Is It Brunch? Or Dunch?

It would be really easy for me to give you the polite, for-company explanation; “Petey worked 7P-7A for so many years, it reset our circadian rhythms.

But, despite the fact that it may pinch, or embarrass, or make me sad, I always endeavor to tell you, Gentle Reader, the truth.  So, here’s the dog-honest truth.From the day I was born (in the late afternoon, I might add), mornings and I have had a sincerely adversarial relationship.  1AM is the shank of the evening, and my morning does not comfortably start until at least 12-1PM.

Growing up, it drove my folks around the bend trying to get me out of bed for school.  When The Kid was in school I bemoaned the absolute lack of night school for second-graders.It’s just how I’m built.  I worked 7A-3P in a hospital lab for a year.  People told me that after a while, I’d get used to it and become a morning person.  I hated and dreaded every single day of it.

Every.Single.Day.Luckily, Petey has a matching loose screw.  We actually take turns getting up early (for us); first with our child, and now with our dog.

And, I usually eat a little something upon rising.  But, I’m not sure what to call it.

By the time I get up, walk the dog, take care of a few things, I sit down with a light meal somewhere north of 2PM.  So, is it breakfast? Brunch? Lunch? Is it dunch (dinner/lunch)?Breakfast for dinner, though, I have no problem naming.  Heck, I love breakfast for dinner so much, I’d happily call it Fred.

Fred’s a wonderful meal.  It’s easy to cook; because every item’s normally one cooking technique.  And there’s a lot of stove-top cooking, which keeps you close so that you’re forced to keep an eye on things. So, here are a few tips and methods that will make your breakfast for dinner a treat, and not a penance.

1.) For scrambled eggs; use a blender so there’s no weird white stuff.  Use a tablespoon of butter for every two eggs.  Season the eggs right after they go in the pan.  Stir constantly, cook quickly, and keep them a little wetter than you want to eat them, as they’ll continue to cook on the plate.2.) Hash browns; melt butter in a skillet, then toss shredded potatoes and onions in butter to coat.  Cook in a flat cake, flip when browned, and cook on the other side.  At a stove-top setting of 3.5-4, they should take about 15-20 minutes to cook.

3.) If you have some not-so-fresh biscuits or scones, melt butter in a pan, place in biscuits, cover, lower temp to 3 or so, and cook for just a couple minutes.  This will heat it through and crisp one side.  Remove cover, add more butter to pan, then flip and crisp on the other side.4.) If you take nothing else from this epistle, clean up as you go along.  Breakfast can make a mess of your kitchen.  Keep your counters cleared and wiped.  Throw food waste in the compost or trash can right away, not the sink—that stops the quick rinsing and washing up that will save your sanity. Get your prep work done and cleaned up before cooking anything.  Set your table and have beverages and condiments ready.  If you use a dishwasher, have it empty and ready to receive the oncoming storm.So, call it breakfast for dinner, call it Fred, call it Agent Colson, just don’t forget to call me when it’s on the menu.

Thanks for your time.

Potluck Jackpot

Maybe you spent too much on shoes, and payday is still a few days away.  Maybe you’re on a fixed income.  Maybe more than one person in the family has “La Grippe” (antique term for influenza), and a trip farther than the mailbox and/or trash bin right now is about as doable as a quick jaunt to Paris for lunch.  Or, maybe you’re snowed in.

But there are empty bellies, and the accompanying sad eyes.  So whatever chain of events brought you to this juncture, it’s here.  You’ve got faces to feed, and you’ve got to do it with what you have on hand.To research what might become dinner with a seriously depleted larder, I decided to play a mental version of Chopped, a Food Network show where the competing chefs get a basket of disparate odds and ends, then try to make something original and edible.

For inspiration, I chose a few items from my freezer, and inventoried my pantry.  You probably won’t have the same ingredients (that’d be weird and a little creepy), but maybe something similar that could spark some ideas.

I found a bag full of chicken from a ginormous rotisserie bird I plucked from Costco.  I’d already used half of the meat so had about 3 cups of clucker.

With it I could make:chicken dishesChicken salad flavored and sauced according to what else is in the kitchen.  I could make tacos.  Or mix it with some Eastern NC bbq sauce and have barbecue night.  Chopped and added to a frittata along with whatever kind of cheese on hand and some par-cooked spuds.  Folded into some cheese sauce and spooned over rice or pasta.  Stirred into soup or white bean chili.

There’s a package of pre-formed hamburgers in the freezer.  I could make them as burgers and dress them according to what’s in the fridge.

But.There’s no law that says they have to stay burger-shaped; or if I leave them as burgers, how I must fix them.  I could make burger parmesan by laying them in a dish, covering with marinara and melting some mozzarella on top.  I could make a cream sauce and have creamed beef burgers on toast.  Remold them into meatballs and slowly cook them in sweet and sour sauce, or a sweet smoky barbecue sauce.

But what if that proverbial cupboard is well and truly bare?  Say you’ve got one blue box of mac and cheese, and a few odds and ends of this and that.You could add veggies, like broccoli or shoe peg corn.  You could add bacon to it and then top it with a poached egg.  Or, make a frittata by pouring the mac which you’ve prepared according to directions in and around the beaten egg in the skillet.  If you want something that takes a little more work, but is heretically indulgent—make the mac, cool it, slice it, and then do a three-part dredge (flour, then egg wash, then breadcrumbs), let it set up in the fridge for at least an hour, then panfry it to golden brown.  Top with something green and lightly dressed; for contrast and to lighten it up some.And last, but actually one of my favorite need-to-go-to-the-grocery-store dinners is breakfast.  I scramble up a mess of eggs.  I always have a few potatoes floating around my kitchen, which I make into hash browns.  Then I add toast, or bacon, or even a small salad.  It’s the kind of feel-good meal that might just make you forget (or not care) why you couldn’t make it to the supermarket in the first place.Thanks for your time.