Sunday Breakfast, a Visit With my (Late) Father

It’s Sunday. The kids are in the tub, the wife’s sleeping off her 11pm – 7am shift at the assisted living place, and I’m in the mood to type.

I woke this morning to my 7 year old requesting a cooked breakfast on behalf of my wife who had just gotten home from her night shift of cleaning old people. I slept poorly, as I frequently do when I’m alone in the bed, but dragged myself downstairs regardless.

I defrosted the bacon, put the sausages in a pan to cook, mixed up some eggs in a giant bowl, and some pancake batter in another. we recently replaced our old dented frying pans with some new ones we picked up cheaple. You get what you pay for… brand new, these things were already warped, which wouldn’t be quite so bad on a gas stove, but on a flat electric cooktop, the spin due to the misshapen bottom. They also burn stuff very quickly.

I flip bacon with two forks, one in each hand. A method I’d learned from watching my father cook Sunday breakfast. I can’t cook bacon without thinking of him. He taught me how to cook breakfast.

He told me about how you know the pancake is ready to flip when you see the bubbles popping on the top, and the rim around the edge turns yellow.

About how you know the toast is ready when you hear the seeds popping, but that is only true for oatmeal bread.

About how the butter needs to flow at a certain fluidity before you know the pan is the right temp.

About how if you’re making poached eggs, you want the water to be hot first, and then you stir it with a spoon, so that it’s swirling when you put the egg in. That way the egg flows to the middle of the pan and stays together long enough to cook to the point where it solidifies.

About how canned hash takes forever to crisp up.

All these thoughts and more flickered through my head as I cooked. After breakfast he’d sit at the table, reading his newspaper. He liked his food on the left, with the paper on the right. (I can’t function that way, if I’m eating while reading, the food has to be on the right.) He’d remind me to eat the eggs before they get cold, cause cold eggs are yucky. (another point upon which we differ, I have no problem with cold eggs, but still that phrase stuck with me.)

He’d sit and put his legs up on the corner of the table, something which I’d get in trouble for. He was always careful to make sure his shoes were not touching the table though, carefully hanging off the other edge. My legs were not long enough. He’d sit, reading his paper, smoking a cigarette.

That’s the end of that particular memory, most likely because I was five or six, and was off to do something else before he was done with the paper…

It occurred to me shortly after breakfast that tomorrow is his birthday. (Actually, it occurred to me that his birthday was some time at the end of July, but I never really remembered when, so I asked my mother… It’s tomorrow, July 30th, 1942). He’d have been 70 this year.

Makes me wonder how much of their childhood my kids will remember, and what specific parts about me. Makes me wonder what they’ll remember me for doing, and if those things were things I remember about my father? Makes me wonder if the things I remember about my father, were things he remembered about his? (His father was dead before I was born).

At the end of the day, I still feel like a kid learning from the things I remember my father doing. I learned a lot from my mother as well, but she was more of a “tell you what to do” sort. My father would just go about his business… more of a lead by example sort, I guess? Which works better for me, because I’m a learn by example sort…

What sorts of things that you do, remind you of someone else? Have you ever thought about where you got the habits / routines you have? Any weekend meal memories you want to share?

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4 thoughts on “Sunday Breakfast, a Visit With my (Late) Father

  1. You brought to mind many memories of my own Dad. He loved to cook, and he did most of the cooking when he was home (he was often out of town, working for the airlines as he did, so My Mom would cook then.) I especially remember him when I’m cooking scrambled eggs, as he would make the fluffiest scrambled eggs I’ve ever had to this day. He would make them with lots of milk, spooning off excess liquid from the pan by tilting it toward him and, yes, spooning it off. He made his own baked beans, the best I’ve ever had, and they would be served with the eggs, toast, and bacon. A special treat when I was young was when he made cocoa, which he did with real baking chocolate (unsweetened), taking the time to melt it, add milk and sugar, and stir it for what seemed an eternity to a child. Topped off with a big dollop of marshmallow fluff that would rise to the top – that was such a warm time to spend with him. I do most of the cooking now in our home and I wish I had had the foresight to have My Dad write down a few of the recipes I’ve desperately tried to recreate but can’t quite get exactly – baked stuffed.pork chops were a family specialty for the Sullivans, and I’ve never gotten them the way he did them. Likewise his beef stew. I come close, but it’s just that wee bit off. Maybe it’s just missing the love.

    • I know what you mean… There were a few things that he cooked that I don’t think I ever quite got right, and the sad part is, he wasn’t all that creative a cook.

      Perhaps it just tasted better because he cooked it.

  2. What a lovely post. My dad passed ten years ago, and I also have kitchen memories associated with him. He was one of those cooks who just kept adding. Every spice/herb he was introduced to was added into every recipe. Made for some interesting meals. 😉 I think of him when I experiment with a new spice.

    • Thanks! My dad wasn’t into spices very much, my affinity for spices seems to have materialized out of no where… Both parents liked to make things as bland as possible…

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