At its heart, this blog is a journal. A daily (more or less) recounting of what’s front-of-mind. I dispense a fair bit of advice on this blog, much of it about writing and parenting, but occasionally, I like to step out of my comfort zone and write about things that I probably shouldn’t, and today feels like one of those days. The flavor du jour?
As a guy not so long out of his twenties, more or less recently become a father, and still very much making it up as I go along, it occurred to me not long ago that I was really screwing up my Saturday mornings. I used to think Saturday morning was the initiation of the weekend, and that meant sleeping as late as you possibly could, then slothing around the house until you could no longer put it off. But the older I get, the more I feel that Saturday is just another day in which lots of things have to be done. Maybe it’s the grocery store. Maybe it’s your kids’ soccer games. Maybe it’s a crapton of yard work. (Ha ha, I don’t care about my yard, score one for me.) And as the health organizations have been telling us, what’s the cornerstone of a good day? Breakfast.
Problem is, if you’re like me, you learned how to do Saturday morning lazy, and you don’t know how to bridge the gap. You end up eating cold cereal or leftover pizza instead of eating proper breakfast fare. Maybe you don’t know how to cook. Maybe you’re crap at time management. Let’s work on that.
I’m no master chef, but I do believe that anybody can learn to cook one or two basic things and then parley that knowledge into fleecing people into believing that you know how to cook. And the easiest place to start? Breakfast. Why breakfast? First of all, it’s simple. Breakfast doesn’t have a lot of options as far as cooking goes. Eggs, bacon, pancakes, toast… You branch out from there, but those are the basics. Secondly, eggs are super cheap, so while you learn to cook ’em, you won’t be breaking the bank (because, let’s be honest, you WILL screw up a few times). Third, who doesn’t love a hearty eggs ‘n bacon breakfast? Nobody, that’s who. You’ll be a hit if you can serve up some tasty eggs and bacon in the morning.
So, for those guys (and gals!) like me, who are totally lost when it comes to cooking and starting your weekend off right, I want to share with you my method for CRUSHING your Saturday morning in just about thirty minutes. This is especially designed for guys (or gals!) who have a significant other and/or kids they need to feed first thing in the morning, but you know, you can scale it to your needs.
So, get your eggs and bacon ready.
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 or so.
Purists will say bacon should be cooked in the pan. Nonsense, I say. I learned about cooking bacon in the oven about two years ago and I’ve never looked back. Bacon in the pan requires constant attention, lots of turning, and I always ended up with raw bits and blackened bits on the same piece. In the oven it’s picture-perfect every time, and the slow cook of the oven frees you up to do other things.
Step 2: Dishes (first time).
Oh, you’re one of those who unloads the dishwasher as soon as it’s done washing? YOU DON’T NEED THIS GUIDE. Look, doing the dishes is a chore, and it’s best done when you have nothing better to do, which is almost never. But now, you’re waiting for the oven to preheat, so take those five minutes or so to clear that thing out. It’s full of the dishes you ran last time, and you’re going to need the space in a minute… stop putting it off and unload those dishes.
Step 3: Bacon in.
Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil (you’ll thank me later) and lay the bacon in. Cooking time will depend on how thick your bacon is, but the sweet spot for me has been about 19-20 minutes at 400, depending on how crispy you like it. If in doubt, start checking it as early as 15 minutes. Set your timer and forget about it.
Step 4: Dishes (second time).
Oh, you’re one of those who washes dirty dishes the moment they’ve been used and leaves your sink empty at night? YOU DON’T NEED THIS GUIDE. Seriously, who feels like doing dishes right before you go to bed? You left them in the sink just like I did; don’t pretend you’re fooling anybody. That bacon needs 20 minutes to cook and you’ve got ten minutes before the next step starts; might as well dive in. You just emptied the dishwasher, and a dishwasher isn’t happy unless it’s full of dishes. MAKE YOUR DISHWASHER HAPPY.
Step 5: Prep the eggs.
Get your skillet on medium heat, and, if you prefer, get the butter out. I prefer bacon grease, but use whatever brings you the most joy. Now, if you don’t mind the idea of flavoring your food with the grease of delicious pigs, follow closely. Pull the bacon pan from the oven (there are probably about five or six minutes left, you might want to check and see how it’s doing anyway), and tilt the pan slightly. A bunch of grease will run down the pan; use a spoon and scoop a bit of it into your skillet. I like a teaspoon for 2-3 eggs, both to grease the pan and to make the eggs taste like literal heaven on a fork. Adjust as necessary; 2 eggs per person is usually pretty reasonable. Me, I like eggs, so I go for a little more. If I’m feeding myself, my son, and my wife (the infant is still on baby food), six eggs does the job pretty perfectly.
Step 6: Eggs in.
Yolks or not depends on taste and cholesterol needs in your household, but you cook them the same either way. You have to experiment with your stove to get the cook time right, but for me, eggs in any form take no more than 3-4 minutes in the pan. (If you’re keeping track of the time, you see what’s developing here: the eggs should finish up within a minute or two of the bacon.) Start with scrambled eggs, and you can get fancier with your prep as time goes on. If in doubt, scrambled eggs are done when they’re firmish and still glistening. When they lose their glisten, they’re getting dry. I’ve heard that you shouldn’t season the eggs until late in the cooking process because the salt can screw up the flavor if it goes in while the egg is raw, but I’ve never been so sensitive to the taste to notice the difference. Also, if you know that much about seasoning, again, YOU DON’T NEED THIS GUIDE. Anyway, I like to season once the eggs start to firm up just a little bit, but you know, figure out what works for you.
Step 7: Toast (optional).
Yeah, carbs are the devil. I’ve stopped taking toast with my breakfast, but toast is easy enough. Pop it in about the time you get the eggs in the pan and you’ll be fine.
Step 8: Plates.
If you timed it right, the timer’s going off on the bacon within about a minute of the time you’re pulling your eggs off. It’s ideal if the bacon’s done first so that you can get it on a plate to cool and pat some of the grease off first, but that’s not a deal breaker. Anyway, spatula the bacon onto a plate lined with paper towels to draw some excess grease off. While it’s draining, spoon the eggs onto plates (along with the toast, if you made it). Serve, and enjoy.
My plates look nothing like this. Who cares? If it’s delicious (and it will be), nobody cares. And if you put that green thing on your plate for breakfast at home, I’ll kill you.
Step 9: Dishes (last time).
Remember how nice it was having a clean sink about halfway through this process? It was glamorous, right? Well, now you’ve got all these dishes from your cooking adventure mucking up that canvas. Don’t go into Saturday with dirty dishes hanging over your head. Take the five minutes and finish up; that egg skillet will never be easier to clean than right after you cook with it — leave your dishes and that egg residue turns into lacquer. Know what lacquer is? They used it to protect paintings back in the day because it doesn’t wash off. Clean it now, before it sets.
Step 10: Enjoy the rest of your freaking day.
See that? Do you see what just happened? You fed your family, cleaned up after yourself, ate a hearty breakfast, and demonstrated your role as provider and master of the house, and now you get to carry that feeling of accomplishment with you for the rest of the day. You feel like a boss, right? And it only took you thirty minutes. For bonus points, next weekend, do the same thing all over again, but this time, get up before everybody else so that the aroma of your boss-cooked bacon hypnotizes them to walk dreamlike down the stairs for the breakfast you have waiting for them.
Now your schedule is all cleared for that SVU marathon you’re totally going to end up watching instead of fixing the toilet like you were supposed to do.
This post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday.