There was a period of time we lived with our paternal grandparents. This time is what I consider my foundation — the time when I developed into the person I was to become. It is the place I visualize when I think about what it was like ‘growing up’.
My thoughts drifted back there this morning as it is chilly here. As fall closed in and winter approached, it was always a challenge to stay warm. I wrote about my cold weather memories here in this blog before. The house we live in now can be chilly as the back of the house is all windows, so heating in really cold weather can be a challenge.
My grandparents’ house was a two-story house — the house my father grew up in. It is still a beautiful place but to me, it was most beautiful when we lived there before it was modernized and the charm remodeled out of it. There were french doors with glass-paned windows that divided the living room from the dining area and kitchen. I think that may have been the back door to the original house. I had always heard it started out as a ‘tar paper shack’ which they slowly built into such a lovely place. I have written about this house before and many of the memories we built there.
As I fixed my bowl of cereal this morning, I could not help but remember the hearty breakfasts we always had there. My grandmother always tried to fix a big breakfast before we started our 45-minute journey to school on the school bus. On cold days, there was always something warm. She scrambled eggs (with milk) and made ‘oven toast’ which was simply bread toasted under the broiler in the oven. It was slathered with butter and only toasted on one side. There was always homemade grape or apple jelly and strawberry preserves to have with the toast. (I recently made ‘oven toast’ when I was in Florida and my granddaughter loved it!) This must be why I love toast and jelly with scrambled eggs.
My other favorite egg dish was what we referred to as ‘chopped up hard-boiled eggs’. Hardboiled eggs would be peeled while hot, chopped up in a bowl with a generous portion of butter and salt and pepper. I would then scoop my hardboiled eggs onto a piece of buttered toast and enjoy! This is still my go-to meal when I am feeling under the weather or sometimes when just feeling nostalgic.
On really cold days, she made oatmeal — the long-cooking kind. Oatmeal would have been fine except that she always added raisins. I was never a fan of hot raisins. There was something unappealing about a reconstituted hot raisin. The texture was something I could never handle so I always ate around them. We did have fresh brown sugar and whole cream to top off the oatmeal which made it rich and enjoyable.
The other ‘warm’ breakfast we often ate was cornmeal mush, made by simply adding cornmeal to salted boiling water. The taste was okay, but I can remember biting into a lump of dry cornmeal occasionally which was unpleasant. But, we ate what we were served or we went hungry. That was just the way it was.
The days my grandmother made pancakes were always my favorite. She called them ‘hotcakes’. She cooked them on a Guardian Service hand-hammered aluminum griddle. She made syrup from brown sugar and always served it in a syrup dispenser hot. Each ‘hotcake’ had a pat of butter on it and pouring on hot syrup made the entire meal so luscious! I rarely order pancakes at restaurants because they always disappoint me. No one made pancakes the way my grandmother did.
On days that we had leftover biscuits from dinner the night before, my grandmother would split the biscuits, butter them and toast them under the broiler in the oven. She would serve them with her homemade brown sugar syrup – hot of course. I still enjoy this treat although we do not have biscuits frequently.
It was rare that we ate cereal in the winter. That first meal of the day was an important one. We never went hungry even though I am sure having four children to take care of was not easy for either of them. Breakfast was and still is my favorite meal of the day. I think I always identify breakfast as my comfort food.
It’s chilly here and I had my bowl of wheat Chex with a banana on top this morning. Somehow, that just doesn’t compare with the breakfast meals I had as a child.
How about you? Did you have a hearty breakfast this morning?