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January 28, 2014

Crockpot Oatmeal with Pumpkin and Blueberry

I'm a single girl, with a tiny kitchen.  I don't have all the utensils and appliances.  If I do, they're the smallest capacity made, and I haven't used them often.  Even though I don't have kids to cook for daily, I'm trying to learn how my kitchen tools can make my life easier, like my crockpot.  I've heard that oatmeal can be made in a crockpot, left to cook overnight and ready the moment you wake.  So I finally decided to experiment.  And it turned out wonderfully!  Brain food on a morning I was headed out to take an exam in an 8AM class (for those that know me clearly not at all, I am not a morning person, so I needed all the help I could get).  

This was also a great opportunity to test a new condiment line formulated by my friend Erika Kerekes of In Erika's Kitchen.  She makes three flavors of Not Ketchup, including the Blueberry one I sampled as a topping for my oatmeal.  The tangy sweetness added an extra dimension to the fall flavors in my porridge.

Key to using the crock pot are the Crock Pot Liners.  They make cleanup a snap!  The versatility of this recipe means this essential basic will be utilized on a regular basis.  When made in a (lidded) crockpot, whatever liquid added into the recipe will not evaporate away, so the proportions are important.  As long as the ratio of oats to liquid is constant, add in whatever combination of dried fruits, nuts, and spices sound tasty to you.  Or, vary the grain with quinoa or amaranth for a hearty morning stew. 

Winter Breakfast Porridge for Two

1 cup oatmeal
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp coconut
1 Tbsp crystallized date bits (or 4 diced fresh pitted dates)
1 Tbsp hemp seeds
1/4 cup canned plain pumpkin
3 cups soymilk

Place all dry ingredients into the crockpot at any point during the day, covering with the lid.  Just before bed, add the canned pumpkin and milk and mix.  Turn crockpot on low and leave overnight, up to eight hours, covered.  In the morning eat as is or top with a generous drizzle of Blueberry White Pepper Not Ketchup. 

January 1, 2014

"Lights! Camera! Action!" ~ Burbank Tournament of Roses Float 2014

I was honored to spend the week between Christmas and New Years helping out with the Burbank Tournament of Roses Assn's float for the 2014 Rose Parade.  This is the week known as "deco week," which is the most intensive period of effort for the float, though volunteers work year round to make the float a physical reality. 

The overall parade theme for 2014 was "Dreams Come True," so BTORA's float titled "Lights! Camera! Action!" fit right into the spirit of the parade as well as the character of Burbank as a community.  Home to Warners, Disney, NBC, and many other entertainment vendors and companies, Burbank has earned its title as "Media City."  The 2014 float centered around a classic movie theme, with an evil villain tying a heroine to railroad tracks, and stealing the train in an effort to dispose of her.  Our heroine's hope is a handsome cowboy on a trusty steed, who is coming to rescue her while the train's conductor frantically pursues the train.  All the expected movie props and tools, including a makeup table, lights, camera, and bullhorns, are present on the stage. 

I spent several different sessions volunteering at the warehouse.  At various times my jobs included trimming blue statice petals into a pile while discarding the stems and seed, cleaning buckets, setting up for lunch, counting water vials and lids, and prepping trays cut red carnations with rubbery floral glue.  The tangible results of my labor were the conductor's blue overalls and the red carnations that fronted the train.  My favorite part of the float was the back, where a "fake wall" revealed the movie scene to be nothing more than a staged set.  

The best part of this year's involvement were the friends that I brought along with me as first time volunteers.  My neighbor Cleo joined in for one evening and helped to make conversation with a group of people I didn't know.  And my best friend from fifth grade came into town with her husband to attend the Rose Bowl as fans of their alma mater.  I picked them up on the 29th, and was able to get them on as volunteers though normally that late in the week they are closed to new volunteers.  By the end of the day, my friend's husband was actually ON the float placing white Button Daisies.  It was fun to be the hero and give them a vacation experience they will never forget.

Burbank's float was awarded the Fantasy Trophy, an award with prestige and bragging rights!

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