Oatmeal Souffle Pudding Thingy

The annotated tasty qualities of this dish.

The annotated tasty qualities of this dish.

I’ve been doing inventive cooking again.

I generally enjoy oatmeal, except that after I eat it I usually feel like it’s just sitting in my stomach like a pile of gravel. I made some baked oatmeal dishes I found online and those, while an improvement in flavor and texture, ended up feeling just as heavy. Then, I had an oatmeal souffle at the Hay Adams last year before Ryan left for California.  Whoa.

I’ve been wanting to replicate it. It’s been so long now since I tasted theirs, I don’t exactly recall the flavor but the texture was the primary goal. Whether the goal has been precisely matched is presently beside the point for I believe I can declare this dish a victory in its own right. I thought I’d share what I came up with in case you want to give it a try. While this is obviously more work than normal oatmeal and dirties up a few dishes, it’s light and airy and custardy and yet oatmealy which is sort of a delightful taste-oxymoron. I also love that it gets some extra protein into the oats with the eggs and nuts. It doesn’t quite puff up like a traditional souffle what with oatmeal making a pretty heavy batter; it might be more accurately described as a pudding. Whatever it is, we liked it and hope you will too! Take it for a test drive and let me know what you think. =)

This makes between 4-6 servings depending on your appetite. You could probably halve it with the same results or prepare it in individual ramekins. I used plain almond milk for ours (Ryan has a lactose sensitivity), but I imagine a creamy whole milk would work. For obvious flavor reasons, I’m not endorsing skim milk, but if you dig it, go for it.

To save time the day you plan to eat this dish, I’ve divided the work into “Night Before” and “Next Morning” (if you decide to do it all the same day, remember to let the oatmeal cool before you add eggs or you’ll be so sad)

T = Tablespoon, t = teaspoon

Night Before:

The souffle as it looks just out of the oven.

The souffle as it looks just out of the oven.

2 Cups Cooked Oatmeal:

– 1 1/4 cups thick rolled oats (not instant)
– 1 cup water
– 1/2 cup plain almond milk (or whole milk)
– 1/4 t salt

Bring water, milk, and salt to a boil. Turn heat down and stir in oats. Continue to stir gently until liquid is mostly absorbed and oats are cooked through. Store in the fridge until tomorrow.

Prepare Berries or Stone Fruits for Stewing:

– Any combination of your favorite fresh berries or stone fruits. Peel/wash/stem/slice or skip this step and use frozen fruit in the morning. Ideally, you should have between 1 1/2 – 2 cups fruit.

Next morning:

A sauce of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

A sauce of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

The Souffle:

– 1 Cup of cooked oats from last night, packed (reserve the other cup)
– 1/3 cup all purpose flour
– 1/2 t baking powder
– 1/4 t baking soda
– 1/4 t cinnamon
– 2 egg yolks
– 1/2 cup almond milk or whole milk
– splash of vanilla
– big handful of walnuts
– big pinch of salt

– additional 1/4 cup almond milk or whole milk

– scant 2 T dark brown sugar + up to 2 T for sprinkling
– 3-4 T unsalted butter in pieces

– 1/2 t white sugar
– 4 egg whites

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1. Place the first set of ingredients (1 cup cooked oats all the way through big pinch of salt) in your vitamix or other blender. Blend until a smooth and thick batter is produced.

2. Scrape out and combine with the reserved cup of oats in a large bowl. Add the additional 1/4 cup of almond milk to help thin the batter.

3. Place butter in a large souffle or round cake pan. Put the pan in the oven for 1-2 minutes, just until the butter is melted. Swirl the butter around the bottom and sides of the pan to coat and put the remainder into a tiny bowl.

4. Add the scant 2 T brown sugar to the bowl with the butter and mix until the sugar dissolves. Pour contents into oat mixture and combine thoroughly.

