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.

Winning Black Friday

So Thanksgiving dinner has been served, eaten, and cleaned up.  Most of the relatives have gone home, and you’re reclining, semi-comatose, on the sofa.  Then Aunt Minnie from Altoona begins talking about Christmas shopping, and she Wants.To.Start.Tonight.

You’ve got a few options.

#1-Get up and toss her, Uncle Jasper, Cousin Viola, their luggage, and their 3 yappy, incontinent dogs outside, lock the door and turn off the lights.

#2-Get up, put on your shoes and jacket, and take them for 4 or 5 hours of bruising, shoulder-to-shoulder turkey night shopping.

#3-Get up, program their GPS for the best local retail Mecca, put some good music on in the kitchen, and while they’re gone get some relaxing, solitary prep done for tomorrow’s breakfast.

If you pick #3, I’ll guide you through the almost Zen-like process.  It’s simple and low-key, kind of a cool-down exercise from the earlier frenzy.

My breakfast menu consists of scrambled eggs, easy homemade hash browns, fall porridge, and awesome, delicious brown sugar pecan scones.

I made up this first recipe just this morning, for my own breakfast.  It was hella good and kept me full for hours.

Start with the hot cereal.  Any type will work, from instant oatmeal to slow-cooked grits (I used Special K Nourish).  What makes it special is this topping.  You can make fruit and cereal tonight, and heat them up in the microwave before service.

Harvest porridge

4 unpeeled pears, cored and cut into ½ inch cubes

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons maple syrup or brown sugar

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup chopped almonds

½ cup golden raisins

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat non-stick skillet and melt butter.  Put in everything except raisins and vanilla.  Cook on medium.  When the pears and almonds are browned, add raisins and vanilla, and stir ‘til hot. Spoon onto hot cereal.  Serves four.

     My dad loves them, but I never understood scones.  They’re not quite muffins, not quite biscuits.  They just seemed dry and weird.  That was before I tasted Chef Jason Cunningham’s brown sugar pecan scones at the Washington Duke (3001 Cameron Blvd, Durham).  They’re neither dry nor weird.  Flaky and tasty, these are what scones are supposed to be.  Thanks to Chef Jason for the recipe.

Make these the night before up to the refrigeration stage, and bake them off in the morning.

Brown Sugar Pecan Scones

Yield 18

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cake flour

2/3 cup light brown sugar

2/3 cup Butter

1 Tbl baking powder

Pinch Salt

1 large egg

½ cup whipping cream

½ cup orange juice

¼ cup chopped pecans

1 Tbl vanilla extract

Combine all-purpose flour and baking powder and mix thoroughly. Reserve.

Cream butter in a stand mixer until soft. Add brown sugar, salt and vanilla and cream until fluffy.  Add eggs and beat until fully incorporated.

Add cake flour and combine and then add the orange juice. Add half of the all-purpose flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.  Add the cream, incorporate and then the remainder of the flour mixture along with the pecans.

Do not over-mix! Once all ingredients are incorporated, wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate.

Once dough is thoroughly chilled, place on a floured work surface and roll to approximately ½ inch thickness. Cut into triangles.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake approximately 12-20 minutes until golden brown.

     These hash browns are so simple you can quickly make them in the morning.  It’s the only way I make them anymore.

Homo habilis hash browns

In a non-stick skillet melt 2-3 tablespoons butter.  Grate 1 unpeeled potato per diner directly onto melting butter.  Grate in about 2 teaspoons yellow onion per potato.  Salt and toss to mix.  With spatula, flatten in pan and cook on medium until golden-amber around edges (8-10 minutes).  Put plate on top of pan and carefully flip onto plate, cooked side up.  Slide back into pan and cook other side, 6-8 minutes.  Slice into wedges, and serve.

     You can go through all this, or do what I do.  Go to someone else’s house for dinner, go home and do most of your holiday shopping online in your pajamas, then sleep in on Friday.

Good luck, and happy Thanksgiving.

Thanks for your time.