Breakfast: the Most Important Meal of the Day

26 Apr

I realize that I’m an optimist, but wouldn’t you think, that in this day and age, they could come up with a better way of opening cereal bags?

I did not grow up eating cereal. Instead, our mom would wake up every morning at, I believe, 5:30. She would read her Bible and pray, and then she would make us pancakes or waffles or eggs or French toast or some other lovely breakfast thing. Then, after devouring our tasty meal we’d sit while Dad read devotions and prayed and then we’d rush off to the bus stop for another day, our tummies filled with the most important meal of the day – and, of course, lots of love to top us off.

I remember, incidentally, that there were days I was convinced that Dad was praying far too long and that I was going to miss the bus. Being the youngest I wondered (in the middle of the prayer) if possibly I’d missed some secret signal that had previously been set up by my sisters that would alert our dad to the idea that he was praying too long.

I would cough. Sometimes more than once. I would wiggle. I would sniff. I would do anything to let Dad know that, by golly, if he didn’t stop praying so long he was going to have to drive us to school.

I don’t think he ever stopped due to my coughing. Probably prayed longer, even.

And, truth be told, I never missed the bus.

The morning view as I drive into town - just across the field from our house.

But back to the cereal.

I remember being at the military commissary with my mom once and begging her to buy Apple Jacks cereal. Now, my mom was not one to give in to tactics such as begging, comparing, or otherwise cajoling. In fact, she, like Dad ignoring my coughing, probably would resist buying something the more I bothered her about it.

But, for some unknown reason, she gave in that day. Perhaps she was feeling ill or weak or simply kind – all I know is, she bought the Apple Jacks – that green box we still see on the grocery store shelves today.

I couldn’t believe my good fortune.

And then came breakfast the next day. I was so excited. I was over the moon! Apple Jacks for breakfast!!

Yep. You guessed it. I hated them.

Yep. You guessed it again. Mom was quite cross.

Another morning shot.

I recall the same thing happening one day when I insisted that yes, I did want an egg salad sandwich for lunch. “Yes,” I insisted, “I love egg salad. Yes, I will eat every bite.”

Mom asked me again. Clarified. Looked puzzled.

I insisted.

Yep, I hated it. Still am not a fan.

Those are the only two times I recall Mom giving in to my bizarre food desires. And, to be honest, I don’t blame her for resisting, given my track record.


As for the cereal thing, I still don’t care for it. I eat a couple kinds, but I’d far rather have yogurt and fruit with granola on top than a bowl of cereal with milk.

And as for opening those cereal bags…it’s the most annoying thing since forever.

‘Cause, you see, I am not near the mother my mom was – I give my kids cereal for breakfast. None of this homemade goodness from me. And, quite frankly, I’m done feeling guilty about it.

Or I thought I was until I wrote this post…


30 Responses to “Breakfast: the Most Important Meal of the Day”

  1. Minnesota Prairie Roots April 26, 2012 at 7:54 am #

    Your parents fed you the best possible breakfast: spiritual food.

    On to the other food…I’m not much of a breakfast person. My mom only ever cooked us hot cereal in the winter, otherwise we ate boxed cereal and toast, and occasionally Pop Tarts (my fav back in the day). Since January 1 of this year, I’ve been eating oatmeal every morning (with a few exceptions) topped with fruit. At first I hated it, but now I’ve become accustomed to the taste and discovered it’s really OK. Your yogurt and fruit alternative sounds much healthier than sugary cereal, which, BTW, I fed to my kids, too.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 26, 2012 at 8:55 am #

      I love breakfast food – but unfortunately the kind I like is the kind that takes a long time to make! I am beginning to like oatmeal, too – though I really wish I knew the secret to making exactly the way they do at my favorite cafe!

      Yes, my parents did a fantastic job of teaching us what really matters in life…which wasn’t the food, but the faith.

  2. gardenfreshtomatoes April 26, 2012 at 8:14 am #

    I had to laugh…my Mom has a similar story.
    We were a ‘cold cereal’ family, but for some reason, I took it into my head that I really wanted Malt-o-Meal. After a few weeks of begging, she gave in and bought a box.
    Nastiest. Stuff. Ever….
    After that, if I asked for something to eat based on liking the ad on tv, she’d say,”Remember the Mat-o-Meal?”
    Your kids are fine with what you feed them…I used to keep Pop-Tarts around for Saturday mornings when mine were little. They could eat them during cartoons, and let me sleep in a little….

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 26, 2012 at 8:58 am #

      Yes, sleeping in on a Saturdayis essential!!

      I have never been a Malt-o-Meal fan – love your story about it, though! I bet that a lot of moms have similar frustrating experiences! For a long time I would tell myself, “Don’t buy the fritter” after a bad experience with said food. Ah, the lessons we learn when we’re young!

  3. treadlemusic April 26, 2012 at 8:37 am #

    Oh my, the memories! Since I was a stay at home mom for most of the years my boys were growing up, breakfasts were quite diverse. Cold cereal was always available, though. Back in “the day”, though, those inner bags weren’t made of impenatrable plastic that gave way with a gigantic tear that sends the contents all over creation (and, yes, I know a scissors would solve that problem!-)! Oatmeal was a fave (now steel cut oats are my all-time fave!) with brown sugar and cut up apples and raisins! Yum! Never Malt-o-Meal or Pop Tarts (ugh!)! In my growing up years, Grape Nuts and Shredded Wheat were the choices and I dreamed of Sugar Pops (Sat. morning ads took their toll!!!)! Thanks for the lovely post. Except for the lake/pond, we have similar views from our place…..hugs, Doreen

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 26, 2012 at 9:00 am #

      See, that’s the problem: the bags still don’t work!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So silly. And irritating!!!!

