How to make The Breakfast

I wouldn’t have posted this if the comment thread on “The sad truth about toasters” hadn’t extended to an almost ridiculous length, but…

I dearly love classic American breakfast food. I delight in the kind of cheap hot breakfast you get at humble roadside diners. I think it’s one of the glories of our folk cuisine and will cheerfully eat it any time of the day or night.

I posted a fancy breakfast-for-two recipe a while back (Eggs a la ESR). What follows is the slightly plainer breakfast I make for myself almost every morning. It’s the stable result of a decades-long optimization process – I haven’t found a way to improve it in years.

Ingredients:

* Two large eggs. Ideally from chickens fed with bugs, not grain; makes a difference.

* Four strips of lean, thick-cut bacon.

* A slice or three of onion (variation in amount doesn’t matter much).

* Half of a small lime.

* Tuscan garlic boule. Get it at your local Wegman’s; it’s a respectable supermarket imitation of Italian artisan sourdough bread. The garlic adds savor. If you can’t get this exact bread, make it some sort of sourdough.

* About an ounce of dark chocolate.

* Butter/olive-oil spread blend. Land-O-Lakes is a good one; there are others.

Tools:

* One heavy 12.5-inch diameter non-stick skillet. (I’d use a real iron skillet, but cleaning and maintenance on those is a PITA so I reserve that for special occasions.)

* One non-crappy toaster set to golden-brown level.

* One 22-ounce pub mug.

* Generic cutlery (bread knife, chef’s knife).

* Wooden cutting board.

Procedure:

The reason I specify the step order I do is that this optimizes prep time. The whole prep and cleanup takes less than 6 minutes. But linger over the breakfast itself, it’s worth it.

Pull the buttery spread out of the fridge so it’ll have time to soften while you cook.

Lay the bacon in the skillet; start cooking it on low heat. I use one of those mesh grease-shield things over the skillet to contain spatter. It may also reflect enough heat to improve the bacon slightly.

Cut a generous slice of boule, cut it in half, and drop the half-slices in the toaster. Don’t start the toaster yet.

Haggle-cut the onions. Do this a little roughly so you get variation in texture; this gives a more interesting result than mathematically-precise dicing. Do this after cutting the bread, not before, as you don’t want moisture from the onions on the uncut part of the boule you’re going to put away.

While the bacon is cooking, fill the pub mug with cold filtered water and squeeze the half-lime into it. Don’t drop the lime in, otherwise you’ll get bitter oils from the lime rind in your water. A bit of this would be OK, but if you let the lime sit in the water too long the effect can be quite unpleasant.

Allow the bacon to cook until chewy and slightly crisp around the edges. Set it on a paper-towel-covered plate to drain. Either roll up the paper towel with the bacon inside it or put an inverted plate over it to slow down heat loss.

Put the onions in the skillet. Stir them around a bit so they pick up some bacon grease. Turn up the heat slightly. Push the onions aside to make room for the eggs.

Crack the eggs into the skillet and break the yolks. I like to keep them from running together to make later flipping easier.

Note that a bit of delay between adding onions and eggs is no bad thing when you’re not in a hurry. Giving the onions another 10 seconds on their own increases the odds that you’ll get some caramelization going.

Allow the eggs to cook until their top sides start to bubble just a bit. Flip them over; turn off the heat, the rest of the cooking is courtesy of the pan’s thermal inertia.

Now start the toast. Your objective is for it to pop just after you get the rest of the food on the table.

When the eggs look cooked, plate them and the onions and the bacon. If you timed things right, the onions have a bit of browning/caramelization around the edges.

Lightly salt the onions. Add hot-sauce of the day to the eggs. Most days this is plain old Tabasco, but I do vary it.

Your toast should pop about now. Butter and lightly salt it.

Bon appetit! Finish with the chocolate and the last of the limewater.

Notes:

By the time you’re done eating the skillet will have cooled enough to make it easy to rinse out. I’m not fanatical about fully washing it; if the bacon-grease buildup is light and there isn’t obvious carbon, that’s just flavor for the next day.

I used to do fresh mushrooms rather than onions and would still prefer that, but gave it up because they left heavy carbon deposits even on a non-stick pan.

The dark chocolate isn’t just there because I like it; it’s a neuroprotective, a pleasant way to decrease my stroke risk. I think this more than offsets the risk from the sugar. A good winter alternative is to have a cup of hot chocolate with The Breakfast – I favor Godiva Dark.

Cheaping out on the bacon probably hurts this composition more than anything else you could do to it while leaving it recognizable. Don’t do that. Good meaty bacon anchors the whole thing.

On the other hand, using bottled lime juice is not a sin against this recipe. Fresh-squeezed is better but not the really dramatic improvement it would be with respect to orange or grapefruit juice; it might be that most people wouldn’t taste a difference.

The Breakfast is a sort of anchor ritual for my day. I frequently deal with a lot of challenge and novelty, by choice. It’s good to have a fixed point in my routine, and this is it.

If you are very lucky, consumption of The Breakfast will be regularly accompanied by leg stropping and purrs from a friendly orange Coon-cat who considers this an important part of his morning ritual.

157 thoughts on “How to make The Breakfast

      • * seconds KerryGold

        It also doesn’t require planning 3 months in advance to pull it out of the refrigerator if you want butter soft enough to spread on something.

          • There is also just putting it out on the table, unless your climate would liquefy it.

            We had to stop doing that, though, after we discovered that our first cat liked to climb onto the table and lick the butter. After that we kept it in the fridge and started calling him “Krsna Cat”!

          • Have you ever noticed that butter, especially an entire 1/4 lb block, heated in the microwave melts from the center outward? Or is my microwave strange?

      • So do Walmart and Sam’s Club, tho $8/lb. for butter is kinda out of my budget. And remember, if you can still see the food, there’s not enough butter!

        But try Wright’s Pecanwood or Applewood bacon (availability ditto, at normal bacon prices), which are also not very salty. Ruined me for other bacon.

        And my local Walmart carries eggs from the Hutterites, of superior flavor, only slightly elevated price, and instant availability. (Medium-yellow yolks, neither too many weeds nor too few bugs; I prefer the yolk raw, for best flavor. Of particular note, the whites of said eggs are not bland and tasteless.)

  1. Oooh, nice. You’re right about the timing; I find that’s the hardest part of a cooked breakfast, getting everything out so it’s hot and fresh at the right time. Especially with three children underfoot :)

    A quicker but still indulgent breakfast I recently introduced to my co-workers at a work breakfast: glazed chocolate donuts dipped in Guinness. Quick, easy, and very tasty. Not much nutritional value, but.

    I seem to recall you don’t drink alcohol, so this might not be to your taste, but I suspect it’ll appeal to a few folks here. I was introduced to the idea by Peter Cresswell, one of the founders of the Libertarian movement in New Zealand.

    • Libertarians in New Zealand?

      Who knew?

      (beautiful country. Know anyone that will sponsor visas?)

  2. My grandfather’s childhood friend was a trainer of Navy cooks in WWII. He shared with my wife and me his fool-resistant egg frying method:

    Find a clear lid for your egg pan.
    Add one half shell of water to whatever quantity of eggs you’re cooking.
    Pour the eggs into the pan, season as normal, and cover with clear lid.
    As the eggs cook, a film of steamed white will become visible climbing up the yolk.
    When the eye closes, the eggs are done (yolk thickened but runny).

  3. “I delight in the kind of cheap hot breakfast you get at humble roadside diners.”

    How much of this is due to the fact that said humble roadside diner is ubiquitous in your area in a way it isn’t damned near anywhere else?

    And what is “haggle-cut”?

