I’m on a mission*, Gentle Readers. It is this: to come up with around twenty or so excellent breakfasts that can be made by an 8-year-old (erm, my 8-year-old) in about 5 minutes or less. The nature of our breakfasts has been a bit sketchy lately, that is to say nonexistent. That is, in other words, make-your-ownish. Or “there’s-leftover-bread-from-farmer’s-market-and-peanut-butter can’t-get-much-better-than-that-now-stop-complaining-ish.”
You see, harvest time and putting-the-harvest-by-time is a very intense and compelling time for us here, with pioneer blood still running quite thick and red in our veins. Basically I’m becoming my Grandmother. Both of my Grandmas, in fact–Grandma Young and Grandma Keuhner–put much stock in “putting by” for the winter. Grandma Keuhner’s house always smelled like herbs . . . she had jars and jars of dried herbs in her cabinets. And homemade bread on the countertop. My Grandma Young had a freezer full of beef that she would sock away every year, for the winter, not to mention canned goods of all types. And homemade sourdough bread in the oven. Yup. These good, hard-working women lived through the Great Depression and they didn’t waste a thing.
I blame them for the fact that–at this very moment–on my back porch, I have waiting for me: bushels of apples to make into sauce, a pile of fall radishes to make into lacto-fermented radishes, peppers to slice and freeze, other peppers to pickle, flats of tomatoes (still!) to can, herbs to hang and dry (thank you, Gene and Mike!) and I’m telling you: if I could go without sleep this time of year, I certainly would. I love canning and preserving and freezing and whatnot. It’s second only to the spring planting time for causing my heart to leap with joy–day after day! It just doesn’t get old to me.
I’m spending the afternoon today picking apples in an abandoned orchard with my sister, and making them into apple cider with my parents. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do.
So, back to breakfast: you can see why, at least this time of year, I don’t have more than 5 minutes to pull together a quick breakfast. And this seems fine to the other inhabitants of the house, except for one particular 8-year-old.
Little Mack’s love language is Hot Breakfasts. If somebody cares enough to make him a big hot breakfast, he just knows that he is loved and he shows it. If breakfast is a sketchy, do-it-yourself-affair, he flounders and is whiney and petulant all day long. I’m not making this up.
That’s my boy. I love him. Warts and all.
Back to my mission. So the other day, when little Mack asked for pancakes and I was (literally) already lacing up my shoes to go out and do chores, I did a smart and simple thing. 🙂 I laid out the recipe and the ingredients and asked him to make them, himself. This seemed to suit him just fine, and I though: Huzzah! Turn breakfasts over to Little Mack!
After all . . . I can drag this old body around all day with very little rest, doing all the stuff that needs to be done this time of year, but even I can’t be two places at one time. So, voila! My 5-Minute Breakfasts Mission is born!
But these are not “pour cereal into a bowl and add milk” breakfasts, no sirree bob. Our breakfast bar is raised way too high for that ease (sigh). These breakfasts will be delicious, nutritious, beautiful, and Mack will be able to make them in 5 minutes–or less!
So. We start with eggs. In our family, you either like your breakfast eggs with “yellow blood” (over easy, that would be Bryan and some days, me) or “broken yolked” (over hard, fried a bit crispy, the way my Grandma Young always made them, and that would be Amalia and some days, me) or scrambled (2 or 3 eggs, scrambled until “not shiny at all, Mom” and that would be Mack and sometimes Amalia and sometimes me).
The “crispy” egg, or the broken-yolked method, has been popular in our family for generations. I’ve never really understood the big deal about cooking eggs on a super low heat, so they don’t get stiff. Some chef in France or New York City or someplace made up this rule, but all the Grandmas of the world staunchly ignored it, at least mine did. In her fried egg method, the stiff bottom (so to speak) is crucial. Crucial, Gentle Reader. Otherwise how can you eat it on a piece of toast, on your way out to do chores, without it crumbling apart? Grandmas are awesome, aren’t they?
That’s why I was a little surprised to see a very popular blogger waxing on eloquently about “crispy eggs.” Doesn’t everybody make these “crispy” eggs, wondered I? Apparently not. Apparently to some folks it’s a wondrous new thing (yawn) worthy of fawning and oohing over. That’s cool.
I prefer the “broken yolked” method, and usually make my breakfast egg in a very hot cast iron skillet in a flash. If I have fresh tomatoes, I’ll add a slice to my open-faced breakfast sammage. I’ll add a bit of cheese if I feel like it. Who doesn’t love oozy hot melted cheese, after all? Well, little Mack doesn’t (to our consternation–really, what’s not to love?) but everybody else I know dotes on it. It takes approximately three minutes to accomplish this fine breakfast. Here are the steps.
1. Slice up a good tomato and find a slice or two of good bread. We prefer leftover market baguettes, cut on a diagonal so you get an irregular, but large piece. 🙂
2. Heat up your cast iron skillet very hot, and add your preferred oil (I prefer coconut oil which you can get here and the gallons of which are on a half-off sale until October 9th, just sayin’). My Grandma Young probably used lard. Olive oil is good. Butter is good, too, but will burn more easily.
3. Plop your bread into the hot oil and toast it first, flipping it once. That virgin coconut oil is so good for you! Set it aside on your plate: the toast, not the oil.
4. Crack your egg open into the remaining hot oil. It will sputter and sizzle and pop. That’s what it’s supposed to be doing. We don’t want a soft egg here. We want a bold and powerful egg, with crispy edges and perhaps a little “yellow blood” (that’s what my brother Mark always called a runny yolk) to spill over the toast edge. That way you can lick your fingers afterwards. Yum. Turn the heat down to medium high. The edges will begin to brown, but don’t fret. Give it a minute or two and cook it until the white is opague and the bottom side is firm. If you like a bit of cheese on it, add the cheese now and give it a few seconds to melt. It’s ready, baby.
4. Use a flexible metal spatula to transfer that bad boy out of the skillet, and onto your awaiting toast and tomato. Sprinkle with herbs, freshly-grated salt and pepper, or what-have-you. Promptly transfer to your slavering maw.
It’s breakfast time, baby!
6. Bellow “BREAKFAST!” and get out of the way. And admit that it couldn’t be much better, or easier, or I-did-it-myself-ish.
Voila! Now aren’t you proud of yourself? Of course if you want to make this breakfast for company you can add many things: a slice of onion, a slab of avocado, a bit of mustard, spinach leaves, and so forth. But that might take more than 5 minutes. Just a warning.
Now go on, Gentle Reader, and make your breakfast! And have a great day, you!
Here are the rest of the 5-Minute Breakfast Missions, all neat and orderly just for you.
- Lighthouses, Seagulls, and enough Charming Miscellanea to choke a cat: Road Trip Part 4
- My 11 Very Favorite Heirloom Tomato Varieties (this year!)