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Your Webmistress, Up Close and Personal

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Fine Cuisine with Art Infusion

"To cook is to create. And to create well...
is an act of integrity, and faith."


Breakfast: Our current comfort food of choice



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American Breakfast of Pancakes, Eggs, and Bacon
American Breakfast of Pancakes, Eggs, and Bacon
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McGuire, Jim
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The Servants Breakfast After the Wedding
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A Steaming Cup of Coffee on Coffee Beans
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Creole Dancer, c.1947
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Matisse, Henri
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At Breakfast
At Breakfast
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Hendershot, Ray
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La Belle Cuisine


Breakfast: Our current comfort food of choice
December 2005

Okay. I know what you’re thinking: Here she goes again! Yet
more comfort food! Has there been a death in the family? Or
what? Enough already…
Excuse me? Did you say ENOUGH? Enough comfort??? The state
of the world is such that you no longer require comfort? Sheesh. I
might suspect you were living on a desert island were it not for the
fact that it is doubtful you would be reading this in such an isolated
locale. Even with your laptop.
It’s like this. I’ve noticed of late that nine times out of ten, what I
am craving is breakfast. You know. Good old-fashioned, down-home
American breakfast. Simple food. Solid, stick-to-your-ribs, comforting
food. Soooooooooothing food. Bacon and eggs, toast and jam, grits
(you Yankees simply do not know what you’re missing), pancakes,
waffles, French toast (or Pain Perdu, as we call it in these parts),
sausage gravy and biscuits. You get the idea. I absolutely adore Eggs
and the myriad of egg dishes offered up by Brennan’s and Commander’s Palace, but that is not what I want or need at present.
We are talking REAL food here, remember? Nothing fancy.
And just why is that, you might well be wondering. Well, I suppose it
started with Katrina. And then Rita. (You do know by now that I live
in LaPlace
, just west of New Orleans, no? Oh, yeah...)
So. The last weekend of August turned into THE evacuation trip.
Not my first, of course, but I am definitely hoping it will be my last.
A journey of well over a thousand miles: first Baytown TX, just east
of Houston; then to Austin to hang out with my younger son and
family when it became obvious just how bad things really were; and
finally to Wichita KS, so that my 82-year-old aunt Josephine, who
bore all manner of maladies in addition to having a cornea transplant
in early August, could stay with relatives while I went back home to
make order out of chaos. You get my drift, no?
But wait... there’s more! The fact that things are progressing well here in
LaPlace is nothing short of Amazing Grace! Dear family friends (whose
own house in Metairie was flooded) somehow made the trip to LaPlace
the day after Katrina and put a tarpaulin over the gaping hole in our roof!
Said roof is now being replaced (nothing short of miraculous), my dear
friend Dominic (nothing short of a Godsend) removed the oriental rugs,
hoping they would dry out (not), and has removed huge chunks of wet
sheetrock and insulation from the living room. And he is doing quite well
indeed with mold removal and sheetrock replacement. Things are looking
up, are they not?
I am encouraged. Even on really rough days I do not allow myself to
moan, groan, or gritch. I do my best not to utter even so much as a
benign complaint. All I have to do to get things in perspective is to
remember the 9th ward, or St. Bernard Parish. Lakeview, Slidell,
the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast. The word 'disaster' falls miserably
short. Unthinkable horror. Unspeakable misery.
I am invoking an attitude of gratitude every day in order to keep on
keeping on. It is working. (And just in case you think things are
"okay" now, three months down the road, think again. Have a look
at the New Orleans news - TV or newspaper, as you wish. [Note:
As  review this page, update the graphics, links, etc., it is September
2010! Hurricane-wise, we've had a marvelously quiet season, thank
God! But of course we did have the oil spill. Lots of Trouble still
brewing right here in River City...]
Then one morning in late October, just as things seem to be calming
down somewhat, the phone rings. Wichita. It seems that Aunt Jo has
had several falls, but seems to be doing okay. Hmmmmmm. What’s
going on? I make haste for Wichita. No choice. In a nutshell, my dear
aunt, known to one and all as "Miss Jo", God rest her soul, had a
series of mild strokes soon to be followed by The Big One. Massive.
She survived it, but not for long. She bade this world farewell on 11 November 2005.
What can I say? It has been quite a year. Yes, I am dealing with it, but
not by myself. Friends and family are there for me in great abundance,
for which I am eternally grateful. We all get by with a little help from
our friends, right? More to the point, however, I do what I do not of
my own power and energy (which is dwindling as the years fly by),
but by the Grace of God. Pure and simple. Period.

“The will of God will never take you to where the grace of God
will not protect you. To gain that which is worth having, it may
be necessary to lose everything else.”

