I am not a morning person. This may well be the understatement of the year. I used to think it was because I was lazy or unmotivated. In recent years I’ve discovered that it’s not a heinous personality flaw, that there is in fact a valid, well documented, physical cause for my issues. While I will spare you the details, the gist of it is that my body has a great deal of trouble transitioning from a waking state to a sleeping one and vice versa. Given the current circumstances, for the time being, that means that I am the last person out of bed in my house every single morning, which is in no way my ideal. The children actually prefer it this way since they get some time to play, read or do as they please before we start in with school work and chores.
When it comes to parenting, there are certain areas where I’m rather old-fashioned and grandmotherly. I’m a big believer in family dinners, early bedtimes, woolen hats, children being children in general and starting off the day with a hearty breakfast. Accomplishing that last one can be quite tricky, considering the above. I’ve devoted a lot of time to developing a system that works for us. We have a set rotation of seven breakfasts that we eat every week. This completely saves the step of having to think about what to make on any given day and that is a great relief. The selection does shift a bit with the seasons. As the weather warms we’ll be switching out some of the hot warming meals for lighter, fresher fair.
The kids all know they can help themselves to a piece of fruit upon waking and that breakfast will be served shortly after. And there are always leftovers about if they need something more to tide them over. I have three main strategies that help us all to start the day off right.
The first is the crockpot. Why the crockpot? When I first wake up I need some very specific things….I need to pee (I do have an entire person on my bladder), to be able to move slowly, not to be spoken to and especially not to be asked questions, not to be touched, to be surrounded by complete quiet and calm and to have prepared food appear in front of me as if by magic. With the crockpot, two of those things at least are a possibility. If you are an oatmeal eater, try it in the crockpot overnight; it turns out amazingly rich, thick and creamy.
My second strategy is help. I get more help with breakfast then any other meal. More on that below.
And third I try to keep anything that’s not taken care of by one and two as quick and easy as possible.
Buckwheat pancakes, banana pancakes and bacon:
Sometimes we have orange juice as well. Several years ago Iain and Elijah got inspired to make us breakfast and somehow the habit stuck. Sunday mornings are their day. The littles help out where they can and set the table. Recently Galen was eager to learn how to flip pancakes and now he mans a pan as well.
We usually use whole grain buckwheat, the pancakes pictured above look a bit different then our norm because they were made using light buckwheat leftover from holiday baking.
3 C of buckwheat flour
3 C milk of your choice (we usually use the kind of coconut milk that comes in a carton)
1 T cream of tartar mixed with 1 T baking soda or 2 T baking powder
1 T lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
In a medium bowl, mix the lemon juice and vanilla into the milk and set aside. In a large bowl mix together all of the dry ingredients. Beat the eggs and add them to the liquids. Thoroughly mix the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring as little as possible. Let the batter sit for 5 minutes. It should bubble a bit. Fry pancakes in the cooking fat of your choice.
I find I do much better with little to no grains or pseudo-grains, so in recent years they’ve added banana pancakes to the mix as well. Everyone can pick and choose as they please.
1 tsp. cinnamon
splash of vanilla (optional)
Obviously this is just the proportions and you can make as many batches as you please. Blend all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Cook as you would regular pancakes. These are trickier to flip and keep together. Smaller “silver dollar” style pancakes work best.
Breakfast sausages, yams and fermented sauerkraut:
This may sounds strange, but it’s a fabulous flavor combination.
Have you ever made yams in the crockpot before? It’s super simple. Just rinse the yams and put them in the crockpot still damp. Turn it on low over night and serve perfectly cooked yams in the morning. A very filling and hearty breakfast and all I have to do is put the sausages in to cook while I set everything out on the table.
Sometimes we treat ourselves to molasses tea with this meal. To make molasses tea, mix a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses into a mug full of hot water. Blackstrap molasses is rich in iron, calcium and potassium.
German Pancake recipe here:
Elijah has declared himself the greatest German pancake maker in the world. Which means that he always insists on making them himself. And who am I to argue? Generally he gets to work when he hears me start stirring. The others help with gathering supplies and such. Waking up to food being made? Quite possibly the most awesome thing in the world. Many a time I will literally sigh with relief when I wake and realize what day it is, then I come down and kiss him on the top of the head all over until he gets sick of me.