    • >How much of this is due to the fact that said humble roadside diner is ubiquitous in your area in a way it isn’t damned near anywhere else?

      Probably not that much. I grew up overseas where they didn’t exist – only discovered the style during my college years because there happened to be a very good breakfast place near me on the Penn campus.

      I know such places are really common as far west as Michigan and all the way south to the Gulf Coast. They really thin out that much further West?

      >And what is “haggle-cut”?

      I wondered if that would throw anybody. It’s a slightly archaic term for a mincing/slicing technique that is deliberately sloppy, so you get ragged variable-sized pieces of whatever.

      • only discovered the style during my college years because there happened to be a very good breakfast place near me on the Penn campus.

        Do you recall which it was? I used to live in that neck of the woods before moving to NYC. I might have eaten there.

        >Dennis

        • >Do you recall which it was?

          I’ve been trying, but…alas, no. I remember where it was; on 38th street just north of campus. Many’s the time I’d stumble homeward from a night of hacking, eat an enormous breakfast there (eggs, bacon, tea, OJ, corn muffins…oh those corn muffins) then collapse into bed.

          • Okay. I lived south and west of there, so may not have eaten there. I lived for several years on 43rd and Baltimore Ave. One of my favorite restaurants was a place called Casper’s, which a friend described as “The only German restaurant, run by Greeks, in a black neighborhood” that he knew of. 48th street was the dividing line between white and black West Philly in that area, and Casper’s was on 49th Street. Burgers to die for. I ate there fairly regularly when I was a metalworker in a shop on 48th Street. That was an, um, interesting experience.

            >Dennis

      • I’m not quite sure I’d put a Kerby’s on the same plane as a Philaelphia diner. I would, however, put a Waffle House there, though the menu doesn’t quite fit the usual diner style.

        That kind of roadside diner isn’t common in Minnesota, really. Or Iowa. Ther ar a few that are consciously 50’s diners, but they tend ot be more upscale destination kind of places rather than just a spot to grab a quick bite.

        • >I’m not quite sure I’d put a Kerby’s on the same plane as a Philaelphia diner.

          Philly and Jersey diners tend to have a lot larger range of lunch and dinner menu items, that is true. But when compared as breakfast places they’re pretty similar.

          Actually a Kerby’s has it over a lot of Philly diners in one respect; I can get gyro meat with my eggs, which I will do if I have the option.

  4. “your local Wegman’s”. Sigh. If only I had a local Wegmans. Check your grocery store privilege. :P

    • I had to look up what Wegman’s was, I hadn’t heard it before =p

      Not too often do I get to experience the other side of the coin. I can talk about Fred Meyer and Winco to other people and often get “Huh?” replies. These two stories predating Walmart by a good few decades have actually managed to keep the Seattle area as one of the few places Walmart has never gained a strong footing in.

      • >I had to look up what Wegman’s was, I hadn’t heard it before =p

        I might have to write a post on what the existence of Wegmans means sometime. There’s a lot there about what it takes to develop a loyal customer base under modern conditions and what retailers can do to fight disintermediation. Wegmans has mastered these strategies – so much so that even I will describe myself as a fan because they have worked successfully to gain some degree of loyalty from me.

        Competitive prices, very broad selection, staff who are friendly and actually like their jobs, store brands that generally don’t suck (stay away from the olive oil, though, it’s a sad exception), and stores that are actually fun to walk around in rather than being sterile overlit hangars. Wegmans doesn’t just make traditional supermarket chains look pathetic, it makes a serious run at displacing yuppie boutique outfits like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

        I think the two drivers behind most of this are purchasing scale and figuring out a lot of little things that make it actively pleasant to shop there. I know how some of them work; one of their tricks is varying inventory in some parts of the store (like the imports section) often enough that I can expect to find something new and interesting whenever I check in. They have other tricks that work but I don’t quite understand how, like the Romanesque architectural details.

        • @esr: Wegmans doesn’t just make traditional supermarket chains look pathetic, it makes a serious run at displacing yuppie boutique outfits like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

          As it happens, Trader Joe’s is the Last Man Standing in supermarkets near me. The space it occupies used to be a Food Emporium (an A&P unit), and there was a Gristedes (local chain) and Sloans (local chain) also in the area. The others went under.

          Trader Joe’s isn’t really Yuppie boutique. It’s a unit of the same parent company that also owns Aldis, and they have a similar strategy. Low prices, good service, good selection, and lots of house brands rather than name brands. The prime distinction I can see between Aldis and Trader Joe’s is what they stock, and that is determined by the demographics the stores serve. (The area of NYC I live in is Yuppie, so…)

          Aldis is also known in some places for reduced selection – stock only a few brands of staples the customers buy. The customers tend to be pressed for time. They want to go in, get what they need, and leave with it quickly. They don’t want to be confronted with a large number of brands to make choices from, and spend time making the choices.

          We’re within convenient distance of a farmers market, so fresh produce comes from there. Meat comes from various sources (like we just visited a Polish place in the Rockaways that is our preferred sausage vendor, and there’s a market in Chinatown with the best roast pork.) Other stuff comes from Trader Joe’s and we’re happy.

          One bit that did bemuse me – other supermarkets all had a line of checkout stations with conveyor belts and clerks to ring up and bag, and a station or two specifically for <10 items for quick checkout. TJ's has a block of checkout stations whose clerks hold up paddles in indicate they are free, and a staffer perches on a ladder and directs customers in line to the next available station.

          It works well enough with the caveat that if you just need an item or two, the wait in line might be a non-starter, and simpler to go to the corner deli. You'll pay more, but be out in 5 minutes rather than 30.

          >Dennis

        • > [O]ne of their tricks is varying inventory in some parts of the store (like the imports section) often enough that I can expect to find something new and interesting whenever I check in.

          Novelty sells. That’s Marketing 101. But it works best with an upwardly-trending demographic (or at least one that thinks it is).

          > They have other tricks that work but I don’t quite understand how, like the Romanesque architectural details.

          Is this idiosyncratic to you? Or do you think it appeals to the rest of their target audience?

          I would be very interested to know how prices compare there against a local outlet of some cut-throat, least-common-denominator national (or multi-regional) chain. Think Kroger, Albertsons (Acme, Safeway Inc., United Supermarkets, and several others) or Ahold Delhaize (Food Lion, Stop & Shop, Giant-Landover, and more). Given that the usual grocery store gross margins are on the near order of 3%, there’s not much room for innovation or even experimentation when you’re competing at the bottom dollar.

          • @John D. Bell: Given that the usual grocery store gross margins are on the near order of 3%, there’s not much room for innovation or even experimentation when you’re competing at the bottom dollar.

            Food retailing is a classic example of commodity sales. It’s the same milk, eggs, juice, what have you, regardless of whose name is on the label, so purchase devolves to price. You make pennies on the dollar, and the goal is to take in as many dollars as possible to make pennies on. The key financial indicators for supermarket health aren’t profit margins, they are inventory turns and return on assets.

            What the markets near me did was try to move up the value chain. Stock the staples, but offer higher margin prepared and gourmet items, with frozen and prepared stuff front and center. They spent a lot of thought on where to place what to get the shopper to buy. They assumed that the shopper was generally in a hurry and wanted to get stuff and leave fast, and their scarce resource was time. They also appeared to assume that most of their customers didn’t do a lot of cooking at home. Kitchens in apartments tend to be space constrained, and busy two income families often didn’t want to spend the time cooking proper meals required. That might get done on a weekend, but during the week was another story. And while all had regular promotions, they were classic loss leaders – price some stuff cheap to get the customers in the store for sale items, gambling that while they were there they’d buy other higher margin stuff too.

            >Dennis

          • >Is [liking the Romanesque stonework] idiosyncratic to you? Or do you think it appeals to the rest of their target audience?

