas cut into 1/2″ pieces.
- Place walnuts in 8 inch square baking dish and place in your oven as it preheats to 375 degrees. Toast for a few minutes until the nuts begin to turn a bit darker around the edges. Give the nuts in the pan a couple stirs to evenly distribute. Remove nuts from pan when toasted (you should be able to smell them toasting) and rough chop into pieces.
- Place 3 tbsp butter in the same 8inch square baking dish and place in oven to melt the butter. I am used to a small apt. kitchen with no dishwasher so I do this to avoid microwaving, and it saves a pot to clean.
- While the butter melts, combine oats, baking powder, cinnamon, sea salt, and half of the walnuts in a medium bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
- Remove the pan from the oven with the butter in it when most of it has melted. Swish around the butter so it coats the bottom and edges of the pan, then let half of the remaining drip out into a large bowl to be used for your wet ingredients and place the other half in a small ramekin/bowl, set aside.
- Add maple syrup, milk, eggs, and vanilla to slightly cooled butter in your large bowl for wet ingredients.
- Place dried cherries on bottom of buttered baking dish, evenly distributing them across the bottom.
- Sprinkle two-thirds of berries on top of cherries. Cover the fruit with the oat mixture.
- Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the oat mixture. Give the dish a few thuds on the counter to ensure the milk moves through the oats.
- Scatter remaining berries and walnuts across the top of the dish and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden and the oat mixture has set.
- Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes, then drizzle remaining butter on top and serve. If desired, add cream/milk, a sprinkle of sugar, or a drizzle of maple syrup, depending on your preference. Serves 6 or up to 12 if part of a larger brunch spread. If it doesn’t get finished the first day I keep mine out on the counter, covered with plastic wrap. I cover the dish with parchment-lined foil and place in the oven to reheat the next day.