Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. This may come as a surprise, given my penchant for experimenting in the kitchen. I love a good, multi-course, try-something-new, dirty-all-the-dishes dinner now and then, but the satisfaction of such a herculean effort is elevated by the simple unworried recovery of breakfast. Just one dirty bowl at a time.
Breakfast does best without fancy or fuss. It likes routine. Which is to say, breakfast is the only meal of the day I can prepare while still half asleep. I don’t wake up hungry, in fact, I don’t wake up awake. I ease into the day slowly, aided by a cup of coffee, a morning newscast and a bite to eat, in that order and in no rush.
Unlike lunch at noon and supper at six, breakfast has no specific hour. It fits nicely any time between brushing my hair and brushing my teeth. Any time between the last supper and the next lunch. If I skip breakfast, no one cares. Not so with lunch or supper. Skip lunch and people will say you work too hard. Skip supper and people will ask if you’re not feeling well. As for breakfast, I suspect my friends think it less healthy to skip coffee than to skip toast.
Of course, this flies in the face of conventional dietary wisdom that says, “a good day starts with a good breakfast,” but I subscribe to the even older adage that says, “don’t eat if you’re not hungry.” And my hunger does not wake up when I do. It seems to have a snooze button all its own.
When it comes to breakfast, I admire the attitude of the pioneers. What was good for breakfast was good for supper and vice versa. When lunch was the largest meal of the day, supper and breakfast were interchangeable. For instance, leftover porridge for breakfast became slabs of porridge fried up for supper. Leftover pork and beans for supper became a breakfast of fried eggs and beans. Pancakes were just as welcome at breakfast as supper. And supper’s uneaten pound cake or bread pudding or apple pie was fair game for breakfast. In fact, I read that eating apple pie directly from the pie plate while standing at the counter in pyjamas cancels all calories. Or did I write that?
The truth is, I find breakfast too early for cooking. I’m not a fan of toast, perhaps because and why I don’t own a toaster. I prefer my eggs and bacon later in the day. And cereal leaves me cold.
My breakfast of choice is muesli. Homemade muesli with yogurt and fresh or dried fruit. I make a batch of muesli while fully awake in quantities that satisfy several weeks of sleepy mornings. Just add yogurt and stir. Sometimes I add dried fruit to the mix. Sometimes I add fresh berries at the time of eating. Sometimes I do both. No two batches of my homemade muesli are exactly the same, but same enough to satisfy my requirement that breakfast be a simple, uncluttered, uncomplicated routine. Best of all, a bowl of muesli makes a light and healthy supper, and a handful is good snacking any time of day.
If I’m feeling uncharacteristically perky, I might eat my morning muesli in a martini glass, layering it with the yogurt and making a pretty picture of the fruit. And that’s as fancy as I plan to get with breakfast.
My morning muesli
The general proportion is 1/2 cup nuts and seeds to 1 cup oats. If you avoid nuts, add more seeds. Sometimes I use coconut or chocolate chips if they are left over from baking something else.
- 3 c. rolled oats (old fashioned or quick)
- 3/4 c. nuts (such as slivered almonds and/or chopped walnuts) 3/4 c. seeds (such as pumpkin, hemp and sunflower)
- 3 tbsp. liquid honey
- 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 3/4 c. dried fruit (optional)
Stir together the oats, nuts and seeds. In another bowl, mix the honey and oil. Stir well. Pour onto the oats and mix thoroughly. Spread oats onto a big cookie sheet. Bake at 200 F for two hours, stirring every half hour for even cooking. Cool. If using dried fruit, add it now. Store in an airtight container.