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Breakfast at My Grandparents’

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.

img_0418My 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?

24 thoughts on “Breakfast at My Grandparents’”

  1. Breakfast is my favorite meal, but not based on the memory of what my grandmother served – it was an awful meal. Yours sounds like a series of lovely memories. I can almost taste those hotcakes. Wasn’t it amazing to be in the kitchen of someone who could just cook or make everything?

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  2. I love this piece, Maggie. I have fond memories (as a teenager) of my Grandma’s house in northern California and her pantry full of home-canned beans and tomatoes — and picking blackberries from her trellis. When I was even younger, in a previous cabin, I remember her cooking pancakes on an cast-iron stove top — remarkable for a city kid.

    And the country store that my Grandma and Grandpa ran, in the small town where they lived, was amazing to explore as a child — old receipt books in the attic, etc. Of course the store wasn’t viable after awhile, my Grandpa died (when I was about 12), and my Grandma remarried .
    Eventually, she and Short moved into a snug trailer home, good for them after the drafty farmhouse, but not the same at all.

    P.S. I had a nice hot breakfast this morning with a soft-boiled egg, homemade whole-grain toast, a slice of cheese, and some left-over cooked vegetables (just trying to fit in extra!) I’m quite sure Grandma wouldn’t have been worrying about adding vegetables to her breakfast…

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    1. Oh, Lisa, your grandparents’ place sounds so much like a place I would have loved. Those early memories are stored in a very special place in our hearts, aren’t they? I remember my grandmother remarking about her preserved foods, calling them ‘beautiful’. And they were! So vibrant and colorful.Thank you for sharing your memory.

      I do not eat many vegetables at breakfast, although a spinach and mushroom frittata sounds wonderful!

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  3. Maggie, I SO live vicariously thru your childhood memories! I don’t specifically remember breakfast at either of my grandmothers homes. My paternal grandmother was not the best cook, but I so enjoyed being with her and Grandpa. They were fun! My maternal grandmother was the BEST cook and phenomenal baker. I have great memories of her food and her tiny kitchen with the worlds oldest and smallest old fashioned stove and oven. She was a miracle worker creating sumptuous meals with such poor resources.
    My mom never got out of bed before we went yo school. She made eggnogs for us….milk, chocolate syrup and a raw egg, the night before and left them in the fridge for the morning. My sister and I promptly emptied them down the sink every morning because they were gooey and disgusting! Our breakfast was a piece if chicklet gum! So much for memories! I have to say, I was up every morning to make my kids a good breakfast before school because of this!! Amazing how you compensate with your kids for poor childhood memories of our own!! But, again, thanks for sharing your beautiful ones. Always warms my heart.

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    1. Oh, Nancy. I am not sure I would have liked the eggnogs either? I am not much on any type of cold breakfast. Our memories around food are such a part of us, aren’t they?

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  4. Your memories of your childhood are vivid and pleasantly nostalgic. The photo of the house is a throwback as well. As for my breakfast this morning… does a mug of black coffee and a handful of natural almonds count?

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  5. I love your memories Maggie. Breakfast at home was always cold cereal we made ourselves. At my grandmothers house it was scrambled eggs and orange juice. I don’t remember her making pancakes. She kept a kosher kitchenand what we were used to was not allowed in her house. I don’t care for breakfast. I rarely eat more than a piece of fruit.

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  6. Your memories are so full of love. The details have made me hungry. My husband makes oatmeal for us every morning with apples and bananas, pomegranate in the winter and peaches in the summer. We get the “old fashioned” kind because it has a heartier texture. I can’t imagine having anything else for breakfast, so if I eat pancakes, it’s usually for dinner at a restaurant. It’s almost time for pancakes. 🙂

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  7. I’m one of those people who never could stomach breakfast at breakfast time. Honestly, my morning starts around 7 and around 9:30 I put fruit in there. Then a hard boiled egg or string cheese. Then yogurt and something crunchy like nuts and another fruit around noon through to closing. Sometimes I’ll mix it up with catered lunch, leftover, or a bagel or hard pretzels or jello. I’m a grazer, I graze all day.
    On the weekend I love to cook hot breakfast when I’ve been up 2+ hours. Mostly I make hot breakfast at night.
    On rare occasions I’ll rise early (not because I wanted to) and I’ll make scrambled eggs, toast, oatmeal, scones, muffins. My family loves that, but it’s not a service I regularly provide. Even when I wasn’t working full time. My mentor, she makes a hot proper breakfast every single day. She’s the only working mom I know who does.
    I do remember 3 squares, afternoon snack, and a dessert at Grandma’s. I never could eat all my breakfast, even though she served me on my kiddie plate.

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    1. I did not make the same level of breakfast for my own children but I am practically a short-order cook for my grandchildren! I tend to graze all day, too. Even with a hearty breakfast!

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