Morning Bowl of Cereal

Breakfast begins with pouring a bunch of bite size Shredded Wheat into my wide cereal bowl. Now it used to be the case that when I was younger I considered Shredded Wheat a bit hard core as far as having them for breakfast was concerned. Mainly because at that time, the late 60s early 70s, they had not been available as bite size, only as bricks much, much bigger, which as an option they still are, and on the TV you had guys like the cricketer Ian “Beefy” Botham advertising them with the shout line, “Can you eat more than 2 Shredded Wheat?”. It was all enough to put me off them and as a consequence, for many years, I was a Weetabix man, or boy. With Weetabix it was not much of a challenge to take a few bricks, use my hands to crumble them in my cereal bowl, so that there was just a pile of smashed bix, then pour milk over the top of them. They then became a rather delicious mush once smashed down a bit further down with my spoon and then I would wolf it down in no time at all.

There was just something a bit too tough and agricultural about Shredded Wheat for me to ever approach them in the same way, so I always gave them a miss. Since those times however, which were quite a long time ago, nearly 50 years in fact, the manufacturers Nestle have come up with bite size versions of Shredded Wheat, and gradually, bit by bit, I have migrated over to them from Weetabix. The main reason being their new compact size and the fact they are relatively cheap, often on special offer, which means it is often possible to pick up a 750 gram box of Shredded Wheat from the supermarket for well under £1.50, which really is a bit of a bargain. Going a little bit further into the stats it is stated on a 750 gram box there are enough bite size Shredded Wheat for 18 servings which means, say, for arguments sake, you pick up a special offer box for £1.39, you are looking at under 8 pence per bowl of bite size Shredded Wheat for breakfast. Needless to say this is before any form of milk is poured on top of them, be it cow, goat, soya, almond etc but all the same the economics of it make bite size Shredded Wheat are fantastic option as cereal to have for your breakfast.

As it happens I do not even pour a serving of bite size Shredded Wheat into my bowl, this is not because I eat less, far from it, but because I use the Shredded Wheat as a foundation for other cereal ingredients to go on top of it. What goes on next is a generous helping of Simply Nutty Museli from Dorest Cereals and then a spoonful of multi-seed sprinke. Now Simpy Nutty Muesli is another one to look out for when it is on special offer in the supermarkets, as at full price it weighs in these days at something approaching £3.80 for a 700 gram box which is really rather steep. Unlike Shredded Wheat it is highly unlikely you will be able to pick up a box of any muesli from Dorset Cereals at half price, the best you can realistically hope for is a special offer where they are available for a flat price of £3 per box, a saving of around 80p, so it is well worth picking up. Dorset Cereals also offer a more upmarket Deliciously Nutty Muesli which again is around £3.80 a box but only at a weight of 600 grams rather than 700 grams for the Simpy Nutty , therefore of course making it more expensive, but then again you get a greater variety of nuts.

It is quite a smart idea on the part of Dorset Cereals to slightly vary the weight of their boxes but have them both at the same price, this is because most people may not even notice they are picking up a 600 gram box rather than a 700 gram box of their muesli. Actually they might think they are on to a bit of a good deal by picking up a box of the Deliciously Nutty Museli rather than the Simply Nutty Museli for exactly the same price, oblivious to the weight difference. As always the devil is in the detail and I guess the different weights wheeze must have been dreamed up either by a robot the company hired fresh out of college, or a Jack the Lad from the Alan Sugar school of take the money and run. The Deliciously Nutty Museli also comes up as a special offer from time to time, again usually at the flat rate of £3 rather than £3.80, and interestingly, not necessarily at the same time as the Simply Nutty. I will therefore always pick up a couple of boxes despite harbouring one or two reservations over the slyness of Dorset Cereals in pumping it out in boxes 100 grams less in weight than the Simply Nutty.

Just to finish off this rap on these two different mueslis from Dorest Cereals, what you get in the Deliciously Nutty and not in the Simply Nutty are a few cashews in addition to all the rest of the nuts – hazelnuts, brazils, almonds – plus you also get a bunch of dried fruit and pumpkin seeds. Otherwise they are the same, only not, if you get my drift. All of this does mean that any one time I have a few boxes of each of the two mueslis in the little room in our garage. This room serves, amongst other things, as a place to store food, wine, various kitchen appliances, our AEG washing machine / spin dryer and a very handy Stella Artois mini fridge which is used to chill our booze, mainly in the form of white wine and beer. Guess I get to go down to the little room in the garage more than once or twice during the course of the day, especially now that I have more time on my hands since being made redundant when Wise Words, the small book company in which I worked for 27 years, went to the wall.

