Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats

The only time I tried to make steel cut oats on the stove, it was a burned disaster. I was not (nor am I ever) in the mood to constantly stir the oats for the hour or however long it takes them to cook. (I actually don’t know since I’ve never been patient enough to find out. I may have been doing something wrong). Belated apologies to the ladies who had to eat slightly burny oats at my house that morning.

But I love steel cut oats. Their fibery healthfulness is matched only by their creamy yet lumpy texture (so pleasant to the palate) and their affordability in the bulk section of your neighborhood grocery. I also love how filling and warming they are, especially as the weather turns chilly.

Enter slow cooker steel cut oats! I made a batch of these once a week last winter, and we just recently started up again. I modified the recipe to make it even simpler (see below) and because I like to add a banana and some nuts to mine, but skip the sugar. I always use a can of coconut milk because it gives a creaminess to the oats that is missing if you just use regular milk or half and half. I cook them on Sunday night and then divide them up (or aliquot them, if you will) and we reheat them all week and eat them. (High five from my future self!)

Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats

8 cups of water
2 cups steel cut oats
1 can coconut milk (don’t get the lite kind)

Butter the crock of your slow cooker REALLY well. The oats will probably still stick, but buttering really helps them stick less. Add the rest of the ingredients, give them a stir, and then cook on low for 8ish hours. Enjoy in the morning or whenever you want!

Pregnancy at 26 Weeks

I am definitely looking pregnant now (and not just like I ate a few too many donuts), which is mostly good. It’s led to some comments from strangers, but I don’t mind them as much as I did early on. I’m not sure whether it’s because I’ve had time to adjust to how my body is changing or for some other reason, but I am glad to not feel so annoyed. And interestingly, it’s only strangers that see me often (like fellow bus commuters) that have commented. Most people that I’ve never met before still can’t seem to decide baby vs. donuts, so they’re largely not saying anything.

I can also feel Plum moving around most of the day. It’s especially weird at night time when I lay down because that usually means A LOT of movement, so much so that last week Hubs could see my belly actually moving. Kind of like an alien.

I stopped taking the anti-nausea meds (without puking) around week 22, which was an awesome development. I’ve also been truly hungry and am finding the balance between wanting to eat sugar all the time and getting a good mix of foods that are satisfying and healthy.

I definitely feel a change in my center of gravity, which has led to differences in how I walk and how easy it is to do things like get out of bed. I also am more winded after less physical activity, but I usually feel really good after walking (especially in the awesome fall sunshine we’ve had).

Also, nesting is totally real. I’ve been clutter clearing and reorganizing to make way for Plum in our second bedroom. And I’ve scored some great deals on used gear/furniture from Craigslist/an insane estate sale, so I am excited to start getting the space ready.

Better luck next time

2015-10-29 01.20.01 pmIn an effort to avoid the madness that for me usually accompanies the lead up to the holiday season and the season itself, I created this iCal reminder for myself last year. But if I’m going to make iCal reminders that are in any way useful, it turns out that I need them a little bit sooner than October 30.

Hubs and I are currently in the midst of a three month stretch where something involving travel is planned for every weekend except three. My problem is that when most of these plans were made, it was summer, which meant that my life felt expansive and the days felt long. As we move into fall, my tendency is to turn inward, curl up, take it easy, and be cozy. During this pregnancy, I feel this need even more strongly, but many of our upcoming plans feel as though they leave little room for that.

I could probably cancel things, but I don’t want to! The plans that would be schedule-wise easier to miss (with dear friends and family, who would surely understand) are the ones that will fill us up in the midst of the required/work-related activities and travel. My solution? A new calendar reminder for next year:

2015-10-29 01.48.35 pmHere’s hoping that putting it in July—rather than October—and clarifying the language actually works! (Given that there will be another person involved by then, it had better)

Easy, hearty pasta salad

With the arrival of fall, this pasta salad is nearly out of season. But I made it on Saturday for a picnic dinner because it’s such a good take along dish, and I wanted to share it here.

1 lb of pasta (I like colorful, spiral pasta)
1 log of salami
Pecorino romano cheese (we buy it in a wedge from Trader Joe’s)
1 or 2 sweet bell peppers (any color is tasty)
1 bag of frozen peas
1 bottle of creamy balsamic dressing (the Trader Joe’s one is legit)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. While it’s cooking, chop the salami, cheese, and peppers into small pieces and add to a big bowl. Drain the pasta and add the still-frozen peas to the strainer. Stir the peas and pasta around, which will thaw the peas and help the pasta cool down. Add the pasta and peas to the bowl with the salami, cheese, and peppers. Pour the dressing over the top. (You might think you don’t need a whole bottle of dressing, but it will taste much better if you add it all). Stir to combine well and serve immediately, or refrigerate until you’re ready to eat.

2015-10-19 09.13.28 am


Therapy dog retirement

About a month ago, sweet Tonks did her last visit as an official therapy dog. We visited for two years at UNC Hospital and before that for two years at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Through it all, Tonks has been a master therapy dog. She tunes into what people need, expertly goes from person to person in groups, and seems to take pride in her work. I am so proud of the training that she and I did together to be able to work as a therapy team for four years.

We’re hanging up our therapy badge, based on a few minor aging-related issues that Tonks is experiencing—cataracts and stiff joints—and due to the difficulty of being re-evaluated, which you have to do every two years. But she continues to give out therapy to people we meet on the street or sitting on the lawn at the bar, and I know that won’t ever stop. No one can resist the fur!

Enjoying retirement on the couch

Enjoying retirement on the couch

Prioritizing self care

Growing a person is no joke. Between feeling sick for nearly two months and daily reminders that my body is no longer solely in my control (lately in the form of clothes that fit last week no longer being an option), I am being forced to tune into this pregnancy. And I want to tune in and not just respond to forces of nature (or to having borderline high blood pressure at several prenatal appointments), but sometimes it just feels hard. So this week I’ve put a new plan in place to give me more time for focus on myself. With packing my lunch+snacks at night, 30 minutes earlier bedtimes and wake-ups, and listening to a guided meditation on the bus, I’ve gotten a much better start to my days this week. When I take the early bus, there is no chance of having to share a seat or of a chain smoker sitting right behind me. When I get in at 7:15am, I also don’t feel bad leaving work at 4, which means I have time to go to an after work yoga class or that I don’t have to stand on my second bus home because it’s less crowded. Then I’m home earlier and can have a snack while I prepare a healthier dinner than all the frozen pizza we’ve been eating (most days, at least). It’s not too much, but it’s made a huge difference already!

Pregnancy so far (Week 17)

Weeks 4-5: Excitement mixed with supreme anxiety because I didn’t feel pregnant and therefore worried that I wouldn’t stay pregnant. I foolishly wished to feel something.

Weeks 6-14: I threw up every morning until I started to take Unisom/Vitamin B6, at which point I could function but felt nauseated pretty much all day. I puked every fourth or fifth day even on the meds. I didn’t feel hungry or thirsty and ate mostly very fresh lettuce, pasta, and potatoes.

Weeks 14-17 (present): I’ve felt increasingly less nauseated over the past few weeks and have only throw up twice. I’ve also felt hungry and thirsty again, and I can eat meat now, which was problematic texture-wise earlier on.

Another striking thing about being pregnant is how quickly my body has shifted from feeling like my own to feeling not mine. Being sick contributed to this shift at the beginning. Even more, though, the comments about my body, almost none of them intended maliciously, that everyone seems to feel license to make have surprised me and left me more cognizant of trying to maintain sovereignty of myself. The whole dilemma also has me thinking about why my sense of self feels so tied to my body that it can be this disorienting to hear comments about it.