Maple Vanilla Cream of Wheat

This is a decidedly un-Ina recipe. Even though it doesn’t use Instant Cream of Wheat, it still only takes about three minutes to cook, and it’s made with a pretty well processed ingredient. I don’t even really know what Cream of Wheat is, and in the spirit of this recipe, I’m too lazy to look it up.

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Ben has been in the habit of asking what’s in things, as in, what are they made of. “What’s in water, Mommy?”

“Hydrogen and oxygen.”

“What’s in rice, Mommy?”

“Um, rice molecules.”

What’s in cream of wheat?

Um, wheat, I guess.

What’s in the Willard house these days?

A bunch of germs.

I don’t have any data to support this, other than my entire Facebook feed for the past ten weeks or so, but this seems like a particularly brutal winter for sickness. Thankfully we’ve had nothing serious, but I’ve been coughing since before Christmas. And when the mom gets sick, things get ugly. We wash our hands. We’re fully vaccinated. We eat well. We exercise. Things still happen. It’s one of my biggest complaints about this earthly life, and I get kind of unbearably grumpy about it.

Don’t you wish you lived with me?

And so, back to the Cream of Wheat. At bedtime, I’ve been taking a handful of whatever over-the-counter decongestants, painkillers, cough remedies, and snake oil I can swallow. As it turns out, when a person does that at 11 pm, that person should really eat something after 5 pm, and preferably the 5 pm meal should be something other than yogurt with rice krispies stirred in.

I learned all that the hard way one night, when I realized that I should have eaten something before downing all that cold medicine, and ended up calling my brother in Hawaii at 2 am because I couldn’t sleep. The time difference between here and there is just enough to call him and catch up when I can’t sleep. I don’t know what I’ll do if he ever moves to a time zone with similar daylight hours to mine. And so, to train myself for a day when I can’t call my brother in the middle of (my) night, I’ve taken to eating a piece of toast, or a banana, or more often than not, more yogurt with rice krispies stirred in, before emptying my home pharmacy into my mouth.

One night, I was looking for something different, and stirred up a micro-batch of Ina’s Cream of Wheat recipe (from Make It Ahead). I don’t ever remember eating Cream of Wheat – ever – but I’m sure my mom gave me some kind of wheat baby cereal when I was a baby. I must have harkened back to that time as soon as this stuff hit my lips, because I instantly became warm and cozy and very, very tired. As it turns out, this is quite possibly the perfect pillow for my drug cocktail. It’s basically the recipe on the box, but with more ingredients. I added the honey at the end.

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This + a hot cup of rooibos tea, and I’m out like a light.

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