Cereal Serial. Part One.

About once a year, overwhelmed with either work or life or just the pressure of having to get outside on a really nice day, I say “fuck it,” and spend the day resolutely planted on my couch with nothing to get done except stare down the shows I’ve racked up in my DVR and eat some cold cereal. I realize for most people, this is just called “Saturday morning,” but of late, I tend to spend my Saturday mornings elbowing my way for the last spinning pass at the gym or prepping a shaved fennel salad to take to the park. So succumbing to the couch, to not do a thing except change the channel and change the milk is something of a vacation.

I took last Friday off to do just that. I got up at a late hour (for me), and headed somewhere I hardly ever go for food. Safeway. It’s an interesting crowd at 8:00 in the morning. There are administrative assistants picking up their packaged lunches for the day, unabashed drunks picking up their daily dose of NightTrain, the elderly and me. My order consisted of both (both!) variety packs from the two leading breakfast cereal manufacturers and because I’m at once sustainable-forward and lactose intolerant, a carton of lactose-free, organic milk. Hello, day.

8:58 Last night’s daily show. Honey nut cheerios
Wanted to start with something hearty, but ease into the sweet. Even growing up, HNC was too much sugar to have in my house. It was one they had down the street at the Ebins place. In fact, the entire house smelled like cheerios, which always felt more dirty than comforting.

9:15 Lucky Charms. Mythbusters Demolition Derby Special.
This is a cereal I always ate dry, because the marshmallows were like candy. Because they are candy. I had a little trepidation going in, not sure if I could handle it. I literally said “fuck it” out loud in my kitchen. If a 7 year-old can eat it, so could I.

Not a good idea. It turned the milk blue and gave me a jittery sugar rush so severe, I was almost put off the rest of the boxes. I think I might turn to the healthy side of the Kellogs Variety Pack next.

10:09 Raisin Bran. The Price is Right
After my insulin levels had returned to normal, I decided to go to the far other end of the spectrum. Raisin Bran always comes with a sense of urgency: consume the flakes before they disintegrate into a fibrous glop reminiscent of Portland’s gutters after the first fall rain (I used to call it street cereal). On top of that, you’ve got to get to the raisins before they lose their only redeeming element, the sugar coating, to the milk. It’s a lot of stress for a little box of cereal.

(Possibly still under the mania-inducing influence of the Lucky Charms or simply inspired, I began to consider The Price is Right on a much deeper analytical level than I ever have. My study on the literal vs. ironic experience of the show will follow soon.)

10:55 Crispex. More Price is Right
Can’t handle any more milk for awhile. I’m going dry on this, snacky style. I like breaking apart the corn part and the rice part and eating them in two sections. The rice part is more fun, kinda like a rice crispy matrix. I don’t think this lady is going to win this brand new Honda Accord. Nope. She didn’t.

Damn it, they’re giving away a nice range.

11:30. Gym break.
1:00 Real food break. You know. Protein and vegetables.

1:43. Cocoa Puffs. Conclusion of Mythbusters premiere
After gym and real food, it was back to the couch. Was ready to go back to sweet, and something chocolately. Not chocolate, mind you. Chocolate with a very caveating suffix. Chocolateish. It smells weird, but it tastes good. It’s loud as fuck, but good thing Mythbusters is more show than tell. Big explosions + leftover chocolate milk = good times.

2:30 Cinnamon Toast Crunch. GhostHunters
Uh-oh. This day is catching up with me. I’m not feeling so great. Maybe it was lunch, maybe it was the strong coffee I’ve been making, maybe it’s the fact that I can’t help checking my work email, but I think I might have to take a break from the couch and the cereal. The thing is, I knew going into it I’d have many more little boxes of sugared joy than I’d be able to get through in one day. Good thing they’re impossibly shelf-stable, and now I have a supply for my next TV/cold cereal indulgences. I’mna go outside.


ok, ok

I know. It's been about 20 years since I've had the chance to write anything, but rest assured, I haven't been giving in to the take-out menus or trader joe's frozen pizza inclinations. Much.

Actually, I've been on something of a self-imposed Pantry Challenge. Really trying to dig deep into the dry goods and see what comes out. Fresh produce still makes its way to me via the CSA and impulsive Prather Ranch buys have kept the freezer stocked with protein. That, and cured meats that go a long way.

Take a new favorite, with only three ingredients. Penne, leeks and prosciutto. Insanely simple and light and just feels all kinds of springy.

Beyond leeks, I've fallen for fennel. One night I broke out the mandoline in hopes an artfully shaved fennel salad, but the bulb was reduced to a hash. I had a small sirloin tip searing (and setting off the fire alarm), and sauteed the hash in a simple pan sauce.

Once I figured out the secret of the mandoline (multiple blades!), the second bulb got a close shave, was paired with some asiago and dressed with lemon and olive oil.

I really like this fennel two ways, and it's become something of a staple.

The pantry is just about clear, save for some udon I've had since Portland, a bag of odd-shaped artichoke pasta that might become a salad and a few tins of fish that will probably be opened in case of the Big One. For me, it seems, earthquake preparedness means smoked oysters. Not too bad.