Category Archives: breakfast

Queen for 1.5 days

Living high off the hog

It’s good to be Queen, even for a day and a half. Here I am in “my” $1.8 million home in the luxurious planned community of Serenbe, just outside Atlanta. Please note that I have all the essentials of the good life. Wine, Vaseline, cigarettes and a bag of Char-Broil goodies. One of my roomies, Julie Reinhardt, snapped the photo.

“Our” pool and pool house

We are two of eight Char-Broil All-Star Bloggers invited to Serenbe to commune with the company executives, cook next to a picturesque lake, enjoy cocktails and fabulous dinners at the Inn at Serenbe and just basically have a good time. It’s a hard-knock life.

So this is one of those times when it’s good that “there’s no room at the inn.” After a long and arduous ride in a limousine fully equipped with a bar, which we took advantage of, we were regretfully forced to bivouac at a four-bedroom luxury home with pool, cabana, waterfall and our very own golf cart to toddle around the property on.

Serenbe is set up like a collection of English villages surrounded by lush forests, farmland and meadows. It is beyond beautiful. After we put away our meager belongings, we jump in the golf cart for a brisk ride down a country road to dinner at the Inn. Our other roomie, Danielle Dimovski, is the

Chicken with a red pepper jelly glaze

driver. Actually, brisk is an understatement. For the next day and a half Julie and I hold on for all we’re worth as Danielle lurches along the road at top golf cart speed. Thank goodness we’d been drinking.

Is it possible for anything to be too perfect? I think not. The Inn is a picturesque former farmhouse. Many of the menu items are grown on Serenbe’s organic farms. We have more cocktails. We feast on organic chicken glazed with Serenbe’s own pepper jelly, sitting jauntily on a cloud of mashed potatoes with green beans from the garden. I am immediately so so very happy that a year ago I picked up the phone to hear a stranger say, “We’d like you to blog for Char-Broil.” Barry Martin, I love you man.

Well, the whole 1.5 days is just a dream and a half. Breakfast at the Inn – French toast with strawberries from the farm and crispy bacon. Lunch? The Char-Broil folks present about 15 pounds of various cuts of chicken, steak, sausages and fish to us so we can play on the bevy of grills they’ve set up at the Lake Pavilion. We do not even have to dirty our dainty digits turning the grills on. They are already lit. Then a tour of the HGTV Dream Home at Serenbe, which is sponsored by Char-Broil, and more cocktails. Dinner? Oh, yes, we have not eaten nearly enough. The frogs chirp as we enjoy a late night glass of wine in the courtyard of our $1.8 million house overlooking the pool. We wonder if anyone would notice if we simply do not leave. Ever.

It is exactly one week later as I write this, sitting in my garage because we don’t smoke in the house anymore. I am back to being a serf. In about two hours I will be a day laborer at the Community Resource Center, unloading donations from a major retailer. Where is my golf cart? Where are the drinks by the pool? Where in the hell is my organic salad and steak with horseradish cream? It was good to be the Queen.

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Huevos Rancheros

 

So it is Tax Day. Boo hoo. Mark and I timed our marriage date poorly because we tied the knot on April 14. So every anniversary is the day before Tax Day. Needless to say, we do not go all out on anniversary presents. Once again, boo hoo.

Last night, in celebration of our 22nd anniversary and to note the fact that we have no money because it is, yes, Tax Day, I made Huevos Rancheros, a traditional Mexican dish served as a mid-morning meal on poor farms. I have some mint and rosemary growing in a pot by the garage so I think that qualifies Casa de la Mayhew as a poor farm.

And because I was doing this on the cheap I used what I already had in the pantry and fridge. I would like to say that I settled on pureed lentils from a can of lentil soup instead of re-fried beans because the lentils are healthier. But that would be a lie. Mark wanted lentil soup when he was sick about a year ago and then he got well and he didn’t want it anymore. But with the addition of some ancho chile powder and cumin it made a fine stand-in for re-fried beans.

I would also like to point out the irony that my husband will never, ever order sunny-side-eggs for breakfast but he will happily eat one when I tell him the yolk makes a “sauce.” He’s so easily led.

Huevos Rancheros

For the pureed lentils:

1 19-ounce can lentil soup (Progresso), drained and pureed in a blender

½ teaspoon ancho chile powder

¼ teaspoon cumin

Salt to taste

Heat the puree in a saucepan after blending.

 

For the tomato sauce:

½ cup diced red onion

1 tablespoon chopped green chiles

1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

¼ teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

¼ cup red wine

Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onions and chiles in 1 tablespoon of oil until they are translucent and beginning to brown. Add the tomatoes, cumin, paprika, red wine, salt and pepper and simmer until sauce thickens.

 

8 6-inch flour tortillas

4 eggs

Mexican melting cheese (or any cheese you have on hand), grated

Fry the tortillas in a dry pan until they are browned and crisped. Reserve.

Heat 1 teaspoon of butter in the same pan and fry the eggs.

To assemble: Place a tortilla on a plate. Top with the lentil puree and sprinkle with grated cheese. Add another tortilla and top with the tomato sauce and an egg.

