Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.
Does place matter?
Do landscapes and communities mean anything, or are we all just part of an inexorable current feeding an industrial juggernaut?
I live in a small corner of one of the most vast nations on this planet, and while it’s easy to get folksy about the life and our down-home culture, this corner is in crisis.
The population is declining. For the first time, the number of people dying here exceeds the number being born. Young people leave, and most never come back.
Cut your losses, right?
Pack up and move on. And when the boom that you’ve packed up for busts, move on again. The nimble and mobile are the ones that will survive in the new economy – an increasingly disenfranchised population on the move, and never in place long enough to demand anything of its elected officials.
And when you are too old to work? Or too damaged? What happens then?
I’m no longer sure. This country I was born into (and have chosen) is no longer the compassionate place I once believed it to be.
So sometimes I just have to put my head down and plow forward. Sometimes just bury my head in the sand (well, the snow in this case), and ignore the negativity that threatens to overwhelm.
Faith and hope seem like such meager defences, and yet sometimes that’s all I’ve got.
This, and the belief that at a shared table we find solutions and strength to confront and solve the problems that we face: as families, communities and even nations.
So to that table I bring this Oatmeal Breakfast Cake. It’s not overly sweet, and makes good use of readily available oats and berries. The orange a reminder that we must always remain open to the outside and expand our vision beyond the limits of our place, even as it sustains us.
Peace and all good.
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup oat flour see note
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/4 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 9x9-inch baking pan.
In small bowl, stir together cranberries, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon orange rind. Let sit while you prepare the cake. The cranberries and sugar will become sticky as they sit.
In separate bowl, pour buttermilk over the quick-cooking oats and let sit until the oats have softened and absorbed the buttermilk.
When the oats have softened, stir in the orange juice.
While oats are soaking, stir together the flours, baking soda, baking powder 1/4 brown sugar, salt, ginger and 1 teaspoon orange rind.
Prepare the topping by melting butter in a frying pan. Add the old-fashioned oatmeal and stir to coat with the butter. Cook over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes until the oats have begun to get toasted. Add the 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and stir to coat. Cook briefly until sugar has melted and take off of heat.
Add buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir gently until thoroughly blended. Spread mixture in prepared pan.
Spread cranberries over batter, and top with the toasted oats.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Let cake cool before serving.
You can make oat flour by blending oatmeal in a blender or food processor until finely ground. You can substitute regular or whole wheat flour for the oat flour if you prefer.