If you need an almost-crumble for breakfast; something to warm the cockles, make ahead and easily feed a crowd for brunch, skip straight to the recipe at the bottom. This baked oatmeal, glossy with plums and sweet with pear is probably what you’re looking for. Now of course you could substitute the nuts for seeds, use whatever milk you need, switch the oats for rolled quinoa, the pears for apple, berries or pitted cherries and the plums for any stone fruit that quivers your heart. But this week I’m all about plums.
I’m all about plums because yesterday we came out of the closet. This is another week in the game of ‘Poppyseed to Pumpkin’ where we attempt to make jolly the process of growing another human being off your own flesh, by creating a recipe inspired by the edible equivalent of the dimensions of my potential offspring week by week.
This week, it’s been all about plums. My jeans are now tight. My face is a fright. The nausea is slowly receding, but it’s best for everyone if I don’t get too hungry/hangry. Slow release carbohydrates, protein and anything that can be eaten with Greek yoghurt all seem to please my internal task-master.
And this week, we’ve been in need of a little comfort food.
Yes it’s been nippily cold in Sydney. Yes, we had another federal election debacle to stomach (which we still don’t know the outcome of). And we had an unplanned spell in the local hospital.
The reason there is so much unbridled joy with growing a human is not just because of the whimsical glee that tinges even the dingiest moments; like when a toddler with a heavy cold insists on telling you repeatedly that he has a ‘snufflenose’. It’s that every shining moment carries with it the distinct possibility of shadow. In the Game of Life, there’s the flipside.
I was ghoulishly pragmatic about it with Will. I erected a stern perimeter fence around my heart. In the final weeks I spent days researching the perfect pram. I built an elaborate spreadsheet to rank their merits. I took pride in picking it up and being able to lift it into the car myself. But I refused to take it out of the box until we brought him home from the hospital. ‘Why?’ The Hungry One asked. ‘Because it will be harder to return if we have to’.
I’ve heard enough stories. I know enough.
Last week, when we finally crossed over the 12 week mark, I internally celebrated. We’ve cleared the metaphorical hurdle. This one had stuck. The stowaway has a strong heart beat and looks lively on scans. And then on Saturday there was bleeding. And cramping. I had a short violent cry in the bedroom while contemplating what to do. Yet there was a part of me that swallowed and thought logically; ‘Of course. Because you don’t always get what you want’.
Off I shuttled to the local hospital. The triage nurse put me in a small sparse room and spoke kindly to me. She took my blood pressure. She wrinkled her face at the numbers and took it again. They tethered me to a fluids drip, lay me down and went to arrange paperwork for a scan. Because of my negative blood type there were tests and supplies of Anti D to corral to stop my body and the stowaway from rejecting each other.
A few hours after I arrived I toddled around the elephant grey linoleum floors in a white, dignity-barren robe to an ultrasound. And it was then that I properly wept. Because there it was, bouncing up and down, waving and carousing, as if there wasn’t a care in the world and it had no idea what all the fuss was about.
Later that night when all the tests were done, the cannulas removed and the injections administered, I returned home and collapsed on the couch. We don’t quite know why it happened. But we know that there’s every chance before this journey is over there will be other dips and swings to navigate. And more calls for coddling bowls of food, eaten with a spoon while counting our blessings.
If we’re some of the lucky ones, in 28 weeks time I’ll be coming home from a similar hospital, but with a pumpkin-proportioned present, wrapped in a bunny rug. We’ll get to take the pram out of the box. And thank the universe for letting us have what we want.
Baked Plum and Almond Oatmeal
While this works perfectly for a crowd for brunch, it’s also a great option for make ahead breakfasts for the week. Make it on a Sunday afternoon and then just quickly zap a portion in the microwave in the morning for a swift alternative to porridge.
2 cups/ 200 g rolled oats
1/3 cup/ 35 g slivered almonds
3 tbsp runny honey/ rice malt syrup/ maple syrup
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups/ 500 ml milk (cow, almond, oat, soy)
4 ripe plums, pitted and quartered
1 pear, peeled cored and cut into small dice
50 g melted butter or liquid coconut oil
Here’s how we roll
1) Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F and grease a medium sized baking dish (approximately the size of a sheet of A4 paper).
2) Lay the plums and pears across the bottom of the dish, reserving six pieces of plum for the top of the bake.
Previously in Poppyseed to Pumpkin