            I don’t know for certain. But they obviously spent a lot of money and effort on that look. Can’t think they’d have done so unless they were sure it would be a draw. And every signal I can read says their market positioning is very carefully thought out.

          • >Given that the usual grocery store gross margins are on the near order of 3%, there’s not much room for innovation or even experimentation when you’re competing at the bottom dollar.

            It’s true. I think part of what Wegmans is doing is pushing purchasing at scale really hard. I think this is something they learned from big-box retailers like Home Depot and Walmart; consequently I don’t ever expect to see a small Wegmans.

            If I were executing their business strategy I would site only in places where expected volume can easily justify a big box. It’s the Home Depot theory applied to groceries, basically.

            • I recall when Wegman’s built their first Ithaca store (around 1986), it was larger than the recently built Safeway next door (which at the time was the largest Safeway I’d ever seen). Some years later, Wegmans replaced the store with an even larger one. Wegmans seems to place large stores in less expansive locations in upscale areas.

              Consumer’s Checkbook did a price comparison of a basket of goods among supermarkets in the Washington DC region some years ago, and if I recall correctly, Wegmans had slightly better prices than Giant and Safeway.

              • >Wegmans had slightly better prices than Giant and Safeway.

                “Slightly better prices” matches what Cathy and I observe here in Southeastern PA.

                It’s also the exact result predicted if part of their core strategy is big-boxing: to lower their per-unit costs by volume-purchasing at a scale other grocery chains can’t even keep in inventory, let alone sell fast enough to sustain.

            • @esr: If I were executing their business strategy I would site only in places where expected volume can easily justify a big box. It’s the Home Depot theory applied to groceries, basically.

              Or CostCo and the other “warehouse” retailers, or the Walmart supercenter.

              Buy in enormous volume to get economies of scale and lowest pricing. (And with pressure on vendors to produce defined amounts at specified levels of quality, at desired prices. It’s a two edged sword for vendors called the Walmart Effect, as smaller ones may find they can’t make money at the prices Walmart demands, but can’t stay in business at all without Walmart.)

              It requires lots of open real estate at reasonable prices to be able to erect one of these Big Stores, and if possible an area which is either union free or doesn’t have laws that require employers to hire union labor. (I believe being firmly non-union is what has kept Walmart out of NYC. NYC isn’t hopelessly union ridden, but there is enough union clout to make trying to keep them out more trouble than many employers feel like taking. Easier to set up shop somewhere that they don’t have to jump through those hoops.

              >Dennis

            • I’ve seen & shopped in small Wegman’s stores, back when I was a grad student at the University of Rochester. But even then, the “good” Wegman’s stores were what we dubbed the “Mega-Weggies” out in the suburbs.

              The closest substitute to Wegman’s I’ve been able to find in my current area is the Wisconsin chain Woodman’s.

              • >I’ve seen & shopped in small Wegman’s stores, back when I was a grad student at the University of Rochester.

                Probably predating full embrace of the big-box strategy. I’m pretty sure they’re not building any more small ones.

                I should have mentioned that due to its size and the style of the exterior stonework, my wife and I refer to the Wegmans two miles from here as “the Palace of Consumption”.

            • The average Wegmans is about 100,000 square feet, double the average Safeway (Safeway being a reasonable proxy for most grocery stores). They are a “destination” in a way grocery stores normally aren’t. “Retailtaimment” is a word you’ll hear applied.

              They are privately owned and quite geographically limited.

            • You also have to push higher margin prepared foods.

              I used to work about a mile down the road from a Wegmans and on occasion we would go there for lunch. And we could. The selection of available ready to eat foods compared well with a decent deli. And there was seating.

  5. Another small tip, that especially important for eggs: heat your plates, either in the oven or (a quick option) by running them under hot water and drying them.

  6. Speaking personally, the SO and I collect diners. A proper diner is owned and operated by Greeks, is open 24/7, and serves breakfast 24/7. They get extra points if they have grits and/or scrapple on the breakfast menu. We cut slack for circumstances.

    For instance, there’s one a few blocks from me in Manhattan that is open 6am till midnight seven days a week. Most of their business is lunch and dinner trade with locals and businesses, and they don’t have the traffic to justify 24/7. (There’s a big office building next to them that is where all the interior design and furniture suppliers apparently landed, and they get standing orders from firms there for lunch delivered to a conference room for staffers.) But they have things like gazpacho in the summer, and that’s one of those simple sounding dishes it’s easy to get wrong.

    I’ve accumulated about 55 business cards from diners so far, with date visited and anything special (like grits or scrapple) noted on the card. They’re fairly ubiquitous in the Northeast and do exist elsewhere. (See http://www.waymarking.com/cat/details.aspx?f=1&guid=a136c8bd-5dba-4073-a23a-2110acdca4c4 as one place to check where they might exist.)

    Kat and a couple of friends of ours have allergies, and like diners because we can be aware of what is in the dishes we order. (Peppers are out for Kat unless she wants a blinding migraine. Our friend Bill has a life-threatening allergy to peppers.)

    Whenever we encounter a new one, my traditional test meal is breakfast, with bacon, eggs, home fries, and toast. I can eat that meal at any time and be happy.

    I’ve made breakfast similar to yours in the past, with the main variant being I prefer eggs sunny side up, not over easy, and I don’t usually want an omelette, but your production process is about what I’ve done for the same reasons.

    >Dennis

    • > A proper diner is owned and operated by Greeks

      There’s lots of regional variation on this. It’s all Greeks all the way down in Michigan and I do get the impression they’re a majority in NYC, but in South Jersey and Philly a large percentage of otherwise archetype-conformant diners are run by Italians. You spot these by the absence of gyro meat in the breakfast sides. :-)

      • Lots of the diners I’ve encountered were founded by Greeks, but passed on to Other Hands. For that matter, so did the Italian places. I was taken to dinner by a friend at a high end Italian place in NYC years back. We got into a conversation with the Maitre’D, who explained that most Italian restaurants had passed on to Other Hands. Grandpa and grandma came over from the old country, set up a restaurant, worked 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, and became an established middle class family. The kids went on to be doctors, lawyers, brokers and the like, and had no interest in carrying on the family business, so the next wave of immigrants took them over. He described interviewing a guy for a job as a waiter, and asked “Where are you from?” The applicant named a village across the border from what used to be Yugoslavia. “Who are you bullshitting?” responded the Maitre’D. “You’re a Yugoslav! You’re from my: town!” :-p

        And diners change as the neighborhood does. We ate at one where the waitress was a older middle-aged woman who looked like she’d worked there since it was founded, but while it was definitely a diner, the dinner fare had a heavy Caribbean influence, because most of the locals at that point were Caribbean ex-pats. I was tickled.

        >Dennis

        • After growing up in New England and the northeast, Its taken a bit to acclimatize that this family restaurant diner story here in Phoenix is by overwhelming majority told by Mexicans, and it can range from 1st to 3rd or more generation in a family depending on location.
          Because that story is a huge part what makes up a diner, its alive and well out here.
          For a New England boy, a diner was a building made by the Worcester Lunch Car Company and run by a Greek family, and pretty much nothing else qualified.

          • >family restaurant diner story here in Phoenix is by overwhelming majority told by Mexicans

            So I’m curious: 24/7 breakfast is a given, but do they do the signature diner foods of the Northeast (deli sandwiches, gyros, cheesecake) and upper Midwest (gyros), or is it just breakfast and Mexican-influenced food?

            What I’m trying to get at here is how much they’ve adopted the diner template by diffusion from where it originated in the Northeast, versus how much is local parallel development.

            • My previous mention of gyros should have had a historical note attached.

