Restaurant/Cafeteria-style Hot Oatmeal At Last!

UPDATE 1/2/14: Click here to see my new post on cooking oatmeal

I’ve been a big fan of steel-cut oatmeal, but have developed a craving for the goopy oatmeal they serve at this cafeteria I’ve been frequenting recently. I knew it wasn’t steel-cut and it didn’t seem to be regular old-fashion oatmeal either; however, my research indicated that those basically were the only kind available. I bought a box of Quaker old-fashion oatmeal and tried a few batches without any luck.

Unfortunately, my trusted recipe finder (aka Google) failed me miserably. I just couldn’t find anything that told me how to make it. I did see a few posts about cooking it overnight and it occurred to me that a crock pot (slow cooker) might be involved, after all, the cafeteria made it in these giant vats. Eventually, I did find the right keywords and stumbled upon one post that seemed to be what I wanted. Anyways, I made several batches and here’s what I ended up with:

Ingredients:
– 1 cup oatmeal
– 2-1/2 cups water*

Spray the pot with non-stick spray. (You just can’t avoid the hard semi-burned layer on the sides.) Dump the ingredients in the pot and cook for 8-10 hours on low.

*You will probably need to experiment with the amount of water. First off, add more or less to get the consistency you like. Also, the low setting temperature can vary on different crock pots which will use more or less water. I’ve also found that different brands of oatmeal can affect the amount of needed water.

That’s it! Super simple. Obviously, you can dress it up with fruits and things if you want, but that’s up to you. Comes out exactly like the cafeteria stuff I’ve been getting. Enjoy a healthy and delicious meal!

Apple iPad causes back problems

Have you seen the billboards where the iPad user is comfortably lounging on a couch or something, relaxingly using their Apple iPad? Well, maybe if they showed their face, they would be grimacing.

Let me explain. Since I started using my iPad more and more, I’ve noticed I’m starting to get acute back pains. I think this is mostly caused when I use it sitting in bed before I go to sleep. In some ways just as it is being used in the ads. You don’t get a lot of back support sitting in bed and I suppose my back is hunched over for too long a period. I’ve tried pillows and such, but it’s impossible to make it the functional equivalent of sitting in a chair.

I’ve tried using it laying flat with the iPad propped up on a small pillow on my chest. It’s a little awkward, but my back seems better. The device is pretty heavy and you don’t really notice it at first. You really can’t hold it comfortably very long in one hand. I’m guessing that the weight contributes to the problem.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I thing it is an amazing device and I will continue to use it. However, I am thinking seriously about getting the lighter Amazon Kindle for reading in bed (and outside use). It will be interesting to see if mainstream media starts jumping on Apple on this. Picking on Apple seems to be the thing to do these days. I did a Google search and got some hits on the topic. I’m going to coin the phrase now: “iPad Syndrome”!

Great site to buy travel-sized products

One by one, my local grocery stores stopped carrying these individual salad dressing packets. Since all salad dressing must be refrigerated after opening, these are quite handy to use in a packed lunch. A quick Bing search and I found Minimus.biz. They specialize is selling individual portion packets for travel, office, camping, etc., including a decent assortment of salad dressing. They have everything! Cereals, shampoos, soap, playing cards, scissors…everything. The best part is that the quantities are very reasonable, that is, you don’t have to buy 50 or 100 at a time. For example, the salad dressing packets were sold in units of one! Yes, I could buy 1 one-ounce packet of italian dressing; however, I spent $20 to get the free shipping. Highly recommended.

DIY Anti-Ant Pet Food Bowl

Yeah, I know they sell commercial versions, but this seemed like an easy DIY project and so it was. The idea came from my hummingbird feeder which has a water moat to keep ants out. I figured I could rig up a similar thing for a cat food bowl. Initially, I used a sour cream container and just glued the lid onto the bottom and filled the lid with water. Worked pretty well, but the cat didn’t seem to like sticking his head into the deep cup.

I headed over to the local 99 cent store to see if I could come up with something better. I ended up just getting a ceramic bowl for the top. For the bottom I’m not sure if it’s a deep saucer or shallow dish, but in any case, the bowl just sits in it. The important part is that the bowl lip is beyond the saucer edge so that food doesn’t fall into the water and get all gross.

When I went to swap out the sour scream container version, I was heartened to see an ant wandering on the edge trying to get at the food =) Incidentally, I’m doing all this for a freakin street cat that I claim I don’t even like.

Incidentally, besides the bowl and saucer, I also got a hot glue gun, extra glue sticks, 3 fluorescent light bulbs, and a sink strainer, all for 9 bucks! I loving going there.

Recycle plastic grocery bags!

Maybe I’m the only dumbass that didn’t realize this, but plastic grocery bags have a #2 recycle symbol on them which means I can put them in my weekly recyle bin! My wife discovered this by chance and I don’t know why this isn’t publicized more. You’d think that at least the neighborhood grocery stores would have a sign or something on their usually overstuffed in-store grocery bag recycle bins. Stupid.

2 Down, 4 (Weeks) to Go

Well, I made it 1/3 of the way through. I’m handling the discomfort much better now. Not that it feels any better; I’m just ignoring it…at least trying. I’m finding that moving around and now always having it elevated actually helps me forget. A couple times at work I forgot the cast was on until I tried to stand up and move LOL. The Xerosox continues to work to perfection and crutches that are the right size are getting good use. I also got a handicap parking sign and I’m taking full use of it having never had the priviledge before. Kinda fun in a way, but prolly only because I know it’s not permanent.

Started an alumni site for my old job called XNewTek.com. Having a bit of fun tracking folks down and trying to remember names. Had dinner with a few old mates yesterday. A sad thing was that a really dear friend had an accident and lost his long-term memory. He hasn’t returned my phone call, but I’m going to write him and hopefully it will strike a familiar bell. I’m hopeful.

33 Days to go

Well, I’ve been laying down pretty much for a week and I’m still not adapting to the leg cast very well. Last night I had a severe anxiety attack and was close to cutting the damn thing off myself. Today, I’m a little calmer, but still find it nearly unbearable. It is obviously psychological and I do have a little claustrophobia in real tight spaces. I’m going to see what the doctor can prescribe on Monday since I feel a bit embarassed calling the weekend emergency line for something like this.

I go back to work on Monday and I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I’m hoping it will make the time go by faster, but it might make it harder to handle. I feel sorry for my poor wife Jac. She’s been pretty good, but I know it’s tough on her.

Keep Cast Dry With This Incredible Product

Taking a shower is a *** if you have a cast on. So I googled around and stumbled onto the Xerosox. It claimed that you could swim in a cast with this on and not get the cast wet. C’mon! But, I figured if it was half this good, surely I could take a shower and was worth the $38. Well, the darn thing works and I really think you could actually go in a pool–altho I wouldn’t try. It’s basically a rubber boot that you pump out the air to form a vacuum. As long as the vacuum holds, the seal is holding. Quite an amazing device and huge kudos to whomever invented it.

UPDATE:

The company changed their name to DryCorp (http://www.drycorp.com)

Ruptured Achilles Tendon!

Well, I forgot I wasn’t 20 anymore and ruptured my Achilles tendon playing basketball. My leg is in a cast for 6 weeks! Comes off August 17 and I am counting the days. The first night was the worst and I just didn’t think I could do it, but slowly it has become tolerable. It sux not being able to carry anything or do the simpliest of things. Even when it comes off I’ve got 6 weeks of rehab. My foot is pointing down so that the tendon heals in a contracted state. I think its gonna be painful. I actually lucked out in a couple ways though. After 2 weeks, they generally recommend surgery–I was at 1-1/2. It was the left leg, not my right. On the bad side, I had to cancel my trip to Hawaii, but on the good side, I have a week off to get used to the cast. I hate it, but am trying to deal with it. The stupid Dr’s office gave me crutches too long for me, so I’m pole vaulting until the new ones arrive hopefully tomorrow. Jac, family and friend have been great helping and supporting, but I’m sure I’ll wear out my welcome soon…