Yes, you can make homemade cream of wheat! It is easy, CHEAP, delicious, and healthy. However, you will need a grain mill, a wheat grinder. Can I convince you to buy a grain mill to grind your own wheat? It is well worth the money--I found mine used on Ebay for $100.
So . . . we are getting ready to move and I am trying to clean out our fridge, freezer and cupboards and my challenge is to go to the grocery store as little as possible. Therefore, I am coming up with some very interesting meals. This morning, Cameron left for work and he is on-call, meaning we will not see him until tomorrow. Semaiah has a fever, meaning we are staying home from church. So, what do you make for breakfast when you have very little ingredients on hand and don't want to go to the store with a sick baby and 7 children on a Sunday, and you cannot ask hubby to go to the store? I checked and discovered, much to my dismay, that I had about 1 c. of oatmeal, no butter, less than a dozen eggs--not enough to feed all of us, no veggies, nothing, nada, zilch . . .
Hmmm. . . I have always wanted to make my own cream of wheat. It can't be that difficult, right? I mean it is milk and wheat, how hard can that be? Let me stop now to sing the praises of cream of wheat. It is the ultimate comfort food. I have loved cream of wheat since I was a little girl. It is warm, creamy, sweet and filling. There is a story of me when I was just 2 years old, my mother was in the hospital having just given birth to my brother, and I was home alone with my father. I asked my father to make me corn meal for dinner, the corn version of cream of wheat, and he told me he didn't know how. It is reported that I explained to my dad how to make corn meal and he successfully fed me my favorite food! Growing up, cream of wheat remained my favorite. My best friend, Trisha, and I used to make it every day after school when we were in middle school. She made the best. Her family was Finnish and they called it Budda (pronounced Boo-Dah and spelled incorrectly, I am sure). We devoured bowlfuls of the creamy goodness! What comfort, what memories. Fast forward to when I was pregnant with Anna: I ate coco-wheats, the chocolate version of cream of wheat, every single night of my third trimester. I am prone to nausea again in the last trimester of my pregnancy and coco-wheats was the only food that I could stomach. I am not kidding, weeks of eating coco wheats for dinner. Poor Cameron, he hates coco-wheats, as well as cream of wheat. Yes, he doesn't know what he is missing! ;)
I used to make cream of wheat frequently for breakfast for my children . . . back when I only had 2!! That stuff costs about $3.50 a box and is gone in 2 breakfasts here! That is almost as bad as dry cereal! Thus, cream of wheat, and coco-wheats, have been relegated to a luxury item, a splurge. That just seems wrong! Wheat + milk, a luxury?
Back to my morning dilemma . . . I decided to attempt to make my own cream of wheat, but I envisioned mixing the wheat and milk and it turning into a soggy, lumpy batter not the creamy yumminess I was used to. I googled cream of wheat and discovered it could be done. First, I needed to know which kind of wheat to use: hard or soft red wheat. You use hard red wheat. Then I needed to know which setting on my grinder. I would have guessed fine, but no, it is the coarsest you can go, and that makes sense now that I think about it. Ratio? I would figure it out as I went. I added 4 c. of milk to a pot, brought it to a near boil and then dumped in 1 c. of freshly ground wheat (have you read all the health benefits of grinding your own wheat? You can read about it HERE. I use my wheat in everything--to make roux's, for Dutch pancake, muffins, English muffins, pizza dough, cookies, bread, etc.). I stirred it steadily to prevent lumps, added about 1/2 c. sugar (I am sure you could use honey! And you HAVE to add butter--about 2 Tablespoons) and VOILA! Cream of wheat! Katria, Elyse, and Haven were my guinea pigs. They ate it up! I made a second batch to feed the rest of us and everyone enjoyed it.
No more store-bought cream of wheat for us! I fed my family for literally pennies! A 25# bag of wheat is about $12.00. I used 2 cups of wheat. You CAN make your own! I am learning this about just about everything. My challenge to myself is to make everything from scratch. We use almost zero pre-made items with a few exceptions such as tortillas, (yes, I could make my own, but the time involved to make each one is not worth the $.99 a bag) tortilla chips, and pasta. Here are some other things I regularly make: maple syrup, dressing, granola, taco and ranch seasoning, bread crumbs, and all the kids' snacks. Is it worth it? Isn't it easier just to buy things pre-made? Well, first of all, I enjoy the satisfaction of knowing I made something myself. Secondly, I know the health benefits of avoiding preservatives, MSG and high fructose corn syrup. Thirdly, I love saving money. Most things, when you get the hang of making them, take very little time. I have learned that a lot of it is the fear that it won't turn out. Once you take the risk and successfully make your first loaf of bread, batch of yogurt, a cake from scratch, you will feel proud of yourself. That almost motivates me MORE than the health benefits. Also, I wouldn't do it if I didn't enjoy it. That being said, with a little time and effort, you can eat healthy and cheap. However, don't feel guilty if you don't do this with everything, or very little. Your family will live--didn't we all grow up on bologna, wonder bread and pop tarts? Also, just so you know--we occasionally eat boxed mac 'n cheese, frozen pizza and McDonald's. I may be a "health nut", but I am not militant. I do not want to go so far with it that I make it into a religion. Enough said.
There you have it! Homemade Cream of Wheat! Now I will be able to indulge in one of my childhood favorites without breaking the bank! Ah, sweet nostalgia in a bowl.
Cream of Wheat
8 c. milk
2 c. coarsely ground hard red wheat berries
1/2 c. sugar (to taste)
2 T. butter (or a bit more)
Bring milk almost to a boil, add wheat, sugar and butter. Stir constantly so it doesn't stick or get lumpy. Serve hot and enjoy! Add more milk if you want it thinner, less if you like it thicker.
In Christ, Laura
**What do you make from scratch? I love new ideas!**