              While these are now ubiquitous in Northeastern and Upper Midwest diners, they’re not part of diner food from ancient times. Originating as a Greek variant of the Turkish doner kebab, they weren’t mass-produced in the U.S until around 1973. This was almost 50 years after American diners assumed their modern form.

              I think I first had one around 1981.

              (Note to my readers in England: a gyro is almost identical to what you call a “kebab”. Ours doesn’t have fries stuffed in it, though, and is likely to include shredded lettuce. If you say “kebab” to an American, he will think first of “shish kebab”, roasted meat chunks and veggies on a skewer. Divided by a common language…)

      • As a Jersey native, I always assumed that a true Jersey diner has the following properties:

        – owned/operated by a Greek family
        – open 24 hours, closed only on Christmas and Greek Easter
        – breakfast is available all day
        – all of the following items on the menu:
        — disco fries
        — happy waitress sandwich
        — various triple-decker sandwiches
        — Taylor ham
        — fried zucchini sticks

  7. Our household’s routine day to day breakfast is oatmeal (made with about 12.5% less water than Quaker recommends) with banana slices or applesauce (blueberries used to be a third option, but our digestions can’t handle the acidity now), and with Kerrygold butter and either ginger or cinnamon. When I feel ambitious we have eggs (scrambled or over easy). I discovered just lately that cooking them in butter makes them far less likely to stick to the skillet. I recommend adding some cumin to scrambled eggs; the flavors harmonize really well.

    I’m afraid I’ve disliked toast since my childhood; even slightly browned bread tastes nasty to me. So I have no opinion on how to prepare it. When we breakasted at the Antique Row Cafe in San Diego I would indulge in buttermilk biscuits, but baking intimidates me (cooking is an art, but baking is a science, akin to chemistry).

    • >I discovered just lately that cooking them in butter makes them far less likely to stick to the skillet.

      For variety, try cooking them in olive oil. Not better necessarily, but interestingly different.

      • Well of course if you want to get technical, you have to weigh out your oats; bake them to a known humidity, have water of a specific purity and temperature… etc.

        However. A far larger issue is the shocking omission of maple syrup from the list of necessary additions. No amount of precision of care can correct for that.

  8. Speaking of archaic diners serving the All-American breakfast, don’t fail to visit Pete’s Kitchen here in Denver or a similar namesake located in Moab, Utah at the base of the road leading up to the Sickrock trail. The latter is literally like stepping back in time to the 1950’s with preheated heavy ceramic plates and mugs, real cream for your coffee, and all the cooking takes place directly in front of the countertop at which you are seated. Do this at sunrise and then head up to the Sickrock for the first ride of the day.

  9. baking intimidates me (cooking is an art, but baking is a science, akin to chemistry.

    I’ve done both. The trick with baking is that exact ingredients, amounts, temperatures, and times are critical. Cooking allows you to be more approximate and substitute. Baking doesn’t. Cooking recipes are suggestions. Baking recipes are requirements.

    >Dennis

    • To me, a baking recipe should be treated like Heathkit instructions: follow them exactly, even when you think you know better – because you usually don’t.

      • What I find I end up doing is following instructions precisely at first, maybe the first 3 or 4 times. While performing these iterations, I’m actually thinking about exactly *what* is going on that makes it work.

        Once I understand the ‘biochemistry’ going on (I’m not delving into texts, just a high-level understanding of what reactions/changes are going on) I find that I can then start freestyling and switch into ‘mad professor’ mode, experimenting for fun :)

      • Unless you’re backing nitrocellulose, deviating from the instructions when baking doesn’t have nearly the same ramifications.

        Also sometimes you DO know better. If you’re living in Idaho Springs, CO and you follow EXACTLY the instructions from your mom, who lives in Mississippi, you may very well get significantly different results.

        • See above about exact ingredients, amounts, temperatures, and times.

          And geographic locations can bite. As on off the top of my head example, consider water. I live in NYC. NYC’s tap water is very good, thank you.

          In NYC, I’ll happily use as much tap water as the recipe for what I’m baking calls for. If I lived in Atlantic City, NJ, I’d use bottled water, as AC has “not drinkable straight from the tap” water with a high mineral content.

          >Dennis

          • >AC has “not drinkable straight from the tap” water with a high mineral content.

            Interesting. You write as though unaware that some people prefer hard water.

            Depends on what one is used to, I think. I happen to have spent most of my life in hard-water areas and soft water tastes just slightly flat and lacking to me. Not enough that I avoid it or anything, but I do prefer mild mineralization. I’m sure there are people who have a learned preference for much stronger mineralization than I like.

            • Municipal water tastes appalling to me. If it isn’t from a well or spring, I’ll opt for bottled. This isn’t pedantic snootiness at play here, but a punch-in-the-face revulsion to the taste.

              Also, altitude plays a part in cooking too. The boiling point of water where I live is 208F. Sometimes that can make a difference.

              • The crappy water in Lincoln, NE with which one of my aunts made instant iced tea made me hate all tea for years, before I learned that when you brew it fresh, it’s much better. We use reverse-osmosis water for all drinking and cooking at home ever since The Bride of Monster had to have ultrasound kidney-stone blasting, and had bloody pee for two weeks (into jugs that she had to take to the doctor so they could monitor how she was doing. The lime in KC water is just horrible.

            • @esr: Interesting. You write as though unaware that some people prefer hard water.

              No, I write as though I don’t. I understand that what you grow up with is right and proper to you, and that includes what you consider drinking water.

              I’m also concerned about water used as an ingredient in something else. For instance, I drink fine spirits, where with a cask strength spirit, you might want to add a few drops of water to open it up. You do not want the water to add its own flavor, so if you aren’t someplace like NYC, you use bottled spring water. And I’d be reluctant to use really hard water in cooking for similar reasons.

              >Dennis

      • “… should be treated like Heathkit instructions….”

        And not just baking, but I struggle with “If all else fails. . . .” at the beginning of (nearly) every project.

        George Brower

    • I have been known to eat an entire gammon steak – seared in the skillet to get some caramelization going on, and topped with 3 eggs SSU.

  10. Pingback: Breakfast – Wince and Nod

        • Before esr and before HST there was Casanova…quote from a footnote in Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman:

          “Except for Giovanni Jacopo Casanova (1725-1798), famed amourist and litterateur, who revealed in volume 12 of his Memoirs that, as a matter of course, he carried around with him at all times a small valise containing ‘a loaf of bread, a pot of choice Seville marmalade, a knife, fork, and small spoon for stirring, 2 fresh eggs packed with care in unspun wool, a tomato or love-apple, a small frying pan, a small sauce pan, a spirit burner, a chafing dish, a tin box of salted butter of the Italian type, 2 bone china plates. Also a portion of honey comb, as a sweetener, for my breath and for my coffee. Let my readers understand me when I say to them all: A true gentleman should always be able to break his fast in the manner of a gentleman, wheresoever he may find himself.'”

  11. I find whatever I add to eggs, they still taste like eggs, and that gets boring even every weekend, let alone every day. Eggs are one of the healthiest stuff to eat but I could really deal with some not-egg-tasting-eggs for variety. Specifically, it is the yolk that gives that taste, the whites are nearly tasteless. But it is also the yolk that has the vitamins, the testosteron-precursor cholesterol etc. All my eggs are from “bug-eating” chicken i.e. free range and barn, that is not the issue. Usually barn (“Bodenhaltung”).

    Kerrygold must be a really big operation if they are capable of shipping from Ireland to America and to Austria implying roughly everywhere in the broadly Western world. How are they able to keep up quality with quantities like that? Though I tend to buy butter mixed with olive oil, as it is spreadable at every temperature. There is also a guilty pleasure, French butter mixed with sea salt. So much salt. Probably not healthy, but so delicious.

