27 February 2011

Love It or Hate It

That's how it goes at the Breakfast Table in this house when I make Malt-O-Meal.  Cool Guy and I love it, and Burt and Encyclopedia hate it.  Well, Encyclopedia tolerates it if there's enough brown sugar on top, but he would never in a million years request this for breakfast.

This may be one of those things you had to grow up eating in order to like it.  Like chicken livers.  Or smoked oysters.  Or canned spinach with hard boiled egg quarters on top.

I don't imagine that Malt-O-Meal will be signing me up for their advertising campaign team any time soon.

Back to the cereal.  When I speak of Malt-O-Meal, I'm referring only to the original hot cereal, not the chocolate hot cereal or any of the cold cereals that the company makes.  We had this on occasion, probably more in the winter, when I was growing up.  Definitely we had Malt-O-Meal more than oatmeal, and again, going back to the growing-up/taste thing, that may be why I prefer Malt-O-Meal to oatmeal.

After marrying Burt and moving out of Oklahoma, I couldn't find Malt-O-Meal.  Not on the East Coast, not on the West.  I can remember actually asking my mom to buy some and mail it to me.  I think shipping rates were way cheaper back then.  It eased the homesickness.

So here's the good and bad:
  • It's a mixture of wheat and barley, with a taste all its own - good
  • It has a very fine texture, like that of Cream of Wheat - good if your kids have texture issues
  • Still on texture: if you're not careful, there will be lumps - bad.  See Bill Cosby.
  • It can be made in about 3 minutes - good
  • It cannot be made ahead and held.  You end up with cement. - bad. 
  • If you don't rinse your pot and your bowls and spoons right away, same cement will be encrusted on those items - very bad
  • It has iron, calcium, vitamins - good
  • It most definitely fills you up - good
  • It is not whole grain - too bad.
I made Malt-O-Meal the day I left for my quilt retreat.  It was so good, I made it again today.  If you are lucky enough to find it in a store near you (and I am now lucky enough and don't have to have care packages shipped), you should give it a try.  Definitely give it a try if you like Cream of Wheat since, IMHO, Malt-O-Meal has lots more character, perhaps sweeter and/or nuttier tasting, due to the barley.

Here are a few tips learned the hard way.
  • Pretend that you don't have a microwave.  Using it is the biggest waste of time when making Malt-O-Meal.  Not only will you spend more time making the stuff, it will be incredibly time intensive as you stop to stir every 30 seconds.  And the stuff will boil over and you'll then have a cement-encrusted microwave.
  • To avoid lumps, use a whisk to stir the Malt-O-Meal into your saucepan.
  • Make it just before eating.  It won't keep.
We like our served with brown sugar, butter, and a little milk.  I'm sure any stir-ins that work with oatmeal, would work just as well, but we're set in our ways here.

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