My Gramps and Baked Oatmeal with Walnuts and Prunes
My Gramps passed peacefully last week at the ripe age of 98. Ninety-eight. Amazing. About 10 years ago, doctors told us he wouldn’t be around for much longer due to some of his health conditions. But he was a strong and stubborn unshakably fierce Russian man, with hands thick and callused from working hard in factories and always spoke as though he knew everything about everything. No surprise to me that he proved us all wrong and decided to say good-bye when he was good and ready.
He and Gram used to babysit me a bunch when I was younger and I loved it when they did. Especially on New Years Eve when I slept over at their house and got to eat a huge bowl of Raisin Bran cereal with extra spoonfuls of sugar for dinner, watch the Lawrence Welk show, listen to old records as Gram and I danced around the room dressed up like 1920s flappers and then let me stay up late to watch the ball drop in Times Square on the Dick Clark new years eve TV special.
Gramps would always tell me stories about how he escaped Russia when he was very young, his difficult life in Chicago, how happy he was to be in sunny California and how wonderful my parents were for bringing them both over here. My favorite time though was when he would tell me bedtime stories. I was so entranced by each and every story he created (improvised on the spot I later learned) that I couldn't fall asleep until the story ended and found out what had happened. He was an incredible story teller, embodying each character as brilliant as any fine Shakespearean actor does.
And though he drove a car, he would always talk about the one of his dreams - a silver Cadillac. One year, when I was like 7, I gave him a small plastic one for his birthday and he kept it on his shelf ever since, always referring to it as the best gift he ever received. And now Gramps, all I imagine is that you are joyful and free and have reconnected with all the family and friends you had lost, laughing and telling stories - driving everyone around in your very own deluxe silver Cadillac in the sky.
I love you.
Baked Oatmeal with Walnuts and Prunes Adapted from Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson
This is a easy delicious new way to enjoy your oats. Raisins or dried apricots are also a nice substitute for the prunes. I’ve also made this with much success without walnuts and it’s still yummy. This is a wonderful recipe to make if you should need some help in increasing fiber into your diet - wink wink - something grandparents seem to be very conscious of. And so, if I were to make my Gramps breakfast, this probably would be it. And this probably would be the healthiest breakfast the man ever had. He ate like utter crap. Seriously. And he lived to almost 100 years old. Go figure.
2 cups rolled oats ½ cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped (optional) 1 tsp baking powder 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp fine sea salt 1/2 cup prunes, pitted and sliced 2 cups unsweetened almond, soy or milk of choice 1/4 cup maple syrup 1 large egg 3 TBS coconut oil or unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly 2 tsp real vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the top third of the oven.
In an 8-inch square or round baking dish, mix together the oats, the nuts, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Scatter the prunes evenly over the oat mixture.
In another bowl, whisk together the milk, maple syrup, egg, coconut/butter and vanilla. Mix in the sliced prunes. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the oats.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and the oat mixture has set. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for about 20 minutes to set. Any leftover keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days and is also delicious eaten cold too.