The lazy days of summer are unfortunately wrapping up. We just returned from a vacation at my family’s cottage along Lake Huron. This part of Ontario is a combination of farms, villages and cottages located along a sandy expanse of water. Recently installed windmills dot the horizon in a push for green energy. The soil in August is dry given that the winds tend to blow summer storms past the area. Tiger lilies and Queen Anne’s Lace flourish in the ditches along the road while cicadas buzz in the summer heat.
Arriving at the cottage I am instantly relaxed. I think it is the smell of the lake. The lake is the only constant in this ever-growing and changing area. It’s rhythmic and soothing sound encourages a slower pace of life.
Indeed, holiday mornings were slow and met with a hearty breakfast before heading down to the beach. The leisurely pace of summer life adopted. On calm days, we swam and took turns taking the paddle board out. The children, fearless on the board seem to have a natural balance. On rough water days, sandcastles were designed according to the kingdoms on Game of Thrones. Afternoons might be spent napping in the hammock, reading a book, holding the baby or decorating chocolate chip cookies with sprinkles.
No schedule was followed. The children stayed up past their bedtimes as roasting marshmallows over the fire took priority. Sleep came easily after spending the entire day outside.
Family members took turns preparing (and cleaning up) meals in a kind of ebb and flow that makes this task joyful rather than stressful. Of course, I opted for preparing breakfast being that it is my favourite meal.
Baked oatmeal (along with banana pancakes) is on constant rotation when we are at home . I’m always reworking the recipe to make it work with the ingredients available. This one is perfect for summer as it uses up those peaches that are at the bottom of the cardboard farmer’s market container in your refrigerator. I suggest making it the night before so that all you must do is pop it in the oven in the morning. While it bakes set the table, chop up some fruit, arrange the toppings. Brew the coffee and put the kettle on the hob.
Overnight Peach and Almond Baked Oatmeal
Makes: 8 hearty portions as part of a breakfast served with fruit
Time: Prep time (30 minutes) + Baking time (1 hour)
340 g (4 cups) large flake oatmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1058 mL (4 ½ cups) whole milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
90 mL (½ cup) maple syrup
6-8 peaches, peeled and diced
180 g (1 ½ cups) slivered almonds
120 g (½ cup) salted butter, melted
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Butter a 9x13 inch (25x35 cm) pan.
2. Mix the oatmeal, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl using a wooden spoon.
3. Beat the eggs with a whisk or fork in a medium bowl. Mix in the milk, vanilla and maple syrup. Add to the oatmeal mixture.
4. Spread half of the mixture into the prepared pan. Layer the diced peaches on top of the mixture. Spoon the remaining oatmeal mixture on top of the peaches. Sprinkle the almonds evenly ontop. Finally, thinly pour the melted butter on top of the almonds.
5. Cover with foil. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
Serve warm with Greek yoghurt, applesauce, cut up fruit (more fresh peaches or a handful of berries) or if it is a celebration brunch, a dollop of whipped cream.
Leftovers are helpful on busy days. Reheat a portion in the oven. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.