5. In a separate large clean bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the 1/2 tsp of white sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

6. Fold the beaten egg whites gently in three additions into the oat mixture until just mixed.

7. Sprinkle the bottom of the buttered pan with up to 2 T brown sugar. (Don’t skip this step! Yum!)

8. Carefully pour the batter over the sprinkled sugar.

If desired, sprinkle the top lightly with a dusting of cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 30-40 minutes. It will not get big like a traditional souffle, but will be custardy and delicious and light.

**Note: You can also bake these in individual ramekins as a more tidy presentation. Obviously, cooking time will decrease.**

While the souffle is baking:

Cook down your prepared or frozen fruits uncovered in about a tablespoon of butter over medium heat until they form a sauce – about 20-30 minutes or so. I like the sauce tart so I don’t sweeten it. If you want it a little sweeter, I recommend adding a tablespoon or two of REAL grade B maple syrup instead of sugar.

Spoon your fruit sauce over your portion of oatmeal souffle and enjoy!
** I haven’t tried this yet, but I bet adding an oatmeal crumble topping (like for a fruit crisp) prior to baking would be an excellent, tasty, crunchable idea. **

The souffle as it looks after 5 minutes in your company.

The souffle as it looks after 5 minutes in your company.

The Update You Never Got…

Oh dear, dear readers. I promised a post almost a year ago and never delivered it. I got all excited and moved across the country to California with my husband and just plain forgot all about it. You deserve a post with dozens of cute baby chick photos and this shall be that post.

The wee babies arrived save and sound and adorable. They are now full grown clucking, egg layers with great personality and charm. We started with five and sadly lost one to a hawk two weeks after she started laying. For new chicken owners, this is a sad but often inevitable part of the adventure you are embarking on. The only way to ensure you encounter no loss by predator attacks is to keep your hens locked up at all times and even then, there will always be a raccoon smarter than your craftiest predator proof system – it’s just a matter of time. Our girls now enjoy a new huge covered addition to their spacious run that keeps them protected from aerial attacks. They are also getting between 2-3 hours of supervised free ranging time, and that will increase as the weather warms up and puttering-round-the-garden becomes a daily activity for my folks. They are happy, happy girls. Every morning and evening they enjoy “lap time” with my mother. She sits down with a towel on her lap and the hens hop up and demand cuddles and petting and she enjoys it every bit as much as they do. It’s truly an adorable scene, particularly in this winter weather when the only part of mom you can see is her eyeballs peeking over her scarf  from beneath her fluffy hood. What a trooper she is.

Okay, last piece of news before the chick pictures: my father, saddened by my lack of activity on this blog, has decided to start blogging himself. I’ve made both he and my mom contributing authors to this very blog and (if all goes well) you should see some posts from both of them in the coming weeks. If you’re lucky, he’ll tell you all about how he made a custom run extension for the girls all by himself. It’s a great design I know many of you would like to emulate. Ta da!

Now for the baby chicks and their grown-up selves too:

P1060168 P1060169 P1060170 P1060171 P1060173 P1060175 P1060176 P1060179 P1060191 P1060200 P1060201 P106020727130_607951668630_1641527215_n 601659_607951663640_1055377275_n 577483_607951713540_1730304220_n 302700_607951658650_41878917_n 942224_607951703560_609056378_n1075491_688845514476005_443298161_o 735466_759521070741782_2076363289_o 1402791_762393237121232_389420343_o 1402989_759521117408444_1562239413_o 1403216_759521174075105_656408588_o

Here we go again…

It has been well over a year since I visited this page and I’m amazed to learn from my wordpress stats that I have several unique visitors to this page every day. Amazing! Most people seem to be enjoying the “Chick Growth” tab and chicken news in general. Well I have fun news for you folks! We are expecting a peeping package in the mail on or around April 10th!

Unfortunately, this comes in response to sad news regarding our first micro-flock. Some months ago, our “predator proof” Eglu cube was compromised by a pair of raccoons in the middle of the night. They cleverly pulled out the droppings trays and crawled up through the floor racks. Nan, Jean, and Dottie were killed before my parents were clued in by the racket and chased the marauding raccoons away. Fran hid herself in the nesting box and emerged completely unscathed. She has since gone to live with friends who also keep chickens. Amusingly, their beautiful Akita, Byron, has avenged my poor girls’ deaths by killing three raccoons in his own backyard. I get a weird sense of satisfaction from knowing that.

