“With or without lumps?”
It was the question that always followed the request my sisters and I would have for Cream of Wheat when Grandma K. was around.
Whether we visited her house or she visited ours, if Grandma K. was there for breakfast we’d want her to make Cream of Wheat! Yes, I’m talking about the regular old red cardboard box of Cream of Wheat hot cereal they still make today.
Grandma K. had a way of making these fantastic lumps of Cream of Wheat that we’d fight over. I believe counting lumps became mandatory. We might even have to share a lump with each other if someone got more than everyone else.
It was like a mystery to us how she got them in there.
The lumps were almost chewy like, varied in size and shape typically. Sometimes you’d think you had eaten them all out of your bowl and then you’d find another! This was a welcomed surprise of course, you might even hide an extra lump if everyone had already counted.
Sometimes we’d put raisins and brown sugar on top, or a mixture of regular sugar and cinnamon my mom would have mixed up in a glass container. We drank skim milk in my house and that always went on top. The milk would pour around the edges of the bowl leaving the Cream of Wheat in the center like an island. It was fun to play with the mound of creamy goodness and uncover lumps like buried treasure.
Here’s what a box of Cream of Wheat looks like today:
Now, the inspiration for this nostalgic story tonight is simply a coin purse my Grandma K. gave me as a little girl. I’ve kept it all this time because it reminds me of her. When I think of my Grandma K. I most certainly think of the Cream of Wheat with lumps she used to make us.
As you can see it’s fairly small. The black leather is also a bit worn on the edges. I always liked keeping coins in it and snapping the two metal pieces closed.
Here’s the side view and how it opened:
But what I have also always loved about this coin purse is the flower pattern design.
Taking a closer look triggered another memory of my Grandma K.
You see, although this material is most likely machine made, it reminds me of something my Grandma K. would have made herself.
If she wasn’t making Cream of Wheat with lumps, she was probably knitting or sewing
My Grandma K. was extremely skilled at knitting and sewing. She always had a project going. She loved to knit booties for everyone and give them to us at Christmas time. Not sure what booties are? It’s like a slipper. Everyone in the family, including my aunts, uncles, and cousins got a different color and size unique to the individual. She’d also cross-stitch and embroider pillows and quilts. Those were usually saved for birthday or anniversary gifts.
When I first sat down to write tonight, I didn’t know this coin purse was going to remind me of Grandma’s favorite hobby. I’m also becoming aware that I have a lot of coin purses, coin banks, and money related items in my possession. I’ve already blogged on a couple. Connecting the dots on that, it’s uncovered something about myself I didn’t realize until more recently. Is is possible to have a collection without really knowing it? I guess so. I value saving money and these items reflect that too. I’ve subconsciously saved things that mean something to me for more than one reason. I guess that’s why they bring me such joy when I hold on to them in my hands.
I decided to pause after this ah ha moment and also see if I could find any old pairs of booties in a cedar chest I have.
I uncovered not only two pairs of booties, but two pillows she made for me and a few pillow cases as well. The booties still fit too!
Here’s a slide show of my findings:
I’m so impressed at all the detail in each as well as how much time it must have taken her to complete them. I remember feeling so special and loved getting the pillows specifically.
I remember my mom telling me how Grandma had told her she loved to think about the person she was making the gift for while working on the project. She spent hours in her recliner sewing, and must have spent hours thinking about us all.
My attempts to learn to sew like Grandma
I remember her trying to teach me to sew once, but I wasn’t patient enough at the time to complete a little rainbow design project I started with her.
Grandma passed away from cancer in 1995 when I was only thirteen. I miss her.
But years later in college I did try sewing again on my own and learned to cross-stitch by doing a couple of baby bibs for a cousin’s new baby. I also chose a huge picture for my sister’s wedding gift having no idea how long it would take to complete. I was sewing that one up until the last minute and vowed I’d never pick such a complicated design ever again. I haven’t gone back to it since, but who knows, maybe I will again some day.
Here’s a picture of my “masterpiece!”
I cropped out the bottom with their names, wedding date and location, but you can see how she framed it so beautifully.
I have yet to take up knitting, but I did teach myself to crochet when I was planning my own wedding almost twelve years ago now. I happened to crochet two huge blankets for my parents and in laws. Kind of like the picture I did for my sister, I may have gone a bit overboard. It was a great way deal with the stress of it all though, and keep my hands busy when I got anxious before my big day.
What’s the secret to making Cream of Wheat with lumps?
I hadn’t really eaten Cream of Wheat for years until I got a craving once while pregnant. I was so determined one night to figure out how to get lumps I called my mom for any hints. I tried multiple attempts until I finally got it right. Wanna know the secret?
You simply don’t stir it.
Yup! What was probably a mistake once for Grandma turned into a delightful variation that is oh so fun to eat. If you just boil the water and pour the wheat mix into a pile you’re fairly certain to get Cream of Wheat with lumps, or one big lump you can break into littler lumps.
Try it! It just may be your next favorite thing.
What was your favorite comfort food someone made you as a kid?
I’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below.