Breakfast

January 7, 2004

Breakfast

My grandfather was a quaker, and had been used to big breakfasts. Apparently, that meant as kids, we would learn to have unusual things for breakfast, and my mom believed in making sure we ate plenty to start our day. As the four of us kids trickled downstairs in the morning, we would arrive at the dining room table and sit at our places, which were set with a half grapefruit in a small silver bowl. As we finished that, mom would bring in the rest of breakfast for us. We would pretty much have whatever most people would have for dinner or lunch. Fried chicken, spaghetti, and hamburgers were not uncommon. It was rare to just have a ‘normal’ breakfast of eggs or pancakes or something, that was something for weekends.

As an adult, I think nothing of having anything that is in the fridge for breakfast. It is quick and easy to just pop something in the microwave. But truth be told, I do like eggs, waffles, bagels, and other normal breakfast fare. I love making quiche, or a good omelet. I love my savory pancakes smeared with a little butter and rolled up to be eaten with my fingers. Perhaps I love breakfast food, since I did not eat it as often as most people. Breakfast dances in my head and entices me: treats of granola, and steel cut Irish oatmeal with cream and brown sugar, eggs benedict, pancakes, and eggs over easy, with some toast to sop up the yolk, or even simple cinnamon toast. So many choices tempt me that when I am at a restaurant for breakfast, I have a hard time choosing. In a store, I will even linger over good jellies or marmalades.

One of my first real experiences being away from home as a young adult, was at a riding school in West Virginia. There I ate many breakfast foods, as that was all they served in the mornings! If I had time, I ate what they made that morning, but as I developed my own routine with it, I found my usual to be toast spread with peanut butter, topped with cinnamon sugar and a big cup of mocha, all savored on my way to the barn before my dressage class. I didn’t have the time for sitting down. On Sundays, I had everything they made for brunch. I even loved having just a bagel with cream cheese (and maybe jelly)- something foreign to my food experience before high school!

As I had more time, and was able to learn to cook more on my own, I branched out into things like eggs and quiche. I learned that the best scrambled eggs needed to be cooked slowly over medium heat. And they are excellent if you add in some boursin or cream cheese. When I think of eggs, it brings back so many different memories. Eggs are soothing in an immediate sort of way, as you do need to eat them when they are warm. In college, I remember when a friend came home with me for the weekend. I got up early as usual, and I went downstairs and made a huge omelet , folded in half with chopped fresh tomatoes, cream cheese and scallions all melting together from the heat of it. We sat on the bed in my room and ate forkful after forkful of it together.

My mom used to make me a fried egg sandwich, which I still love every now and then… frying it, poking the yolk so it is mostly cooked through, put between barely toasted white bread with butter, and eaten while still very warm. She also used to make me a soft boiled egg, which I also will still enjoy sometimes, cooked just enough, put into a mug, cut up a bit with a knife, and with a small piece of butter melted onto it and scooped around with the spoon. I find it very comforting. If I have the time, an egg over easy, carefully laid on top of a piece of toast that has a piece of cheese melted on it from the heat of the egg. Heaven.

Now I find, as a mother myself, that my kids prefer breakfast foods in the morning. They seem to like the waffles hot from the waffle iron, and pancakes with anything in them, as long as they can have them with syrup- the fake kind from the store. I prefer the real stuff, but they could care less. Not only do I prefer the real stuff, but I like it to be the deeper grade B- I think it has so much more flavor than grade A, but it is hard to find. The kids are happy as long as they can have whatever they have, quickly. I am just happy having any breakfast food at all. My taste buds like breakfast any time of day, which doesn’t really seem odd. I was cultivated to have an indifference to the time of day that I ate certain foods. It matters to me not at all. Anyday, serve me chicken pot pie for breakfast and waffles for dinner, with a fried egg sandwich for lunch, …..and dessert with every meal!

Scrambled Eggs
Some like their scrambled eggs moist and some like them rather dry. The longer they cook, the drier they become. Either way, use low heat so the texture remains soft and creamy.

4 tablespoons butter
5 eggs
1/4 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons water

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet or nonstick pan. Combine the eggs, salt, and 2 tablespoons water in a bowl. Briskly whisk, pour into the skillet, and turn the heat very low. Gently stir the egg mixture, lifting it up and over from the bottom as it thickens. Continue to stir until the desired texture is achieved. They thicken and dry out very quickly toward the end, so if you like them soft and moist, remove them from the heat a little before they reach the desired texture; they will continue to cook after being removed from the pan.

Quiche

My version of quiche. I began beating the egg whites years ago, as an attempt to make a light, fluffy, taller quiche. truthfully, sometimes I skip that step. I also find that I don’t always have swiss cheese, so I will use any combo if good cheeses- cheddar, fontina, gouda, mozzarella and parmesan. As long as you get 1 1/2 cups all together.

1 ready made Pillsbury pie crust (the kind in the flat box near the dairy section- you unfold it), room temp.
3 eggs, separated
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 to 2 cups milk or cream, room temp (I usually use mostly 1% milk, with some cream)
1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese
1 cup shredded “italian blend” (I use Stop&Shop brand, packaged -shredded)
mushrooms (1/2 package of pre-sliced mushrooms- sautéed), or use anything else: asparagus, onions (sautéed), cubed ham, bacon, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.

1. Preheat oven to 375°, put 1 crust in bottom of pie plate and crimp edges.
2. Whisk the egg whites until very stiff. Sprinkle in the nutmeg.
3. Whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl unitl creamy and pale yellow. Fold into the whites.
4. Carefully fold in the milk, so as to deflate the whites as little as possible. (it will be very deflated by this point- just do your best to fold lightly)
5. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese in the bottom of the pie crust.
6. Pour in 1/2 the custard mixture.
7. Scatter any add-ins you may be using (mushrooms or whatever).
8. Fold the remaining cheese into the egg/ milk mixture.
9. Pour the mixture evenly over the pie plate.
10. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until top is a golden brown, and knife comes out clean.Preferably allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting. (it’s okay if you don’t – it’s just better if you wait)

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