Monday, February 04, 2008


Recently I realized that I can look back over the course of my life and track my age by what I was eating for breakfast.

Some people associate songs with certain periods of their lives (I do that, too), but these days I tend to lean more towards food, especially breakfast food.

When I was a small child I ate kid’s cereal for breakfast. Anything with a ton of sugar and a toy in the box was good enough for me. I lived at home and watched Captain Kangaroo and the Three Stooges every morning.

When we were out of kid’s cereal, I ate my mom’s Corn Flakes. At first glance, they would seem to be the healthier alternative, except that I dumped loads of sugar on them. Left to my preparation, Corn Flakes were ten times as sugar-laden as Fruit Loops.

At the end of a substitute Corn Flakes breakfast, all that was left in the bottom of the bowl was a one-inch layer of white sludge. I, of course, was bouncing off of the walls on a sugar high that wouldn’t wear off until noon. I have a feeling that my elementary school teachers did everything within their means to make sure that the St.John household never ran out of Fruit Loops or Count Chocula.

In junior high school I was into sweet rolls and Pop Tarts, still sugary but quick. By the time I reached high school and had purchased my first automobile, I got into the habit of stopping by the doughnut shop on my way to school.

In my college years I rarely ate breakfast, either because I was not feeling up-to-snuff in the morning, or had yet to roll out of the bed before noon. Due to the fact that I couldn’t wake up before midday, my first attempt at a college career ended abruptly when the university I was attending informed me that they no longer needed my services.

I went through a phase in my 20s where I ate lunch food for breakfast. A local fast food joint prepared hamburgers as early as 7a.m. I lived rent-free in a garage apartment behind my grandmother’s house and rarely cooked anything, especially early in the morning.

At 26-years old I opened my first restaurant. I was working 90-hours per week and pulling early morning shifts in the restaurant. I had a 32-inch waist and more energy than a rabid hummingbird. I lived on cinnamon rolls and drive-thru fast-food in the mornings.

Over the next several years my breakfast eating grew worse and my waist grew exponentially. As I look back to the early days of my breakfast career, it seems that I made one bad choice after another. I spent 40 years eating junk in the morning. It’s strange because breakfast is my favorite meal.

These days I eat oatmeal with protein powder and Splenda if I am home. When I eat breakfast out, I usually eat a bagel, scrambled eggs, or a croissant.

Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day. Yet people claim to be too busy to eat breakfast. We keep inventing gadgets to make life easier— cell phones, computerized vacuum cleaners, and heated toilet seats— yet we allege that we are busier than ever.

Maybe we are spending too much time trying to figure out how to operate all of the time-saving gadgets in our lives and not taking time to sit down and share a meal together.

My great-grandmother ate one scrambled egg, two pieces of bacon, and a slice of toast every morning. She lived to be 100-years old. I had a grandmother who ate toast and fresh fruit every morning. She lived to be 96-years old.

Less Stress + More Breakfast = Long Life. Neither of those ladies gave a hoot about time-saving technology. My grandmother once asked me, while pointing to a multi-colored Wurlitzer juke box in the corner of a nursing home public space, “Robert, is that one of those new computers I keep hearing about?”

Maybe it’s time we slowed down and enjoyed breakfast. Put the cell phone in a drawer, unplug the toilet seat, and pass the orange juice.

I spent four decades eating sugar-laden junk in the morning. Maybe it’s time I grew up. Then again, maybe I’ve got just a few more cinnamon roll-mornings left in me.

Breakfast Casserole

1 lb Spicy breakfast sausage
3 /4 cup Onion, diced
1 /4 cup Green bell pepper, sliced
1 /4 cup Red bell pepper, sliced
1 tsp Garlic
1 tsp Creole Seasoning
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
10 Eggs, beaten
1 cup Half and Half
1 tsp Dry mustard
6 pieces White bread, crusts removed
6 pieces Wheat bread, crusts removed
1 /4 cup Soft butter
1 cup Sharp cheddar, shredded
1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 tsp. Hot Sauce

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Brown sausage in a large skillet and drain most of the fat. Add vegetables, garlic and seasoning and cook five minutes. Set aside.

Mix together eggs, half and half, and dry mustard in a mixing bowl. Using the softened butter, butter both sides of each slice of bread. Cut the bread into small cubes. Fold the bread, cheeses and sausage mixture into the eggs. Mix well and place in a buttered two-quart baking dish.

Bake for 40-50 minutes. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving. Yield: eight servings

No comments: