Feeling Crotchety,  Let's Eat: Meals and Recipes

Stormy Inside And Out

It’s spooky outside. The sky is pale and the air is warm and still, punctuated by sharp blasts of wind. The television blares announcements and warnings. Schools are getting out early in advance of the bad weather bearing down upon us. Conditions are ripe for severe tornadoes like the F5 that hit just west of us one night in April 1998. Thirty-two-people were killed.

I was pregnant with the twins, and Finn was two. Bill herded our dogs into the damp unfinished basement where we huddled uncomfortably. Finn kept slipping off my rounded belly as I sat in a moldy lawn chair. At one point Bill grabbed a golf club and brought it down sharply behind my head. I turned and saw a severed snake, the ends still wiggling.

Tornadoes here take a predictable track, and that one stayed on the ground for a long time. We listened to the radio as it hit the counties southwest of us and continued toward us. I remember the sheriff of one town saying, “In the morning when we can see the damage it’s not going to be a good scene.” As the winds picked up and the tornado came closer, we held a queen-sized mattress over our heads and squatted in the corner.

The tornado itself lifted about three miles before reaching our house. We were unharmed. The damage in our neighborhood was sporadic. On one street, there was a house whose roof looked as if a large hand had come from the sky and twisted it one quarter turn. The rooms at each corner of the house were exposed and filled with water.

I was happy when the boys went to school this morning, or more specifically, that Finn and his attitude were leaving. I’m not looking forward to seeing him any sooner than I have to, storms or no. Why didn’t anyone warn me that the mood swings of an eleven year old boy can be just as deadly as those of a crotchety mom?

Thus, I’ll be preparing for the storms outside, and getting our safe place cleaned up before the sirens go off. But I’m also girding myself for handling the tempest that is sure to follow Finn inside. I doubt that being cooped up with me and his brothers in a windowless storage area is going to thrill his pre-teen spirit.


Many of you have asked for the oatmeal bread recipe. Here it is. I sure wish you’d tinker with it. I think it could be lighter and more flavorful, but I haven’t been able to make that happen. I toast it and spread it with butter. This recipe makes 3 loaves and I think it works better in round loaves than in loaf pans.

4 cups boiling water
3 cups old-fashioned Quaker Oats (not instant or quick)
7.5-8 cups unbleached flour
2 pkg yeast
2 T salt
4 T salad or olive oil
1/2 cup molasses

Pour water over oats and let cool. Stir in 2 cups of flour and yeast. Let rise uncovered until doubled (1-1.5 hours). [*NOTE this has NEVER doubled for me.] Punch down and work in salt, oil, molasses and enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough. Turn onto a floured board and knead at least 10 minutes. Divide into 3 equal pieces and form into loaves. Let rise again 1.5 hours. Bake 350 degrees 40-60 minutes until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Cool on rack before slicing.


  • Joy East of theKingdom

    One of my litte brother’s classmates and wife were killed in that storm. Orphaned 3 children ages 12 years to 8 months. Their 12 year old son pulled his siblings from the wreckage of their home, then stood guard over them until help came.

    Praying the weather calms enough to pass over peacefully.

  • Kelly

    whoever said girls are more emotional than boys never raised a teenage boy. I have raised both and they are equally maddening anywhere from age 11 til …well…maybe 20! However, now that they are older we can laugh about it. My son and I got into a fight seems like EVERY morning during the rush to get ready for school. He likes to tell the story about me throwing a loaf of bread at him, as if that was SUCH a threat! I told him to be glad I didn’t have a no.2 can of pork & beans in my hand at that moment! Thanks for the recipe

  • Karin B

    Oh yeah, I was in that school traffic today as they let out at midday. Thanks so much for the bread recipe. I just heard on TV that a high-school and a hospital were hit by a tornado in Eastern part of the state a little while ago.I don’t remember the storm of 98 coming near the Kingdom but it sure destroyed another part of town.

  • Melina

    Be safe today, I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in Tornado country, but I do know what it is like to go through a Hurricane. I went through Hurricane Wilma in FL, and that scared the living s*** out of me, I can’t imagine what Katrina was like, or a tornado.

