In anticipation of the food-fest Thursday, I simmered some oatmeal for dinner last night. This kind, steel cut Irish, is the only kind for me. We've been so busy lately — Andy is crazy-busy at work, not getting home until 9 p.m. (and he leaves around 6 a.m., so that's a long day) and I've been here, working only, not cooking, not shopping for groceries, not even going out or having anyone over. So, dinner for one at the end of a long day, two days before a feast: oatmeal. Yummy.
Do you know how to make it? It's not that hard and so much better than instant (to me, anyway). They're barely even the same grain, in my opinion. Steel-cut oats look like Grape Nuts, like coarse sand. Rolled oats are pressed flat and look like flakes. When I make steel-cut oats, I put 3 cups of water in the kettle and put it on to boil. Then I put a tablespoon of butter in a non-stick saucepan (the cooked oatmeal will turn into paste, so cleaning the pan is easier if it's non-stick, but you can use any saucepan and just soak it right away). Melt the butter and then add 1 cup of oats. Stir them around over medium heat for about two minutes; you will start to smell their delicious, nutty flavor.
When the water boils (and it should be around the same time the oats are finished toasting), carefully pour the water into the saucepan with the oats. It will bubble like crazy, so just give it a stir and turn it down if it's a little out of control. It will settle; give it a stir. Turn the heat so that things are simmering, and leave it all uncovered to bubble gently for about 25 minutes. When the water is absorbed, give it all a stir again and plop it in your bowl.
Perhaps use a deeper bowl than this one. I was talking on the phone while doing this so things got a little overflowy. I top my oatmeal with the classics — brown sugar, milk, and raisins. I don't stir — I layer, then hunt and peck. Besides being good for you (perhaps with a bit less sugar, ahem), Irish oatmeal tastes awesome.
Tomorrow my family comes for Thanksgiving. I'm very excited to get in the kitchen and get cooking; I feel like it's been weeks since I made anything fancy. It will also be the first major doorbell-ringing test for the new-and-improved Audrey-and-Alicia duo. Thanks for all the advice yesterday. I felt really bad that maybe I was being too tough on my dog, and was just punishing her instead of praising her. I actually think she's relieved to have some boundaries set, but I did want to make sure I was praising the good behavior.
So yesterday when the mailman came, I walked over to her and put her leash on. We walked over to the middle of the room and she sat down. We stood there quietly as the mailman clambered up the stairs and banged on the metal mailbox (which typically sends the dog into a hysterical frenzy, sort of like a squirrel loose in the house; she has jumped right through the screen door to get to him). But this time, nothing. A little whine, a quiver, a shift. I stood patiently. He left. She stayed quiet. I stood amazed, absolutely amazed. I lavished praise and thanks. She seemed very proud of herself. We went to the kitchen to get a treat and — we were out of treats! Agh! It was so funny. But she did so well. What I do feel bad about is not having done this years ago. I don't think she enjoys freaking out like that at all, but we really never effectively prevented her from doing it, or gave her an alternative. And she definitely needed the leash — it's almost like a potential splash of cold water on someone who is hysterical. I'm glad that someone said not to open the door until she was completely calm, and to teach her to sit politely to greet guests. I think we are supposed to have a special place for her to go to, so I need to work on that. That is my big goal. I have been watching the Dog Whisperer show a lot since this summer, when I first saw it, and that has taught me a lot. I hope that we can do well tomorrow when my family comes over, but I am planning on it taking a while before "calmness" rather than "calamity" is the new paradigm. I'm really excited about it, though. I actually haven't stopped talking about it for two days. It feels so good to know, to see, that relationships can change, grow, improve, become completely different. This is something that has been bothering me a lot more than I realized, so, among so many other things, I'm incredibly grateful for this experience. It's so inspiring.
Happy, healthy Thanksgiving, everyone. Thank you for being a part of my life. xoxoxxo