When I was a kid, my Dad, the venerable David Earl Clark (pictured attempting to "Michael Jackson" his granddaughter) would make a family breakfast most Sunday mornings. The three things I remember most about these family breakfast events were (1) some good family time ensued with some good natured ribbing and general hanging out; (2) pancakes were always served; (3) I never ate the pancakes, instead I had a bowl or three of Kix. I wish I could remember a specific day or a specific event that occurred that made me love the Sunday mornings so much, but I can't. All I really remember is loving those Sunday mornings and not eating the pancakes.
These weekly family breakfasts ingrained in me the joy of making breakfast. It's ironic since I don't really like breakfast foods (as I'm sure you already know) but there is nothing in the world I love to do more than to belly up to the stove and flip a few hundred flapjacks for family and friends. It isn't always pancakes since I do like to experiment a bit. I've made spinach and ricotta fritattas; chorizo omelets with farm fresh sorrel, garlic scapes, and basil; and even a classic filet mignon with farm fresh eggs and home fries (if you don't believe me ask Rizzo). I hardly ate any of these fine dishes, with the exception of the filet mignon) but I love making them. But no matter what I end up making, Sunday seems to always fall back on the old, reliable pancakes.
To get the morning started, I always put on our Sunday morning record, Welcome to the Club by Nat "King" Cole. This was one of the first records I got when we purchased our turntable. Nothing really gets your day started better than Nat Cole crooning about life and love. OK, some of the lyrics may be a little sexist (in I Want a Little Girl, Nat sings " I want a little girl, she may not look, Like the kind in a picture book But if she can cook she'll suit me to a T") but it was 1959 and the dude could sing. Nat King Cole has become the soundtrack to our Sunday mornings.
As I'm sure you have read previously since you are a devout follower of the Green Bean Conspiracy and have memorized all previous blogs, shared them with your friends, and printed them to bind and create your own coffee table book, you know that we try to eat naturally, locally, and organically without being to crazy about it. That is why our pancakes are made from Bob's Red Mill Pancake and Waffle mix. For a time I would make a pancake mix from scratch until I discovered Bob's Red Mill. Unlike your usual off-the-shelf pancake mix that include vast amounts of preservatives and other chemicals, Bob's mix is basically a combination of the ingredients you would use at home less the milk, egg, and oil needed to finish it up. Using Bob's mix saves time, is healthy, and produces a high quality pancake.
Pancakes are nothing unless you are cooking with the right equipment. For years I utilized an electric griddle that Rizzo's Dad gave her as a gift. It worked well but I desired the more nostalgic feeling of a cook in the kitchen in 1950. My parents were happy to oblige and for my 35th birthday gave me the gift that every 35-year-old male clamors for; a cast iron skillet. That is not a joke. I toss this 20ish pound piece of iron up on my gas range, rock the back burner at about half power, the front at about 42% power (it is a "power" burner) and then let it ride for 10-12 minutes. After the allotted time you have a cooking service that is evenly heated to the perfect temperature and will push out three pancakes every 4 to 7 minutes at a perfectly golden brown. Not only that, once you are done all you have to do is slather a little oil over that bad boy and you're all finished. Don't you dare use water to clean your cast iron unless you enjoy the taste of rust.
But Wesley, what do you serve on the side of your pancakes? Thank you for asking imaginary voice in my head that for some reason sounds like Bob Sagat. No Sunday morning breakfast is complete without some delicious Meat Guy sausage. Meat Guy's sausage comes from our local farmer's market (I've already made his meat famous in Saturday Morning Cartoons) and is made from the highest quality pork. This is a recent addition to the Sunday morning ritual. Just in the past two weeks I discovered that one package of Meat Guy sausage can be separated and frozen to provide three weeks worth of breakfasts for Rizzo, Cece and myself.
Since I have mentioned at least 16 or 17 times during the life of this blog, I don't like breakfast food so I had to find a way to make this meal delicious for me but somehow disgust the remainder of the Western world. I achieve that goal by combining my typical breakfast fare in an atypical combination. Wesley's Sunday breakfast sandwich consists of the following: (1) two pancakes that comprise the bread portion of this sandwich, (2) two mouthwatering Meat Guy sausages, (3) one fried egg that is filled with more red pepper flakes than is reasonable, and (4) raspberry preserves. I'm sure I had you until the raspberry preserves but I'll tell you what, the combination of the of spicy red pepper flakes and sweet raspberry preserves will knock your socks off.
This Sunday breakfast ritual is a family affair. Rizzo has pancakes, eggs, and sausage. Cece has pancakes, an egg, and sausage. I have pancakes, an egg, and sausage (and preserves). We even give Ellie (our dog) a pancake. Ellie has come to love her Sunday treat so much that she will sit in the kitchen and watch me cook just to make sure that she gets her Sunday pancake. I added this short paragraph for no other reason than to give me an excuse to put up a picture of Ellie eating a pancake.
Sunday is a time to relax with family and friends and hopefully take some time to break away from the rigors of everyday life. I choose to use Sunday to make some breakfast. If you ever want to stop by to join us for Sunday morning breakfast please do. There is always plenty of pancakes and red pepper flakes to go around.
P.S. I wanted to make a make a joke along the lines of "I take my pancakes like I take my women: hot, round, and beautifully browned" but my woman isn't round at all. I was going to stick that word in because it rhymed with browned. Rizzo is slim, trim, and beautifully browned, but that doesn't rhyme.
P.P.S. If I ever start up my own butcher shop (I won't) it will clearly be named Meat Guy Meats. Just tell it like it is. No need for some clever reference to charcuterie or other hidden meanings. If you walk down the street and see my shop, you will know what I sell. Nothing but delicious meats.