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Friday, January 21, 2011

A Hot (Cereal) Mess

Say what you must about the nutrional value of Gerber hot cereal baby mixes, but at least they are easy.  A few scoops of sawdust-like material, a splash of milk, microwaved for a perfect 47 seconds, and you've got yourself a meal.  Add in one of those containers of ready-made Gerber fruit mush that never seem to go bad for some reason (how is that possible, and why does it squick me out?), and your meal is complete.

Of course, there is only so long one can cling to the convenience of whatever the heck that was that I just described.  Now that my twins are almost 2.5, I've been forced to move on to other, more difficult, alternatives.

No problem, right?  I'm a pretty good cook.  I should be able to roll up my sleeves and cook up some hot, delicious cereal with fruit bits and perfect consistency.

Actually, no.

I consistently make the worst cream of wheat I have ever seen.  And this picture?  That's the third attempt.  No matter how much milk I pour in, it's not enough.  On the off-chance it is enough, it boils over, like you see here.  The lumps are unbreakable and stick to the sides of the bowl.  Or it's soupy, and the little kernels haven't expanded properly.

I cannot win with this.

I make the worst hot cereal in the history of hot-cereal-making moms.  I am surprised and grateful that my kids humor me enough to actually eat the stuff.  It's disgraceful.

And it continues to foil me.  Each day I wake up sure that this will be the day.  I just have to use a little more milk.  I just have to microwave in 30-second intervals instead of one-minute sections.  I just need to boil it on the stove instead of using the microwave.  I've even gone so far as to question using the salt they recommend.  Perhaps the salt is the missing magic ingredient that stops lumps and soupiness and overflows.

Today, I have a new game plan.  My kids are going to enjoy their breakfast today, and they deserve it for putting up with my pathetic cereal-making skills for so long.

Today I made muffins.

So, you win, this time, cereal.  But maybe next time you won't be so lucky.  Maybe next time will be my time.  My perfect cereal-making time.


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  1. Yeah. Stove is easier for hot cereals. The microwave superheats liquids. With cereals, that means you get some bizarre results.
    But hey, at least your kids will eat hot cereals. My kids haven't been willing to eat hot cereals since they were a year old.
    It's waffles and pancakes all the way over here. Multigrain to keep it somewhat healthy...

  2. Instant oatmeal. Microwave the water in a mug. Pour the oatmeal into a bowl during the 47 seconds while the water is in the microwave. Pour water on oatmeal. Stir. Serve. I have never even attempted to add the water before microwaving. Maybe that works too, but I don't mess with what works.

  3. I always add the water or milk after it has been heated, definitely helps. Though, I think it is just the nature of cream of wheat to thicken, but at least pouring the hot water makes it easier to stir and gives you more time before it does thicken.

  4. I only make instant cream of wheat. Heat the water separately and pour it over. Then I top it with honey because that's the way I like it. :) I can do quick oats in the microwave no problem but cream of wheat gets lumpy and I hate that.

  5. I use the instant packets of cream of wheat, and I've learned that stirring it before hand seems to make it turn out just right :) You can only do one bowl at a time though, and add only the suggested amount of milk. Then when you add honey or whatever to it, it usually adds just enough liquid to make it perfect!

  6. I'm better at hot cereal stovetop then with microwave. Yes, it takes longer and a little more attention but I'm able to keep an eye on it and keep the temp constant.

    That said? It won't be a weird thing to have alternatives to cereal for breakfast. My kids have eaten muffins, slices of quick bread (applesauce bread is pretty good, if you want the recipe), even quiche I made the evening before and refrigerated overnight (you can wave the quiche or just give a nice portion cold). Breakfast is a meal limited only by your imagination :)

  7. Haha! Fun post, and yummy looking muffins! I like oatmeal better than wheat cereal--it's easier to fix!


  8. I prefer it lumpy. Thus you are doing a great job!

  9. I would echo the previous commenters about using the stove. For cream of wheat especially. It needs to be stirred while it's cooking to get the lumps out. I've found that quick oats come out great in the microwave, though. But even for quick oats, you would need a much deeper bowl than that one, girlfriend.

  10. Huh, you know, I never once thought about the depth of the bowl. Good call!

  11. They all make it sound so easy don't they?

    As a self confessed destroyer of rice (this should be easy right? Put in the right amount of water and leave it alone till it's done...) my sympathies go out to you. It doesn't matter how much advice I get or how many times I try I get mush, cement or burnt. I gave up and switched to 2 minute microwave rice. I wish you all the luck in the world in your battle with hot cereal!

  12. Boil
    Water. Stir in slowly with fork. Return to boil. Turn off heat. Cover and
    Five minutes. No boil
    Over and think
    It's cooked.

    1. AND I make a big batch so don't have to repeat so



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