The other day I was reading an article titled “23 Brilliant Life Lessons from Anthony Bourdain,” (of course) and didn’t even get the chance to scroll before exclaiming as he pin-pointed one of my favorite things about breakfast: 4.) “What nicer thing can you do for somebody than make them breakfast?” This breakfast-lover shouts a resounding AMEN, Tony!
To me, breakfast is way more than just the chance to start your day off deliciously right. Sure, breakfast is probably my favorite meal of the day, but it’s not just because I like eggs and coffee in the morning. When I think about breakfast, I am flooded with memories of my childhood and the traditions surrounding this sacred meal.
First, there were the Hartz Sleepover Chocolate-Chip Pancakes (or muffins) that Susie Q made EVERY time I had a sleepover throughout my childhood. And that was a LOT of sleepovers, as any mother knows. To this day, I can’t see a chocolate-chip pancake without picturing our little 10-year-old selves huddled around our kitchen island, anxiously awaiting the next batch that we could slather in butter and dust with powdered sugar. The nostalgia was passed onto my friends, too! An old friend of mine from elementary school recently made some of her own, tagging me in her status, reminiscing as she flipped hers.
Then, there was Jumble of Junk. I grew up with an incredible Youth Group at my church, one that was WAY more like family and blessed me with some of my closest friends. Now, we were not your average youth group. We spent plenty of time doing youth group-y things, but we also made vulgar jokes and cared a LOT about the food we were eating (sound familiar?). My fave was this combination we made of potatoes, onions, sausage, scrambled eggs, cheese, and whatever-the-heck-else you wanted to put in there, topped with Frank’s Red Hot, of course. All of us sleep-deprived teenagers would wake up early on retreat weekends to help grill-master Kevin cook the Jumble, playing sous chef with a sense of pride. When trying to think up a name, I offered “Jumble of Love” which turned into “Jumble of Junk.” My family still makes our own version to date, and it’s hands-down my favorite thing to eat in the morning. Now we top it with sunny-side up eggs instead for a deliciously eggy sauce.
And SCRAPPLE. Oh lord Jesus, I love me some Scrapple. For you non-Pennsylvanians, Scrapple is basically the hot dog of breakfast meats, and it is divine. Don’t ask what it is made of, just take a bite and enjoy the crispy meaty goodness. But Scrapple isn’t just good because it’s Scrapple. It reminds me of our family reunions in the Poconos, stopping by this little diner on the side of the road with my entire extended family, sometimes rolling 20-deep. My Mommom and Poppop, searching for it (and Pork Roll) in every grocery store they found. Mornings with my parents in South Carolina, waking up to the smell and walking up the stairs to my Dad manning the griddle.
Most recently my parents-in-law have started a new breakfast tradition for me: scones. My father-in-law is from Washington, and grew up on the delicious Fisher Scones. Staying at their mountain house and Christmas morning with the Winches means fresh-baked fair scones hot out of the oven, slathered in raspberry jam, coffee in hand.
What is it that makes these breakfasts so special to me? Yes, they are delicious, but the memories and love behind these dishes are what really hits home. How awesome were my parents and youth group leaders to get up early and cook a tasty breakfast for a bunch of obnoxious middle-schoolers and teenagers? The phrase “labor of love” comes to mind, and that’s how I always feel. Loved.
One of the things I’m most excited about when Graham and I have kids, is the chance to cook them these breakfasts. I’m sure there will be times when a granola bar will do the trick, but starting this tradition with my own family, and making them feel loved, is going to be pretty freaking fun. Here’s hoping they like chocolate-chip pancakes!