The Breakfast Mush

Breakfast might very well be my favorite meal of the day. Coffee, eggs, pancakes, bacon, oatmeal, fruit, Honey Nut Cheerios… YUM. No wonder people eat it for dinner too.

Today, it’s unseasonably cold in Richmond – it was 50 degrees when I woke up this morning, compared with last week’s 80-degrees-by-10am shenanigans – making it the perfect morning for my favorite hot breakfast: coffee and cream of wheat.

I admit, there is nothing sexy about cream of wheat (except that some people call it farina, which to me sounds an awful lot like Farrah, who is very sexy), Nate even coined it “the breakfast mush.” But, with a little love, it can be one of the most delicious, comforting, soul-warming, quick, easy, and dirt-cheap breakfasts around.

Here’s what you do:

  • Buy a box of Cream of Wheat (NOT the instant kind) and follow the directions on the back (3 Tbsp wheat + 3/4 c milk, microwave for a few minutes, stirring periodically, until its thick & creamy)
  • While the cream of wheat is in the microwave, put a handful of whole, raw, unsalted almonds into a 250-300 degree oven
  • When the cream of wheat is done cooking, top with a little pad of butter and a scoop of brown sugar
  • When you can smell the almonds (should only take 5 minutes or so), pull them out of the oven, combine with a small handful of dried apricots (4-5), coarsely chop and pile on top of the cream of wheat, brown sugar, and butter.

Stir it all up and enjoy. (Note: I did all this while my coffee was brewing. This is NOT a time-intensive breakfast)

I’ve also subbed out the almonds & apricots for almonds & dried cherries or walnuts & dried apples… whatever I have lying around.

When you break it down, it’s really only wheat, milk, almonds, dried fruit, and a little bit of butter and sugar. Not too shabby, and you’ll be full until 2:00.

Like last nights dinner, I already had all of this stuff on hand, so it was free (read: paid for already) for me, but to give you an idea:

  • A box of Cream of Wheat is about $4 and contains 24 servings (that’s $0.17 a serving)
  • A bag of dried apricots will run you about $2 and I use maybe a quarter of the bag here, so $0.50
  • Almonds, like all my nuts & grains, come from the bulk food section. Whole, raw, unsalted almonds are (I think) $7/lb. I’m guessing here, but I think I used about an ounce, making my serving $0.44
  • I also used one cup of milk – I buy half gallons of organic milk for about $3. A half-gallon has eight one-cup servings, so about $0.36 a cup

All together, rounding up for the coffee, butter, and sugar, today’s breakfast was about $1.60, pretty healthy, delicious, and super filling.

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