It happens without fail. Come autumn, I fall hopelessly in love again with apples. The rest of the year, I could take ‘em or leave ‘em. And I usually end up leaving ‘em, always passing them up for a more seasonable and perfect tangerine or plum or cherry. But then cold weather hits, and all over again, I fall head over heals for this crisp, tart, juicy, perfect fall fruit.
The very best part about apples, I think, is apple picking. Could there be a more glorious way to usher in autumn, than wandering through groves of gnarly apple trees, on a cold but sunny day, where the sun shines but the wind blows, with the grass between the trees a little too long and a little too dewy, with shining apples beckoning from the branches, and soft, squishy fruits rotting on the ground, and with the sweet smell of cider thick in the air? I just don’t think so.
A trip to the orchard in mid-September is a treasured yearly tradition for Ben and me, one we’re sure never to skip. The rich nostalgia we unfailingly experience during our yearly apple-picking outings, is only the half of it. The other half, of course, is the bushel of apples we return home with. A whole delicious collection of multi-hued varieties. Jonagold, Macoun, Idared, Golden Delicious, Cortland, Jonamac… I love sampling them all, fresh out of hand. And then, once each variety has been taste-tested, I finally get cooking. Well, cooking and baking!
And so, don’t be surprised if you happen to find a couple or more apple posts, come these next few weeks. (I do believe I have an apple butter recipe up my sleeve, in fact, that I hope to share in a little while.) But I’m getting ahead of myself! Let’s move on to the matter at hand, this Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal.
Get ready for deliciousness! This velvety pot of porridge and all its delectable toppings, makes for one heartily tasty breakfast. It starts with steaming bowls of tender, creamy steel-cut oatmeal, lightly sweetened with brown sugar and warmed with a hint of cinnamon. Nestled on top… plump, chewy golden raisins, sticky specks of honey-glazed walnuts, cinnamon-flecked slices of sautéed apples, and glistening swirls of melting brown sugar.
It might sound a little over the top, and yes, a touch of butter and extra sprinkling of sugar do keep this oatmeal out of the ranks of the purely virtuous porridges. So I worry this may dissuade some of you from trying it. But one glance at the recipe below and you’ll see, it’s a far cry from bad-for-you food. Along with the honest goodness of apples and raisins and walnuts, lies only a mere touch of decadence. The beautiful, fruit-topped bowls are surprisingly subdued, lightly sweet, not too rich, full of apple goodness and warming spice, the kind of breakfast that makes you feel like you started you day off in the most perfect way.
I’m a little worried too, that you may be put off by the extra few steps involved in making this oatmeal. And I totally get that. While it’s not a complicated recipe (and it’s relatively quick too – every last step is easily accomplished by the time the oatmeal finishes cooking, in about 20 minutes), it’s also not one I’d venture to whip up every weekday morning, before rushing out the door to work. I kind of think of this as our weekend oatmeal. A hearty, immensely satisfying alternative to pancakes or omelets or French toast or waffles. On cold Saturday mornings, I like to whip up a double batch, and fill two big bowls with its steaming comfort. I hope you too will whip some up, come your next cold Saturday morning. As you take your first bite, know that Ben and I will probably be doing the same!