I am eating for the weather I want, how about you? For the first day of Spring, it sure feels far away. I find myself day dreaming about the feeling of walking outside and feeling all the muscles in my body relax with fresh warmth. Picnics! Peonies! Open windows! Good things to come to those who wait. Help to remind me... Spring actually does happen in Philadelphia too, right?
For now, there is warm oatmeal mimicking spring on the 20 degree mornings still among us. I made this batch earlier this week in the early morning hour while the final snow of the season fell. No matter how much my bones ache for spring, I can't deny the peace of quietly moving about the kitchen while Chase sleeps a few minutes longer into a snowy morning. Mixing the oats, gently cracking an egg, patiently waiting for coffee to brew. The morning hour is sweet and fresh. Gentle, quiet, hopeful... a Spring in its own right, every day, no matter the season.
Until Spring really comes, let's talk strawberries. There is nothing quite like a super ripe, bleeding red strawberry—the kind you can only get from a farmer's market during spring. Unfortunately, the big strawberry growers that supply most of our grocery stores have modified their strawberry seeds to produce giant fruit that is perfectly red and luscious on the outside (appealing to the shopper's eye!) at the expense of a sorely under-rippend white and crunchy inside. I suppose economics is a powerful motivator, but why anyone would ever do this to a strawberry is beyond me. These are the kinds of things I would change if I was President... sacred things would remain sacred. Instead, I suppose I have this blog to lobby my food agenda.
Find a natural strawberry grower at your farmer's market this spring and kiss him or her for growing strawberries the real way! Then make some baked oatmeal and top it with a whole carton of fresh rubies.
baked oatmeal :: strawberry, almond, poppy seed
You can honestly switch out any of the mix-in ingredients in this recipe to suit your tastes or the season. This method comes from Heidi Swanson's book, Super Natural Everyday. It's my tried-and-true baked oatmeal method, and never fails to offer a beautiful golden breakfast. I like to make a big batch on Sunday and reheat for breakfast all week.
What you'll need:
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 tsp baking powder
1 T poppy seeds
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups almond milk (or whichever milk you prefer)
1 large egg
1/4 cup honey, more for serving
3 T butter, melted and cooled
2 tsp almond extract
roughly 2 cups of fresh strawberries, quartered
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8inch square baking dish (the one I used is an irregular sized rectangle... any medium sized baking dish will work).
In a medium bowl, mix the oats, half the almonds, baking powder, poppy seeds and salt. Scatter into your baking dish. Working in the same bowl as before, measure the milk in, crack the egg, stir in half the butter, honey and almond extract. Whisk until incorporated.
Gently pour the wet ingredients on top of the oat mixture in your baking pan. Don't stir to combine, but give the mixture a couple of gentle whacks with a wooden spoon to make sure the wet mixture makes it evenly throughout the oats.
At this point, you can cover and put the pan in the fridge to soak overnight for the easiest breakfast the next day. In the morning, the oats will have absorbed most of the milk, and that's ok. Top with the remaining almonds and bake at 375 degrees F for 35-45 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Alternately, top the mixture with almonds right after preparing and send it straight to the oven. When it's done, top with the remainder of the melted better, and serve each bowl with fresh strawberries and extra honey if you prefer something a little sweeter in the morning.
If you aren't serving all the oatmeal at once, keep strawberries on the side. Enjoy, and think Spring!