Baked Oatmeal

Breakfast is the most agile meal in our home.

On weekends its a slow first cup of coffee and flipping through cookbooks for the best frittata recipe. It’s Dutch pancakes with different fillings and homemade whipped cream. Sometimes it’s a walk to one of the 15 new coffee shops in our neighborhood because gentrification somehow means there needs to be a latte available on every corner. You can roll your eyes at the above, it’s fine. I would too.

On weekdays, things are different. Monday through Friday mornings are a mad dash to get showered, dressed, coiffed, tinted moisturized, caffeinated, and somehow manage to both feed and take out the dogs while preparing Ben a semblance of a well balanced breakfast. Healthy carbs + fruit + protein + no sugar. I’m sure I’m missing something like organic flax seeds but honestly, aren’t we all just slowly coasting to our kids demanding Fruit Loops in three years? Let’s be real.

Anyway, all this to say that weekday mornings are kind of a shit show and I’ve given my child frozen waffles with a side of plastic container freed berries more than I’d like to admit. But, like any modern mom who’s writing a confessional blog for all 35 of you to read, I’m trying to get better. Plan things, balance between small luxuries of weekends and the hurricane of weekdays. That is, unless I’ve procrastinated on work emails from the night before in which case frozen waffles it is because gotta get that paycheck to buy the frozen waffles. It’s a vicious circle, really.

In comes baked oatmeal. It’s on the healthier side of the breakfast spectrum. Not like a pancake or a biscuit which sound like you’re feeding your kid straight to diabetes. Oatmeal can be fancy, healthy, delicious and it just sounds like you’re being a good parent. “I made my child oatmeal! Then we frolicked in a field while he engaged a full range of emotions by singing to the birds, touching dewy grass, and only wearing a sustainable linen romper.” You get the point.

This oatmeal can be adapted in a myriad of ways and here’s the best thing - its a dream for making ahead of time because it lasts in the fridge! Also, it’s not breakfast in a jar which is a trend I am 100% over at this point. (Chia seeds have had their moment, have they not? How much cold mush that’s been sitting in almond milk can we consume before we admit to ourselves its not actually that good.) Basically, you bake oatmeal in whatever milk and filling you choose then serve it like some fancy breakfast cake.

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Seriously, it’s easy and dirt cheap because oatmeal is like $3 for a container to feed a family through the apocalypse. I made ours with peaches from the market to keep my Brooklyn blogger cred but you can make it with frozen berries that everyone has sitting in their freezer from three months ago and it’s just as good.

Baked Oatmeal

Ingredients

  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

  • 3 eggs

  • 1.5 cups milk

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • Scoop of honey or sweetener of your choice, about 2 tbsp.

  • Berries, stone fruit, apples, chocolate chips, live your best filling life here. Or just use whatever you have in your pantry, who has the time or energy to really deliberate this one.

  • Almonds, walnuts, pecans… seriously go nuts.

  1. Preheat over to 350F.

  2. Butter a pie dish or 9 inch square baking dish if you have that on hand. Someday I’ll have a kitchen with all the things. Today is not that day. It was either a small pie dish or a lasagna pan and this recipe is good but it’s not lasagna size good. You know? Portion control.

  3. Mix all the dry ingredients.

  4. Mix all the wet ingredients.

  5. Mix them together.

  6. Pour into baking dish and stick in the oven.

  7. Come back about 35-40 min later when the fruit is bubbly and the top of your oatmeal is solid.

  8. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or yogurt and some strong coffee. Add fruit or nuts and drizzle some honey or maple syrup if you plan to shill it on social media.

  9. Store in the refrigerator, covered for up to 4 days. To reheat, put in a bowl and pour a bit of milk on top to moisten then microwave for a few.

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Grains of Salt: South Carolina July 4th!

For a variety of reasons July 4th this year felt like a deep sigh of relief. Lots of things are in motion for our family but we were able to toss it all to the side and spend time relaxing, picking peaches, and endlessly ringing the windchimes on the porch to Ben’s absolute delight. He also took two almost two-hour naps daily which, if you have a toddler, you know isn’t a thing that happens ever.

Back in the swing of normal life this week but moving slower than usual as we anticipate the rollercoaster ahead. I’ll share more soon - lots of changes in the upcoming weeks for us. For now though, some photos of our official start to Summer 2019.

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Plane Toddler

This is not a post about Nashville.

This is a post about getting out of Nashville.

Let’s start from the beginning. Ben turned one in April and, per our most recent count, our family vacation to Tennessee was his 16th flight. Between trips to Michigan and South Carolina to visit grandparents, this kid has somehow racked up more miles in 14 months than I did in my first 20 years.

As we prepare to take off once again for South Carolina in a few days, I figure it’s high time I share my tips for traveling with someone who has the attention span of a fruit fly. Here’s the thing - by no means am I implying to be an expert. But, after so many flights and the utter nightmare that our trip out of Nashville turned out to be, it feels like I’ve got some notches on my belt now.

