Posted tagged ‘oatmeal’

“You have to eat oatmeal or you’ll dry up. Anybody knows that.”

January 23, 2017

Today is not one of my best days. My mother would say I am not up to snuff. To give you a better idea: I woke up at 9:30 and never got my first cup of coffee until 10:15. I just didn’t have the energy. I have someone who does all my yard work, a factotum who does odd jobs and plows, and a couple who clean every two weeks. Now I’m thinking I need a barista.

My Patriots gave the Steelers a bit of a football beating last night. We were on our feet more than a few times cheering their heroics on the field. Now it is on to the Super Bowl. My first thought for the big game is the menu. I’m thinking a sort of tailgating in the living room. I really wish my Dad was around so he too could cheer for his Pats and nosh with us (nosh-another one from my mother).

When I was a kid, baseball was my sport to watch mostly because it was easy to understand. The game didn’t have all the positions or plays football has. My dad watched the Giants on TV. I never did. I was a Red Sox fan. My football knowledge is much greater than it was, but I still don’t understand a lot of the responsibilities of the many positions. I understand the fundamentals of the game, and I find that’s enough.

Winter this year is weird. It is warmer. Today the high will be in the low 40’s and the low will be 38˚. It’s raining which makes it feel colder. It is also going to be extremely windy. When I was young, it was always cold walking to school. I was bundled as much as my mother could fit on me, but I swear my cheeks often went numb. They were red the entire winter. I didn’t have many colds, but I had sniffles. My nose was not a pretty sight nor, sadly, were my sleeve and mittens. Kids never carried handkerchiefs or kleenex.

My mother made the best cocoa. I drank it every winter morning. She’d dissolve the Nestle’s cocoa in some milk then add hot water to the cup. The cocoa always had bubbles on the top.

I have eaten all sorts of foods on my travels. Sometimes I had no idea what I was eating. I didn’t know the language. In some countries, I was glad I didn’t know. When I was a kid, I ate foods I’d never touch now. I ate sardines, the ones out of a can with a key on the top. I ate Spam right out of a can, also with a key on top. Those keys took a deft hand. My favorite way, favorite here used with tongue in cheek, of eating Spam was after it was fried. My mother often made us oatmeal for school day breakfasts. It wasn’t the smooth instant oatmeal they now sell. It was thick, lumpy oatmeal out of the cardboard cylinder with the Quaker on it. I never liked the lumps, but I found out that milk, a little cinnamon and lots of sugar helps the oatmeal, lumps and all, go down.

“In the kitchen Valeria was making breakfast, his aunt never made breakfast even though Carlo insisted for years that a hotel hoping to cater to French and Americans must offer breakfast. “It’s a lazy man’s meal.”, she always said. “What laggard expects to eat before doing any work?”

January 8, 2016

Today is a pleasant winter’s day. The sun is shining, the breeze is slight and it’s warm, winter warm anyway. I slept until after 11. Ever since Colorado, I’ve tended to sleep late, but it’s purely coincidental. I’m just sleeping late. As my mother would say, “You must need it.”

Gracie and I were out yesterday and got four errands done. We’re good for a while now.

January was always a nothing month when I was a kid. We went back to school and were stuck there with no days off until February vacation.That was like five or six weeks away. After school we were mostly stuck inside unless there was some snow for sledding or a warm afternoon for biking. I remember the boredom, the walking around sighing when there was nothing to do. I couldn’t go out. It was too cold. I didn’t have a new book, playing games was boring and TV was sparse in the early afternoons. Stretched in front of me were endless hours or what seemed like endless hours until Superman. I’m sure I must have driven my mother crazy. Usually I’d decide to read a book I hadn’t read in a while. I’d drown out every sound and be drawn into the pages. I’d forget about time. Superman surprised me. He seemed to come so soon.

My mother never made soups. She served Campbell’s. My favorite was her tomato soup as she added milk or cream instead of water. It was a thick, tasty soup perfect for dunking grilled cheese sandwiches. The two always went together. They were lunch supreme when it was cold outside.

My mother served oatmeal or eggs for breakfast in the winter. I liked the oatmeal but mostly I liked the milk and the sugar I’d put on it. My mother served the oats cooked on the stove which were never as white as the milk and were sometimes lumpy. It didn’t matter. I liked oatmeal because it was hot. The eggs were usually soft boiled and served in egg cups. My mother cut the toast into strips and put them on the plate with the egg cup and the egg. The top of the egg was open and we’d dunk the toaster strips into the yoke. That was a great breakfast.

