Cooking in a pre-dawn kitchen has a certain appeal as the weather cools. Knowing that something with warmth will set you right before the nighttime cold forces the furnace on for the next six-to-nine months. After a recent tooth extraction I was told to keep on a soft diet until the wound healed. A fan of crispy breakfast cereals, I faced a new dilemma—what to eat before work? Being vegan means bacon and eggs won’t do (there is passable vegan bacon available, but so far the plant-based eggs haven’t managed not to taste like mung beans). On a recent frenzy of nostalgia I had purchased a box of (now mostly empty) farina. Often known by its commercial name “Cream of Wheat,” farina is more like flour and milk (many vegan options available) but with a better texture than paste. It reminded me of childhood Saturdays. Then the box was empty and grocery day was the better part of a week away.
Grits seemed a little more challenging. The particle size is larger and might cause problems in the healing wound. Still, I gave it a try. Since my father was from South Carolina I grew up eating things like grits and black-eyed peas. This makes for a hearty breakfast as long as you keep the grits on the other side of your mouth. When the black-eyed peas were gone, I turned to oatmeal. Bigger pieces yet, but still soft. Oatmeal works best with some kind of sweet accompaniment. Brown sugar and cinnamon is a standard. Sweets bother my teeth, however, so I need to be careful there.
The problem with all of these options is that one serving of these hot cereals was too little to keep me going. I wake early and eat breakfast early, so I need about six hours of energy from this meal. Two servings are too much. Ratios are beyond me. So I turn to my religious roots. Whenever I think of breakfast I’m reminded that our cereal-eating culture (hot or cold) was largely influenced by Seventh-Day Adventist sensibilities. Adventists are vegetarians, and some prominent among them by the name of Kellogg launched massive, religiously motivated campaigns to have the day begin with grains, back in the day. It stuck. I suspect Kellogg was good with numbers. I wish I could figure out how third-cups and quarter-cups relate to one another. Like most things in life, it’s falling midway between that is difficult. It’s chilly in here and I too hungry to do math. At least the religion part I partially understand.