About 1 cup stale Cheerios
Half-eaten tub of Cool Whip
Open box of Cheerios. Look inside and shake box towards you to make sure it isn’t just dust at the bottom. Pour Cheerios into tub of Cool Whip.
Mix together with a large spoon (making sure to coat Cheerios thoroughly). Eat directly from tub with spoon.
Cheerios and Cool Whip, this was my finest creation. I would brag about this recipe to my friends, and with their eyes wide open in jealously and disbelief would ask, ”Your mom lets you make that?”
"Um, yeah," I would tell them. In my head, I created a romanticized vision of me in my kitchen floating around getting to make whatever I pleased. Wearing a sleek apron that made my awkward body go away, choosing from all the fresh ingredients from our pantry and fridge. A little bit of this, a little bit of that.
Voila! Cheerios and Cool Whip. What I left out of my fantasy was that the Cheerios were stale, my mom had no idea what I was doing after school, and this “recipe” was created out of the only ingredients that I could find that weren’t moldy or fermented. This was long before Kombucha was cool.
My mom worked a lot. Sometimes three jobs at a time. I don’t ever remember her being there when I got home from school. But I also didn’t know any different. It felt so strange to go over to someone else’s house and have their mom there to welcome us. Why was she asking us so many questions? When were we going to be able to watch Meatballs on HBO? What couldn’t she just leave us alone?
I remember once at a friend’s house after school, we started rummaging through her cupboards without asking. I suggested we make something fun with pretzels (another all-purpose ingredient). Her mom saw us, gave us a side eye, and called her into the other room. She was whispering, but loud enough for me to hear. She told her that if she continued to snack all the time and not ask before she did, she would turn out like her friend (me). Chubby.
This was heartbreaking for a fifth grader to hear. More confusing than sad. Maybe I was kinda fat and my ingredients weren’t that fancy. But my time at home alone in that kitchen, experimenting and scraping together what I could find, was part of an education that still helps me today.
By the way, I still stand by my recipe. Don’t tell me it doesn’t sound delicious.