“My husband makes our breakfast,” has a nice ring to it, but it may be a “noisy cymbal” kind of noise. On the one hand it is a fine compliment and one that should encourage other husbands to take note and do the same. But, on the other hand, it may indicate that he has not always made our breakfast. I don’t mean that my wife would mean it that way—it is my clarification because it is true.
I have not always made our breakfast and, indeed, our breakfasts have not always needed much making. They have generally—at least for years—consisted of pouring out some dry cereal with some slicked banana and milk on top. “Making breakfast” was not a time-consuming job requiring nothing but a basic knowledge of where the utensils were.
That changed a few years ago when I started making breakfast. Our children had grown up and we were alone and my wife was heavily into reading health manuals and thinking about how we could ensure a proper start to the day. Dry cereal, bananas and milk would not do it.
I should add that our two children didn’t go for the bananas in their adult lives. They claimed that our home-grown bananas in Papua New Guinea (we had about 20 trees in our back yard) often had little worm holes in them. That wasn’t so bad but when they occasionally found little worms as well, it freaked them out and so conditioned them psychologically that later in their adult lives they didn’t enjoy bananas. At least that is how I recall the story.
However, I enjoy bananas: the sight of a long, slender yellow ripening banana will send shivers up my spine and I will begin to salivate, sometimes wildly and offensively. The only cure that I have found is to grab a banana, peel its skin quickly, and bite off about a quarter of it. By swallowing quickly and burping twice I can overcome the obstruction.
That is all by way of background to help you see why the banana is such an important part of my breakfast. However, and again in recent years, the banana has been supplemented with many other breakfast enchantments. Let me walk you through our typical octogenarian breakfast.
First of all, I lay out the implements of culinary pleasure: a paring knife, two substantial cereal bowls that will hold a half gallon of stuff, glasses for water, milk (for my wife) and juice (for me). Next, I lay out the vitamins and medicinal supplies: the vitamin tray has 7 bins: my “needs” are vitamin C (to ward off a cold, which my family tells me is unnecessary and ridiculous), 1000 mg glucosamine (for my rubber knees), and, in addition, tamsulosin, so that I will not have to go to the toilet more than 14 times during the next 12 hours, and a “baby” aspirin.
My wife’s “needs” are more varied: clopidogrel (75mg), to keep her blood running thinly (along with her “baby” aspirin), fish oil capsules, multi-vitamins, lisinopil (10mg), for her blood pressure, metformin (500mg) for diabetes, and, once a day, pravastatin (20mg). The latter is a statin and I take one called lovastatin (40mg) and statins are supposed to help keep our cholesterol at an “acceptable” level.
Once all those medicines and supplements settle in our stomach, our bodies are ready for the fuel of the day: breakfast.
I get a fair-sized microwaveable container and pour some raisins in it, about enough to lightly seed the bottom of the vessel. Next is the banana, which I pluck from the bunch hanging over a basket near the cupboard. If we bought the bananas at HEB, they will be fair-sized, plump and completely yellow. However, sometimes we get bananas at Aldi and they are mostly green and curve inward like an ingrown toenail.
Then comes the oatmeal, which takes two minutes to “cook” in the microwave. I insist on the HEB brand of “old fashioned oats,” which are “heart healthy.” Their total fat is only 3% and there is no cholesterol, sodium or sugar in them. I add some flax, walnuts, salt and cinnamon before pouring two one-half cups of water and stirring. All systems are go.
After microwaving for two minutes (or “until thickened”), I stir vigorously until the raisins appear on top, then add the real stuff: sliced bananas, blueberries (even if expensive, because they have “10 proven health benefits”), peaches if in season, pears when ripe and even prunes (depending on what we ate the day before). I let it cool and will reheat it slightly later.
I add milk, first noting carefully if it smells, and watch what floats to the top. An occasional flake of oats is fine, but floating blueberries indicate a problem and must be addressed and too much cinnamon turns the whole mess a disgusting shade of brown. My wife loves her breakfast to not only taste good, but also to look good.
We are almost ready to eat, but not quite. I must put fresh napkins beside the breakfast bowls and a Kleenex tissue for my wife, who sometime during the meal will sneeze three times.
At last we are ready—it has only taken me 10 minutes, including the two minutes the microwave did its work, so it hasn’t been hard labor.
I wake my wife and before she arrives for breakfast I give the molten mess another15 seconds in the microwave and we are ready to eat. We say grace, thankful to God for our food—realizing that many people have very little—and for a new day to live and enjoy.
Oh yes, I clean up a bit afterward. That, I am told, is part of “making breakfast.”