Baked Oatmeal and Nabokov

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My husband Peter is a creature of habit and he likes his oatmeal for breakfast everyday.  Occasionally on weekends I will make omelet or French toasts, but by far oatmeal is his favorite.  So I decided to make him a Sunday morning treat before his golf game — baked oatmeal.  He said that I made him a happy man when he left the house, so I guess the baked oatmeal was a success.

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This recipe of Baked Oatmeal with Blueberries and Bananas is adapted from Skinnytaste.  I made mine with 1 1/2 of the recipe because my baking dish is bigger.  And I omitted the honey because my oatmeal was already sweetened with monk fruit and there were dried mango bits in it.

Ingredients:

2 medium ripe bananas, (the riper the better) sliced into 1/2″ pieces

1 1/2 cup blueberries

1/4 cup honey (or agave)

1 cup uncooked quick oats

1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp cinnamon

pinch of salt

1 cup fat free milk (or any milk you desire)

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

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Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Lightly spray a 8 x 8″ or 9 x 9″ ceramic baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.

Arrange the banana slices in a single layer on the bottom of the ceramic dish. Sprinkle half of the blueberries over the bananas, 1/4 tsp of the cinnamon, 1 tbsp of the honey and cover with foil. Bake 15 minutes, until the bananas get soft.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the oats, half of nuts, baking powder, remaining cinnamon, and salt; stir together.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining honey, milk, egg, and vanilla extract.

Remove the bananas from the oven, then pour the oat mixture over the bananas and blueberries.

Pour the milk mixture over the oats, making sure to distribute the mixture as evenly as possible over the oats.  Sprinkle the remaining blueberries and walnuts over the the top.

Bake the oatmeal for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the oatmeal has set. Serve warm from the oven.

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When the oatmeal was baking, I found out that by Nabokov’s definition I am not only a good reader, a major reader, but also an active and creative reader. 

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In his collected Lectures on Literature he says:

“Curiously enough, one cannot read a book: one can only reread it. A good reader, a major reader, an active and creative reader is a rereader. And I shall tell you why. When we read a book for the first time the very process of laboriously moving our eyes from left to right, line after line, page after page, this complicated physical work upon the book, the very process of learning in terms of space and time what the book is about, this stands between us and artistic appreciation. When we look at a painting we do not have to move our eyes in a special way even if, as in a book, the picture contains elements of depth and development. The element of time does not really enter in a first contact with a painting. In reading a book, we must have time to acquaint ourselves with it. We have no physical organ (as we have the eye in regard to a painting) that takes in the whole picture and then can enjoy its details. But at a second, or third, or fourth reading we do, in a sense, behave towards a book as we do towards a painting. However, let us not confuse the physical eye, that monstrous masterpiece of evolution, with the mind, an even more monstrous achievement. A book, no matter what it is—a work of fiction or a work of science (the boundary line between the two is not as clear as is generally believed)—a book of fiction appeals first of all to the mind. The mind, the brain, the top of the tingling spine, is, or should be, the only instrument used upon a book.”

I had never consciously realized why I would re-read some books many times.  For a certain period of my life I would carry a particular book with me wherever I traveled.  I remember re-reading again and again the books by Milan Kundera in my youth, especially The Joke.  In my 30s I re-read most frequently Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet and Somerset Maugham’s books, particularly Moon and Sixpence.  In the past few years, I have been carrying around Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead everywhere like a talisman.  And during my recent trips, I have been re-reading Steinbeck: A life in Letter.  And The Great Gatsby, perhaps once every year.  I was affirmed today that re-reading is the only way to read a worthy book.

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