On Thursday of last week, we had the unhappy task of putting our beloved toy poodle, Ashby, to sleep. He was 16 years old and had become deaf, blind, and incontinent, with a growing case of dementia. We were all reduced to inconsolable blubbering heaps as we gathered around him holding his paws and stroking his fur as his heart was stopped. My mother and I ordered four new chicks that same night. 

So, stay tuned in the coming weeks as I introduce you to the new members of our little family. Here we go again…

Goodbye Chicken Dance, Hello Flighty Fleurs

Thanks to everyone who has stopped by here in the last few years to show support and interest in my silly chickens. I am grateful for your kind comments. As the chickens are no longer a part of my daily life, it’s time to move on to a new blog! Don’t worry! The gals are still living it up as happy free ranging hens at my parents’ house. And I myself am now a happy free range artist trying to make a living doing what I love. So if you care to join me in my new virtual digs, stop on by www.flightyfleurs.com and subscribe to my posts.

Fondly,

J

Return of the Paper Cut Out

I’m a little rusty, but I’ve begun making my paper cut outs again. Here is my first one since I did the album cover for Herb and Hanson earlier this year. You may or may not be aware that this is a medium I first began to explore in college. You can see those early pieces here. I’m going to continue building a portfolio of landscapes as well as my portraiture series.

Here is the piece before it's assembled and glued. It has six layers of paper.

 

Here it is all put together. I've also added extra leaves and tiny paper highlights to the tree trunk and branches. The trunk is more brown than red in real life.

A Eulogy for a Chicken: Farewell, Annabel….

(By Nancy West)

At first glance, I thought she was taking one of her leisurely dust baths under the Cube coop, with her gorgeous monarch butterfly feathers glowing in the late afternoon sun.  But when the other girls greeted me at the fence as they usually do , and Annabel remained frozen in place, I knew something was amiss.  She had never missed an opportunity to grab a few leaves of spinach or grains of scratch until this moment….

I peered closer and knew she was gone.  Her yellow claws curled up under her belly, and her head tucked under her left wing feathers–no sign of a struggle, no blood, no silly soft clucking sounds….She was simply still………..

Having tended to her needs and watched her “growth and development” from a two day old “chicklet” to a mature hen during these past two years, I can attest to Annabel’s being more than just a chicken.  Not only was she stunningly beautiful with perfectly arranged orange/black feathers–a classic Golden Wyandotte– but she possessed “character” as well.  Annabel’s every waking moment was devoted to scratching and pecking with total abandon.  When her opportunities seemed to diminish, she would hop up onto the top of the coop and attempt to fly out into the yard in search of the most promising  grubs and worms.  She loved to scratch around the base of the blackberry vines and the gooseberry bushes surrounding the garden’s perimeter.  Annabel was the hen who most yearned for her freedom, so we frequently had to chase her around and around the corral’s perimeter before she finally gave up and let us catch her.

Our favorite Annabel memory is when she caught a young garden snake while free ranging in the back yard last year. Obviously delighted with her catch of the day, she raced around with the startled snake wriggling and writhing as it dangled from her beak.  Eventually she dropped it as she couldn’t swallow it, and we rescued the hapless creature by tossing it into the woods.

Of course, a chicken’s raison d’etre is to provide humans with either eggs or meat.  Finding freshly laid eggs and holding them still warm from the hen’s body is truly a special treat.  Annabel  laid exquisite dark beige eggs, perfectly oval in shape.  And, ironically, hers was the last egg we found today in the nesting box….

Tonight we dug a deep hole outside of the garden proper in the “bald” area where the coop had been, now stripped of grass from the hens’ constant scratching.  I lifted Annabel out of the box, placed an old white towel around her, and set her in the ground.  She may have been “just a chicken”, but we shall miss her all the same….