Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Morning Breakfast - Baking a Memory

Meals together as a family were a constant as a kid. We were allowed to eat in front of the TV on Friday nights and Saturday nights. The rest of the time it was at a table, though for breakfast on weekdays it was usually just the kids as Mom would eat with Dad as he often left for work quite early.

Those times around the table were good, though as usual, when kids eat together we didn't always behave well. I will admit, somewhere in there, a pea was flung. Dad was Scot/Irish, but Mom was Norweigian. Peas were a staple. I was also quite skinny and physically very active, with a healthy appetite, so one day when I wasn't eating as quickly as I normally did, Dad noticed and said "What's up B, you're eating like a bird", to which my brother R. muttered under his breath, "yeah, Rodan."

You remember Rodan, the murderous superpterodactyl in the Godzilla movies. Rodan was the Japanese monster version of the F15-E and the nemesis of Godzilla. Most of my generation saw them, if only in reruns on Saturday years after they came out, with Godzilla intent on eating Tokyo and battling with an assortment of monsters. They were really cheesy movies, usually dubbed and good for a laugh.

Laughter was a constant in our house, as was home cooking. Food was always a measured production. Nothing gourmet, and rarely something out of a can. Growing up towards the end of the first great depression, Mom learned to make up a delicious meal out of almost nothing left in the fridge. To this day, I still prefer a meal made myself, even if it's wheat crackers and some good brie and a beverage, to  something fast food-like. So we ate well. But with active lives, outdoors at every opportunity, walking and running, exploring, running full forward into our life, none of us had a spare pound of flesh.

As a kid those breakfasts were special. We'd start with a beverage. Coffee. Well the adults anyway, for them, as myself now, coffee was a food, not a drink. We kids got milk and orange juice. I always begged for some coffee (without success) because that wise looking man on the Hills Brothers can, which was wine red and studded with twinkling stars, always looked so content, full of knowledge of those secret adult rituals as he drank deep from the coffee bowl. The decidedly grown up feeling of the act itself and the Hills Brothers man with his deep coffee contentment ,was likely the reason I thought that my parents lingered over the table. And they did, whispering the quiet whispers of long lovers, while we snorted and charged around them, playing soldier and spy.

(As always, click on food photos to enlarge.)
When the meal began, it was a silent flurry of crunchy bacon, the soft doughy texture of homemade pancakes, french toast or rolls, and perfuming us all, the deep seated comfort of cardamom and cinnamon.. The meal would last until every last morsel was taken; it seemed as if we could eat endlessly, as if we'd had some successful inoculation at lunch time and could handle anything. The kids would help my Mom clean up as Mom and Dad lingered around the breakfast table for one last cup of coffee.

As we bustled about, washing up and blowing bubbles at each other with the dish soap, we could hear them, the laughter, and the comfort of their being there. As we finished, I went to pick up from the table the can of coffee with the little man and the stars. But instead, I sat down beside it, full to bursting and simply happy to sit, surrounded by family, unable really, to move past the moment. Whatever laughter there was, there was, whatever deep worries we might all have had still swirled outside our door, but for now there was something deep and starry in the kitchen. Someplace not just magical, but safe. No matter what happened to us, it seemed like we had these moments to reinforce our bonds, and I lived through many a hard year on the memories of that measureless family security.

This Sundays breakfast brought that back in small ways, as I gathered with those I love near or near in spirit and thought, the smell of morning coffee bringing a smile to my face, even if I don't have a big brother around to pick on me.

BAKED FRENCH TOAST WITH PEACHES. It's a classic recipe from the Pampered Chef which I just tweaked a little bit.

My changes?  I tried adding a little extra of the quality vanilla I use and a couple extra secret seasonings. One of those was Cardamom, used by my Mom in a lot of Norwegian baked goods.

The rest is easy, some day "real" bread, homemade country Frrench here, slathered with a thin layer of cream cheese on each side, poked with a fork and topped with fruit and walnut meats. Then over the top is poured a whipped mixture of eggs, seasoning, pure maple syrup, milk and butter, baked until puffy and golden. It only takes 10 minutes to put together, and 20-25 to bake. You'll have it on the table before you know it.

It's the perfect family breakfast or you can make it and share with friends. It makes a nice big pan full, perfect for when you have folks over who are hungry enough to eat Tokyo.


  1. Brigid:
    You made me hungry for brakfast here at 7:00PM

    Breakfast was always great on the farm as our day always started at 0400 Hrs. every morning and with 80 head of cows to milk we had allready worked half a day before breakfast and we were always ready for a large one with real cream when we had cereal.
    thanks for the memory
    W. in Okla.

  2. Nummmmmmmmmmmm.......
    I suspect that will play havoc with my diet! I will savor it until I lose the 10! It could be a temptation. Or, it COULD be a goal! :)


  3. Brigid:
    we live about 20 miles from the wildlife reserve lots of longhorns and buffalo. Just don't get up there very often any more.
    BUT that's life when you are a old Okie.
    W. in Okla.

  4. Hi B, just thought I'd let you know I've come up with a new technique when reading your blog. I now keep a roll of paper towels by my monitor to soak up/wipe up any drool, and I've learned NEVER to enlarge a food photo on an empty stomach. I even find myself hesitating to do that on a full stomach as the pain of temptation is just too great. It's probably a good thing you don't place more pictures of your food and you together, as I think I might totally loose it if you did. I'm not sure I have anything I can afford to loose anymore, as I believe I've lost too much of it already. Now, if I could only say that about my waist!

  5. Boy I gotta remember to read the disclaimers.You change them, and each one is better than the last.

    You also forgot to mention Barkley when mentioning house protection.

    What can I add about the food. I was raised in the suburbs by ex-pat farm kids, thus my unfortunate resemblance to the Good Year blimp. Actually my current round of illnesses had a hand in that.

    I have a policy that when I read your food posts, I have to log 5 miles on a wally world bike in penance. Actually making one of your delicious recipes means 15 to 25 miles on that punishment device.

    I can't believe that as kids, we thought these two wheeled torture machines were cool.

  6. This is my first visit to your blog, but I must say I found it entertaining. Some of the recipes look incredible! Can't wait to try them! There was one to which you only made mention, but I'm intrigued. 72 Layer Cream Cheese Biscuits. Where can I find it???

  7. Thank you for sharing these recipes. Looks good. French Toast is one of my favorites. Interesting, I have never heard of baking French Toast.

  8. That looks beyond good Brigid. I printed your recipe out and Linda and I are giving them a try this AM.
    Bliss I tells ya. Pure Bliss.

  9. Alas that bread is so scarce around Festung Kleinrot. And that all residents, including the cat, are on weight-loss plans of some form.

    Sunday breakfasts were when Mom made David Ayers pancakes (with Rose's Lime Marmalade) among other treats. And little bro and I would get our straws taken away for blowing bubbles in our milk and orange juice.

  10. Oh, my.... Only one flaw here that I can see: I don't normally classify walnuts as food. Replace them with pecans, though, and this would truly be wonderful.

  11. I have made baked french toast before, but not with cream cheese and peaches (and other goodies). I's looks absolutely yummy.

  12. applegoat9 - welcome! It was originally a pampered chef recipe that a sister in law of mine gave and it was great. I just tweaked it just so slightly.

  13. Okay......but where is the bacon?



  14. I've not done it in a while, but I've split cinnamon rolls, stuffed them with cream cheese and 'French-toasted' them.
    I didn't know others added cream cheese - good stuff!
    Good thing I just ate, 'cause, as usual, you make me hungry!
    (...and I just was gifted some mega-cinnamon...hmmm)
    Gotta go!

  15. Sometimes it is okay to have bacon on the side. I think I will have to try this with some of the spiced peaches my wife put up last summer...num, num.

  16. YUM all the food pictures look so yummy! I need to get back on track myself getting some new recipes up on the blog. I'm just so stuck on guns right now. Can't get enough of them.


I started this blog so the child I gave up for adoption could get to know me, and in turn, her children, as well as share stories for a family that lives too far away. So please keep it friendly and kid safe. Posts that are only a link or include an ad for an unknown business automatically to to SPAM..