Fifty years ago, Sara Hervey boiled breakfast down to its essence: Fruit. Main dish. Bread and/or cereal. Beverage.
Below you’ll find four takes on Hervey’s “hearty breakfast pattern,” as well as a few hidden gems: dishes for “party breakfasts” (aka brunch), the art of egg scrambling, and a how-to on “extra-fluffy French toast.” Enjoy!
Top of the Morning
Originally published in Country Gentleman, January 1, 1948
What a pity it is that so many folks feel they must grab breakfast on the run — a glass of fruit juice (if they’re lucky), a slim piece of toast, and a gulp of coffee. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and please give me plenty of time to enjoy it leisurely. There have been a lot of rules made about what makes up a good breakfast, but if it’s hot and hearty you’ll probably have passed the test with both your family and the nutrition authorities. We had a lot of fun preparing these four traditional breakfasts from different parts of the country. Comments from the photographic crew varied from “Boy, is that a whopper!” to “Oh, I eat that much every morning.”
That brought up the question, “Just how big is a good breakfast?” There’s no hard-and-fast rule, but if you serve from one-fourth to one-third of the day’s food at breakfast, you’re apt to end up the day with a pretty good score nutrition-wise.
By following this hearty-breakfast pattern, you can keep the morning meal as varied and full of interest as any of the succeeding meals:
Hearty Breakfast Pattern
- fruit starter
- main dish
- cereal and/or bread
- broiled ham slice with orange
- hominy grits
- ham gravy
- hot biscuits
- New England baked apples
- codfish cakes
- baked beans
- broiled bacon
- toasted Boston brown bread
- oatmeal with stewed apricots
- broiled tomatoes
- scrambled eggs
- Dutch coffee cake
- broiled grapefruit with jelly
- fried eggs
- country-fried potatoes
- pork sausage
The day always seems a little more friendly to me after I’ve put away a glass of orange juice or a half grapefruit. I love the stuff. And if you really want to feel smug about the whole thing, you can always think of the large share of vitamin C you’re getting. Don’t strain citrus juice if you would get the most vitamins and minerals from it. There are other juices, too, which will add zest to the breakfast meal. Include cranberry, apricot, prune, plum, grape, and tomato juice occasionally for variety.
Spiced, baked winter pears, prepared the day ahead and served cold with cream, make a delightful breakfast treat. Make a sirup of 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 2 cups of water, 6 cloves, and 2 sticks of cinnamon, cooking until the sugars are dissolved. Place 6 pears upright in a baking dish and pour the sirup over. Bake in a slow oven (325° F) 1 1/2 hours.
Baked apples, New England style, are filled with sparkling red cranberry sauce. Wash and core the apples. Pare the skin 1/3 of the way down. For 6 to 8 apples, boil together 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water for 5 minutes. Pour the sirup over the apples in a baking dish, and bake uncovered in a moderate oven (375° F) 25 to 30 minutes, basting frequently. Remove from the oven and fill centers with cranberry sauce. Place under the broiler and continue to baste with sirup until the apples are well glazed.
The big attraction of your breakfast meal may be any good protein food, such as meat, eggs or fish. The Pennsylvania Dutch favor scrapple fried crisp and brown and served with sirup, a tart jelly, or fluffy scrambled eggs. You can make a very excellent scrapple by mixing pork sausage with cornmeal mush. To 4 cups of rapidly boiling salted water, slowly add 1 cup of cornmeal, stirring and cooking until the mush is thick, about 15 minutes. Mix in 1 pound of pork-sausage meat. Pack into a loaf pan and chill. To prepare for serving, slice into 1/2-inch slices and pan-fry until well browned.
When it comes to egg cookery, take it slow and easy. Very slow cookery is the first rule for successful cooking of eggs, and all types of protein foods, for that matter. Scrambled eggs, for my money, should be served hot and light and fluffy.
Either cook the beaten eggs in a heavy fry pan over low heat or over boiling water, stirring lightly until just set. And for a slightly different taste treat, try adding a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a little sliced pimiento, and a little finely chopped chives, along with the salt and pepper.
In addition to the popular breakfast meats — bacon, Canadian bacon, pork sausage, and ham — occasionally vary your menu with shredded dried beef, frizzled in butter until crisp. Or perk up family appetites with thin slices of well-browned liver along with the breakfast bacon. For Sunday morning or party breakfasts, pan-broiled thin lamb or pork chops, or cube beef steaks, give the meal a festive air.
One of our favorite party breakfasts includes Canadian bacon served Hawaiian style. Pan-broil thin slices of the bacon until well browned. Place 3 slices on a round of toast, and surround with cubed, canned pineapple which has been browned in butter. Melt a small glass of currant or mint jelly in the pan used for the bacon, and pour about 2 tablespoons over each serving.
Cereal and/or Bread
It’s fun to serve the cereal in a big colorful soup tureen. Let the family help themselves, and provide toppings of fruit, chopped nuts, jelly, or butter.
And here’s a hint for making extra-fluffy French toast … Separate the egg yolks from the whites; beat the egg yolks well, add seasonings and milk; then fold in stiffly beaten whites. Dip the bread in this mixture and fry as usual.
If you like your breakfast coffee as well as I, there’s little to say except to remind you to make it fresh, serve it hot, and have plenty. Hot chocolate or milk for the children — and the grown-ups, too, if they like.