Winter had the best breakfasts, always hot so we could face the elements. The rest of the year was usually cereal from the box, a pale version of breakfast, except on Sundays when we’d have bacon and eggs and toast, breakfast supreme.

“I believe in rituals.”

October 16, 2014

Last night it rained and today it is supposed to rain again, heavily. The sun is popping in and out of the clouds. The temperatures of the last couple of days have been in the 70’s with mild nights in the 60’s. My windows are opened and the front door still has its screen. Gracie sits there and looks out for the longest time. I wonder what keeps her interest as my street is a quiet one. I stand with her every now and then just to keep her company.

All my life I have had morning rituals. During my childhood the weekday mornings were always the same. Get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, do teeth then walk to school. For breakfast I always drank cocoa. My mother gave us toast and eggs and in the winter we had oatmeal, the sort which always has lumps. When I was in high school, I had to get up earlier and getting the bus was added to the ritual. In college, I grabbed breakfast on the way out, and every morning my friends and I would sit together in the canteen, drink coffee and race each other in finishing the newspaper’s crossword puzzle. Usually we worked in teams of two. When I was in Ghana, I had the same thing every morning: horrible coffee, two fried eggs and toast. The eggs were cooked in peanut oil, and they were the best fried eggs I ever had. If I had a break in classes, I’d walk to my house and have another cup of coffee and sit on the porch to drink it. Breakfast never varied. I had margarine on my toast as butter was imported and not in my budget. I’d sometimes add groundnut paste, the Ghanaian version of thick, thick peanut butter which needed to be mixed with peanut oil to make it spreadable. The Ghanaians used it as a soup base. Those mornings in Ghana were amazing, every single day.

When I started teaching, I got up 5, had two cups of coffee, read as much of the paper as I could, got dressed and left for school at 6:20. On the way to school, I’d stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for a medium coffee. I did that every weekday until I retired.

In retirement I haven’t changed much though now I get up whenever. I feed the cats, fill the water dish, fill the dog’s dry food dish, let the dog out, put the coffee on and get the papers in the driveway. Sometimes I have toast and sometimes I have a bagel but mostly I just have coffee, usually two cups, one with each paper. I take my time reading the papers. I then check my e-mail and finally start writing Coffee.

I think of my mornings as ritual, as almost sacred.

“Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody.”

May 3, 2014

Yesterday it was a joy to be out and about doing errands. I think I smiled the whole time. The day was brilliant with a bright sun and a temperature in the high 60’s. Poor Gracie had to be left home as I had too many long stop errands and didn’t want her stuck in the car in the heat. This time of year she comes when I go to the dump or take a ride. She was out in the yard most of the afternoon and spent part of it stretched on the deck enjoying the sun.

For breakfast when I was a kid, I had cocoa, oatmeal or eggs and toast during the winter, and in the summer I had cereal or toast with juice or milk. For lunch it was mostly a bologna sandwich. I was never good at slicing the bologna so my sandwich was always misshapen. Some of the bologna pieces had thick edges on one side and thin on the other. I added hot peppers from a jar and yellow mustard. Dinner was my mother’s choice. She knew what we’d tolerate and served it. Mashed potatoes were almost always part of the meal, and there was at least one vegetable. Hamburger in a variety of dishes was the most common meat. I didn’t realize why until I was older. Hamburger was inexpensive. My mother was creative. She made terrific meatloaves. She also cooked American chop suey without the onions and a Chinese dish with bean sprouts, water chestnuts, hamburger and crispy chow mein sticks on the top. Salisbury steak in gravy was another meal. Just plain hamburgers were mostly summer fare with hotdogs cooked on the grill. Sunday was the big dinner and we never had hamburger. Mostly it was a baked chicken or now and then roast beef. The last Sunday dinner I had before I went into the Peace Corps was roast beef, mashed potatoes and peas.

In Ghana I was still a creature of habit when it came to food. I had two eggs, toast and coffee for breakfast, fruit for lunch and beef and yam for dinner. I’d also have chicken now and then. Sunday was food from a chop bar, a hole in the wall eatery at the lorry park. Mostly it was fufu and soup. After the Christmas package came, Sunday was eat something from home day. Macaroni and cheese was a dish fit for the Gods.

