Starting a new job is always hard. But I’ve sort of been through the ringer with this one. In the span of my first three months, I went through company layoffs, loosing two great editors and getting news that the company might sell. Then, Greta got an endless cough (file that under “no one sleeps”), pink eye, and stitches (note to your child’s nursery—do not hide Easter eggs anywhere near a wrought iron gate). Between that, a never ending winter and the crowded commute on the F train, my spirit was suffering a bit. Not serious suffering, like living through war and poverty suffering, but not its light and joyful self.
It’s times like this I’m incredibly grateful for a good friend and her birthday—the perfect excuse to flee all responsibility for one uninterrupted hour (a near impossible find for two mothers) with her, a pizza and a glass of pink champagne. A whole hour of real (non-work-related) adult conversation? As she put it, “it’s the first time I’ve ever finished telling you a story without stopping every thirty seconds to say ‘here’s your grapes,’ ‘yes I can get your more milk,’ and ‘do you need to go potty?’” Mommies, I know you get this.
Besides the usual (how our husbands annoy us and are at the same time insanely amazing), here’s what I learned in that hour—that nothing, nothing can heal the spirit like face time with someone you love. File that under feeding the soul. And in the same file, goes cooking that baked oatmeal that’s been calling your name ever since you read about it on this blog post last week (from another new mommy who gets it—hey, in these circles, making baked oatmeal is a much bigger accomplishment than it sounds). When something, or someone is calling to you, listen.
Here’s the thing—to be creative, you have to create. To dream, you to have time to close your eyes. To shine, you have to see the light. And to feed the soul, well, sometimes you need to bake oatmeal, or play hookie for an hour, or order champagne in the middle of the day. Trust me, everything and everyone around you will be better for it.
Baked Oatmeal with Caramelized Bananas, Vanilla and Hazelnuts
Adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson (via Orangette by Molly Wizenberg)
½ cup hazelnuts (blanched or skins removed)
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup skin-on sliced almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 large egg, beaten
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, cooled slightly
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 vanilla bean
2 bananas, halved lengthwise
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Toast the nuts in the oven until lightly toasted and fragrant, 8 minutes. Remove and cool.
Meanwhile, stir together the oats, almonds, baking power, cinnamon and salt in a 2-quart baking dish.
Whisk together the milk, maple syrup, egg, half the butter and vanilla in a bowl or large liquid measuring cup. Pour evenly over the oats and stir lightly to make sure all the oats are evenly moistened. Drizzle the remaining butter over the top.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden and the oats have set.
While the oatmeal bakes, heat the butter, brown sugar and vanilla bean in a shallow pan. Add the bananas and cook over low heat until the bananas are golden and buttery, adding a splash of water as needed, about 5 minutes. Keep warm over very low heat.
Top the baked oatmeal with the bananas and the vanilla-brown sugar syrup. Serve warm.