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Bacon Cinnamon Rolls

The three chicks always strive for innovation here at the world headquarters of the Community Resource Center, where I am the executive director, chief fundraiser and toilet cleaner. Especially on Bacon Wednesdays. Yes, every Wednesday we eat bacon in some form or another. Why would you not have Bacon Wednesdays? Section 3, Paragraph 28 in the CRC Employee Manual states: “Employees are required to eat bacon every Wednesday as a part of their job description. Year-end bonuses will be paid for employees who bring special effort to their presentation of bacon. Turkey bacon may be substituted for real bacon in the event of a religious restriction but it won’t taste as good.”

We map out Bacon Wednesday on our Command Central Board to ensure a variety of bacon offerings. Tomorrow it will be bacon and pimento cheese grilled sandwiches. Two weeks ago, we had bacon-wrapped club crackers with cocktails by the dock door (also in the Employee Manual, Section 5, Paragraph 17). Last week it was Betsy’s brilliant rendition of bacon cinnamon rolls. Here’s how you make them:

For each cinnamon roll (from a tube in the refrigerated section of your supermarket, bake one strip of bacon. Unroll each cinnamon roll into a long strip. Bake the bacon at 400 degrees until it’s done to your liking. Now here’s the trick. While the bacon is still warm and pliable, place a strip on the cinnamon roll dough and roll it up. Then bake the rolls according to the package directions.

Oh yes. Sweet and salty. Soft and crunchy. So inappropriate.

 

 

 

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Bacon pancakes

No, this is not a pancake with itty bitty pieces of bacon in it. This is a an entire strip of bacon surrounded by pancake batter.

Wednesdays are Bacon Days at the Community Resource Center. We will probably not live to regret this as we will die of coronary artery disease before regret has time to set in. However, bacon pancakes are worth the cost of dying young. Which,  of course, won’t happen to me, but could well happen to Betsy and Kim. You’ve been warned, girls.

So bacon pancakes are constructed thusly: Bake some bacon (400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes). Get some Bisquick pancake mix in the plastic jug. Add water. Shake. Pour over the bacon. Flip when bubbles appear. Serve with butter and real maple syrup. If I had known about this recipe when Noah was a boy he would be a Nobel Laureate by now.

What kind of bacon, you ask? You are asking that, correct? Well, I have recently learned that a lot of commercial bacon contains chemicals that give it that bacon taste. Bad. I hate learning about what actually goes in our food. Makes me have to ponder and worry. Hate pondering and worrying. So I am now buying organic bacon, dammit. Thick cut is better.

Try this. With really good bacon. It won’t change your life, but it will improve your disposition. If you don’t smile while you eat this, you’re brain dead.

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Bacon Day

Every once in awhile, worlds collide and my work life and blogging life intersect. For those of you who don’t know, I run the Community Resource Center, a nonprofit that provides basic household necessities for people in need. But more importantly, we have instituted Bacon Day at CRC and with that comes the recipe for the single best reason to blow your diet: pig candy. By the way, if you want to see what we’re up to at CRC, please hop on over to the CRC blog, Two Chicks in a Warehouse. And now, Bacon Day.

Betsy, the creator of Bacon Day

Here at the world headquarters of the Community Resource Center we have declared Wednesdays to be Bacon Day.

By the way, it has come to my attention that I do not include information on the important work we do every day at CRC on this blog nearly enough so I will intersperse important information in this blog about Bacon Day.

Betsy actually thought this up. Who doesn’t like bacon? she asked. Just the thought of Bacon Day makes her smile.  So for the inaugural Bacon Day last week we decided to make the classic bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches. I borrowed Mark’s electric skillet that his mother gave him when he moved into his first apartment, oh, about 40 years ago and which still works perfectly fine because they made things better back in the day.

Important information: CRC just facilitated the donation of an entire office suite including cubicles, desks, filing cabinets and chairs to New Horizon, which assists people with developmental disabilities to become part of a productive workforce.  Because of the donation, New Horizons can take the dollars they would have spent to outfit an office and redirect them to their programs.

Of course, the proper bacon, egg and cheese sandwich must include very good bread, toasted, and then

Kim lovin' on a little bacon

liberally buttered. There must also be an ample amount of butter in the skillet to fry the eggs. Not a sandwich for dieters. And because I had cooked an entire package of bacon, there was extra bacon to snack on. Just to balance out the caloric excess of the whole enterprise, Betsy brought clementines.

Important information: The Mental Health Cooperative is opening a new Crisis Stabilization Unit and Intensive Intervention Center, which will serve a combined population of 3,000 people in need. CRC helped furnish those two centers. Horn tooting! Horn tooting! “We appreciate everything you (CRC) do for us (MHC),” wrote Della Baker of MHC.  “You do it well and are as excited to give, as we are to receive. Thank you all again for the good work you do for the non-profits of Nashville.”

So tomorrow is once again Bacon Day and I am bringing the ultimate, ultimate bacon treat: Pig candy!

