Anna is back with pumpkin pie oatmeal. Fill ’em up, Anna.
Before I got married, I never cooked. I ate like a semi-health conscious second grader living in a frat house.
Bob Evan’s refrigerated mashed potatoes for breakfast, a bag of Steamables brown rice for dinner (it all evens out, right??). I had once been bamboozled into making brownies from a mix while volunteering at a church youth retreat, and my heart nearly stopped from the anxiety of having to MIX STUFF UP and put it in an OVEN. You know, an oven, a thing that could explode or one could accidentally fall into at any time in a hellish vortex of burnt crumbs. The only things I knew about ovens were from fairy tales, like the one where Rumpelstitskin’s wife or whoever tried to shove those poor children into it when she lured them to her house made out of something like Twizzlers or birth control pills.
Then I got married, promptly had a baby, and realized that my vocation was going to occasionally require me to feed my family from things that that did not creep out of a can of cheese whiz. Nothing against cheese whiz, but I also need to provide things that gave my family a fighting chance at pooping, once in a while. Oh St. Jude, dost thou have a big fat project on thy saintly hands.
In all actuality, what prompted me to try this in the first place was when I started hosting a play group at my house when my first baby was around eight months old. I figured I was going to need the camaraderie of some mom friends at some point to not want to gnaw a hole in the wall by 10 am, and I knew of some lovely ladies with babies who I wanted to get to know better. At the first couple of groups meetings, all I had provided was coffee–and by the end I was a rabid barnyard animal, I was so hungry. I figured having something to eat and share might remedy this problem beautifully.
This oatmeal was the first thing I tried to make, and hoo boy, it’s a goodun. If you can open a can (which I could not), you can do this. It fills your house with the heavenly sent of pumpkin pie and you don’t end up with a pumpkin pie induced beer gut at the end of eating it. You can put it together at night while you’re still alive and as you stagger out of your bedroom with your drool-crust mouth corners and flock-of-seagulls hair in the morning a la Dawn of the Dead style (it’s not just me…right?) it will be awaiting you, milady.
On a more philosophical note, this oatmeal represents something bigger to me than avoiding rabid barnyard animal frothy-mouthed hunger convulsions. This was a turning point in my life, as when my first was a baby I was struggling with finding who I was now, as a perplexed version of the person I was before and now as a mother, how to live a functional and happy life, and how on earth could I manage not starving those for whom I was responsible. I was tenaciously trying to shimmy my way into a mold that I wasn’t sure I’d ever really adapt. I didn’t know how to bake muffins, cook a four-course dinner (anything more than two is fancy, right???), iron a shirt (I still don’t), or anything domestic; yet I fell ass-backward into the heart of a very domestic life. I was very fearful that I was going to fail at running a sanguine home, at mothering, at my vocation, and at being happy while I tried.
I found this oatmeal, and it was perfect. It suited my needs to make something easy the night before and have it ready in the morning so I could survive the flurry of morning spit-up and diapers and greet my guests in a state that conveyed we were not raised by wild alpacas or enthusiastic residents of a nudist colony. I knew I wouldn’t mess it up or catch anything on fire. And you know, people LOVED it. Even the picky toddlers actually ate it. This gave me the reassurance that I didn’t need to make anything difficult in order to make something that nourished and pleased the people around me. It was the gateway to my knowing that I was somehow capable of my new role, and it didn’t (always) have to be hard. God honored my very, very humble attempt to do something pleasing, something of service to others, something that conveyed welcome and love to those around me, and even though it only consisted of opening a can and glopping it into a pot, He blessed it. I still make this stuff almost every week.
So here it is, adapted from The Sugar Free Mom.
(Serves 6 to 8)
- Two cups STEEL CUT OATS (Not rolled oats!)
- Six cups water
- One can pumpkin puree (Not pumpkin pie filling!)
- Two teaspoons vanilla extract
- A dash of salt
- 1 TBS pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Honey or brown sugar, to taste (this can be added at the end)
- Dump all ingredients into crock pot
- Set to “low” for 8 hours
- Stir, sweeten to taste, and enjoy!
(And whatdoyaknow, you can cook this thing for over and hour past the designated amount of time and nothing bad happens. Not that I know this from experience or anything.)