    • >There is also a guilty pleasure, French butter mixed with sea salt.

      Yeah, the butter/olive-oil combination I use is seasoned with sea salt, too. It’s delicious.

      Since you are not from the U.S. I will note that The Breakfast differs from the Platonic ideal of American breakfast in some respects:

      (1) My preference for limewater is a bit eccentric. Most Americans would expect orange juice in that slot.

      (2) Eating chocolate for breakfast is not a U.S. thing at all – I’m showing obvious decadent European influence there.

      (3) Toast is definitely part of the Platonic ideal, but making it from Italian bread a little odd.

      (4) Most Americans would expect hash browns – slang for shredded and lightly fried potatoes – rather than fried onions. But there’s a wrinkle here; hash browns, while ubiquitous in diner and restaurant breakfast, are too labor-intensive for most individual cooks and seldom made at home.

      What are Hungarian breakfast customs like?

      • Every once in a while, I just *have* to exert myself and go the extra distance to make a big mess of corned beef hash browns. Topped with caramelized onions, mushrooms and eggs SSU (and runny as heck), plus a quality hot sauce (sorry ESR, Tabasco does not qualify in my book – too vinegary and no depth of flavor).

        Washed down with a big mug of mangalam tea.

        I’m all set for the day ;)

      • (2) Eating chocolate for breakfast is not a U.S. thing at all – I’m showing obvious decadent European influence there.

        You’re right about us decadent Europeans: I’m late for work every damn morning, and don’t have time to prepare a proper breakfast. So nowadays my “breakfast” is usually a small piece (~5 grams) of 85% dark chocolate. At least it wakes me up :)

      • @esr: (2) Eating chocolate for breakfast is not a U.S. thing at all – I’m showing obvious decadent European influence there.

        You have never noted chocolate chip pancakes on diner menus? Muffins made with chocolate chips are also popular breakfast items.

        And consider mocha as a morning beverage. (I sometimes add cocoa powder to the coffee grounds when I brew coffee in the morning.)

        Chocolate’s not a big thing in US breakfasts, but it is a thing.

        >Dennis

        • What I meant, of course, is that eating bar chocolate or bon-bons at breakfast (as I do) seems a bit odd and decadent to most Americans.

          Hot chocolate for breakfast is merely slightly luxurious, and chocolate bits in muffins or pancakes pass without remark. So do chocolate-covered doughnuts.

          I don’t have a generative explanation for these rules either. Food taboos often seem rather inexplicable.

          • I can explain the thing about no Chocolate for breakfast in America.

            Note that until the early 90s (near as I can tell) “chocolate” in the United States meant *Hershey’s*, aka “Milk Chocolate”, aka *really sweet candy*.

            Also note that it wasn’t until what, the 1960s? that breakfast cereal became “chocolate coated frosted sugar bombs”.

            What constitutes a good breakfast is complex, and often highly contextual, but a small bucket of table sugar (sucrose/fructose) is almost never appropriate. Chocolate, as noted above, is still thought of as candy.

            Same thing with having cake for breakfast. Cake is bad. Doughnuts are less bad. Muffins are healthy. Chemically they could be identical.

            • >Cake is bad. Doughnuts are less bad. Muffins are healthy. Chemically they could be identical.

              Well, except for the on-average decrease in amount of sugar that tends to get slopped all over them and in them. I think this significant to the implied “candy-for-breakfast-is-decadent” rule.

              But then, people commonly eat doughnuts with an amount of sugar I find deeply disgusting on them, so I may be completely wrong.

              Make mine plain or old-fashioneds with no glaze or powdered sugar, please. I actually like the taste of doughnut mix.

              • I don’t think there’s a significant difference in the amount of sugar per bite between Chocolate Cake, a Chocolate Chip Chocolate Muffin, and a bowl of Coco-puffs.

                Keep in mind that SEVERAL brands of apple juice have *added* sugar.

              • Oh man…there is nothing finer than fresh hot doughnuts right out of the oil. They practically dissolve in your mouth.

    • Have you tried powdered cumin? I’ve been putting it into scrambled eggs and omelets lately. It does more to moderate the “still taste like eggs” effect than any other seasoning I’ve tried. Of course I still wouldn’t want to eat eggs even as often as once a day, whereas I can eat oatmeal day after day without getting tired of it.

  12. My breakfast (currently) is very consistent, and way simpler.

    1 hard boiled egg, because I dislike eggs, but they are good for me.
    3-4 sausage links, or patties. depending on size.
    Some fruit.
    800mg Ibuprofen, and a couple “supplements” for specific things.
    Coffee.

    That’s M-F. Saturday is Bacon day (substitute the bacon for the sausage above). Sunday is salmon and cream cheese on crackers. These are not as consistent as the above.

  13. 50 years and several river valleys ago, I was hooked at the usual small hours by the 24-7 student special (eggs, potatoes, meat (bacon, sausage, or ham), toast, and coffee) at Nick’s. It’s been expected to open RSN, after renovation, far too long.

    Now, we breakast at a 6:00-3:00 diner-like place on Friday, but a session of (cough) irregularity led to fruit salad (mostly melon) the rest of the week. I’ve come to like it (SO smirks), but. . . .

    George Brower

    • >the 24-7 student special (eggs, potatoes, meat (bacon, sausage, or ham), toast, and coffee) at Nick’s.

      Ah, comfort food. I think Americans who have never lived overseas for long periods tend to dismiss places like Nick’s as the utilitarian low end of our food culture and compare them unfavorably to what they know of functional near-equivalents like Italian trattoria, but this is unjust. They have a simple beauty and fitness-for-purpose about them – what they do (which is deliver inexpensive but really satisfying food any time of the day or night) they do very, very well.

      I’ve lived in three countries overseas and traveled in two dozen others, and there’s nothing really as good as your Nick’s at that job anywhere I’ve been. All the near equivalents to the American diner have, by comparison, some combination of: narrower menus, higher prices, laughably restricted hours and food that frankly is often not very good compared to the American quality floor (I’m remembering some grim experiences in British workingman’s cafes). I note that that last part is not necessarily or entirely the fault of the local cooks – the range and quality of food ingredients available inexpensively in the U.S. is difficult to match anywhere else.

      Our diners impress me more because they’re not anybody’s deliberate, mannered attempt to showcase the best of America. They’re businesses that want to sell food to everybody – capitalism and democracy producing an unintentional, unpretentious folk idiom that works. If you judge a culture by the quality of the experiences it can afford everybody, not just its elites, I look around a diner on a busy morning and I see – I’m not kidding or being ironic about this – one of the peak achievements of human civilization.

      There are many things Americans take for granted about which I wish they understood they can be rightly proud. Our diners are one of them,

      • From my occasional travels to Italy to visit family, the only disappointing food in that country is breakfast. Usually coffee (typically excellent in quality) and a small pastry or something.

        I haven’t travelled too many places, but America has the best in class breakfast of anywhere I’ve been, and the east coast has the best breakfast I’ve had in the US. I’m told that the UK has good breakfast too, and that’s where our breakfast tradition is originally from. But American breakfast is just all-around great. Even McDonald’s can make a reasonable breakfast.

        • >east coast has the best breakfast I’ve had in the US

          Interesting. I’ve generally found that the breakfast quality improves as I go south. Except grits, ugh.

          >I’m told that the UK has good breakfast too, and that’s where our breakfast tradition is originally from

          Yes. I’ve lived and traveled in the UK and can address this from experience.

          UK greasy spoons try hard and some of them approach U.S. quality levels, but they’re hampered in a couple of ways. One is that the quality of ingredients we take for granted in low-end American restaurants is only available in Britain at prices that pretty much preclude use in “workingmen’s cafes”. As a result, their food is often at best mediocre by our standards even when the cooks know what they’re doing.

