Wes' World: Adventures with Cream of Wheat!
Do you know how to make Cream of Wheat? I ask as I had to go and buy a box of the stuff to put on exhibit with the “Key Ingredients: America by Food” to represent ND (We’re known for Cream of Wheat by whomever it is who chooses such things and it was invented in Grand Forks in 1893) as well as the bag-o-Lutefisk and ground flax seed that is locally made. Well, I've gone and outwitted myself again since I emptied the contents of the boxes and bags at home and put the Cream of Wheat box in the display. It is in so well that it is hard to get out again and because it would be so hard, I don't want to go through all the trouble to get it out again just to read the back of the box for the instructions. How hard can it be to make?!
The other morning I decided to make some Cream of Wheat up for breakfast and went to the freezer to get out the container I’d dumped it into. (I keep my hot cereals in the freezer now after an experience many years ago where after I had not been freezing it I found something grub-like had taken up residence in it as I got closer to the bottom of my bowl.)
I thought whipping it up would be like any other hot cereal, Coco Wheats or MaltoMeal but no...not quite. A close examination of the two other brands discovered a few preparatory differences in their instructions and so I randomly picked one and used the instructions for Coco Wheats. Whatever it was I did, it didn't turn out right in the least.
How hard can it be to make up a bowl of Cream of Wheat? Boil two cups of water and gradually stir in a half cup of the stuff. A little salt, some sugar and a little milk stirred in, “hey presto!” yummy goodness. Fool proof! WRONG.
I don’t know where I went wrong exactly. I boiled my water using an old family recipe of turn on the burner and wait a little bit. I got a half cup carefully measured and was diligently stirring away as instructed by the other brand. What I came up with in the end wasn’t at all like anything I’ve ever seen for hot cereal before. It had a consistency reminiscent of snot and a mind all its own. When I tried to get it on the spoon it would not let loose from the contents of the bowl and it slid back in to be with the rest of the mass...kinda like brown Flubber. I'd swear it laughed at me no less! I was in a hurry and my ire was up over my failed cooking, usually I am an excellent cook and thus am not used to failure, so I mixed in some regular cereal to take up any excess moisture and also help me get a grip on the stuff long enough to get it in my mouth and swallowed with as little fight as possible.
When I made my bowl of, whatever it was, I happened to have extra left over. I didn’t bring myself to eat the whole thing for some reason. The folks weren't up yet and so when they came down to breakfast, much to their delight, they found I'd already made it for them. What a kind and considerate son they have! That is until they too tried to eat it. My mom later called me up laughing wondering what the heck I did with the cereal as they too had the same problems with it I did and she confessed she preferred the Lutefisk to the concoction I'd whipped up for breakfast. So, I failed on that one....big time.
I made up my mind that before I made it again I needed to go to the grocery store and copy down the instructions off another box so I can make it right as I'm not going to buy ANOTHER box of the stuff in case I indeed did make it right and it explains why we use Malt-o-Meal and CoCo wheats.
This morning I decided to bravely attempt to cook my Cream of Wheat again to see if could indeed do it right this time. I looked at the Malt-o-Meal instructions and was going to use those instead since CoCo Wheats obviously was the wrong way to go about things. Who knew there would be that big a difference between 2 cups and 1 ¾ cups of water and 2/3 ingredients and ½ cup? How could I possibly screw it up again?
They say that confession is good for the soul. It was at this time that I made a pertinent discovery. In my haste to empty out the boxes of their contents so as to have the boxes for display, I didn’t necessarily mark the containers when I put them into the freezer. Apparently when I grabbed for the container of Cream of Wheat the other morning I instead got the ground flax seed and tried to make hot cereal out of THAT. Oooooh THAT explains EVERYTHING! Ooops. Guess I will have to write Cream of Wheat a letter of apology afterall.