One of the things I enjoy most about long weekends is the opportunity to enjoy breakfast in a big way. I came to the pleasures of breakfast late in life. For a good part of my adulthood, I was a lifestyle academic and that meant long nights of reading and correcting papers, going to bars at midnight, sleeping as late as I could and rolling out of bed and into my clothes just in time to make it to classes (ones I attended and ones I taught). Aside from weekend brunches, eaten after several glasses of water and a reasonable recovery time, I just couldn’t face breakfast. A glass of orange juice, and I was out the door. Maybe sometime later in the morning there would be a coffee and a pastry from one of the local cafes. This was good for neither my wallet nor my body chemistry.
And then came, almost simultaneously, Divorce and 9 to 5. In the attempt to be a more rational human being and to regulate my mood swings, I tried to make breakfast a regular part of my life. For a couple of years this meant a bowl of Special K with milk. In the summer there were peaches or berries on top. Once in a while, I’d throw an Eggo Whole Grain Waffle in the toaster and serve myself that with some blueberries.
But all that has changed over the past few years. On work days I’m still a breakfast automaton (glass of water; vitamin; small glass of juice; bowl of something), but my quality of life has improved quite a bit. Special K led to Grape Nuts and Grape Nuts led to Seven Stars Vanilla Yogurt and then last year, I started making granola, and then we were really off to the races. And a couple of years ago when my coffee-obsessed husband invested in a Rancilio Rocky and Silvia, breakfast really went over the top around here. All the coffee flirtations of my past have fallen by the wayside. Why would I stray when I’m getting it so good at home?
So, for those of you who are still out there in the wilderness, grabbing a granola bar on the way to work or serving out your 110th bowl of Raisin Bran, I’m offering a few suggestions, a few enticements into the breakfast fold. Become a breakfast person. You’ll never go back. For real breakfast inspiration, check out Jennifer Causey’s Simply Breakfast, a visually stunning record of morning pleasures. But if that’s a little overwhelming, try:
- Homemade granola and yogurt. I tend to favor Seven Stars Vanilla and Faggio Full Fat (that’s not what they call it, but you get the idea) when I’m feeling flush. Trader Joe’s Greek Style plain isn’t bad at all and saves a couple of dollars. For the granola, I’ve messed around with recipes from Orangette, Smitten Kitchen and Jane Cumberbach’s Pure Style. These days, I seem to combine them a lot, but I do recommed the use of brown rice syrup and coconut and the addition of chopped dates. Oh, and pecans. I’m big on pecans in granola.
- McCann’s Quick Cooking Irish Oats. I’m sure the traditional steel cut would be even better. But the six minutes of so spent stirring these represents a great compromise between the bland efficiency of instant oatmeal and the leisurely pace of long-cooking. Use milk, not water, add a a good slice of butter, a heaping spoon of brown sugar, and a small handful of dried Michigan cherries or blueberries. Decadence and virtue co-exist in one bowl.
- Any kind of Zingerman’s bread (available by mail-order!) cut thick and toasted. For Thanksgiving, the cranberry walnut (pictured above) is a special, if expensive treat. But plain ol’ farm bread works too. I like one slice plain with butter, followed by a breakfast dessert of butter and honey or jam.
- And when you’re trying to use up the holiday leftovers? An egg, fresh from the farm and a potato pancake. Heat some olive oil until almost smoking in a cast iron skillet. Take a handful of left-over mashed potato and flatten it into a thick pancake. Put in the pan (it should sizzle). Leave it a little longer than your comfortable with, flip it over and cook on the other side until golden brown. It’s okay to peek, but if it’s sticky, let it go a little longer. Serve with ketchup, hot sauce or apple butter, depending on the mood.
And so concludes my portion of our month of blogging. I have to say, I have an incredible respect for those who do this all by themselves. I barely made it and I was only carrying half the load. Thanks to all of those who checked in regularly with us this month. We’ll be hoping that next month we hit the sweet spot between entertaining and exhausting.