The Most Important Meal of the Day
October 6, 2010 § 3 Comments
Breakfast is unquestionably my favorite meal of the day, especially if allowed to throw brunch under that umbrella as well. These days, my breakfasts during the week are eaten at my desk and tend to be the usual yogurt, oatmeal, toast, etc (except of course on “bagel day” at work which until this job I referred to as Thursday). The weekends in New York City are a bruncher’s paradise, but I’m usually happiest with a nice latte and pastry or muffin from a nearby bakery or café.
Perhaps one reason why I love breakfast so much is that many of my fondest family meal traditions revolved around breakfast. While they can’t be called glamorous or highbrow, my family’s go-to breakfast treats are definitely memorable. While my mom spearheaded lunch and dinner most days when we were growing up, my dad was the breakfast ringleader mainly because he would be up early for rounds at the hospital. My most vivid breakfast memories took place during my “only child” glory days until Lizzy was born when I was six. Our usual breakfast on week days consisted of the typical cereal, bagel or toast, but we let loose a bit of the weekends.
While my dad was an expert at French Toast and pancakes, we usually reserved those for special occasion or everyone’s favorite “breakfast for dinner” (which due to the breadth of his repertoire was often on the menu he was left to preparing our evening meal). Instead, we opted for nothing other than Sara Lee Pecan Coffee Cake straight “from our grocer’s freezer”. This classy breakfast was only elevated by the fact that we both hated pecans so spent the first 5 minutes of our morning carefully extracting them from the otherwise delicious cake prior to diving in. One would think we would have sought out a nut-less frozen breakfast pastry, but this method suited us just fine.
When we found the freezer devoid on coffee cake, we resorted to cereal – more specially cornflakes which were my dad’s favorite. This seemingly healthy start to our morning was quickly counteracted when my father would open the sugar jar and we would both liberally scoop a few spoonfuls (err…tablespoonfuls) on top. The key, I learned early on, was to let the sugar settle to the bottom of the bowl and then scoop a slurry of sugar and milk up with each bit of flakes. To this day, I will not forget the sweet, slightly grainy/crunchy texture that resulted.
When visiting my grandmother in Atlanta, even more glorious breakfast treats awaited me. Hours before my mom and dad would stir, my grandmother and I would head downstairs to her kitchen to have our own special breakfast consisting of bacon, bacon, frozen honey buns and more bacon. Once my mother swears I had made it halfway through the 1-pound pack of bacon before she intervened. While my passion for bacon has not waned, luckily my consumption is down to a slice or two every now and then at brunch.
Luckily as I grew up, my family’s taste in breakfast took a classier turn, and I would now like to introduce you to my favorite Gregory breakfast tradition: Dewey’s Moravian Sugar Cake. The best news: These are available online to be shipped across the country. Years ago, when this was not the case, my paternal grandmother would drive 6 hours to Winston Salem and literally filled her tiny car to the brim with 5-6 dozen of these to give as Christmas gifts to friends. She purposely made this marathon trip alone because a passenger would have only squandered space for more cake! Probably a good thing as I don’t know how anyone could survive the ride with the cinnamon sugar aromas that must have been wafting all around. My family now keeps a good stock of sugar cake in the freezer and breaks them for special occasions or when the craving hits. We just let them thaw overnight in the fridge, dab a couple of pats of butter on top (this leads to ideal puddles of sugary goo when baked) and bake it for 10-15 minutes until it is bubbly, slightly browned and crisp on top. Just writing about sugar cake has caused me to consider adding a few to my shopping cart on the Dewey’s website right now!