  • Take the earliest possible flight. Toddlers are absolute angels when they first wake up in the morning. An early flight guarantees that if your kid woke up at 5AM, and your flight is at 8AM, they’ll be sufficiently tired. Remember, airplanes are basically steel wombs. Rocking, humming, warm, steel wombs. It’s all the 5 S’s in one easy place! A tired baby + a womb like environment + your arms + a bottle or sippy full of milk/water = NAP.

    Regardless of your flight time, plan things out. If you can, feed a large meal, so they’re sleepy on the plane. Or run them around and play beforehand in the terminal so that they’re worn out. Point is, the best kid on a plane is a sleeping kid.

  • Check luggage, gate-check the stroller, bring a backpack/large diaper bag. Yes, it’s more expensive but hear me out. The last thing you want to deal with when you’re traveling alone with a baby who cannot sit still is a situation in which that baby must sit still. You only have two hands, right? Wrangling a suitcase into the compartment above your seat, is not a luxury you can afford. Last time I tried it Ben started licking the metal of the seat belt buckle. (We live in New York, germs are everywhere. Germs don’t scare me. Airplane germs, though? NOOOPE.) If you’re traveling with your partner, bring a carry on. Alone? Just check it. You’ll have your hands full with the baby and putting them down in the seat without full attention is not really an option - don’t do that to yourself. Unless you have more than two hands, then go for it.

  • Bring entertainment. We pack an arsenal of toys that don’t make noise or a mess but are stimulating. A small stuffed bear, magnetic building tiles, touch- and- feel books. The books are so good we now have them in three different versions - something about the bright colors and fun textures on each page mean they’re actual magic for distracting a cranky one- year- old on long flights.

  • Bring snacks. When all else fails, distract with food. Just like adults, toddlers are unable to resist eating their feelings. Puffs, veggie teethers, fruit pouches, hell even some blueberries, whatever it takes. Pack different kinds and don’t blow your stash all at once. Hand out slowly.

    Pro-tip: Whatever you bring, do not pack bean salad for your baby. We recently saw a couple try to feed their one- year- old bean salad on the plane and it was traumatizing for all involved, including the passengers who had to suffer the smell.

  • Actual pro-tip: Give a bottle/sippy on the way up and a bottle on the way down. We always give Ben a bottle as soon as the plane takes off and one as soon as the pilot announces our decent. This helps little ears pop without even knowing what just happened or an ear pressure related freak out.

  • Deploy all of the above strategically. Every child is different, has a different attention span and tolerance for boredom. What every child cannot resist is an interesting new activity, insert jazz hands here. Don’t bring everything out at once. Pack your bag in such a way that your toys, books, snacks come out one a time and are separately interesting.

Here’s the most important thing to remember about toddler and baby travel. You are the star of the show. Don’t like the spotlight? Too bad. Cause you’re on stage for the next 1-5 hours, non-stop. Whether it’s reading, playing with a stuffed animal, turning “itsy-bitsy” spider into a 10-minute production of Charlotte’s Web meets Fiddler on the pull-out tray, whatever it takes. The reality is, a child cannot be expected to understand social protocol, so it’s your responsibility to keep them from driving your fellow passengers nuts. No one likes a screaming kid on a plane and even worse, no one likes to be that parent.

Sadly, sometimes, no matter how hard you try best laid plans are just a total flop. Earlier this month I decided that Ben and I should tag along for a conference Ian attended in Nashville. Fly in the weekend before and leave once the conference kicked off.

The trip was lovely. Let me tell you - quality family time is only enhanced by hot chicken.

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I was anticipating our flight out of Nashville to be as seamless and smooth as the vacation. I planned it perfectly. Nap before the airport, hour and a half to get checked in and situated. Large lunch in the terminal and some walking around meant Ben would certainly nap on the flight! And then… a two-hour delay. No amount of perfect timing or strategy could prepare me for keeping my child entertained, with no nap in sight, in the airport THEN on a flight. We spent our delay walking to and from terminals, even ate a different snack in each wing. If you need recs for food in Terminal C at BNA, I’m your girl.

Sharing a frozen yogurt in Terminal C.

Sharing a frozen yogurt in Terminal C.

Did you know the airport sometimes has live music? Dancing with my tiny fellow to an acoustic cover of “Stand by Your Man” on the grey, Motel 8 inspired carpet of the Nashville Airport? Crossed that one off the bucket list. Long story short, by the time we got on the flight I was in for it. No nap, too much stimulation, no interest in my ongoing attempts to entertain him meant Ben lost it. Climbing me like a jungle gym, throwing puffs, slapping the seat, you name it - he was doing it. (I’ll briefly mention that somewhere in this time period he also managed to create such a stink in his diaper that I had to change him in the plane bathroom.) My baby was going so nuts that about 90-minutes into the flight the attendant came over and politely asked me to walk up and down the aisles with him to keep my fellow seat mate, an extra from Wolf of Wall Street who had clearly never seen a child before, from raging out on us. He even gave Ben a flashlight! So, there we were - walking up and down the aisle of the plane. Dropping the flashlight, CLUNK, picking up the flashlight, dropping the flashlight, CLUNK. Then laughing, then crying. Like some kind of unhinged toddler security.

There’s a reason they make them cute…

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