Ways with Breakfast Eggs

Of all the meals we eat, breakfast is the one in which we are most likely to tolerate, or even welcome, monotony. Some folks eat the very same thing day after day for decades. My dad always made quick-cooking oatmeal for his breakfast. That and a cup of instant coffee and he was all set. Maybe it is because we need a fixed morning routine that allows us to get up and get to work with the least resistance from life that even a little bit of “what to eat” decision-making might create.

Because I work at home, and sometimes don’t even have breakfast until mid-morning, I am more likely to vary the menu. In winter, different cooked cereals jockey for favor over eggs or sausage and apples, or pancakes and French toast.

In summer, yogurt and homemade granola is a default breakfast with canned peaches or strawberries when they are ripe, or other fruit in season. These days, the waffle iron gets a workout because Toby likes to make waffles, experimenting constantly with different combinations of grains, seeds, nuts, and even dried fruit.

In summer, too, I cook eggs with vegetables for breakfast, especially greens like spinach, arugula, young kale, or make frittatas with peas, onions, peppers, and broccoli.

My friend Anna Coit, now 104 year old, who lives in North Stonington, Connecticut, remembers her childhood Sunday breakfast of cooked rice with a poached egg, butter, salt and pepper on top. It could have been a soft-boiled egg, too. The main feature was a lovely, gooey, yolk seeping itself into the rice. It is really delicious and a good reason to cook more rice than you need for dinner in order to save some for breakfast.

A few days ago, the need to use spinach which is bolting in my garden from all this darn heat, seasoned with a little augula, made unlovely by flea beetles chewing holes in it, but which tastes just fine, set me on a variation on Eggs Florentine–eggs cooked in a deep bed of sautéed spinach.
I had leftover rice in one of those rice blends of wild, red, brown, and white rice. I cooked a bit of onion and garlic in butter, warmed up the rice mixture on top of them, then stirred in the greens, and plopped a couple of eggs on top, sprinkled on cheese, clamped a lid on ‘er and when the whites were opaque, I tucked it under the broiler briefly to set the yolks a bit. Toby said, “This is good enough for your column.”

So here it is. Caution: This is a kind of non-recipe. Braising or stir fry vegetables can include tatsoi, beet greens, pac choi, mizuna, Chineese cabbage, mustard, and even old lettuce.

Eggs on Rice and Greens

Olive or vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced, or some chopped garlic scapes
A big bunch of shredded greens—spinach, young kale, braising vegetables
A cup or so of leftover cooked rice
1 – 2 eggs person
A bit of grated cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Put some oil in a heavy frying pan and over a medium heat, add the onion, cooking it until it is barely soft. Add the garlic and cook until you can smell it, then add the rice and stir it, heating it for only a moment or two until it is warm through. Add the shredded greens and cook, stirring as needed until they wilt. Spread the rice and vegetable mixture over the bottom of the pan, and break the eggs onto it. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the grated cheese. Put a lid on the pan and reduce the temperature to low medium. After about three minutes, check the eggs. As soon as they are opaque, run them briefly under the broiler until the eggs are set, being very careful not to let the yolks get hard.

Serves as many as there are eggs for.

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About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.