Well, naturally it has been three weeks since my last post. I'm not quite sure how this happens. I ended October with so much enthusiasm for November. The cooking and baking and enjoying all of the chilly mornings with warm socks and hot cups of tea. I wanted to do a post a week - at least - full of Thanksgiving ideas and recipes and table settings…ah well, life happens anyway I suppose.
What actually happened is not so much fun. We had one week dealing with septic issues in our 18th century basement - yikes. I will spare you the gruesome details. All I can say is I am SO thankful that being a plumber wasn't my calling. Those guys are saints.
Before, during and after the plumbing issue we had also been trying to deal with getting a new puppy. We had been looking at new puppies for a little while - both of us deciding that we wanted a "silver labrador retriever". Due to our own stupidity, we did not research the breed of the dog nearly enough. We just thought "Oh they are so pretty!" and because we had already had a lab, we didn't think anything of it.
We drove to Rhode Island to meet the breeders and the new puppy, who was only four and a half weeks old at the time. She was so little - about three pounds (if that). She slept on me most of the two hours we were there. Phil and I both just thought it was normal for her to be so little, and of course the breeder reassured us that it was perfectly fine. We went home that day saying we couldn't wait to get her home, and that we would see her in another two weeks and she would double in size.
Cut to two weeks later and she was still tiny, maybe having gained a half pound. She was much more mobile, but she was losing the fur on her forehead and around her eyes and nose. We left that day very concerned. I called our vet, and brought the pictures we had taken of the puppy. Without hesitation our vet strongly advised us against buying the dog. It was really hard for us to make that decision - we felt like we were giving up on this little puppy. Yet at the same time, we just lost our dog Khloe back in May. Khloe was such a great dog (being a red fox lab herself) but had a lifetime of health issues that cost so much money over the years. We didn't want to sign up for another possible 16 years of vet bills. I didn't ever realize that the labs that are considered "dilute labs" (labs that aren't the standard yellow, chocolate or black) are prone to many more health complications and lifelong problems.
We trust our vet, so we took her advice and called the breeder to let him know that we weren't going to be taking this puppy home. Needless to say, they weren't pleased with us. So, now, three weeks later, I am dealing with trying to get our money back - and they are putting up a fight. And by fight, I mean they are just ignoring ALL of my calls, and voicemails. Ugggghhhhh.
I am sorry for the long boring rant on dogs - but it feels good to get it all out there! Phil and I don't have children, and who knows if we ever will - so a dog to us is a really big deal. It isn't just a dog to us, its adding another member to our little family, and we want to make sure that its right.
Thankfully, over the past month I have had all of these amazing food blogs and new cookbooks to read and distract me. One of my favorites is My Blue and White Kitchen. Sini does such a wonderful job portraying her beautiful country of Finland, always inspiring me to cook and eat seasonally. Every recipe that she posts has such a strong connection to her land, to her roots and to the folklore of the Nordic regions. I mean, this girl cooks moose and forages for her own mushrooms and berries - you can't get much better than that. Her cooking is comforting and calming, her photos are always beautiful and inspiring - but more than all of that, Sini is such a sweet person. Of course we haven't met in person (yet?!) but she is the first one with a kind comment or an uplifting message to brighten my day, or to ease my mind when I am not quite sure that my blog posts are good enough.
This recipe for a baked oatmeal (well, Sini had used rye meal - but I didn't have any, so I used rolled oats instead) was exactly what I was looking for on these chilly November mornings. It is so easy to make, and tastes so good I have been making it almost daily. I tried out three different combinations of fruit, nuts and spices for this post - one with blueberries, almonds and cardamom - one with apples and walnuts and cinnamon, and another with banana and walnuts. and nutmeg. Honestly I can't pick a favorite - they all taste so good! The beauty in this recipe is that you can't go wrong. Use whatever berries or fruit you like - and add in any combination of spices. The possibilities are endless! Below is the recipe I used for the blueberry, almond and cardamom version.
Thank you, Sini!
• Baked Oatmeal with Fruit and Spices •
• 1 cup) rolled oats
• ½ tsp ground cardamom
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 2 pinches of fine sea salt
• 1 1/8 cups whole milk
• 1 egg
• 2 ½ tbsp maple syrup
• ½ cup chopped almonds
• 1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
• 2 tbsp butter, melted (and more for baking dish)
Preheat the oven to 375°F
Butter a 16 cm (6") round baking dish.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the rolled oats, cardamom, baking powder, and salt. In another, small bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and maple syrup.
Spread half of the oat mixture in the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the almonds and blueberries, then cover with the remaining oat mixture. Slowly pour the milk mixture over the oats. Top with the remaining almonds and blueberries, and drizzle with the melted butter.
Bake on the middle rack for 35–45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the ryemeal has set. Serve warm with plain yogurt, and drizzle with maple syrup. Or eat it plain. So good.
listening to: Blank Space by Taylor Swift (I am a tad obsessed right now)