Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Crock Pot Steel Cut Oatmeal with Apples, Brown Sugar and Cinnamon - Dairy Free

I never would have thought of making oatmeal in a crockpot until I saw a couple of friends post recipes on Facebook at the same time I had just read a blog post from The Fabulous Beekman Boys about cooking their oatmeal overnight in a crock pot.  Cooking oatmeal in the crock pot sounded interesting to me, so I decided to try it.  I have to admit it has taken me several attempts to get the results I liked.  As I usually do, I take several recipes and adjust them to the perfect one for me.  My kids have food allergies, so for this particular recipe, I substituted soy milk for regular milk, as well as tweaking the amounts of some of the other ingredients.

The other thing I learned was that crock pot temperatures can vary.  One of my crock pots did not properly cook the oatmeal on warm, and low was too high.  Another crock pot I have works relatively well on the warm setting.  However, I find that by cooking on high for the first couple of hours works better for me.  Then before I go to bed, I switch the setting to warm.  I generally start the crockpot around 8:30pm and move to warm around 10:30pm.  At 5:30am when I get up, I check the consistency.  If it is still watery, I put back on high.  If the consistency is too thick, I just add some more water.  (The kids are looking for breakfast around 6:10am).  Depending on your crock pot and what time you want breakfast, you may need to make your own adjustments.  It make take one or two tries to figure out the proper timing to get the consistency you want.  

Below is the recipe I use for our delicious dairy free apple/cinnamon oatmeal.  I like to use the McCann steel cut oats for this oatmeal, it is hardier than regular oats which may get too mushy after cooking overnight. 

Apple-Cinnemon Crock Pot Oatmeal

2-3 apples, cut in small chunks
1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 rounded teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup of steel cut oats
3 cups of water
1 1/2 cup of soy milk

Put cut up apples on the bottom of the crockpot.  Sprinkle with cinnamon then top with the brown sugar.
Pour in the cup of oatmeal then gently pour the water and soy milk on top.
Don't stir.

Cook on high for an hour and a half, then lower to the warm setting and let it cook overnight (6-8 hours). If still too watery in the morning, put on high for a few minutes.  If too thick, add a little more water or soy milk.

Please feel free to post any feedback or other tips you may have discover when trying this recipe.


Monday, November 18, 2013

President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site, Plymouth Notch, Vermont

Calvin Coolidge, our 30th President was born in Plymouth Notch, Vermont in the back of the general store owned by his father.   Later, his family moved into a home across the street where Calvin grew up.   Also in this small village is the general store, community church, Plymouth Cheese and the one room schoolhouse.   President Coolidge's stepmother's garden lies near the church and is kept up by the State of Vermont.

The Coolidge historic site is considered one of the best preserved presidential sites in the United States.  The village has remained pretty much unchanged since President Coolidge's inauguration and many of the buildings still have their original furnishings.  In the Coolidge home, the bible Calvin's father used to swear him into office sits on the parlor table.

In August, 2010, the Museum and Educational Center were dedicated.  More Than Two Words: The Life and Legacy of Calvin Coolidge is a permanent interactive exhibit.  My sons enjoyed standing at the replica Presidential podium pretending to give a speech.  They could "ask" Calvin a question and it would be answered by a Calvin statue.  There was a temporary exhibit with some baseball memorabilia as Calvin's wife Grace was an avid baseball fan.

My sons' love the story of how Calvin Coolidge was a very quiet man and would not speak very much.  He was at a dinner where a woman said she made a bet that she could get him to say more than 3 words.  Calvin's reply, "You lose."  

History buffs will enjoy walking through the village, seeing how life was in the early 1900's for the Coolidge family.  A barn housing many old forms of transportation is also on site as well as a small restaurant where we had a bowl of delicious chili and a hearty grilled ham and cheddar sandwich.  The general store is open and has penny candies as well as other treats and treasures.  The original post office boxes from President Coolidge's time are there as well.

The Coolidge Home

A short ride down the street brings visitors to the cemetery, the final resting place of many generations of Coolidges including Calvin, his wife Grace and their two sons.

Friday, November 15, 2013

New England November on the Bikeway

New Englanders don't get phased by crazy weather.  We are now having a stretch of sunny 60 degree days this mid-November.  Not being one to pass up a wonderful opportunity, I loaded my bike on the bike rack and headed on over to the Blackstone Valley Bike Way.  