I hadn’t good at making meals. I’m far too lazy. I’d have brie and crackers for dinner or eggs and toast. Lately, though, I’ve been using meat from the freezer and have had real meals: chicken thighs, mashed potatoes and a vegetable. Last night it was my old stand-by, peas, and a baked potato for variety. Dinner was delicious, and I felt accomplished.

“June suns, you cannot store them To warm the winter’s cold..”

November 23, 2013

The weatherman says to expect a cold front starting tomorrow. I just bought a new hat, a wool knitted hat with ear flaps, so bring on the cold. I think I’m going to look quite fashionable.

This morning I watched leaves fall one at a time from the big oak tree by the deck. They fluttered as they fell. I watched the birds at the feeders, mostly drab gold finches, eating thistle and sunflowers seeds. When Gracie comes in from outside, her ears are cold. The other morning a thin layer of ice-covered the water in the bird bath. I don’t hear people outside any more. Winter is coming.

Winter brings back memories. I remember the hissing of the radiators in the house where I grew up and how the windows in the morning sometimes had a thin layer of ice on the inside. I’d use my nail to write my name. We always wore warm pajamas and sock slippers. For breakfast my mother made oatmeal and added milk and sugar. The walk to school was quickest in winter. The worst part of the walk was passing the field where the wind whipped across and seemed to go through every layer of my clothes to touch my bones. Getting to school was always welcomed. It was warm.

In winter there was never enough space in the cloak room outside my classroom. Winter coats were bulky and the hooks were small. I’d stuff my mittens and my hat in my sleeves then try to get my coat to hang. Sometimes it stayed on the hook while other times it was held up by the coats around it all jammed together. On the coldest days I’d leave my sweater on. The nuns didn’t care. They sometimes wore black ones with buttons.

Getting coats to go home was always done in rows. The nun would announce our row, and we’d get our coats and bring them into class and get dressed there while the other rows went and got theirs. Sometimes the nuns had to zipper coats. They never seemed to mind. I conquered zippers early though sometimes it took two tries. The hat came next and the mittens last. We’d stand in a line in the classroom until the bell was rung to dismiss us then we’d walk to the door and into the cold.

“I went to a restaurant that serves “breakfast at any time” so I ordered French toast during the Renaissance.”

March 1, 2013

Gracie and I finally made it to the dump yesterday morning then we went to Agway, a store which welcomes dogs on a leash. It was a perfect Gracie day. In the afternoon it rained a little, but in the late afternoon the sun made another attempt to break through but wasn’t successful. I figure the sun got a bit miffed and decided to stay away a bit longer. Today’s weather is like yesterday’s and the day before that and on and on: cloudy with a chance of rain. The forecast does change a bit for tonight: cloudy with a chance of snow showers. I’m beginning to feel like a mole. (Since I posted this the sun has managed to break through the clouds for just a little while. At first I thought it was a meteor signaling the end of the Earth but my instinctive memories managed to resurrect the word sun.)

I was a cocoa drinker most school mornings when I was a kid. My brother or sister (I forget which one) was a tea drinker. My mother always served the tea in a flowered pot. Thinking back on that, it’s kind of neat to have a pretty pot on the table in the morning though back then I didn’t appreciate the gesture. My cocoa was made in the cup. My mother would put some cocoa granules in the cup, add some milk, stir the two together then add hot water. The cocoa always had some bubbles on the top. We  usually had toast, and in the winter my mother would make oatmeal to sustain us on the cold walk to school. My favorite breakfast was boiled eggs served in egg cups. The eggs cups were yellow chickens. Many were missing their beaks. My mother toasted the bread and sliced it into strips so we could dunk it in the egg. She’d cut the top off the egg and we’d dunk for the yolk. I have those egg cups now. My mother gave them to me when I moved into my house. She thought I should have some memories from my childhood. The egg cups have Fannie Farmer etched across the bottom. I never noticed that when I was a kid.

I had cereal for breakfast yesterday for the first time in years. I think that’s why my childhood breakfast memories popped into my head. Cereal was our warm school morning breakfast and our Saturday morning watch TV breakfast. My mother had boxes of different cereals lined up in the kitchen. My brother liked Cheerios. I was a Rice Krispies fan. I think Corn Flakes also made an appearance though we thought it was an adult cereal. It didn’t do tricks like snap, crackle or pop. I like Corn Flakes now so maybe we weren’t far off. I think a banana really dresses up a bowl of Corn Flakes.

This morning I had coffee and an onion bagel with cream cheese. It was a most satisfying breakfast.