It has been many years now since I last used cow milk to pour over my cereal, plain truth is that cow milk does not agree with me, a little in my tea and coffee is fine of course, otherwise I don’t use it to any great degree. The sensation of a whole load of it sitting in my stomach quite literally makes me want to puke, so I just don’t have it in any great quantity. Organic soya milk has been for years my choice of splash for my cereal but this year even that has changed, been updated so to speak. Problem with soya milk, even the organic stuff, are the amount of estrogens it contains, which although certainly good for women around the time of menopause, it is not so great for men. Reason for this is that estrogens are a hormone which lowers the sperm count, whilst at the same time making men grow breasts, moobs, as they are often called these days. For quite a while I just thought my occasional sessions pumping a iron were at last beginning to pay dividends but as time went by, on closer inspection, I discovered my chest was flabby rather than muscular. Thanks to this research I have now been able to cut out the soya which anyway was always a bit of a tasteless drink, to say the least, unless you got the flavoured variety but then the problem with that was it would always contain a lot more sugar.

Therefore this year, since around Spring 2017, almond milk  has been our favoured form of cereal splash and I have to say that after an initial period of trial and error, things are now pretty much where we want them to be. For quite some time we were buying the Rude Health brand of organic almond milk, but on closer inspection we found that each 1 litre carton contains just 1% almonds, with rest being made up primarily of rice water. Obviously Rude Health have done their homework and know what they can get away with it under the trade descriptions act. The basic fact of the matter however is that when, as a punter, you buy a litre carton of Rude Health Organic Almond Milk which contains just 1% almonds you are getting completely ripped off!!! They do in fact produce a  Rude Health Ultimate Organic Almond Milk which contains 6% almonds but this is a lot, lot more expensive and if you end up buying that it blows all form of cereal economics right out of the water.

We then went through a period of buying fresh almonds online, then making our own almond milk, but this turned out to be a time consuming and messy business, as well as also being pretty damn expensive. We were only able to do it because my mum had given us her Kenwood Titanium Chef food mixer, an awesome piece of kit costing well over 500 bucks, and which is able to smash up a bunch of almonds in almost next to no time. The reason why my mum had given us the mixer was that it had got too much for her to handle due to her osteoarthritis which causes her some considerable degree of pain when she has to lift heavy objects, and the Kenwood Titanium is bloody heavy, no doubt about that. The main problem with making our own almond milk was the almond pulp we were left with after draining out the milk through a muslin cloth, pulp which seemed too good to simply throw away. It meant we were forever toasting up the pulp, then storing it in containers to use as a cereal sprinkle, but supply began to far outweigh demand and we got to the point where we had run out of containers in which to stick the stuff.

Anyway, after getting tired of making our own almond milk, we noticed cartons of Plenish Organic Almond Milk had begun to appear on the shelves of our local supermarkets, namely Waitrose and Sainsbury’s. Not only did cartons of Plenish come in at 6% almond content but, being a relatively new brand, it was available at a special offer price of £2 per litre for quite considerable period of time. After we tested it out, found it tasted great, I went through a bit of a mad phase of buying up cartons of Plenish whilst it was still on special offer, before reverting to its retail price of £2.50, ending up with stacks of the stuff in the little room in our garage. There are still quite a few cartons in there, more than quite a few if truth be told, but that is fine as we are making use of them each day, apart from those very occasional times when we don’t have cereal for breakfast. From time to time when I visit the storage room I do feel a mild sense of shame over having such a stash of stuff squirreled away, but since the vast majority of it is in constant use I know that what I have done makes perfect economic sense.

Once the Plenish has been splashed on my cereal mix, as described above, I get down to the business of chewing and slurping my way through the bowl which I have to say is a pretty big one and full to the brim. Believe me I am forever thankful that I live in a land of plenty, having the luxury to be able to enjoy such sustenance for both body and mind that I receive through this breakfast.

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