I need a hobby.

19 Sep

More specifically, I need a hobby that doesn’t involve creaming butter and sugar. Or shopping on the internet. I bought myself an exercise ball a few weeks ago, figuring I can use it to get in shape (in my apartment! while watching television!). Unfortunately my non-declawed cat’s interest in it exceeded my own, and it was swiftly relegated to the closet. Exercising is just one of a long list of activities that I give up on before I can improve, and usually because I feel like I’m not good enough. It happened with knitting, playing the mandolin, learning Japanese, and writing anything that doesn’t begin with an abstract and end with references.

It is surprisingly difficult to find a cheap hobby that I can succeed at immediately (and doesn’t result in the consumption of an obscene number of calories). Googling the phrase “I need a hobby” didn’t help much, although reading the complaints of similarly desolate individuals did temporarily relieve my boredom. Limiting the search to hobbies I haven’t tried already was more helpful, if somewhat disheartening. I fear all that’s left for me in this world in woodworking, quilting, and painting faces on those creepy Japanese dolls. I’ll keep you updating on the hobby search, imaginary readers (plus Melissa), but in the meantime I’m stuck with baking. Oh, the humanity…

Fall in nearly upon us, and while my parents are enjoying beautiful, overcast, 75 degree days by sneaking my dogs onto the beach, I am staring into an oncoming two days of 92 degree blistering sunlight. Luckily, Schnucks is air-conditioned and completely decked out for my favorite season. I picked up some apple cider and my first can of pumpkin, and already need to restock both. The can of pumpkin sat in my pantry for a few days, as a list of bookmarked pumpkin-inclusive recipes grew, but when I found this recipe for Pumpkin Cranberry Apple Baked Oatmeal, I knew it was the one.

I made pumpkin baked oatmeal once when I was living with my sister, and it was the most delicious thing ever. In fact, it was so delicious that I ate a ton of it, made myself sick, and didn’t make it for another three years. But I have learned from these mistakes, grown, and become a better person. I left for the lab this morning before I could go back for seconds (okay fine, it was thirds).

(Overnight) Spiced Pumpkin Cranberry Apple Baked Oatmeal


The night before:

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup coarsely-ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

The next morning:

  • 2 apples, finely chopped (I used Jonathan)
  • Dash of egg whites and apple cider
  • Mixture of chopped nuts, spices, sugars

The night before, mix all dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients in another. After I melted the butter, I added small increments of the other wet ingredients to the butter to prevent it from congealing. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together, cover and place in fridge. Toss and turn in bed as your pathetic attempts at sleep are thwarted by the anticipation of baked oatmeal. Well, that and a psychotic cat.

Wake up next morning and rejoice, for St. Louis is experiencing one of its random thunder storms. It is, as a matter of fact, suspiciously perfect weather for the consumption of baked oatmeal. Question your faith (i.e. lack thereof) in God and mince two small apples while the oven in preheating to 375C. Mix the apples with the oatmeal mixture. I also added about 1/8-1/4 cup each of apple cider and egg whites because the mixture seemed a little thick. Then spoon the mixture into a greased 7X11 pan. Sprinkle with whatever is on hand. I used a mixture of chopped walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, brown sugar, and white sugar. Pop in oven. I set the timer for 20 minutes as suggested in the recipe, but found that wasn’t nearly enough. I let it cook about another ten minutes, checking compulsively (mostly because it smelled outrageously good). Serve with plain yogurt and another sprinkle of cinnamon. Dream of Fall.


2 Responses to “I need a hobby.”

  1. Melissa September 22, 2010 at 8:29 am #

    That looks awesome! I should try this with the apples from apple picking. I wish you could come apple picking. We could make an excellent apple crisp.

  2. BellaBallestra October 24, 2010 at 9:19 am #

    Ah! I went apple picking last weekend (or was it the one before? ahhh the days are blurring together!!) and now, because I’m a reasonable person who understands portion control especially when living alone, I have a freaking HUGE fabric shopping bag full of apples, a gallon of delicious hand pressed cider, an adorable little pumpkin with a curvy stem, and a Giant pumpkin the size of yours, Melissa’s and my brilliant heads swollen with knowledge.
    I’m working my way through a huge list of apple recipes am definitely carving a pumpkin this week.

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