“There is no sadness in the world that can't be cured by breakfast food.”
This, however, is not a post about sadness. It's a post about breakfast food and making do with what you have. The recipe for “Country Breakfast,” as Eleanor saved it in The Box, is not a recipe at all. It is, in fact, nothing but a list of ingredients.
At first I was kind of irritated at her about this. I am super organised, to the irritation of everyone who has ever had to live with me, and so this kind of nonsensical clipping of only the ingredients but not the recipe flies in the face of everything I stand for. I kept rolling my eyes every time I saw the non-recipe, wondering how I was supposed to come up with directions to make something that she hadn't even correctly saved, BUT THEN I realised something.
The ingredients for “Country Breakfast” are listed at the bottom of a newspaper page. At the very bottom of the list is a note that reads “(Please see EGGS, Page 12-D).” So as it turns out, I was mad at Eleanor when I should have been mad at the St. Pete Times for laying out their paper so badly. I mean, how are you supposed to make this dish if the recipe and the ingredients are on two separate pages of a newspaper? If this issue of the paper wasn't twenty-seven years old, I'd send them a complaint.
On second thought, Eleanor probably took care of that for me.
Lately, I live for the weekends, which is kind of silly, really. I'm currently in the middle of a job search, so really every day is kind of like a weekend for me. But it's harder to have fun on a Monday than it is on a Saturday because during the week everyone I know is at work. Enter the weekend, where Judson and I get to pal around, sleep in, and do whatever we want-- but we get to do it together, which is way more fun.
When we lived in the States, we used to sleep in on Saturday mornings and then go out for brunch somewhere. It was a ritual, and we adhered to it religiously. We'd do a crossword puzzle while we waited for our table, I'd get coffee and a hundred refills while Judson drank tea, which I still thought was gross, and then we'd tuck in to a delicious brunch and be set until dinner.
Brunch, however, is a peculiarly American institution-- when I had a German friend come stay with us for two weeks, Judson and I got up on Saturday morning and asked our friend if she wanted to go get brunch that morning. She literally giggled and said “Brunch! Is that even real? You guys are so... American.”
But when we moved to Scotland, two things happened: first was that we were living on a single income, and second was that there just isn't as great of a brunch scene in Edinburgh as there was in Atlanta... or, I'd hazard a guess, anywhere in the US. So we started making our own weekend brunch. Usually eggs and beans (a British breakfast thing that I used to think was weird but now really love) and a scone or whatever we have on hand. Now we know the town and we're more financially set, but we still make our own weekend brunch, because, as Judson said this weekend when we were happily munching on Country Breakfast, “we just make better breakfast than any restaurant can.”
4 Spoons out of five. This breakfast is delicious, hearty, and filling, but it does, however, dirty a ton of dishes. It's not super fast, either, so if you're hungover and just need all the bacon on your plate as soon as possible, it's probably not a great option. BUT it reheats like a charm and we found it even better the second morning we had it as leftovers, so if you have guests coming, make it on Friday evening and everyone will think you're Martha Stewart the next morning when all you had to do was sleep in, have a mimosa, and reheat the pan.
2 large potatoes (or equivalent in small ones), cubed
6 slices bacon, pancetta, or lardons, diced*
1 onion, sliced
1 green pepper, chopped
1 c cheddar cheese, grated
*As always, if you're in the UK, use lardons, not bacon, because UK bacon doesn't make the grease you need to cook everything else. If you're in the US, use bacon, and know that I am supremely jealous.
Boil potatoes until fork-tender.
While potatoes are boiling, fry bacon until crisp but still tender.
Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and set it on a paper towel to drain, leaving the grease in the pan.
Cook the onion in the bacon grease until translucent and soft, then add green pepper, scraping up bits from the bottom and stirring frequently.
When green pepper has softened (3-5 minutes), add the potatoes to the pan and season to taste with salt and pepper (go easy on the salt since the bacon and cheese will both impart some saltiness).
While potatoes fry in the pan, fry the eggs, sunny side up, until whites are opaque but yokes are still runny.
Just before removing the potato mixture from the heat, add the grated cheese and give the mixture a last stir to melt the cheese.
Taste and season as needed.
Divide mixture into fourths and serve in a bowl, topping each serving with a fried egg.
Serves 4, heartily.
Note: I suspect this would be great with some garlic added in with the onion, and if you're trying to cut carbs, I also suspect it would be great with mushrooms instead of potatoes-- just clean and slice the mushrooms and add them raw to the onion/pepper mixture. Also, if you go that route, you could always wrap each serving in a flour tortilla and have the greatest breakfast burrito this side of New Mexico!