On her third cooking lesson, Sue cooks Wheat Cereal with Dates. This lesson took place on Saturday December 9 according to When Sue Began to Cook. This would be considered a warm winter breakfast, although some Twenties families served it throughout most of the year for its nutrition.
Sue’s notes from the lesson explain why they are making cereal for their Saturday cooking lesson:
It all came about because Ruth Ann told us her Grandmother was always fussing at her because she wouldn’t eat any breakfast food. “But I just can’t, Aunt Bettina. Not even for Mother’s sake!” she said. “I’m never one bit hungry for breakfast.”
Ruth Ann is an emotional child, and when she told us about the great big dish of oatmeal her Grandmother set in front of her every morning, her eyes filled with tears, and she shivered almost as if she were cold. “In a thick old bowl, too!” she added. “No wonder I hate it!”
“What’s the bowl got to do with it?” jeered Robin, who always hangs around on our cooking days. “You don’t have to eat the bowl too, do you?”
We all laughed at that, although Mother shook her head at Robin and told him to run out and feed his rabbits. “I know just how you feel about the bowl, Ruth Ann.” she said. “Because I was your kind of a little girl myself once. Of course you must eat your breakfast food, but I’m going to show you just how you can do it and really enjoy it. First, you’ll have to make it yourself!”
Ruth Ann making her own
Ruth Ann looked doubtful. “Maybe Grandmother won’t let me,” she answered. “And besides I don’t know how.”
“You can soon learn,” said Mother. “In fact, you can learn today. And then I am going to give you a little blue bowl to eat it in, a bowl I had when I was a little girl.”
“Oh Mother, the one that used to be Aunt Mattie’s?” I cried, very much surprised. I knew that was one of Mother’s chiefest treasures.
“Yes, dear, Aunt Mattie’s,” Mother said. “Ruth Ann may have it for hers, and I know she’ll take good care of it. See, Ruth Ann!”
I was full of envy when Mother brought out the lovely little round porridge bowl, so thin and dainty. She would scarcely let Robin or me touch it, not to mention using it for our breakfast food!
“It seems to me even oatmeal would taste good in that,” said Ruth Ann with shining eyes. “That is, if I didn’t have to eat too much of it!”
“Wait till I show you how to make my kind of wheat cereal with dates,” said Mother. “It will give you as big a breakfast appetite as Robin’s! But in order to have the charm complete, you must do a third thing for me.”
“Oh, I will! I will! What is it?” cried Ruth Ann eagerly.
Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand
“While the cereal is cooking in the double boiler, you must put on your coat and hat and run around the house six times, no matter how cold and snowy it is.”
“Of course I will if you say so, Aunt Bettina!” (Mother isn’t truly her aunt, you know. She only calls her so because her Mother and mine were such good friends when they were little girls.)
“And then you must come in, finish cooking the breakfast food, and eat a good sized dish of it in the little blue bowl.”
“Oh, I will! I will! And I’ll write and tell Mother all about it!”
“Splendid! said Mother. “But now we must get to work on our third cooking lesson and learn exactly how to make Wheat Cereal with Dates.”
Make it yourself
Here’s the recipe for Wheat Cereal with Dates as it appeared in the book.
Wheat Cereal with Dates
- 3 cups boiling water
- ¾ cup wheat cereal such as Cream of Wheat
- 1 tsp salt Don't forget this if you want it to be good
- ½ cup seeded dates, cut fine
- First, we looked over the dates and washed them well. Then we took out the seeds with a sharp little knife. Then we cut them very fine. (The dates, not the seeds.)
- We each put three cups of water in the top of our own double boiler and set it directly over the fire. We had the under part of the double boiler half full of hot water on another part of the stove. We let the three cups of water come to a slow boil and then we added the salt. We stirred the cereal in slowly, mixing it with a spoon all the time. (Mother told us not to let the water stop dancing while the cereal was being added.)
- * Note: Today's double boilers are not usually designed to sit on a stove's heating element without the bottom portion. Only the bottom part fits on the stove. If you use a double boiler, it will take longer to bring the water to a boil with both sections together. Or you can use a heavy pot directly over the flame, but it must be stirred well or it will stick and scorch.
- When all the cereal was in, we let it boil hard for about three minutes, stirring it all the time.
- Then we each set the utensil (I mean the upper part of the double boilder holding the cereal) into the lower part that had water in it, and let it cook that way slowly for about forty five minutes.
- After the cereal had cooked for thirty minutes we added the dates and let it cook fifteen minutes more. ("The kitchen clock is the cook's best friend," Mtoher says.)
- If you'll just try it yourself and serve it warm with sugar and cream, you'll never say again that you don't like breakfast food! Mother says we can use raisins or seeded prunes cut fine the next time we make this cereal, but as for me, give me dates!