categories: foodish, unquiet things
I’m a morning person. (“Booo! Hisssss!!” Don’t think I can’t hear you!) No, but really, I am. Once I’m awake, I’m not really the sort of person to lie in bed scrolling through facebook until my limbs feel like moving in human ways again. But the key here is, “once I’m awake”–because I can very easily roll over and go right back to sleep, and perhaps even sneak back into the same dream I was dreaming before the alarm interrupted my slumber. But once I am actually out of bed, there is no going back, and I honestly prefer it that way. Mornings are the best. The earlier the better. I’m not even the sort who can lounge around in my pajamas once I’m no longer burrowed under the covers; nope, once I am out of bed, I am committed.
And it’s not because there’s “a whole day of possibilities” before me (barf! and also, they’re probably all bad) but because at 5 o’clock in the morning, no one is calling you on the phone. That’s right. I hate phone calls so much, I will wake up at five in the morning just to enjoy some ring-free quiet time.
I don’t typically want breakfast within these first few hours of waking; that would feel too much like rushing things along, and I don’t think my digestive bits are even ready to clock in at this point. During this pre-dawn time of day, I prefer to take things slow. I like the still, quiet atmosphere of a world just beginning to regain consciousness, and I softly make my way through this world on tiptoes so as not to alert it to my presence. No teevee, no radio or music or news, and for god’s sake, don’t talk to me! I have my small routines at this time, and they are undertaken in utter silence.
Upon waking, I either immediately 1. throw on some ratty exercise clothes and go for a brisk walk, or, 2. splash water on my face and spend about ten minutes with my morning skincare routine. Both are activities that cause my brain to start working, albeit in different ways, maybe even on different levels An early morning constitutional, while the blood is pumping to my brain, is when I often get my exciting “aha!” ideas. The less active routine of my six or seven steps of cleansers and toners and serums and gels and whatever else, gently generates the brain and starts it to slowly ticking and whirring as I go through my process of morning ablutions.
At this point I may have a small glass of aloe juice and get the coffee started. I may curl up on the sofa to read a book, or work on a knitting project. I definitely don’t start checking emails or plugging into the world just yet. This is time just for me, to do the things I like to do, uninterrupted, sans any other obligations. Responsibilities don’t even come into picture during this time. And finally, around 7:30 or so is when I start thinking breakfast-y thoughts.
Most breakfast items seem to be geared toward people with a sweet tooth. I can’t eat cereal; it has too many associations of my mother sitting at the table, bleary-eyed, chain-smoking and drinking coffee, while I choked down a bowl of Wheat Chex before elementary school and was almost on a daily basis immediately struck afterward with a stomach ache as I contemplated the dread and ultimate futility of the day as it stretched out before me. Existence felt grim to me from a young age, and to this day, I can only eat a bowl of cereal late into the night in mid-summer, as a snack, maybe because it was too hot for dinner. I’m not a fan of pancakes or waffles or french toast or muffins or donuts* or yogurt or granola bars or any kind of breakfast bar, really. They’re all too sweet. Blargh.
*not gonna lie–I do eat donuts–I like them, even!–but they have to be an afternoon snacks-with-coffee type thing. I can’t do a donut as a first meal of the day. I really can’t do sweets on an empty stomach, period. It makes me feel a little ill and weird.
I have, however, found a handful of savory, and one or two barely-sweet options that I enjoy and are staples in my breakfast-time rotation! They’re not necessarily appropriate for every day (either they’re a little too rich or time-consuming) but between these five options and a few bonus quickies, I’ve pretty much unlocked the secrets of the most important meal of the day.
1. Japanese-style breakfast, which I know I have mentioned before, but it’s amazing, and I would eat it every day if I could. Unfortunately, it’s a little bit involved, so I generally only do this one on the weekends. Generally, I include rice and miso soup, broiled salmon, homemade pickled vegetables, and tamagoyaki (rolled Japanese omelet). You could also serve natto alongside this meal, but I can’t get past the stinkiness/sliminess factor, so it’s never on my table! There’s something about this combination of foods that is wonderfully savory, and perfectly balanced to fill you up while at the same time you feel like you are eating something light.
Here are a few of my favorite recipes for creating such a meal:
- salted salmon with crispy skin
- pickled carrots and daikon radish
- tamagoyaki (both sweet and savory)
- umeboshi rice
- miso soup–3 versions
2. Rice & egg. This is a hearty-soothing breakfast. I don’t think I’d eat it more than once a week, but if I am being honest, the BEST time to prepare this meal is when you are experiencing the head-throbbing, sorta-nauseous-but-you-still-wanna-eat misery of a hangover. It works best if you have some leftover rice to start with; this way you don’t have to spend any extra time cooking up a batch. Heat a portion of leftover white rice (you could probably use brown, but I prefer white) in the microwave, and while that is going, fry an egg on the stove. Keep it yolky. Once your rice is hot, stir in soy sauce and a butter product of your preference to taste–you may want slightly more butter than soy sauce, but not a lot of either–top with your fried egg, and sprinkle liberally with furikake (rice seasoning.) Devour with a comically oversized wooden spoon. EDIT: now I also add a drizzle of sesame oil and a dollop of chili crisp to this!
