Y’all, it’s time to talk about breakfast.
You see, while we were all holed up last week during Hurricane Irene, my friends and I embarked on a long chain e-mail about how if the end of the world were coming (Yes, we were being melodramatic. And we were bored. Bear with me.) we all really wished we’d had the foresight to make a huge breakfast before the storm descended. Because we all LOVE breakfast. Then, when it appeared the worst had passed us by, some of us got together and made a huge breakfast.
Because I have to get up earlier than I like and head to work, breakfast most days is a bowl of cereal and juice. But on weekends, I pull out all the stops. I have a boyfriend who I was convinced stayed over on Fridays not for the sex, but because I made omelettes and cheese grits on weekends. I also make rockin’ French toast, as taught to me by BigStepdaddy, who—I’m happy for you and Imma let you finish—makes the best French toast of all time. Pancakes? Yeah, I make those bitches from scratch. And I am probably the only Jew in Brooklyn who has a genuine bacon press in her kitchen. I am also rather fond of the iconic full English breakfast, probably because when I was a student in England, it was the only decent meal the university cafeteria turned out, and I love spicy Mexican breakfasts with chilaquiles, frijoles and green chile sauce.
I realize not everyone is a breakfast lover. Late risers could care less and usually go directly to lunch. One of my college roommates had a cold can of Coke for breakfast every morning and considered it the perfect way to start the day. But there’s something about a big-ass breakfast that makes it the ideal meal. You can overindulge and it won’t keep you awake at night with indigestion like a huge dinner will. There’s evidence that people who eat breakfast regularly, especially children, have higher energy levels during the day and are generally healthier than those who skip it. And breakfast food is just so damn good.
What’s your favorite breakfast? Or are you happy with just coffee and a cigarette? Do you have recipes to share? Please share! (And enjoy my favorite breakfast recipe after the jump).
Nom Nom Cheese Grits
1 cup of grits (Do not use the instant kind—they taste like wallpaper paste. Get the regular Quaker brand, or a fancier organic brand like Bob’s Red Mill. If you are a serious OG Southerner, you might have the stone-ground kind, like Anson Mills Antebellum or Carolina Plantation, which are coarser and take longer to cook but are the tastiest of all.)
2 cups of water
1 cup of milk (Skim is fine, whole milk is better. If you were to use cream or half-and-half, the end result will be very rich but it will taste amazing. Don’t even think of using soy milk or rice milk. If you’re a vegan or can’t have dairy, just use water).
Bring water and milk to a boil (the milk will foam, so stir and watch out!). Add grits and a few dashes of salt. Turn heat way down until grits are just simmering. Stir for about 5 minutes.
When the grits have thickened, add a spoonful of butter or two—if you used skim milk, go for two—and a handful of shredded or grated cheese. I’m fond of plain old sharp orange cheddar, but if you wanted to be shmancy and Continental, you could use gorgonzola or parmesan (this is, after all, pretty much identical to making polenta). If you can’t have cheese, I’m terribly sorry. You can make this with vegan cheese, but it’s harder to get vegan cheese to melt easily, so your end result might be a little stringy or oily.
Just before serving, stir in as much cayenne pepper as you personally like. If you don’t like hot pepper, I do not judge you, but SRSLY, the heat makes cheese grits even better. Or you can just douse them in the hot sauce of your choice after the fact.
Serve with eggs, or just by itself. A thick version of cheese grits has also been served in my family for Thanksgiving dinner in a casserole dish with a little melted cheese on the top (cook on the stovetop, put in casserole, run under broiler for a few minutes).