One evening, The Child comes into my office. She seems pleased with herself, and tells me she used her Amazon gift card from Christmas to buy a book and a hat for herself.
That’s great, I tell her, and ask what book she got. It’s a hardcover thing she wanted – some new release from her favorite series – and she’s excited about it.
I do realize she must have some money left – it was a large gift card from my father.
A little, she tells me, not much. The gift wrapping was expensive.
Gift wrapping? I inquire.
Yes, she tells me. The gift card was a present, so I made sure that what I got with it was gift wrapped. It took me a while to write something on the card, too.
I can’t wait to get it, she says.
I tell my father about this, and he’s very pleased. Awesome, he says: She gets it. She gets that gift-giving isn’t about the stuff, it’s about the ritual – the reading of the card, the unwrapping of the box.
I love my own rituals, too – most important my morning ritual of a large, strong cup of coffee each morning, in a quiet house – no tv, no music, and usually, nobody else awake. I don’t do anything in particular with the time, but my day is always a little bit off if I don’t have that slow, quiet time at the beginning – even if it’s just five or ten minutes.
I like my coffee with something, often a muffin, or on the weekend, a bagel. But lately I’m trying to watch my weight, and I find the best way to do that is to avoid the baked goods – though I do love them – and start my day with some oatmeal. It keeps me full through lunch, so that I don’t start eating things I shouldn’t.
I loved the Apple-Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal I tried recently, but since I had a hankering for some blueberry muffins, I switched it up a bit with some blueberries and bananas. The banana and oatmeal combo is a real winner – mellow, filling, and hearty; the blueberries add flavor and lighten the overall texture up just enough. It’s a nice, warming start to the day, and, like it’s Apple-Cinnamon cousin, doesn’t require any additional sweetening to be delicious.
- 2 cups rolled oats
- ½ cup toasted walnuts, chopped
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 2 cups milk
- 1 large egg
- 3 tsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 ripe bananas, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1½ cups blueberries (can be frozen)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Generously butter the inside of a 9-inch square baking dish.
- In a bowl, mix together the oats, walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- In another bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, milk, egg, butter, and vanilla.
- Arrange the bananas in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the berries over the top. Cover the fruit with the oat mixture. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the oats. Gently give the baking dish a couple thwacks on the countertop to make sure the milk moves through the oats.
- Bake for about 40 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and the oat mixture has set. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.