      I am a big, big fan of Steel cut Oats – I do them in the crockpot overnight. Love them. I wish I knew how to make oatmeal better…other ways…have any tips for me?!!

      • treadlemusic April 26, 2012 at 9:38 am #

        I have a small (1&1/2 qt) crock pot that I use, also. I butter the inside (bottom and sides) well, put the oats, water,salt in and put on low. Do this at bedtime (around 10:00 pm) and it’s ready in the a.m. If I’m adding cut up apples I do that in the morning and stir them in to warm a bit. The apples cook too much otherwise. Can, also, add brown sugar. Humidity plays into this sometimes but I know that the size of the crock pot is critical. Tried my larger one and….not good!!!! The small one can really hold quite a bit (more than one breakfast for 2 people!).

        • Gretchen O'Donnell April 27, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

          Buttering the inside is a great idea – mine sticks usually. I do the steel cut oats, half and half, water and dried fruit. I really like it!

        • treadlemusic April 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

          Yup, have tried various solutions and finally a “light bulb moment”!! Butter works extremely well (especially since DH puts butter on his oatmeal anyhow!). I still like the top of the stove method as I really like tons of texture in mine. The crock pot method takes away most of that and tends toward the creamier side.

        • Gretchen O'Donnell April 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

          yeah, it does. I’m not good at the stovetop method – I have yet to find the perfect recipe…

        • treadlemusic April 27, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

          The ratio is: 2 cups water (liquid) to 1/2 cup steel cut oats… salt to taste (and anything else you care to add..,fruit, etc). I use this same recipe when I do it in the crockpot…….either as a single or doubled recipe (using the small crockpot).

        • Gretchen O'Donnell April 27, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

          OH, wow, thanks! I will totally try that – I

        • treadlemusic April 28, 2012 at 7:11 am #

          Made some overnight last night. Did 1 & 1/2 recipes (3 c. water, 3/4 c. oats, salt), greased crockpot. Perfect this morning!! Let me know how it works for you!

        • Gretchen O'Donnell April 28, 2012 at 9:52 am #

          I definitely will!

  4. Just A Smidgen April 26, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    I absolutely adore the way your parents began the day.. what a beautiful, meaningful start to the day!! I zap eggs in the microwave.. crack ’em in the skillet if they’re lucky.. but often it’s toast, and they’ve been making their own for some time now! I may be wrong, but there was a rumor that Apple Jacks had some sort of cider-alcohol in them at one time.. maybe that’s why you didn’t care for them? Maybe that was just one of those urban legends. I was a fan of alphabit.. must have been the letters;)

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      I always thought that alphabits were great too – at last the concept!

      Yes, my parents were – and are – great. I am so thankful for the way I was raised! (Complete with always havign CBC2 on the radio!) We do devotions too, but always with plenty of time to make the bus…which is atually daddy’s car!

  5. Rose April 26, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    Haha- what fun

  6. Valerie Fletcher Adolph April 26, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    You were so lucky having a mom like that. And I’m sure you’re just as good in your own un-breakfasty way

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 27, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

      🙂 thanks! Yes, my parents are great! I learned a few things from them…even if not the willingness to make breakfast!

  7. cravesadventure April 26, 2012 at 11:18 am #

    I am allergic to dairy, so cereal for me growing up was dry. I love that there are alternatives now and can eat cereal when I get a craving for it. Happy Thursday!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 27, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

      Yes, if you have food allergies, this is the age to live in! I will eat cereal dry, too – I can stand Special K with strawberries (or the almond kind) with milk, but that’s about the only cereal I can stand with milk!

  8. Lisa April 26, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    Beautiful pictures. Thank you for sharing.
    My mother would make us fried eggs every morning for breakfast, and Daddy would make us oatmeal on Saturdays, pancakes on Sunday. I miss the oatmeal most of all – we would pour honey on it until we were told to stop (and would then pretend not to hear). Nowadays, I am the one afraid everyone will be late for school, so it’s packaged cereal and pastries for us. I got over feeling guilty too – I think.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 27, 2012 at 6:43 am #

      Thank you so much for coming on over here! It seems that many people have breakfast memories. If I could just get up a little sooner I could do the “real” breakfast thing…but…not sure that’s going to happen. But yes, Saturdays provide a better chance at a homemade meal. And sometimes we do breakfast food for dinner…which at least means that they know I’m capable of making waffles!

  9. whatimeant2say April 27, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

    If it was up to me, Dimples and Cap’n Firepants would have cold cereal every morning. Fortunately for Dimples, the Cap’n enjoys making breakfast – and isn’t opposed to getting up early on the weekends. They enjoy their varied menu throughout the week. And I stick to my cold cereal.

  10. Malou April 28, 2012 at 7:25 am #

    Nice post, Gretchen. I love the pictures too. I grew up in the Philippines and I love a full breakfast with rice of course. I still do that here on weekends, it is just something that I’ve been used to. 😉

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 28, 2012 at 9:53 am #

      Thanks! I spent one summer in Thailand and could not get used to rice for breakfast! But I definitely enjoyed the food for the most part…

  11. hotlyspiced April 29, 2012 at 5:06 am #

    Hi Gretchen! I wrote such a long comment and then I accidentally deleted it and had to write it again, and now you’ve told me it ended up in the spam and you deleted it! I quite often have genuine comments end up in my spam! I wanted to say how wonderful your parents are for the way they raised you and how great your mum is for getting out of bed every morning to make you a home-cooked breakfast to give you your best start for the day. And she truly deserves that beautiful quilt you made her xx

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 29, 2012 at 7:31 am #

      Thanks so much for coming back – how crazy that it got deleted twice! Yes, my parents were and are wonderful – and yes, any amount of thanks is definitely deserved!

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