Monday, September 29, 2014

My Slightly Trendy Oatmeal Cake

There are few shortcuts to happiness in life, and one of them happens to be my oatmeal cake - my slightly trendy oatmeal cake.

Oh, I can think of shorter cuts to happiness - new lipgloss, a kindly worded letter, a full tank of gas, and that Jimmy Fallon. But truth is, my oatmeal cake isn't the most instant of pleasures. For starters, you have to head into the kitchen and hunt for things like baking soda. But it is a one-bowler... actually two if you count the 9x9 pan.

I'm not quite sure what makes this cake so good. All the right ingredient ratios? The nutmeg? The little tune I lovingly hum while pouring the golden brown batter into the pan? Whatever it is, it's nom-nom-nom delicious every time.

And by "slightly trendy" I mean, let's face it - folks are thinking twice about what they eat these days.  So I felt I had to morph my cake into something more socially acceptable, something that most everyone will at least take ONE bite of - even the occasional gluten-phobe. And if people happen upon my cake between Thursday evenings around 4:00 and Sundays at bedtime - that stretch of time a person's willpower loosens up - I can usually talk them into an entire slice.

It's not that the original oatmeal cake recipe was super bad, as in Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte BAD (who knew?), with all its class IV caramel food coloring (not class I, II, nor III, but IV!!) and toxic levels of sugars - Britney toxic - and other poisons that will kill you if you drink ten gallons per day.

It's just, well, I think my Molly-modified version is more wholesome... ish. I use steel cut oatmeal, 100% whole wheat flour, all-natural eggs with no added hormones, rbst-free butter and milk, and organic cane sugar.

But what am I doing it for? For the health (hellth) of it? Or am I trying to make yet another area of my life more socially acceptable and "slightly trendy?" I mean, not food-related, but should I really jump on the lash extension bandwagon? Because I'm thinking I need to do that tomorrow. (But will they look tangled all the time? I'll do my research.)

And now look at me... trying to make my oatmeal cake all cool. And I'm not alone. I recently heard someone refer to their healthy eating as their "value system." Talk about cool - they even have lingo for it!

1 Thessalonians 2:4b says, "Our purpose is to please God, not people. He is the one who examines the motives of our hearts." So as long as their value system doesn't cut them off entirely from civilization in a big pile of locally-sourced, non-GMO hummus and kale, and they free themselves up to love others - even the ones who don't share in their value system - then I guess that's okay.

At any rate, let's get down to business...

My Slightly Trendy Oatmeal Cake:

In a microwavable mixing bowl, stir together:

3/4 cup steel-cut oatmeal (Use 1 cup oatmeal if using old fashioned oats.)
1 1/4 cup water
--Microwave both together for 4 minutes.
Then add to the same bowl:
1 stick butter (Let butter sit in hot oatmeal for five minutes to soften before continuing.)
1 cup organic brown sugar
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
--Beat together one minute.
Then add:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (Be even trendier, try gluten-free or coconut flour!)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg 
--Mix together, and pour into greased 9-inch pan. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes until done. Cool, then  sift (or sprinkle) powdered sugar over the top - be generous.

Oh, and don't forget to hum in a pinch of love. Enjoy!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Do UFO Sightings Make YOU Think of "MORE?"

Over the summer, strange lights were spotted in the sky near my home. What was it, swamp gasses? A sign of the times? Greg Brady getting even with Peter and Bobby by faking a UFO?

I admit, it was kind of exciting. A little bit scary. Maybe even romantic? Okay, not romantic.

Oh, I know - "You talkin' all kinds of crazy, woman!" But the nerd in me wants it to be something truly out of this world. Something pointing to MORE. Like, a God more

Go ahead and say it - "UFOs are the work the Devil! Don't even go there!" Well, you're probably right. But even though the Bible neither confirms nor denies, we here on planet earth are UNIQUE creations of the one true God. (Genesis 1:21, Acts 17:24-26) A few aliens in long flowing robes wouldn't contradict our made-in-the-image-of-God status.

But that's not what I'm getting at. I'm talking about... in the vast scheme of things... I la-la-LOVE being reminded of how small I am and how huge the universe is. Mainly, how huge God is. And sometimes it's the freaky things on earth - or not on earth - that do the trick.

I mean, just a couple days ago, I got depressed - slumped into a funk - because I ate too much apple pie. Too much apple pie, people! Somethin' out there's gotta remind me there is more than all of this y'all!

And yes, we love getting busy at church with our mission-tripping, small-grouping, devotion-reading, accountability-holding, and worship-singing. Love that stuff - it's fantastic! Devotion-reading being right up there on my list!

But does God restrict himself to wooing me with his insane power and might only on Sunday mornings at 9:00, the mornings I bust out the hot rollers? The mornings I think I should, for some American church cultured reason, be nicer to my kids on the way to church than, say, on Tuesday mornings on the way to school?

Good heavens if God kept to MY spiritual schedulings. If that were the case, I'd go days/weeks/whole-routineless-summers without seeing evidence of him.

There's no taming God. Because he's huge - "majestic in holiness, awesome in splendor, performing wonders" kind of huge. Yet he's personal - "the very hairs on my head have been counted" kind of personal.

And he's just - "bad deeds will not go unpunished" kind of just. Yet he's loving - "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us" kind of loving. Or as I tell my kids, "God got in trouble for us so we wouldn't have to." (I know, horrible awful theology with that one.)

And even if none of that were true about him - nothing huge, personal, just, and loving about the God of the universe, no amazing plan of redemption for mankind - with everything in my being, I'd sure wish it were true. (Good thing it is!)

C.S. Lewis is always spot on in describing this sort of thing: "There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else."

Perhaps it all boils down to heaven, and I'm looking for bits and pieces of it on earth. Well, if you, like me, also look for God in the strangest of places - desperate enough to consider the lamest of UFO sightings - he's going to surprise us time and time again.