          (Try finding fresh-squeezed OJ in Great Britain…or anywhere in Europe. You’ll get an education that will never grow dim or doubtful.)

          The other problem is that British cooks often don’t know what they’re doing, at least not by American standards. To be fair, large swathes of pop American cooking used to be nearly as execrable, but we got better in the 1980s, while it has taken the Brits a lot longer to even begin to improve and they aren’t nearly caught up yet. Give them time.

          A few years ago my wife and I experimented with a retro-American place a few miles from us that looked like it hadn’t redecorated since the 1950s. Turns out once the food got to our table that the recipes probably hadn’t changed since then either – it was like a culinary time capsule from when I was an 8-year-old in the suburbs of NYC circa 1965.

          It was a strange experience. There was simultaneously nothing obviously wrong with the food and yet the flavor we expected was simply missing. None of the nuances of cooking technique and seasoning that later worked their way into American food had made it here. I could tell this was food had I enjoyed as that 8-year-old child, but adult me found it clumsy and bland.

          British cooking is often still like that.

          • Interesting. The only thing I’ve had really good in the south, breakfast-wise, is biscuits. But maybe that’s just a matter of what I order, which is typically eggs, bacon, and potatoes. Occasionally pancakes, and my taste in diner pancakes is very northern, I guess.

            Now, barbecue, fried chicken, etc. is a completely different story. The South knows how to make lots of delicious things.

            And that sense of something missing in a frozen-in-time diner’s fare, I know exactly of what you speak. There’s a couple such places by me. They must stay in business from pure nostalgic inertia, because there are so many better options.

          • @esr: The other problem is that British cooks often don’t know what they’re doing, at least not by American standards. To be fair, large swathes of pop American cooking used to be nearly as execrable, but we got better in the 1980s, while it has taken the Brits a lot longer to even begin to improve and they aren’t nearly caught up yet. Give them time.

            My ex-pat Brit mother was a classic example. She was a superb baker, but at best a mediocre cook. There were a few things she did well (and I could occasionally lobby for steak and kidney pie or roast beef and Yorkshire puddig), but other things I never appreciated till I moved away from home and had them prepared properly, like liver and onions. Meat was cooked to the consistency of shoe leather, vegetables were a grey amorphous mass, and ground black pepper was treated with horror. (We had it, but mom couldn’t understand why I used it on food…)

            My understanding is that cooking is improving in the UK, and pub food (depending upon the pub) can be reasonable, but people eating out seem to eat Indian or Chinese food.

            I’ve been delighted to see America develop taste buds over the decades. At one point in the 80’s, I worked for a big NYC bank. We had a holiday party at a French catering space, arranged by a French speaking secretary in Marketing. I found myself at the table with the Region Finance Director, the Accounting Manager, and the Financial Controller (who was my boss). The Finance Director in particular was Midwestern white bread, whose notion of dinner was meat and potatoes.

            “What’s this?”

            “That’s a salad with Dijon mustard dress Jeff. And that’s a mushroom stuffed with crab meat. It’s only the best thing I’ve ever eaten…”

            “I dunno. I prefer meat and potatoes…”

            I managed to not run screaming onto the night, but it took some doing.

            >Dennis

            • >I managed to not run screaming onto the night, but it took some doing.

              I feel your pain. My international childhood raised my standards; on top of that, my mother became a spectacularly good cook. I can dimly remember when she wasn’t, but she evolved a lot. In fact she eventually clued in enough to actually apologize for some of the Gallery-of-Regrettable-Food horrors she had shoved at me before she knew any better. By the 1980s I would have had exactly your reaction.

              >I’ve been delighted to see America develop taste buds over the decades.

              Tell it, brother. I’d been in this country for at least five years after my family came back in ’71 before I saw a decent piece of bread. But things started to change pretty rapidly in the early ’80s. The yuppies did it, I think – when appreciating gourmet food became something people who weren’t top 1% did, it created a lot of high-end demand.

              The thread-relevant thing this did was that there was a kind of pull-through effect; American folk cuisine upped its game a lot during that decade. I remember the changes quite vividly; like you, I was in a better position to notice them because unlike most Americans at the time I had previously tasted food of the quality popular culture around me was suddenly reaching for.

              Even things as simple as seasoning steaks. Yes, there was a time when American backyard cooks didn’t know how to use butter and garlic and black pepper at the grill – the poor damn Brits are still that benighted, last I had a chance to check. Small changes like that become hard to notice retrospectively. Like the first time I saw Cajun seasoning at a non-fancy restaurant outside Cajun country. Delaware, about 1986. Threw me for a delighted loop.

          • “Except grits, ugh.”
            Yankees, go fig.

            Any speculation on why good ingredients are that much more expensive over there?

            • >Any speculation on why good ingredients are that much more expensive over there?

              Well, the U.S. having 50% more arable farmland than the entire EU and higher productivity is a pretty big clue I think. We have a supply-side glut of food, so much so that U.S. farmers would perish without the export trade.

              • That’s about right. Fresh squeezed OJ is an example. They don’t grow oranges in the UK – wrong climate – so good luck getting them.

                Export markets are critical, but so is size and crop mix. A profile of a family farm I saw recently covered a farm operated by three brothers. They learned farming from their father, and leased their acreage from him. They farmed about 1,500 acres down south, and grew cotton and peanuts. One thing they were insistent about was doing as much as possible themselves. The invested heavily in capital equipment because the last thing they wanted to do was hire seasonal labor. Combine harvesters pay for themselves by reducing labor requirements. And they grew crops where economies of scale kicked in. If possible, they were looking at acquiring another 1,500 acres, because they needed to grow and sell a lot of the crops they grew to make money at it.

                The farmers selling at the farmer’s market near me aren’t nearly that large, but they grow a different crop mix that sells for higher prices, and many of their customers at the market are chefs buying for their restaurants. Their economics are very different. (And there are an assortment of artisan distilleries that are outgrowths of those farms – distilling what they grow into spirits is another, and often higher value, use for what they grow than simply selling the harvested products.)

                >Dennis

                • > They don’t grow oranges in the UK – wrong climate – so good luck getting them.

                  They don’t grow oranges in Pennsylvania, either. So there has to be more to it than that.

                • They don’t grow oranges in the UK

                  That’s not the problem. The problem is that they do grow them in Spain, hence they’re ‘protected’ by the Common External Tariff. Fortunately, that soon won’t be a problem for us (well, either that, or the govt will bottle it and we’ll have to revolt or something).

          • I was much more sensitive to strong tastes back when I was 8 years old. Things I eat and enjoy now tasted vile or were actively painful back then, and not just spicy-hot things, either.

            There are some things that I still find vile, even as my friends and family happily chow down on them. I also have friends who are much more meat-and-potatoes than I am. So I have to wonder how much the preference for bland vs well-seasoned/flavored food is an acquired taste, and how much is an inherent “this tastes like poison!” reaction that varies from person to person.

            • I think you’re exactly right about there being an innate component to it.

              I have that exact kind of “this tastes like poison” (or more precisely, “this tastes like rot”) reaction to a lot of cheeses, most vinegar, mayonnaise and sour cream. It’s not the /sourness/ in the latter three either: I’m fine with them if that’s all I can taste. I usually like sour things. To me there’s a rotten undertone to all of them, and cheese and mayo just utterly dominate the flavor profile of the dish. There are exceptions, though, and I’m otherwise a big fan of strongly-flavored foods. My brother’s the same way. My parents, OTOH, can’t get enough of all of the above and find the kind of smoked and highly seasoned foods that I like to be a bit too much.

