My doctor suggested I try “vegan before six.”
 In three days, I invented the “Vegan Before Six Except on Wednesdays, Weekends, and Holidays” diet.
It controversially allows for Bacon Egg And Cheese Biscuits – but only in case of an emergency. However, even more controversially, “oh my god I need some bacon” qualifies as an emergency. Even so, I’m not convinced it’s viable, because I haven’t discovered a vegan cupcake that I’d willing eat for breakfast. And, uh, don’t tell me that cupcakes aren’t an essential breakfast food. I wasn’t born yesterday.
 My doctor says the benefits of veganism are rooted in medical research.
But I say I’m skeptical about male vegans, even if they’re part-vegan doctors. However, I’m interested in not having cancer. So, anyway, at first, I was, “Oh, no steak for breakfast.” Then vocabulary set in, and it was like, “Oh no! No butter, bacon, biscuits and gravy, custard-filled doughnuts, cream in my coffee, Dutch baby pancakes, regular pancakes, eggs, omelette, sausage, yogurt, waffles … no quiche (well … I won’t really miss that), no breakfast in Germany (cured meats and cheeses), no leftover pizza (the perfect breakfast), no leftover birthday cake (the second-best perfect breakfast). God, not even a cupcake – which is sort of like breakfast on the go if you have it with coffee. No milk in my cereal, no hazelnut latte – which really chaps my ass – and did I say no bacon? Oh, and by the way, I can’t even get around to thinking about lunch or dinner, because what the hell is a Vegan before Six breakfast??
OK, almond milk fixes the cereal problem, and it turns out that I actually like it better than cow’s milk on cereal. However, I’ve decided to explore the rarely-talked-about world of hot cereal. Not the kind that you mix with water and nuke, because I’m convinced that hydrogenated palm oil is what big tobacco turned to after the master settlement. No, I’m talking about hot cereal you cook on the stove. Yes, I know you thought it was shunned. I intend to be on the cutting edge of its renaissance. Crazy, you say? I’m not sure you can get more than 100 yards from a Starbucks in the City of Chicago. Now, that’s crazy. But too bad you weren’t out of your mind in about 1985, when there were none. If you’d jumped on that bandwagon of crazy back then, you’d be sitting in your penthouse suite in the Loop, looking down on your mad Starbucks fiefdom today. Hot cereal is the next big thing. I don’t know, maybe hot cereal breakfast trucks.
 Eight-Grain Cereal with Poached Prunes or Other Stuff
Product Review: Bob’s Red Mill 8-Grain Hot Cereal
So, I went to my local co-op and got me some 8-grain cereal. If you go to Bob’s Red Mill and look up 8 Grain Hot Cereal, that’s what I came home with. While you’re on the site, you’ll see there’s a button to use, in case you want to add some hot cereal to your “wishlist”. Uh, yeah … you’re a little late to that party. A bag of cereal has already been on my wish list for years. Right next to the Tessla. Anyway, if 8 grains doesn’t sound ideal, Bob makes any number of numbers of grains. Numerologists, this is for you. Deborah Madison (“Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” … no, she’s serious) says you got to cook the shit out of this stuff. (I’m paraphrasing.) So I did. I followed the package directions, and cooked the stuff for the entire ten minutes, which, I have to admit, I didn’t really want to do. The package directions makes enough for “four hungry folks.” Unless your folks are linebackers or Jethro, this makes enough for eight. And holy cow, add some sugar. Ms. Madison wisely suggests that you’re going to want toppings for this, or any hot cereal. She’s right on the money. Topping are bling. Toppings elevate hot cereal from the slot just above paper mache, to the slot just below papier-mâché. Madison has a recipe for “Poached Prune with Lemon.” I know, it has the word “prune” in it, right. Get over it. On my sexy breakfast truck, I’m going to call it “Black Muck from a Tanker Truck” in honor of the goo that gummed up the PA Turnpike in the Great Goo Storm of 2011. On the side of the biodegradable take-out bowl (made from recycled materials), it will say “Secure Your Load!” Here’s how you make the black muck, my way:
1 lemon or small orange 12 dried prunes ½ tsp cinnamon
1. Use a vegetable peeler to remove several long strips of zest from the lemon, then slice them into thin strips. Cut each prune into fours; after that, you don’t have to mention the prunes to anyone. Put all ingredients into a small pot, cover with water. 2. It won’t look good, because cinnamon is hydrophobic. No, that’s not a dreaded fear of Greg Louganis. Yes, it’s true that he was so goodlooking that watching him in his prime and in his Speedos actually turned a lot of men gay. The statistics are irrefutable. In the months following the Olympic games in both 84 and 88, there are significant spikes in the shattering of otherwise healthy marriages, as well as a marked increase in the number of perfectly straight young adolescents choosing the homosexual lifestyle. It’s a well-known fact that gazing upon a handsome, well-built gay man can cause these types of phenomena, and Greg was gazed upon by hundreds of thousands if not millions. I can’t quote you all the details; you’ll have to talk to a scientist. But gay men and women have a Medusa-like power. Some gay people can hone this power to such a degree, that they can turn you gay even if you’re not in their line of sight. Someone can say, “Did you hear that Ellen’s gay?” And you’re like, “No.” All of a sudden the lights flicker and you notice you’ve turned gay, instantly, right out of the blue – which now you’ve noticed is more of a robin’s egg blue – and Ellen wasn’t even there, and she wasn’t even on TV at the time. (She’s incredibly powerful.) Cinnamon won’t turn you gay. (That I know of … but now that I think about it, Cinnabon is super gay. 3. Anyway, bring this mixture to a boil, then simmer on lowest heat for 25 minutes. Off heat. As it cools, it will thicken itself into something rich and tasty.
OK, so I made this 8-grain cereal, and I put it into a rectangular container, and kept it in the fridge. Once stone cold, I dumped it out of the container, sliced it into 8 slices as if I were cutting banana bread – wishing I were slicing banana bread – placed the container back on top of it, slid the knife under it, and inverted it right back into the container. Now, each morning I can lift one or two of those slices out, put it in a bowl, sprinkle sugar over it if I want to, plop a heaping Tbs of black muck on top, and nuke it for about 2-3 minutes on half power. Then, drizzle some almond milk over the top, and voila: Vegan before Six breakfast. And I like it. Yeah, it’s not exciting, but I do like it. Kind of like a brand new Dodge Dart. It’s not a Challenger, but there’s something to like about it being new and not a Minivan.
2 dried, pitted dates 2 Tbs raw, unsalted almonds Maple syrup
Nuke one or two of your cereal slabs. While that’s going on, chop the dates and almonds together into a fairly small chop. Throw it atop your cereal. Drizzle with maple syrup, to your liking.
1 Tbs peanut butter 1 Tbs jam, heaping
Stir a Tbs of peanut butter into your freshly-nuked cereal. Stir just enough to distribute the peanut butter roughly. Plop on a heaping Tbs of jam. Stir just to swirl it around. Top with chopped peanuts. (Or, you could have used chunky peanut butter, but I think chunky peanut butter is a perversion.)
I realize those caramel apples are not vegan. What are you going to do, call the Vegan Police?