There are some foods that scream Keizer, Oregon 97303 to me – the city, state and zip code of which I grew up in. I picture our little house in the center of town, on Menlo Drive North, and the kitchen that was the center of all activity. Mom purposefully made it her goal to be home by the time we arrived home from school each day, where magically, fresh-baked cookies and cold glasses of milk sat ready and waiting for us on the crowded, lived-in countertop. Then – without a moment to rest, I now realize – mere hours later, she’d prepare dinner, and more often than not, we’d then sit down to a home-cooked meal as a family. We’d gather around the dining room table, MacGruff the Crime Dog (basset hound) hopeful for droppings at the shag carpet’s edge, while Tom Brokaw via the NBC Nightly News, joined in across the room as our ever-present sixth guest.
We had our family favorites: sticky spareribs with creamy, buttery mashed potatoes, and tacos with all the fixins’ on the Lazy Susan in the center of the table. We’d close our eyes and let the steam from bowls of soup – clam chowder and taco soup and split pea soup, to name a few – naturally hydrate our faces, and we kids would vie for the “alone” seat, the one that didn’t involve bumping elbows with a sibling, that came with an extra foot and a half of room on our right and on our left.
Oh, to have the alone seat now.
And while Mom’s recipes – the ones she knows by heart, the ones we ask for on visits home – are enough to give The Pioneer Woman a run for her money, today I was reminded of Sunday mornings. Because, you see, breakfast was Dad’s speciality, and although we kids didn’t partake of his early morning kitchen excursions on the weekdays, he’d forfeit his tummy rumblings for a couple of hours on those 6th and 7th days so that we could join in the feast. With Muppet Babies dominating the television screen, our noses would catch wafts of deliciously rich breakfast food: Swedish pancakes and eggs Benedict, buttermilk waffles and biscuits and gravy, cheesy egg rice and, lest we forget, omelets.
See, here’s what you need to know about my father: the man takes pride in his breakfast repertoire, so much so, that at an all-church campout, circa the early 90’s, he was not above making individually tailored omelets for 25, 30 people. Two eggs or three? Not a problem. Bacon or ham? Done. And [pause] …would you like Secret Sauce on your omelet? There is nothing his breakfast skills can’t handle.
I too have inherited a love of all things Breakfast. And whether it’s because I found myself enthralled and delighted by Molly Wizenberg‘s A Homemade Life this past weekend, or because Auntie just happened to have leftover Chinese rice from last night’s dinner ready and waiting for me in the fridge this morning, I tasted my childhood again. His omelets might be considered life-changing, I’ll hand that to him, but cheesy egg rice? That was his, for it represents roots of our family tree, tracing back to his childhood and the way Grandpa Mac used to make it, and how this simple, substantial meal gives us just enough, for our tummies and our hearts and our souls.
So friends, the secret’s out: cheesy egg rice is a game-changer. I’m so glad a saved a piece for this afternoon’s snack. