Saturday, October 6, 2018

Saturday Morning Memories

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 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 the 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 lunchtime 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 weekend's 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, someday "real" bread, homemade country French 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. Svengoolie just re-ran "Rodan" within the last month.

    Let me know if you want to re-live a childhood memory. I'll toss in Buck Rogers "Planet of the Slave Girls".

    The 70s Buck Rogers is a whole lot more interesting if you know that Gil Gerard was one of Bubba Clinton's wingmen in the Arkansas hottubbing scene 40 years ago.

  2. For me the magic place was Grandma's kitchen. That is one of the things I miss most about growing up.

  3. Great memories and the smell of breakfast baking Ahhhh!!!


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