Five years ago, I was not much of a cook.
I didn’t need to be, really. I had to eat most of my meals in the college cafeteria, and for the rest of the time, I could get by with toast and fruit.
Everything changed when I moved to Poland for a year. All of a sudden, I was not only living on my own in a tiny village, I was also earning a modest stipend and in serious need of a hobby. Cooking was really my only option.
Well, cooking or shopping.
Cooking or shopping or romping through Eastern Europe on my own.
But I went with cooking.
How many people can brag that their dining room, their living room, and their bedroom are all the same room? Yeah, be jealous.
When I was packing for Poland, I hadn’t planned on teaching myself how to cook while I was there, so I’d only brought one cookbook. Fortunately, my flat had fantastic wifi, so I figured I could find some good recipes online.
I was wholly unaware, you see, of the concept of food blogs. You can imagine my delight when I discovered first Joy the Baker, then the Pioneer Woman, and then Smitten Kitchen, whose recipes formed the majority of my “to try” list.
This baked oatmeal, from Joy the Baker, was one of the first things I baked in my tiny oven. That appliance would go on to host scores of other experiments, from granola to calzones to rosemary challah rolls, and the baked oatmeal was a delightful christening. I topped it with some fresh gruszki (“GROOSH-kee” — pears) and maliny (“mah-LEE-nee” — raspberries) I picked up at a farmer’s stand down the stand, using my extremely fractured Polish. It was mid-September, I was nervous about teaching, and I knew the winter would be no picnic. But for the time being, it was enough to have something warm and fresh and delicious to look forward to.
Baked oatmeal with pear and raspberries
(based on Joy the Baker’s baked oatmeal with fresh raspberries and pistachios)
- 1-1/2 c. old-fashioned oats (not the quick-cook kind — they’ll get soggy)
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 c. milk
- 3 T. butter, melted
- 1 egg, beaten
- splash of vanilla extract
- 1 pear, cored and diced
- 1 c. fresh raspberries
- milk for serving
- Combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt.
- In separate bowl, combine milk, butter, egg, and vanilla.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients. Pour into greased loaf pan.
- Bake at 350°F for 20–25 minutes, or until the middle is pretty firm.
- Let cool for 5 minutes. Spoon into bowls and top with pear, raspberries, and milk. Leftovers will keep in fridge for 1–2 days.