Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Breakfast from a packet

Now that I have made my feelings known about prepackaged foods, I suppose I ought to confess the one major exception to the rule: breakfast cereal. I guess it's my upbringing: My grandfather, now very elderly, was the head cereal chemist for Quaker Oats*. So I grew up eating a lot of Life and instant oatmeal. To me it's extreme comfort food, even though I know perfectly well how to make oatmeal from rolled oats (and sometimes do exactly that).

Sure, sometimes I'll get up and eat a little serving of yogurt and some fruit. Sometimes I'll boil a couple of eggs and make toast. Sometimes I'll even embark on something more ambitious, like a batch of muffins or a plate of huevos rancheros. But on those mornings when the coffee cannot possibly be ready soon enough, it's commercial cereal** for me.

Lately I have been experimenting with "add-ins" to my instant oatmeal. Not long ago, I discovered that if you dice up an apple and throw it in the microwave for a couple of minutes with dry Maple & Brown Sugar oatmeal and a little more than the usual amount of water, it creates a delicious melange of oaty baked apple. It's also very filling. It's a rare and beautiful thing when such a small, simple breakfast can hold me until lunchtime.

This morning I branched out. I used the Apples & Cinnamon flavor and threw in three prunes, snipped in half. Sure enough, they rehydrated nicely and filled the oatmeal with raisiny goodness.

Now what, I wonder, will I do with the Cinnamon & Spice flavor?

* He tried out several prototypes of Cap'n Crunch on my dad and my uncles, and interestingly, none of the ones they liked were chosen as the final product. I was never allowed to eat Cap'n Crunch for breakfast, ever. My grandfather had a deep-seated objection to the stuff.

** By the way, here's an interesting factoid about my mother. For years, she has had a bowl of Wheaties with skim milk for breakfast every day. She just...likes it. I find this a bit odd, since I crave variety, but I must admit it's a good cereal.