Cold cereal was crispy, flakey, or puffy, and served with milk. It was this reason, the splash of milk, that I avoided cold cereal (and still do), aside from a handful of clusters popped into my mouth as a crunchy dry snack.
Hot cereal was Cream of Wheat, simmered on the stovetop, and served with a pat of country crock margarine and a shower of granulated white sugar. On weekends, when dad was home for breakfast, our hot cereal was topped with a generous, scalding hot, sugary sweet splash of black coffee.
It was my dad’s idea… something my Oma used to make? The coffee had to be extra hot, and extra sweet. Amanda and I loved coffee when we were kids, and this was one of our favorite ways to have it. We’d gather around the kitchen counter, which was where we sat for casual meals, and wait with excitement while he placed the steaming carafe of coffee in between our bowls. We would all start with a small pour, which pooled around the edges of the Cream of Wheat. As we ate and the sweet dark coffee mixed in with the cereal, we’d add more and more, until in the end, we were lapping up spoonfuls of coffee flecked with grains of wheat.
I hadn’t eaten or even thought about hot cereal in years, until the other day Amanda said she had some for breakfast. I instantly remembered the aroma of sweet black coffee, the giddy anticipation as we waited for the liquid to cool enough to take a bite, the way everything in the bowl turned a creamy light caramel color after it all started to mix together. And then, of course, I ran out and got a box of Cream of Wheat.
There’s no recipe. Just make Cream of Wheat according the instructions on the box. Make it a little thick. Brew your coffee a little stronger than normal, and pour, a little at a time, over the cream of wheat in your bowl. This time I added the coffee plain, along with a swirl of maple syrup. When I was a kid, the coffee would be pre-mixed with white sugar.