3. Toast with peanut butter and preserves. This is more of an everyday type of breakfast for me. It’s quick, it’s filling, it’s only slightly sweet if I pick a jam with a little bit of tartness. The best bread for this is Ezekial* because it’s dense and study and crunchy and it doesn’t flop under a generous smear of peanut butter. Of course, I am not sure I’d eat the Ezekial bread any way other than toasted. I’d venture that it’s a mite unpalatable, cold. I typically just keep it in the freezer until I need a slice or two, then I just pop it straight into the toaster. Once browned to your liking, spread with your favorite peanut butter and jam. I happen to like Peanut Butter & Co.’s The Bee’s Knees and bilberry jam. Enjoy on a tiny Bride of Frankenstein tray.
*I just ignore the scripture on those Ezekial bags; I save then up and use them to scoop up dog poop during when we have visiting puppers.
4. Porridge. This is actually steel-cut oats, but I call it porridge because it makes me feel like I am eating fairy tale food and not a gruely bowl of slop. It’s another everyday go-to, especially when it starts to get cold out. We cook up a huge batch of oats at the beginning of the week, and I generally eat it thusly: portion out a bit, stir in some of your preferred sort of milk, cinnamon, golden raisins, chopped dates, chopped pecans, slivered almonds, and the barest drizzle of maple syrup. Heat in the microwave until hot, and top with a spoonful of ground flax seed. I like my porridge on the thinner side, so I err on the side of more milk, but that’s totally up to you.
5. Fake bagel! Obviously, real bagels are preferred, but those are a weekend treat and I feel like I can get away with eating “fake bagels” far more frequently. And whereas porridge is standard fare in the winter months, when it starts warming up again, you know, like February (because Florida), I start leaning toward fake bagels for morning eats. Start with some sort of “sandwich thins”–I think mine are Arnold brand, but I just grab whatever is in the store–and here’s the thing. You may want this untoasted. Those sandwich thins sort of frizzle up and get stuck in your toaster, and honestly, I think this tastes better cold. Spread with one wedge of Laughing Cow cheese split between two sides of the bread, sprinkle with Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel seasoning blend (this stuff is a marvel!) and top with thinly sliced tomatoes and red onions. This is the vegetarian version, but you could also add a few slices of smoked salmon, and that’s also delicious. Having made it both ways, I can share that while the salmon version is very good, you really don’t miss it if it’s not there. It may not be the healthiest thing in the world, what with the shelf stable cheese and all, but I think it’s remarkably tasty! And after eating this you’ll probably be remarkably stinky, but it’s totally worth it.
Some quick bonus bites, for when you don’t have the time/energy for any of the above:
- a hard-boiled egg sprinkled with Penzey’s Fox Point seasoning
- EPIC salmon jerky (sounds weird, but SO GOOD)
- Gardein Breakfast Pockets (these are probably “vegan junk food”, but still excellent)
- KIND Bar, Pineapple Banana Kale Spinach (strangely funky-nasty addictive)
- Make ahead, freezer friendly breakfast sandwiches –okay, so this is not exactly a quickie, you will have needed the forethought to make these ahead of time. But if you have done so, it’s super quick to heat it up and jam it in your mouth as you’re running out the door in the morning. Or maybe even take it to work and heat it up when you get there. This a WW recipe that I have linked to, but the idea could be adapted to a higher calorie diet, or perhaps veggie-fied, or whatever fits your lifestyle.
So, wow. I’ve just written nearly 1800 words about breakfast. I’m really tackling the hard-hitting stuff here, aren’t I? Do you folks have any favorite savory breakfasts? (Sorry sweeties and sugar fiends…you know I love you, but I don’t even want to hear about your cinnamon raisin bagels –GACK– or your Special-K bars.) Tell me all about your favorite weekend and weekend morning meals and maybe I’ll enliven my breakfast agenda with a new addition!
My favorite savory breakfast item has to be the breakfast taco. The breakfast taco can be as simple as some scrambled egg in a tortilla with a big dash of hot sauce, or it can be involved with potato and avocado and beans and cheese and sausage and bacon and whatever else sounds good. I really love crispy hashbrowns in my breakfast but goddamn I do not want to fry anything on the stove in the morning. My way around this is frozen tater tots. Bake off a couple frozen tater tots in the oven, turning them once for maximum crisp, while I make eggs, warm up the tortilla, chop a vegetable? Perfect!
My favorite breakfast tacos:
- scrambled egg, potato and bacon
- refried black bleans with avocado and bacon
S. Elizabeth says
Oooh, right, breakfast tacos! How could I have forgotten that? Probably because I do not make them all that often, but they are pretty tasty. Breakfast burritos, too, of course, and also--migas!
My favorite breakfasts are pretty standard, but also tend to be savory as opposed to sweet: Everything bagel with lox and big slathers of cream cheese, pork roll, egg, and cheese on a poppy kaiser roll, and my favorite hangover breakfast/standard meal is spaghetti carbonara made with actual bacon, not pancetta. If looking for a vegetarian option, you could always just eat the spaghetti straight up with the egg and pepper. This is a trendy meal now which is hilarious bc my in laws growing up dirt poor would eat it a few times a week. Now its on every NY menu for $23.
S. Elizabeth says
Oh, LOX! My favorite! I could eat it morning, noon and night! And pork roll, omg, I'd nearly forgotten about that, but I ate a lot of it when I was in NJ. I am a huge fan of not-exactly-breakfast food for breakfast, and spaghetti with egg and pepper sounds pretty amazing. As a matter of fact, I just ate several cold forkfuls of maracaroni straight out of the casserole dish and called it a morning meal ;)