Important information: The recipe!  You take your favorite bacon. Heat up your oven to 350 degrees. Take the  bacon and coat it with dark brown sugar. Put some foil on a cookie sheet with a rim and then put a rack on top if you have one. Put the bacon on the rack and bake it for about 20 minutes. That’s it! If you don’t have a rack, then you might have to turn it over once. Oh, and CRC distributes more than $1.5 million in new and gently used goods to more than 90 nonprofit agencies in Middle Tennessee every year.

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Fire in the hall (and breakfast casserole)

Everything was going according to plan at the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Fat Tuesday pancake supper. Until the fire department came.

Youth Minister Derek Larson fist pumps a pancake flipper

The Youth started off strong. They were pumping out pancakes like a Ford assembly line. I was proud of them. From pancake know-nothings to masters of the flip. They had it going on. Casseroles were flying out of the kitchen. Syrup was being refilled. The kitchen staff was in full battle mode. We were a well-oiled machine, an Army of the Lord. Until we smelled something burning. I checked one of the ovens. The tiniest bit of a breakfast casserole had dripped on the oven floor. Microscopic, actually. It will burn off, I think, as I shut the oven door.

A few minutes later, I open the door again. A cloud of smoke bellows into the kitchen. Oh, dear. What to do? I don’t know. I close the door again. I can’t see you. I wait several minutes and open it again. Smoke roars out of the oven. I close the door. I can’t see you. And then the fire alarm goes off.

The music minister, Dona Stokes-Rogers, calls the fire department to say that, no, the church is not burning down and they need not pay us a visit. Apparently, they could not hear her over the screech of the alarm. I am told later that Donna is conversant with calling the fire department because the last time this happened the choir was cooking in the kitchen. I feel slightly better.

The next thing I hear are sirens in the distance. Please, please let those be for someone else (not wishing anyone harm, of course). The sirens get louder. Really loud. In fact, they are right outside Otey Hall. Along with the ambulance, that is surely here to carry me away because I am having a freaking heart attack.

Finally, the alarm goes off. The crowd cheers. I slink back to the kitchen. If I chair the pancake supper next year all the food will be cold. There will be no turning on of ovens, there will be no spillage of casseroles. There will be no visit from the fire department.

By the way, we added a breakfast casserole to the menu this year. It was a big hit. If you are a Southern cook, you know this recipe. Everyone has it. If you’re not, here you go. Please take care not to spill any of it in the oven. Apparently, it’s highly flammable.

  St. Paul’s Breakfast Casserole

8 white bread slices, cut into cubes

1 pound bulk pork sausage, crumbled and cooked

1 1/2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese

10 large eggs

2 cups whole milk

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 teaspoon salt

Pepper

Grease 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Place bread in prepared dish. Top with sausage and cheese. Beat together eggs and next three ingredients. Season with pepper. Pour over sausage mixture. Chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake casserole until puffed and center is set, about 50 minutes. Cut into squares.

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When teens cook pancakes

Will Wesson earns his stripes. Photo courtesy of Emily Nance.

Lord, help me. The annual St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Pancake Supper is tonight and I’m in charge.

Episcopalians, Catholics and Lutherans are very serious about this time of year. Lent starts tomorrow. Forty days of self-reflection and penitence. We are worms. That is the season. We give up things we like a lot. Many times, I give up hamburgers. That is sacrifice, my friends.

But tonight is Fat Tuesday and St. Paul’s celebrates with the pancake supper, the proceeds of which support the Youth programs. Which is why a few days ago I was teaching teenagers how to cook pancakes.

The mechanics of pancake cooking are fairly simple. You pour the batter. You wait for bubbles to form. You flip the pancake and wait another 30 seconds to a minute. You remove the pancake from the griddle. But you would have thought I was teaching quantum physics.

They gathered around the griddle, staring intently at it as if it would rise up and smite them. “Who wants to try it?” I ask. They continue to stare at the griddle. One brave teen tentatively raises his hand. O.K., good. One volunteer out of 15 or so kids. “Come on, then,” I say encouragingly. “You can’t mess this up.”

He pours. I have miscalculated. There are already bubbles in the batter. He wonders if he should immediately flip this raw mass of liquid goo. “Wait for the BIG bubbles,” I offer. We wait. They appear. He cautiously slips the spatula under the pancake. “Flip with conviction!” I say. The teen regards the pancake as though it were a landmine he was removing from a war-torn battlefield. “FLIP!” I startle him. He flips. He smiles. It is beautifully brown. He has made a pancake.

Thus encouraged, the rest of them step up one by one to attempt the mastery of making a pancake. God is watching over the Otey Hall kitchen at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Franklin, Tennessee. They all succeed. The Lord loves a cheerful flipper.

About 150 people will attend the pancake supper tonight. The ladies of the church have contributed hashbrown casseroles, egg and cheese casseroles, fruit and juice. The Men of St. Paul’s footed the bill for the pancake mix, sausage and bacon. The proceeds will help our Youth go on mission trips in the summer.

And the youth will be flipping fools tonight. Fools for pancakes. Fools for God.

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