family · slice of life

Exploding Oatmeal

My parents are among the best ones out there. They have been known to drive 2.5 hours to my house to help me out when I’m in a pinch. Case in point: When I asked them to stay a little longer this week (once I was done with my consulting job) so I could have some support with the kids during the first two days of the SOLSC, they were willing to stay.

Before my father (aka: Zayde) retired, my mom (aka: Bubbe) often took the train or drove the Bubbe Mobile (aka: her hybrid car) out to Pennsylvania to help me out when Isabelle was sick, I was under the weather, or swamped with work. Now that they’re both retired, they come together.

My mom was my first teacher in so many ways, but she never taught me how to cook. My dad & the Food Network are to thank for that. The story below — which I’ve written as if I’m talking to my kids — will illustrate why. Let’s just say she’s not from the cooks!


Remember the story about my Grandma and the flaming dishtowel? Well, I have a story about your Bubbe and the exploding oatmeal.

One morning, your Zayde and I were sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast. Bubbe came downstairs — with her own oats — and removed a cereal bowl from the cabinet.

“You know we have oats here,” I reminded her.

“I didn’t know what kind of oats you had — or if you had them — so I brought my own,” she replied.

“She’s a good houseguest,” my dad replied. “She brings her own food.”

“She doesn’t need to bring her own food,” I reminded. But I didn’t go further than that. After all, what would a visit from Bubbe be without her bringing a gallon of skim milk and half her produce drawer from New Jersey?!!?

But I digress… In true Bubbe fashion, she prepared her oatmeal, popped it in the microwave (Notthe stovetop… Yuck!), and left the room. Why watch what you’re making when you can get something else done in another room?

30 – 60 seconds later, I noticed a substance rise from the cereal bowl while I sat at the kitchen table.

“Look at that!” I said to Zayde, pointing at the microwave. “Mom’s oatmeal is about to explode!”

He muttered something like ‘of course she’s not here to witness it’ as the oatmeal grew larger… and larger! The brown oatmeal rose above the bowl. First an inch, then two inches. Zayde and I sat there laughing despite the fact it looked like oatmeal was about to explode all over the microwave.

He must’ve had enough because he pushed back from the table as the oatmeal began to crest over the side of the cereal bowl. He opened the door to the microwave seconds before an explosion would’ve happened. The oatmeal deflated immediately though parts of it ran over the lip of the bowl.

We laughed uproariously as my mom returned to the kitchen.

“You’re oatmeal almost exploded!”

“Holy cr*p!” she said rushing towards the microwave. “I should’ve put it in a big bowl. That’s why it looks like that.”

“Yeah, and you should’ve stayed here to watch what you were cooking. Yet again, you walked away and this is what happened.” I said in an irritated voice.

Your Bubbe could say nothing to defend herself. Instead, she cleaned up the mess and transferred what was left of the oatmeal into a soup bowl. (Why a soup bowl? I do not know.)

Some banter ensued about how she got my Grandma’s (her mother’s) cooking skills. I don’t think she liked that much and she said as much. Finally, I said, “you better watch out or I’ll make you my slice of life story today.” Afterall, this was sure to be one of those family tales that would be repeated again and again.

At first I got a don’t-you-dare kind of look. But then she said she’d be okay with it as long as I promised to tell my children about all of her good qualities in years to come. I promised Bubbe I would.

So, my children, it is my hope that you grow up to take after me and Zayde in the kitchen, not your Bubbe. Because taking after Bubbe when it comes to food preparation isn’t what I want for you in this life.


Here’s what the end product looked like. I call this photo exploded oatmeal with raspberries. (Gross.)

I don’t think that’s Instagram-worthy, do you?

16 thoughts on “Exploding Oatmeal

  1. I love that you are writing this to your kids. Family stories that get repeated forever are just the best. And it’s the little stories in my family that got lost over the years that I miss the most.

  2. Loved your title. It caught my eye instantly and got me curious. These kind of stories are fun to collect and retell.

  3. Isn’t my refrain to you every year something along the lines of “that could be a picture book?” Child could save the day and make better oatmeal because child pays attention. Something like that. Love your memories, Stacey!

    1. She’s good at many other things. For instance, she crochets Isabelle beautiful scarves to wear in the wintertime every single year. However, cooking is just not one of her talents.

  4. A family story to share with little ones for generations to come. I can see this as part of a great picture book about Bubbe!

  5. I love the dialogue, and your irritation w/ Bubbe shows. Had you not shared the story, I would think that bowl of oatmeal topped w/ raspberries looks good. Maybe I’ll write about the chicken wars my grandma and aunts fought when I was a kid.

  6. Very fun! It reminded me of my sister who would only make oatmeal on the stove and it always boiled over leaving a mess everywhere. Funny but oh so tiring when I was left with the clean up. Family cooks are interesting.

  7. This slice made me laugh! I love how you told it as if you were talking to your kids! Family stories are the best! My cooking skills aren’t the best either so I can relate to Bubbe!

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