    Please let us know you are safe and sound when the storm passes.

  • Melissa

    I wish you a safe and quiet night~ on both storm fronts! I don’t remember when each of my 5 (yes five) brothers were teens…I do know that they got over it and I’m sure each of your 3 will turn out to be wonderful men ~ though not without some hardwork first. Mom used to make each of us do as you make yours – mind their manners, parents and better judgement. If I were to venture an opinion, I would say that my sisters and I were much easier on Mom when we were teens but I seriously doubt my brothers would agree.

    I will tell you that to express our gratitude for all she put up with as we grew up – we took her to Italy for 10 days…so keep up the good work and everyonce in a while slip them a travel magazine with hopeful destinations circled. ;o)

  • Jen

    Yipes! Be safe during that storm. I taught in an elementary school in North Florida when tornadoes were touching down all around us. I had my class of 29 4th graders stashed between the classroom closet and the bathroom for over 3 hours. It was soooo creepy. The kids subsisted on the candy I had in the closet!

    Thanks for the oatmeal bread recipe. You might try adding some sugar to the mix when you add the yeast. 1-2 teaspoons should work. This will help to proof the yeast. Also, the best temp for yeast to grow is about 110F. If you let the oatmeal cool too much, the yeast won’t grow. If it’s too hot, the yeast will die. I’ll try it and let you know!

    probably stuck home in a snow day tomorrow and happy to bake!

  • Kathy

    April 1998…I was pregnant with my twins and my oldest was 19 mos! I remember watching Spann on tv and realizing it was all going to be just north of us and we never had to go in the basement.

    And yeah, I got caught in that noon traffic today on 280. It got pretty nasty here about 6PM with that last storm that came thru.

  • tiff

    There was a snake in your basement? That is my worse fear after hearing several similar stories last summer. Our basement in the Tiny Kingdom is still unfinished and I have to go down there to do laundry and to get to my car.

    No need to make your own oatmeal bread now that Whole Foods is open. LOVE IT. I’ve been every day for the last three days and I’m trying to think of a reason to go again today. I can already tell that it is going to be a budget buster for me since it is now the closest grocery store to my house. Not too impressed with the diapers though- my little one has woken up soaking the last two days, so I might have to go to Publix today instead. Whole Foods makes me not really like Publix anymore.

  • Sonya

    Hope everyone stayed safe during the tornado. I grew up in Tornado Alley and I know how scary they can be. At least you get a bit of warning, though. (Unlike the Hector Mine earthquake I experienced my first year in California)

  • Karin B

    We are safe here and our children are safely in the Tiny Kingdom schools. It stormed hard yesterday, but nothing happened to us. People in Enterprise were not so lucky. Their high-school was totally destroyed and five students died as the tornado hit.

  • kmum

    Delurking to say a couple of things. First, hope you and your family were safe through the storms. Second, is a bread tip. A previous poster mentioned the sugar and not letting the oatmeal mix cool to much. I mix mine in a different order and it seems to double. I mix the oil, salt, water and oats together and let it cool a while. Then I add the molasses while the yeast/sugar combo is raising (about 10 min). I stir the yeast mix in and then add the flour and once I can no longer stir the flour into the mix, I knead it in. It goes into the bowl, gets covered with a tea towel and placed somewhere warm. Once it doubles, it gets punched down, kneaded a bit more and put into the pans and allowed to rise again in a warm area.
    I hope that you won’t mind a lurker giving you advice on the bread.

  • Jamie

    I think the snake would have scared me almost as much as the tornado! I hope you and yours are OK after yesterday’s terrible storms.

    That was a crazy day in 1998. I don’t think any of us who were in the affected areas react to tornado watches the same way.

  • Laurie

    Re: The Recipe:

    Don’t let the water cool too much. You want the yeast to “come back to life” in order for the dough to rise, and yeast needs warm water for that. Sugar would also help – just a few teaspoons (did someone else mention this???). I’m going to try the recipe!

    Hope you’re all safe.

  • Leeny

    Scary, Anne! Glad you and your family are safe! I heard about the tornado and the resultant damage and fatalities. I surely understand coming from tornado country here in Texas!