Morning Food

I am not a breakfast person. Yes, I love pancakes and waffles and grits and bacon and scrambled eggs with cheese, but I really like having it for supper or a late brunch instead. Maybe it’s because when morning comes around, I’d rather be asleep than eating, but I just don’t feel hungry in the morning. Ever.

It’s not something new. I’ve never liked breakfast. My grandfather used to lure me into eating by making me pancakes shaped like animals and squiggles or little silver dollar ones and mostly chocolate gravy to go over them. Of course, since I was a notoriously picky and meager eater, those pancakes always had Cream of Wheat as a secret ingredient to get more nutrition into me.

Later on, at the insistence of my parents during high school, I learned that I could drink a glass of Instant Breakfast and get around having to eat. Of course, I was still picky. I didn’t like it unless it was whipped up in the blender so there weren’t little grains of it in the milk. I know. It was sad.

When I went to college and was on my own, breakfast just kind of stopped. With no one there to make me eat it, I didn’t. And that probably wasn’t such a good thing since I existed mainly on Sweetarts and diet Sprite at that point. But still, I was okay. I survived.

Later when I was cooking and eating like a normal human being and feeding a child to boot, I tried to do breakfast. Pretty quickly that turned into making breakfast for Patric but still not eating it myself.

But this was a breakfast morning. We actually drove an hour to have breakfast this morning. To some degree that gave me time to wake up. But still, I just don’t like eating before noon. It just seems wrong. This was worth it, though.

We went to Big Bad Breakfast this morning. For those who haven’t been there, it’s a little diner-style cafe in a strip mall in Oxford, MS. But John Currence owns it and makes his own bacon and sausage and many other delicious things from scratch. For me, breakfast turned out to be a bruleed grapefruit half, some cheese grits, and half of a pepper-flecked biscuit. It was good. It was really good.

Am I now a breakfast convert? No. But for an every-once-in-a-while sort of thing, breakfast isn’t all that bad after all.

Cream of Wheat Pancakes with Chocolate Gravy from Dad

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

This recipe quantity serves 2 small appetites or 1 large one. Scale it up to feed more people if you need to.

These were the pancakes that woke me up when I was 5 years old (and older). They work well at any size, but the smaller the pancake, the quicker it will cook. Shapes can be free-form or you can use the molds that I've seen at Williams-Sonoma, but they kind of seem like cheating to me. The easiest free-form shapes are a snake, a teddy bear, or, if you're feeling really adventurous, a seal with a ball on its nose. Make the teddy bear by pouring different sized rounds of batter that connect at the right points. Not only will you get the shape, but the dollops make defined circles that look like teddy bear parts.

You can, of course, leave out the cream of wheat. Just replace it with an equal amount of flour. This is also a place you could sneak in wheat germ without changing the taste or texture enough for a child to notice. You can crumble cooked bacon into your pancake batter or add chocolate chips, blueberries, thin banana slices, or anything else you can think of. You probably will want to have regular pancake or maple syrup or a fruit syrup instead of the chocolate gravy if you decide to add fruit, but it's all up to you. I like the contrast of something salty with the sweetness of syrup, so I'm partial to bacon. If you really like chocolate, add a 1/2 teaspoon of cocoa powder to the batter and increase the sugar by the same amount to make chocolate pancakes.

And because I do like to cook with alcohol, orange, mint, or raspberry liqueur are a great addition to the chocolate gravy. You can also think about decreasing the amount of sugar in the mix if you are adding a sweeter liqueur or just want more of a cocoa taste.

Ingredients

    For the pancakes:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Cream of Wheat or farina
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • For the chocolate gravy:
  • 1/4 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Instructions

    To make the pancakes:
  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat.
  2. In a medium bowl or 4-cup measuring cup, combine all of the ingredients, stirring until combined and with no lumps. Add more milk or water if necessary to make a pourable batter.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of butter to the skillet and allow it to melt and begin to brown before adding batter.
  4. Working in batches, dip or pour the pancakes into the skillet in whatever shape or size you desire.
  5. Allow the pancakes to cook for 2 minutes or until bubbles have formed and popped on the top of the batter in the skillet. The edges of the pancake should be dry.
  6. Carefully flip the pancake and allow it to cook for an additional 2 minutes or until both sides are golden brown.
  7. Add fresh butter to the skillet between each batch of pancakes.
  8. To make the chocolate gravy:
  9. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  10. Add the cocoa powder and sugar and stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved.
  11. Add water, stirring constantly, to thin the gravy to your desired thickness.
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