The Rumbly Tummy: Maple Baked Oatmeal Apples (featuring Makin' Maple!)
We are happy to be on the road again, happy to be heading toward warmer weather, but we are sorely missing Vermont already. The snow, the tasty local foods, the friends-- and, of course, the maple syrup. Lucky for us, we stocked up before we left. Which explains our shameless plug for our friend, Chris, of Makin Maple. Chris and his son, Alex Parker (known as Alex Parker & Dad) is one of our favorite Vermonters. He's as sweet as his syrup, and when you are loading up on maple Christmas presents, he's likely to throw in a little something for you, too.
But the syrup. The syrup! I (Mallory) have been spending a significant part of this early winter reading up on maple syrup-- how it's made, when to tap the trees, how much longer til I can drizzle it in my coffee or into my curry... sorry, got a little sugar rush there. Maple syrup-- real maple syrup-- isn't a cheap or easy commodity. It takes an immense amount of waiting, listening to the trees, and feeling the weather. And after all that, the work begins. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of syrup. Not to mention the stirring and stirring and stirring in the sugar shack to make sure you don't burn nature's precious gold to a brick of sugar.
Among First Nations culture, the Maple is considered the leader of the trees. It is the first tree in the year to give a gift to us-- it's sap-- so that we can begin already storing up for the next winter. And, so that we can have a little something to dip our pancakes in. The Maple is the first to serve us. A quality in a leader that only breeds more generosity among the ones it is leading. Something we wish we saw more of (Maple Trees 2020, anyone?).
Maybe it's all that time spent with maples that makes Chris the kind of guy we can get behind. But it might also be that he uses what he is given wisely. At Makin Maple, they don't clean the lines with toxic chemicals after the tapping. Instead, they allow the remaining sap in the lines to turn to vinegar over the heat of the summer. And then, that natural cleaner does the work itself. That means safer syrup going into our bodies. And if there's one thing that Chris cares about more than syrup, it's people. The proof is in the maple pudding.
So on today's Rumbly Tummy, we are making a tasty winter breakfast, inspired first by our friends in Boonville, NY-- who on a cold, Hygge, fall morning made us these treats. When I asked for the recipe, Ash just said "Well, I'm not sure. I guess you'll have to figure it out." A fun (and tasty) challenge. If you're low on maple syrup (or low on ideas for Christmas presents), I'd strongly recommend getting yourself to Makin Maple and ordering a couple bottles (he ships anywhere in the States!). You won't regret it. It'll be a wonderful opportunity to find out what liquid gold really tastes like. And as you take those first glorious bites, you can thank the leader of the trees for giving such a gift, and the kind leaders that follow her to make sure her gift is properly savored.
Maple Baked Oatmeal Apples
4 medium large apples (we used Cortland)
3/4 c Steel Cut Quick Oats
1 TBSP cinnamon
large pinch each of cloves, nutmeg, and salt
dash of vanilla
2-4 TBSP coconut sugar or brown sugar
3 TBSP maple syrup (divided, plus some for serving)
1-1/4 - 1-1/2 c water*
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
serving options: raisins, almonds, pepitas, sunflower seeds, soymilk, and, of course, Maple Syrup!
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and core apples, removing all seeds, but keeping the apple in tact (video below, if you don't have a fancy apple corer).
2. In a small bowl, mix together oats and spices. Then, add a dash of vanilla and 2 TBSP maple syrup. Mix until fully coated.
3. Place apples hole side up in a small baking dish (with tall sides to keep from overflow). A pie pan will work, as well. Fill each apple with oat mixture, packing very lightly. Spread remaining oats around the bottom of the pan.
4. Combine water, 1 TBSP maple syrup, and lemon juice. Pour over apples, first soaking inside of the apples.
5. Cover with tin foil or lid. You may want to place a baking sheet beneath the pan if you are using a pie pan, in case there is overflow. Bake for 25 minutes. Partially pull back foil or lid allowing dish to vent. Place back in oven (still venting). Bake an additional 20-30 minutes. Apples will at some point rupture during this time, releasing the juices and fully cooking the inside oats. The top oats may remain a little crunchy, but they are still soft and delicious. You may want to stir the bottom of the pan oats to distribute any excess liquid.
6. Let cool about 5 minutes. Spoon apples into bowls with some additional oats from the bottom of the pan. Top with your favorite oatmeal toppings and extra maple syrup.
*You may try replacing the water, lemon, syrup mixture with apple cider... and maybe a little more maple.