I’ve racked up a lot of miles traveling to Iowa City and back the past two years. One small thing that’s always made it more pleasant was knowing at the end of the trip was a house on the hill with a comfy bed and fluffy towels and, in the morning, super-smooth coffee and an exceptionally good breakfast.
The house has the tiniest driveway I’ve ever had to maneuver my pickup into. I never would get there before sundown, but that was ok, because Ray and Shirley installed a motion-sensitive light to help out. The squeeze was totally worth it for another reason: the house was only a few blocks, walking distance, from the dorms where Paige lived at the University of Iowa for the past two years.
This year, we arrived for the fall semester with a new project: moving Paige into her first apartment. The morning of, I laced up the shoes and went for a morning run along the river, another pleasant part of the routine, and returned to see something I hadn’t noticed the night before. A big “for sale” sign in the front yard.
Bummer. Even innkeepers need to retire.
I’m glad I picked up their recipe book, so if I get a hankering for the way Shirley made eggs (they were never just eggs), I can do it on my own.
What was likely our last stay, though, she made baked oatmeal to accommodate a guest with dietary restrictions. I asked her to send the recipe to me, since it wasn’t in the cookbook, and then promptly adapted it to what I had in the house. It turned out terrific.
1 cup hazelnuts
1 cup Irish, steel-cut oats
1 large egg
1 cup fresh figs, cut bite-sized (you can substitute apples and raisins)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Toast hazelnuts in a 350 oven for 10-15 minutes until brown, wrap in kitchen towel to cool, rub skins off and set aside.
Bring 4 cups of water to boil, add oats and cook until soft, about 30 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes. Combine egg, brown sugar, milk, oil, baking power, salt and cinnamon; fold in figs and then stir into oats. Spoon mixture into a greased loaf pan, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350 and then bake the loaf 50-60 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cut into squares, top with a handful of hazelnuts and serve with a small amount of milk poured over the top.