              • >“this tastes like rot”

                Data point: I have this reaction to fermented cheeses (but not unfermented), sometimes mildly to sour cream, never to vinegar or mayo. I too also like spicy, smoky and strongly-flavored foods just fine.

                I believe with me there is something about a lot of fermentation products that other people routinely consume that my body is telling me to stay well away from. I can’t stand the taste or smell of alcohol, either.

                You sound to me a lot like you might be allergic to a different but overlapping range of fermentation products.

              • I like cheese in general, but don’t like fermented cheese (when I get Greek food I say “Hold the feta…”) and don’t normally like *cooked* cheese. (I ask for Philly cheese steaks without the cheese.) The exception is mozzarella on pizza, and I like a good french onion soup . I have never been able to stomach macaroni and cheese, either , but that’s likely a reaction to being force-fed it as a kid and barfing it back up. I will take the word of aficionados that properly prepared mac and cheese can be a wonderful thing. That I can’t eat it is my problem.

                • Our new local favorite restaurant is a barbecue place run by a guy who grew up and learned to run a restaurant in Wichita Falls. He makes regular trips to Texas to get mesquite to feed his smoker. And yes, he also knows how to make chicken fried steak properly. My go-to Saturday morning breakfast these days is chicken fried steak and eggs, hold the hash browns, and a biscuit. If he did grits, I’d get those instead of the hash browns.

                  He also has some less traditional dishes…including mac and cheese with a nice, creamy, thick cheese sauce, topped with brisket. Mmmmmmm.

          • @esr: east coast has the best breakfast I’ve had in the US

            Interesting. I’ve generally found that the breakfast quality improves as I go south. Except grits, ugh.

            Grits, ugh? Do you like hot cereals, like oatmeal, farina, or cream of wheat?

            Hominy grits are another variant, and if the restaurant serves grits, I may have them instead of potatoes with bacon, eggs, and toast as breakfast. Grits with salt, pepper and a pat of butter are wonderful things.

            >Dennis

            • >Do you like hot cereals, like oatmeal, farina, or cream of wheat?

              No, I find them all quite nasty. Can’t stand that texture.

              • @esr:>Do you like hot cereals, like oatmeal, farina, or cream of wheat?

                No, I find them all quite nasty. Can’t stand that texture.

                Then you won’t like grits. Probably not corn meal mush, either, which means you are unlikely to like scrapple or polenta.

                I adore oatmeal, and happily consume farina and cream of wheat. Texture is not normally something that makes a difference to me in food. My selectors are mostly smell and taste.

                >Dennis

                • Texture doesn’t make a *lot* of difference to me in food…except slimy. I hate tomatoes that haven’t been processed into unrecognizability because they’re slimy, to me. Okra….bleh, disgusting.

                  • @Jay Maynard: I have no problem with fresh uncooked tomatoes (and the local farmer’s market has some lovely heirloom varieties.) I’m less fond of them cooked, and don’t care for tomato soup.

                    I second the feelings on okra. I’ll accept that it can be nice if properly prepared, but it’s one of those things you grow up eating and likely don’t get if you haven’t. I didn’t grow up eating it, so…

                    >Dennis

                    • I like tomato soup, as long as it’s not some sort of tomato bisque with chunks of tomato. But Campbell’s classic tomato soup, made with milk, and a grilled cheese…omnomnomnom.

      • It’s interesting that the exact same thing happened in Canada (which is one of the very few countries that shares the US’s wide selection of high quality/low-cost ingredients).

        Now a proper breakfast up here is a little different (typically you can add a stack of crepes or flapjacks, usually instead of the hashbrowns, and of course back bacon makes an appearance often), but has evolved in much the same way. We also don’t have the diner culture of the eastern US, with pancake houses being the effective equivalent (and also slowly dying like Diners).

        • Most NJ diners will allow you to swap pancakes in for the toast and potatoes, often at no charge. I don’t know how common that is universally.

          Canada is the land of maple syrup, so I’m not surprised. But we have access to excellent maple syrup from Vermont and a few other states.

        • >of course back bacon makes an appearance

          Not a fan. I’m totally down with the flapjacks instead of hashbrowns, though. Especially if I can get real maple syrup with them.

          Are buttermilk pancakes a thing in Canada? I like those.

          • Buttermilk pancakes are definitely a thing in the more Anglo-influenced areas.

            And BTW, I definitely share your feelings on back bacon, but it is definitely part of the traditional breakfast up here.

  14. I think I’m fortunate that my breakfast requirements can be satisfied with a chocolate eclair and a Dr. Pepper…

  15. Butter-oil spread?

    You goddamn monster.

    (I kid.

    Sort of.

    But … butter. Use butter.

    I assume, not remembering, that you simply don’t drink coffee, which is the only way I can see lime water as fitting “traditional breakfast”…)

    • >But … butter. Use butter.

      Hey, I like the blended-in olive oil – it’s a nice light creamy effect. And the sea salt.

      I still cook with real butter.

      >you simply don’t drink coffee,

      Correct. But the limewater isn’t replacing the coffee I don’t drink, it’s replacing orange juice. When I want a hot drink with breakfast I make hot chocolate. Not the oversweetened kiddie crap you’d probably think of but strong, dark hot chocolate with an almost (but not quite) mocha taste.

      Possibly related note: caffeine doesn’t work reliably as a stimulant for me.

      • That’s several times you’ve mentioned lime water. I quite enjoy lemon water, the brightness can be extremely refreshing, but would never have thought to try lime water.

        Is the increased bitterness, at least compared to lemon water, a feature?

        • >Is the increased bitterness, at least compared to lemon water, a feature?

          I don’t experience lime water as being necessarily more bitter than lemon water; it depends very much on the lemon, some have a slight bitter undertaste and some don’t. But I find limes to have a more complex and interesting flavor than lemons.

  16. I re-read this several times and didn’t see ‘black pudding’ on your list. I assume it must have been a typo ;)
    There are some great suggestions here in the comments, I’m going to try a bunch over the weekend…

    • >I re-read this several times and didn’t see ‘black pudding’ on your list. I assume it must have been a typo ;)

      No, actually it was because I like to keep my breakfast down after I eat it.

      Black pudding. Dear Goddess, was that invented during a drunken attempt to come up with a foodstuff nastier than haggis? It’s not as horrifying as surströmming, I grant, but that is damning with exceedingly faint praise.

      • Well sir we’ll have to agree to disagree, then.
        For me, there’s hardly anything better than some fried slices of boudin noir with a dash of cayenne pepper.

      • OK, when you mentioned you don’t like back bacon, I was willing to let that slide — on the all-the-more-for-us-then* principle — but your contention that black pudding is “nastier than haggis” is unsustainable. While haggis is, indeed, unpleasant, the same cannot truthfully be said of black pudding. While I wouldn’t want to eat it too frequently, it is a good way to put a bit of variety into a fry-up now and then.

        * and not a sheep in sight…

        • >but your contention that black pudding is “nastier than haggis” is unsustainable

          To be fully pedantic about this, I didn’t actually say that. I speculated that it must have been invented as the result of an attempt to create a foodstuff nastier than haggis based on the ingredients list – I don’t know because I’ve never tasted an actual black pudding, but I’m texture-sensitive and I fully expect that the combination of pig’s blood with oats, cooked, would produce a mouth feel I’d find absolutely nauseating.

          I have, as I said, lived in England, but it was in London in the 1960s at a time when London street culture disdained prole and rural food from the outer regions, so I never encountered a black pudding. (But, a few years later as a D&D creature…) Nowadays I suspect it’s been romanticized into heritage food and people eat it partly as an expression of British rootsiness. American barbecue is like that – formerly obscure regional food that has been elevated into a vaguely patriotic national-culinary-pride thing during my lifetime. Not without fully deserving it, mind you – I’ve eaten many overseas equivalents and only Brazilian churrasco or Korean bulgoki really compete.

