October 30, 2013

The Bearfrau's Guide to Stabby Killers
( + Pumpkin-Spice Steel-Cut Oatmeal )

Well, not a guide to stabby killers.  This isn't a death-row walking tour.  It's more of a guide to surviving stabby killers - my valuable contribution to the Halloween season.

This whole story starts with a turtle.  It's hand-sized, brass, with a stained-glass shell and a teeny little lamp inside it.  So when your husband has gone out of town on business again and you're alone in the apartment in the dark and you're thirsty but won't get out of bed because that dark reflection in the dresser mirror might be your own, but it also might be Bloody Mary, and now that you've thought the words "Bloody Mary" it's definitely Bloody Mary, and you're pretty sure she's going to jump out of the mirror and scratch your eyes out, you can turn on the turtle and have a gently colorful glow on your nightstand and see that it's really just your own reflection and maybe actually get some sleep.

I'd like to emphasize that it's stained glass.  Which means it's Art.  Definitely not a nightlight.  Art.

But the problem with stained-glass turtles, as I'm sure you're aware, is that sometimes you touch them and the glass shell feels hot and you start to worry that maybe it will catch fire while you are peacefully sleeping under its multicolored glow, and then you have to spend what may be an irrational amount of time considering which would be worse: having your eyes clawed out by Bloody Mary or being burned to death by a glass turtle.

No one understands how complicated my life is.

And in the end you have to turn off the turtle, not because you think being clawed to death is better than burning, but because you're pretty sure that other people don't believe in Bloody Mary, and it's bad enough that you have to die tonight, but you really can't deal with the extra humiliation of some snarky bitches standing over our corpse and being all "Oh, how sad, if only she hadn't irrationally believed that an angry ghost-monster was going to climb out of her mirror in the middle of the night, she wouldn't have burned down her entire apartment complex."  At least this way you WILL be clawed to death, and when they're standing over your corpse you can be all "I TOLD you, bitches!" and sure, that's a Pyrrhic victory, but it's still a victory, dammit.

And sure, turning off the turtle seems like the right thing to do, until maybe you wake up alone in the dark with your heart beating a thousand miles an hour and a certainty that something is horrible wrong.  And just when you decide that it must have been a nightmare, you realize that down in the dark, at the foot of the bed, something is breathing.  A gargling, hissing, mouth-breathing something.

And that's when you  Lose. Your. Shit.

But in the calmest, most dignified manner possible  [because apparently death scares you into the ladylike behavior that your mother never could], because what you think to yourself, I kid you not, is: "There's a stabby killer down there.  Oh my.  I'm going to die."  Oh My.  Because god knows, you wouldn't want to overreact and have your killer think you uncouth.  Maybe later, after the bloody part is over, you can also have a fit of the vapors and then make the murderer a nice jar of sun tea.

They say that when someone's about to die, their whole life flashes before their eyes.  But as you lie there, preparing to be brutally dissected by someone who may or may not have machetes instead of hands, what you're thinking is:

"Oh no!  I was going to post that oatmeal recipe this week!"

Which is cast-iron proof that you have trouble with priorities.

To be fair, you've been waiting to post this recipe for almost a year [because you made it last December but it has both oatmeal and pumpkin and nobody wants to hear about that little scenario until Fall].  You've been saving it up all this time for your beloved readers, and now they'll never see it.  That's upsetting.

But it might have been nice if you'd also thought about how much you'd miss your husband or something.

But a reason to live is a reason to live, and now you're ready to fight back.  Which poses its own problems, since the only weapons within arm's reach are the contents of the bedside drawer: a crumpled Kleenex, five assorted camera batteries, a coaster, two tubes of Carmex, and a bobble-headed armadillo from Guatemala.

None of that is remotely threatening, and since your McGyver skills are a little rusty, you grab yourself a stained-glass turtle and hurl yourself to the end of the bed to bludgeon your would-be killer with it.  Except it's still plugged in, so halfway to the end of the bed you get a mild case of whiplash as the turtle is ripped from your hands.  And inertia being what it is, it's too late to stop yourself from landing on whatever monster is waiting at the foot of the bed, so you just start hollering like a battle-maddened Viking, in hopes that he'll be confused long enough for you to make it out the bedroom door.


As it turns out, you have a beagle.  He sleeps in a crate at the foot of your bed and makes funny noises when he dreams about chasing bunnies, and sometimes you try to crush his skull in with stained-glass reptiles because you tend to be confused when you wake up and forget that he exists and think he's an eye-gouging monster.  Luckily you dropped the turtle, so you just ended up screaming incoherently at him.

The poor thing may never be the same again.

But on the plus side, I've found an oatmeal recipe that's so tasty I'm willing to face monsters just to share it with you.  That's love.  Or something like it.

And if you love me back...please don't tell PETA what happened.

Pumpkin-Spice Steel-Cut Oatmeal
barely adapted from Jeannette Ordas
at Everybody Likes Sandwiches

Water  [ 3 cups ]
Steel-Cut Oats  [ 1 cup ]
Canned Pumpkin Puree  [ 1/2 cup ]
Ground Cinnamon  [ 2 teaspoons ]
Ground Nutmeg  [ Dash ]
Ground Cloves  [ Pinch ]
Ground Cardamom  [ 1/4 teaspoon ]
Maple Syrup  [ 4 tablespoons ]
Toppings  [ for serving, to taste - I like more Maple Syrup, Toasted Walnuts, Raisins, and Whole 
                        Milk ]

1.  In a medium-large pot over high heat, bring Water to a boil.
2.   Add Oats, reduce heat to a simmer, and place lid on pot.
3.   Stirring often  [ Oats will create a lot of bubbles that will want to boil over ], cook until Oats are tender
         [ about 20 minutes ].
4.   Remove from heat.
5.   Stir in Pumpkin, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Cardamom, and Maple Syrup.
6.   Divide into bowls and finish with toppings of your choice.

Makes 2 enormous bowls, or 4-6 smallish ramekins [ which is how I like my oatmeal ].

And a little something else for breakfast:
Doughnuts Filled with Grapefruit Curd

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