~ Bernadette Devlin

Our part in this, of course, is to consult the Good Lord. "Thy will be
done," right?  Just in case you choose not to agree with my personal
spiritual philosophy here, fine. No problem whatsoever. To each his
own. This is, however, “The Spice Cabinet: Your Webmistress Up
Close and Personal��. I simply cannot relate to you what is going on
in my life, up close and personal, without telling you that I rely quite
heavily on Grace every single day, not to mention the nights. I make
no apologies for that whatsoever...
Okay. Back to breakfast. It is not a panacea, but it certainly does
seem to soothe the sorrow, diminish the grief, and provide energy
to forge ahead. Tastes good, too! Here’s what I had this morning:


One of my all-time favorites. My version of a Farmer’s Omelet (as
opposed to the delicious version served at Commander's). First had it
in the Old Country. It is simply bacon, onions, potatoes and eggs. It is
not actually an omelet at all, but rather home-fried potatoes with eggs
tossed in at the last minute. Sometimes I add mushrooms as well (in
which case I suppose it would be called a Jaegeromelette), but I did
not have any mushrooms on hand. (What was I thinking?!?!? I am,
after all, quite the mushroom aficionado!)
This is how it goes: the key for me is a well-seasoned cast iron skillet.
(You do have one, right? Otherwise how could you ever make great cornbread???) So, you start with your treasured skillet (mine are
heirlooms, and yours will be too, but only if you start now). Turn the
heat to medium-low, no higher. If you have a jar of bacon grease in
the fridge (and surely you do… “Pork fat rules!”) you might want to
toss in just a smidgen. Then dice about 4 slices of good thick-sliced
bacon, add it to the skillet, and stir it around a bit. Let it start to sizzle
nicely, stirring from time to time.
In the meantime, dice an onion (I like lots) and add it to the bacon.
Stir some more. Let the mixture sauté until the onion has just begun to
brown. Continue to stir occasionally. Keeping a close eye on the stove,
dice some potatoes. I had Yukon Golds in the pantry and used four, as
I recall. The idea is that the bottom of the skillet will be covered with
bacon and onions, sizzling to perfection, and you will cover this layer
with a generous topping of diced potatoes. How many you need will
obviously depend upon their size.
Add the diced potatoes to the skillet, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Potatoes generally take a lot of salt, but remember that you have salty
bacon. A light hand is best at this point; you can always add some later.
Now cover the skillet, turn the heat down to very low (crispy is good,
burned is bad) and let this divinely simple concoction come into its own.
No need to fret over this, but you will need to lift the cover from time
to time and give the whole thing a good toss or two. It will probably
take about 15 minutes or so, depending on the type of potato you are
using and how finely they are diced, for the potatoes to be just right:
soft but not mushy.
While this is going on, get out 2 or 3 very fresh eggs, stir them up in a
small bowl as though you were going to scramble them, add some salt
and pepper, and, if you like, a dab of mayonnaise. Yes, mayonnaise. I
did not learn this trick in the Old Country (where they are quite fond of
dipping their Pommes Frites in mayonnaise), but from a fellow comfort-
food-lover somewhere along the way. I always add mayo to scrambled
eggs, but not necessarily to a Bauernomelette. After all, we do have
bacon grease, which might be enough fat. This morning, however, I
decided to go for it. Fat can be comforting. (Had you noticed?)
At the very last moment, pour the eggs into the skillet, stir everything
around, and cook just until the eggs have begun to set. Yum, yum,
yum! You may feel the need for toast or biscuits or the like. Knock
yourself out. As for me, all I need is a huge glass of cold orange juice
(not from concentrate, if you please…) and a huge mug of fresh hot
coffee. GOOD coffee. My personal preference is Community Coffee's
New Orleans blend. Do I add cream? Certainly, unless I'm making
Cafe au lait. Is the Pope Catholic?

In celebration of survival, we offer you one of our all-time favorites:

Big Mama’s Eggs Creole

2 cups cooked grits
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cooked and crumbled smoked
sausage, preferably Cajun andouille
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
A 16-ounce can tomatoes, cut up
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup milk
All-purpose flour
Soft bread crumbs
4 eggs

Into the hot cooked grits stir 2 tablespoons butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt,
cheese and sausage. Spoon into an 8-by-8-by-2-inch baking dish.
Cover and chill until firm.
In a large skillet melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add the bell
pepper, onion, celery and garlic. Cook and stir until the vegetables are
nearly tender. Add the bay leaf, paprika, thyme, Worcestershire and
hot pepper sauce. Add the undrained tomatoes. Simmer, covered, about
10 minutes. Stir cornstarch into cold water; add to skillet and cook until
thickened and bubbly; cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Discard bay leaf.
Cut the chilled grits into 4 squares. Combine the beaten egg and 1/4
cup milk. Dredge each square of grits with flour, then dip it into the
egg mixture, and coat with bread crumbs. Fry the squares in hot oil
until brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels; keep warm.
Poach 4 eggs. To serve, layer grits, eggs and sauce. Serves 4.

Featured Archive Recipes:
Comfort Food
Comfort Food for Times of Loss
What to Eat When Tragedy Strikes
So... what about your wake?
When the Path to Serenity Wends Past the Stove
Nothing bad could ever happen to me in a café...
Baked Eggs (Laurie Colwin)
Cheese Blintzes
Christmas Morning Breakfast
Decadently Creamy Cheese Grits
Gigi's Infamous Creamed Chipped Beef
Latkes (from the Latke King)
New Orleans Grillades and Grits
Scrambled Eggs with Lox
and Cream Cheese

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits!
German Apple Pancake
German Butter Cake
Sour Cream Pecan Coffee Cake
(Commander's Palace)

Michele's Holiday Breakfast Bread
Morning Glory Muffins

Be well, stay safe, enjoy yourselves. Make the most of every day, be
grateful for every breath you take. Live with passion! Give a hoot!
And until next time, remember,

"Comfort the disturbed;
Disturb the comfortable."

~ Unknown

"It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love,
are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think
of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I
am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the
love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and
fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one."

~ M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating icon icon



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