Hot “Cereal” from the book Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes. You can check out the book for details. It’s basically a concoction of nuts, seeds, dried coconut and cinnamon. It’s kind of a little bit like Cream of Wheat, but not really. That’s just the closest thing I can think of. I freely substitute the various nuts and seeds based on what I have and more budget friendly options. I add in vanilla and chopped fresh apples or pears, raisins or any other dried fruit I have about. With it I set out ghee, so people can add a pat to their bowl if they like. And honey or syrup to be drizzled on top if desired.
Since posting about this I’ve started adding all sorts of things to it. Pretty much whatever happened to be ripe in the garden at the time; peas, green beans, garlic scapes, green onions, chopped up radishes, parsley, spinach, kale. We are especially fond of mixing in kale. yum.
Scalloped yams and breaded fish:
More yam-y fodder for the crockpot! Peel and slice 5 yams, top with a couple of pats of ghee/butter/coconut oil, 1 can of coconut milk, a sprinkle of powdered kelp and lots of sage…much, much more sage then you think it will need. Again, cook on low over night. Sometimes in the morning I’ll turn it up to high and take the lid off to let the sauce thicken a bit, but it’s generally not needed. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.
I don’t always make the fish. I can’t say that it’s the healthiest thing to grace my table, but this dish is absolutely adored by three of my four children. It starts with some form of mild tasting fish; catfish, tilapia, flounder, anything along those lines. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Prepare a cookie sheet with a thin coat of oil. Chop the fish into small pieces. Dredge each piece in arrowroot powder seasoned with salt and pepper. Lay them out in a single layer on your oiled cookie sheet and bake until brown and crispy, flipping at least once. Some sort of green as a side dish rounds out this breakfast nicely, but I honestly don’t often get to that.
Shown above topped with some honey sweetened peach jam that we put up over the summer. I’ve made several kinds of nut milk yogurts over the years. This one is by far the quickest and the easiest. It also happens to be incredibly delicious.
This one works best in a high powered blender, a Vitamix or the like. For a regular blender you might want to try soaking the cashews first. Pour your cashews into the blender. Break a probiotic capsule over top. I use one that has around 7 billion bacteria for 9 oz. of cashews. Add water until everything is just covered. Blend until it’s all extremely smooth. Add more water until desired consistency. It will thicken overnight so make it a little runnier then you ultimately want. I pour mine into a half gallon mason jar, drape a flour sack towel over the top and screw a lid ring on it. This way it can breath, but nothing can really get in. Set it out some place warm overnight. This would be by the wood stove in our house. I sometimes experiment with adding in sunflower seeds of shredded coconut. But straight cashew is our favorite.
Two more breakfast ideas:
Another great crockpot option. The kids love this one, truth be told I think it’s only so-so. Cut your squash in half and scoop out the seeds. For the stuffing combine any combination of chopped apples, pears, nuts, seeds and/or dried fruit. You can add a splash of lemon or orange juice, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc) and/or sweetener. Fill the squash. Balance and stack them upright so that the stuffing doesn’t fall out. Cook on low overnight.
Simpler option: fill the cups with a pat of some buttery substance, a drizzle of syrup and a sprinkle of nutmeg. This is a lovely way to pad out a meal.
Sausage patties and steamed or braised greens:
Though not in rotation at the moment, this has been a regular favorite in the past. The patties are seasoned ground meat. You can use beef, but I prefer pork or poultry. For beef or pork you can just put it directly in the pan. With turkey or chicken you’ll need to use a bit of oil to keep it from sticking. They can be cooked under a broiler or fried on the stove top.
A couple of flavor combinations:
chopped onions, sage and a pinch of clove
curry and cinnamon, a bit of cardamom is nice too
maple syrup, cinnamon, clove
Italian seasoning, garlic, red pepper flakes and fennel
Always include a good bit of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Mix well, form into small patties and cook. Sauteed onions are wonderful with this.
And one other totally random food related thing: add leeks to your roasted Brussel sprouts. You won’t regret it.
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