          I have eaten fry-ups without black pudding in British workingman’s cafes, most recently in ’95. I liked the sauteed mushrooms but didn’t care for the effect of beans and tomatoes at breakfast. Sorry to report that the line cooks were incompetent by American standards; the food was underseasoned and parts of it came out cold that shouldn’t have. I was utterly unsurprised by either defect and only hope standards have risen since.

          • You simply must read “Argentina on Two Steaks a Day”.

            Having never been to Argentina, I can’t vouch for its accuracy, but it’s hilarious.

            • >You simply must read “Argentina on Two Steaks a Day”.

              I have. And yes, it is.

              Dulce de leche is a culinary cry for help. It says “save us, we are baffled and alone in the kitchen, we don’t know what to do for dessert and we’re going to boil condensed milk and sugar together until help arrives”.

              http://idlewords.com/2006/04/argentina_on_two_steaks_a_day.htm

              Also not to be missed is the same author’s The Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel

              Weehawken residents still recall the great blackout of 2002, when computers running the braking coils shut down and for four hours burritos traced graceful arcs into the East River, glowing like faint red sparks in the night.

      • Surströmming! ugh! I draw the line at Lutefisk. Surströmming is another level nasty! I’d rather have haggis *with* black pudding than that stuff.

        My pet anthropological theory is that the Nordic cultures raided France so often because they were *hungry* and couldn’t bear to eat some of the culinary atrocities that come from their homelands.

        • >My pet anthropological theory is that the Nordic cultures raided France so often because they were *hungry* and couldn’t bear to eat some of the culinary atrocities that come from their homelands.

          It is rumored that this is also why the British acquired an empire.

  17. Here’s a great breakfast:
    Make 2 pancakes, use them as a sandwich.
    2 scrambled eggs and bacon in the middle
    cover the thing in syrup, and here’s where you get creative: dust it with powdered sugar.
    oh and also heat the plate, make it nice and toasty

    A luxurious breakfast fit for a king

    • >here’s where you get creative: dust it with powdered sugar.

      You had me until that bit; I dislike the effect of powdered sugar. If I had the stuff available I would drizzle maple syrup on the stack. Very lightly, just enough to moisten the pancakes a little. Now we’re talking!

      /me continues to love breakfast food.

  18. BTW, Eric, one more reason to come to LibertyCon next year: the City Cafe Diner just a couple of blocks away from this year’s hotel (and easily accessible by free downtown shuttle bus) would, I suspect, meet with your full approval.

  19. Eric, I hate to pollute your comment section, but were you aware that Communist and 9-11 Truther Van Jones is going to speak at Open Source Summit NA?

    “You’ve never seen a Columbine done by a black child. Never… Now, a black kid might shoot another black kid. He’s not going to shoot up the whole school.” Sorry, Mr Jones, that is simply not true. “Van Jones cheers ‘Roseanne’ demise, rips ‘bigot who is a conspiracy theorist,'” pot, meet kettle.

    I am going to kick up a petition to send to the Linux Foundation (the organizers). Would you agree to sign? (Assuming the petition body is reasonable, but firm, of course.)

    • >I am going to kick up a petition to send to the Linux Foundation (the organizers). Would you agree to sign? (Assuming the petition body is reasonable, but firm, of course.)

      It would have to be phrased carefully. I have taken a strong stand against excluding people from giving technical talks due to their politics. The petition would have to affirm that the undersigned reject political tests for technical contributors, objecting to Van Jones on account of his presentation being necessarily political and his Communism and conspiracy theorism necessarily bring the open-source community into disrepute.

      • Speaking personally, I think the way to deal with folks like that isn’t censorship, it’s ridicule.

        Having someone like that present at a gathering of people who actually know stuff, can convincingly refute his nonsense, tie him into very public knots of self-contradiction, then point and laugh loudly and publicly at his ignorance and idiocy is likely to be far more effective than preventing him from speaking at all.

        If he actually gets a receptive audience at that gathering, the Linux Foundation arguably deserves what it will get.

        >dennis

  20. “I used to do fresh mushrooms rather than onions and would still prefer that, but gave it up because they left heavy carbon deposits even on a non-stick pan.”

    Mushrooms work very well with egg dishes, but you don’t want to carmelize them. Cook the onions longer than the mushrooms, and expect the mushrooms to be chewy rather than crunchy.

    • >Mushrooms work very well with egg dishes, but you don’t want to carmelize them.

      I never tried. Low heat, lots of butter, looking for a light saute effect. Got carbon anyway.

            • >Honestly that sounds more like spores than canonization.

              Going to presume you meant “caramelization”.

              Possibly. We are talking fresh mushrooms; they’re cheap, abundant, and good here in southeastern PA. Something around 50% of the U.S.’s mushrooms for sale are grown in a town called Kennett Square not far from where I live.

              • Sigh, autocorrect strikes again. Was supposed to be carbonization which you mentioned earlier.

                You really really shouldn’t be making charcoal from lightly simmering something in butter.

      • > Low heat, lots of butter, looking for a light saute effect

        Ah, that’s the bug – better to dry saute mushrooms (a trick I learned from Hank Shaw at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. Use that recipe just for the technique.)

        Dry wipe off the mushrooms (or rinse them and use a paper towel to get them as dry as you can). Rough chop or thick slice them. Medium heat in a dry, preheated skillet. Dump them in (not too many at a time to prevent overcrowding, but one breakfast serving’s worth won’t be too many), stir continuously with the spatula until they start to “squeak” (yes, really) and shrink by half or more. Finish with a large pat of butter to put a nice gloss on them. When I do it in a cast-iron skillet over a gas burner, it leaves no residue to clean up, as long as I don’t let them stick. (Did I mention continuous stirring?)

        Obliviously, somewhat more work. I’ll try to figure out how to include them in The Breakfast without completely wrecking the optimization of the workflow (including cleanup).

        • >I’ll try to figure out how to include them in The Breakfast without completely wrecking the optimization of the workflow (including cleanup).

          There’s that, also mushrooms don’t keep very well. Any suggestions other than store in a cool dark place?

          • > [A]lso mushrooms don’t keep very well. Any suggestions other than store in a cool dark place?

            Cool dark, dry place. (Watch that your ‘fridge isn’t too humid.) I put them in a brown paper bag, and try to remember to turn it over every other day or so.

            Also, eat them up in a hurry! ;-}

            • The best way I’ve found to keep mushrooms is in an unglazed terracotta container. This works significantly better, IME, than either a brown paper bag or the original cellophane-wrapped package.

  21. [On feeding chickens bugs] I’ve seen some videos on YouTube about how to feed and harvest Black Soldier Fly Larvae (the people who do this avoid using the word “maggot” for obvious reasons) to feed to your chickens (who happily devour them). The beautiful thing about the system is that you basically throw your garbage into a giant barrel, let the BSFL consume it, and when they’re ready to pupate, they climb out the barrel via spiral ramps and “self-harvest”, making it one of the lowest-labor food-production methods around, with only the initial capital costs and no ongoing feed costs at all. It’s become a big thing in “permaculture” circles.

    And as you point out, the eggs taste so much better when the chickens are getting enough protein in their diets.

  22. @Jay Maynard: I’m not revolted by tomato soup. I can eat it. I simply prefer not to, and it isn’t something I’ll order. Grilled cheese sandwiches fail for me on the “I don’t care for cooked cheese save on pizza” quirk.

    If the pair work for you, consume mass quantities.

    >Dennis

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