When we lived in Germany, I liked to eat the locally-available Müsli for breakfast. When we returned to the US, we couldn’t find the same thing, and I began to make my own. Over the years, this has evolved into a ritual that occurs every four or five weeks: the superhero MuesliMan appears, wearing his cape (well, that’s the way Jacky describes it), mixes up a pile of tasty ingredients and we’re set for another month.

I include the recipe below, for anyone who cares. Suffice it to say that I need grain flakes. Time was, the bulk bins department at the local Whole Foods market stocked wheat flakes, rye flakes, barley flakes, triticale flakes, kamut flakes, and well, of course, oat flakes. That worked well, and thank you, Whole Foods. But these are not exactly products that fly off the shelf, and Whole Foods stopped carrying them a couple years ago. Moomph!

I checked the other nearby Whole Foods store; I checked the funky counter-culture grocery stores here and in the area; I even checked the animal feed store in Half Moon Bay. No luck. I talked to Whole Foods; they could do special orders, but only in 25- or 50-pound quantities, depending on the grain. Could I buy whole grainberries and flake them myself? Wheat, barley, yes. Rye? Not at Whole Foods, not at any of the other places I could find.

Eventually I ended up at the web site of Pleasant Hill Grain, from my old Nebraska days. They sell buckets of grain; they sell flaker mills. That’s what I want. I ordered a 20 kg bucket of rye berries and a hand-cranked flaker mill. The grain appeared in a large plastic bucket, sealed against air and insects, and with an interior liner for further protection. Good.

The flaker mill turns out to be a good way to get a little upper-body exercise! If I were doing this every day, I would buy the motor drive.

The results were a bit unsatisfactory at first; the seeds had a tendency to crack and shatter, rather than to roll out into flat flakes. Then I discovered that, a day before flaking them, I could add a bit of water to the mix of seeds, and they would become softer and more pliable. Much better.

I have been working through my bucket of ryeberries for a while now, and have used about half of it. Now I discover that Whole Foods is once again stocking rye flakes (but not triticale or barley or kamut). Right now, that doesn’t help. It would be an ultimate irony if, by the time I finish using up my bucket of grain, Whole Foods concludes that there is no market for rye flakes and stops carrying it.

The recipe? Oh, yes, the recipe. I have a large plastic container that’s marked 5.2 litres.

  • 1 cup oat bran
  • 1 cup wheat bran
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas, Kurbiskerne)
  • 1 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 4 cups oat flakes
  • 4 cups barley flakes
  • 5 cups wheat flakes (extra proportion because wheat has more flavour than the others)
  • 6 cups rye flakes (extra proportion, ditto — lots of people think rye tastes like pumpernickel (caraway): wrong!)
  • Kamut, triticale, etc, flakes if available, or top off with more of the other types

At breakfast time, mix in the bowl with something like bran flakes to loosen up what can otherwise become a soggy mass.

You can tell that my life isn’t very exciting when a recipe is the biggest adventure of the day….

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