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Salt and Stone: Steel-cut oats are perfect for autumn weather

salt and stone steel cut oats

Baked Steel-Cut Oats with Blueberries and Pecans.

I was in Boston last week. My husband and I try to get away once a year, just the two of us, and Boston has been on our bucket list for years. Having never made it to the East Coast before, we were excited for the adventure. We walked nearly 50 miles over four days and took in as much history, food, culture and gorgeous scenery as possible. We had a blast.

We flew out on the last warm day of October, and when we returned a few days later the wind and cold had descended on our Valley and, just like that, the leaves blew away, the dark evenings settled in and the cold seems to be here to stay.

I don’t mind, though. After a whirlwind week of travel and Halloween, daylight saving time and all the usual daily chaos, cozy nights at home in front of the fireplace seems just about perfect.

I’ve been thinking a lot about home recently and how to ever so slightly hit the pause button these last few months of the year. I am really good at being busy. And sometimes I get so lost in the daily grind that I miss what’s right in front of me. As the holidays approach, I want to be ready for them instead of frazzled by my to-do lists.

This week’s recipe is one of my favorites. I love making a big pot of oatmeal that lasts all week. My kids love it, it’s easy to prep ahead and enjoy for a few days, and it’s a crowd pleaser if you happen to have overnight guests.

I’ve made a lot of different kinds of oatmeal, but this particular oven-baked version is my favorite. The oats are creamy and delicious but hearty from using steel-cut oats. Tart blueberries, a whisper of brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon are all you need for maximum flavor.

It’s worth mentioning, of course, that there are tons of combinations you can try. Use this recipe as a foundation and mix in whatever you like. Pears and slivered almonds, raisins and walnuts, or bananas and a heaping spoonful of almond butter would all be lovely combinations in place of blueberries and pecans. Go wild and see what you come up with.

• Andrea McCoy writes the column Kitchen Captivated for Yakima Magazine and at The Salt and Stone, a home cooking blog. The Salt and Stone is a nod not just to the essence of cooking, but also to the Yakima Valley. Read more at www.thesaltandstone.com.

Baked Steel-Cut Oats with Blueberries and Pecans

1 cup steel-cut oats

4 cups milk (any dairy or nondairy milk is fine)

2 eggs, whisked

2 tablespoons melted butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

3/4 to 1 cup frozen blueberries

1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 9x9 baking dish, combine steel-cut oats, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir to combine and spread evenly in the pan. In a medium bowl, combine milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Whisk to incorporate and pour over the oats. Melt butter in a small dish. Allow the butter to cool slightly before pouring over oat mixture. Gently stir oat mixture to combine. Spread blueberries and pecans evenly over the oat mixture. Bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until the oatmeal is set and a toothpick inserted into the center of the dish comes out without any excess liquid.

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