Monday, January 8, 2018

Gruel or Porridge for Breakfast

Definition:  Gruel is a thin food made by boiling some grain in water or milk.  A thin porridge.

When I was growing up, the winters were taken to the extremes.  We would get one or two bearable days and then some bone freezing snow and ice.  It's Pittsburgh for God's sake.  What do you expect?  Certainly not 40 and 50 degree weather through the ending and beginning months of the year.

What was different when my brother and I went to school was that there was no bus service to school.  You bundled up and walked in whatever weather there was that day.  Sometimes in the middle of a cold snap you would walk the four blocks to school only to find that the boiler wasn't working and had to trudge back home.  At lunch time you walked both ways to get your lunch.

Cream of Wheat

My point is that most mornings in the winter our Mom made either Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat.  Ours wasn't a pampered household so there was no such thing as Chocolate Cream of Wheat until we were well past school age and our Mom, being a chocoholic, could buy it for her breakfasts which she shared with my children.  In fact my youngest son, Bobby, practically lived with my Mom.  He would beg from her continually and normally shared her meals.

What made our cooked cereal more palatable is that my Mom always put a dab of margarine into the bowl with our portion.  Being a frugal household, we had margarine instead of butter.  Then we added our sugar and milk.  I always like my hot cereal very thin and I added enough milk to drink my Cream of Wheat, which was my favorite.

I remember as a Girl Scout I was away at summer camp and they served us Oatmeal for breakfast.  I sat at the table with my bowl waiting for the butter because they served it with sugar and milk only.  Only after the counselor asked me what I was waiting for did I find out that it was not normal to serve margarine with your cooked cereal and that it was a luxury that my mother gave to us.

my Bear n Mom mug that I gave bear as a present.
With all of the shortcuts in today's world, I still love my breakfast porridge.  For the past couple of winters I have been trying to watch my cholesterol and eating mainly Oatmeal made in the same way, always thin enough to drink out of a large mug.  Over last winter, I treated myself to my first love, Cream of Wheat, made in the microwave.  I'm not fond of chocolate in my cereal and coffee like my mother was so I stick to the original with lots of melted butter, sugar and milk.

If you can manage the microwave you can make perfect porridge.  Add 3 tablespoons of your grain to 3/4 cups of water, stir and microwave for 1 minute. Take the bowl from the microwave and whisk the mixture.  Return the bowl to the microwave for another minute and your cereal is ready to add your condiments and eat.  Of course, I pour mine into a large mug and drink it instead of coffee.

I'm sure you can find a warm cereal to your liking and it so gets you ready for that cold winter day.

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