The forest is bare.  Most of the leaves are down with the majority of them swept to the sides of the path by the RI Department of Environmental Management.  Only a few of die hard bikers were riding today:  Joe, the volunteer who patrols the path to assist any bikers or walkers who need a hand, a girl I met who bikes to continue a major weight loss routine, a middle-aged man who bikes as long as the weather stays above freezing, and an older couple that always rides together.  An even larger number of regulars were not riding today, including my Bruce Willis look-alike.  The last time I saw 'Bruce' was in mid October, the day I mustered up the courage to finally talk with him.   

As we passed I called out to him, "has anyone ever told you you look like Bruce Willis?"   

And he stopped, rode back over to me and said yes, other people had said that.  I told him I was married and I wasn't trying to hit on him, but could I take his picture because I told my friends a guy on the bike path looked like Bruce Willis and they wanted to see for themselves.  He graciously allowed a photo. 

"You're name isn't Bruce by any chance is it?"  

He laughed, "no, it's Jeff."   

We spoke for a half hour and I learned that Jeff was a retired cop.  Perfect!  A real life John McClane!  Yippee KiYay!  Chatting with him, I found that he had a really nice demeanor and personality.   It made me like him even more than I did when he only looked like Bruce Willis from afar.   I've missed not seeing him this past month.    

Over the past four weeks, the bike path has become more and more deserted.  However, today's desolation didn't bother me.  I actually welcomed the solitude as I logged a leisurely 15 mile ride, stopping to take pictures along the way.  And as my biking season comes to a close, it will only be a few cold winter months before the signs of Spring begin to appear and the bike path comes alive with beautiful birds, fragrant flowers, buds on the trees, all the regulars and Jeff.  

Until spring then...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Weekend At Bernie's Reunion at RI Comic Con

A couple of months ago, I accidentally came upon an ad for RI Comic Con which advertised "be part of the ultimate reunions with stars from all your favorite shows and movies."  It was scheduled for November 2 and 3 and would be held at the Rhode Island Convention Center, approximately 10 minutes from my home.  A Batman and Power Ranger reunion were the big draws for this convention, however, it was the Weekend at Bernie's reunion which caught my eye.  

I had to go to this convention.  I have been watching this movie for 24 years, still laughing hysterically at the nonsensical plot.  Larry (Andrew McCarthy) and Richard (Jonathan Silverman) discover someone is stealing from the insurance company where they work.  They go to their boss Bernie (Terry Kiser), thinking the discovery will be good for their careers.  What they don't realize is that Bernie is the one stealing from the company. Bernie tells the mobsters he's working for to have Larry and Richard killed when he isn't around.  But instead, the hit man kills Bernie.  Larry and Richard think Bernie overdosed on drugs and Larry wants to pretend he's alive so they can enjoy their weekend at the Hamptons.  Richard doesn't want to go along with Larry's plan until Gwen  (Catherine Mary Stewart), a summer intern at the insurance company shows up in the Hamptons too.  And then the craziness really begins. 

When the movie was first released, my friends and I would watch it in the summer, usually while drinking pina coladas.  We'd watch it in the winter to 'warm' up, still drinking pina coladas.  When I met my husband, I introduced him to this movie, one of my all time favorites.  He laughed so hard at one point, he fell off the couch.  In 1993, the sequel Weekend at Bernie's 2 was released and we began watching both movies.  And now, every summer when we're at the beach, these Weekend at Bernie's movies come with us for our 'movie nights'.  We've switched from fattening pina coladas to a skinny version of lemon drop martinis.   Our friends come over year after year to watch these movies.  And the laughing never stops…  

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You Terry, Catherine, Jonathan and Andrew!  I cannot even adequately express how exciting it was for me to meet you all, the actors in one of my most favorite movies!  Continued success to all of you! xoxo

Andrew McCarthy, Jonathan Silverman and Terry Kiser meeting up for the first time in years!

Bernie, "Let's make it a murder-suicide.  Okay gentlemen." (Terry Kiser)
Hey Bern...
Richard, "Why are the hairs on the back of my neck starting to stand up?" (Jonathan Silverman)
Larry, "Why don't we pretend he didn't die.  Just for a bit" (Andrew McCarthy)
Richard and Larry in unison, "It's Gwen" (Catherine Mary Stewart)
The photo I came for!!!  With Bernie, with sunglasses!
And my autographed photo!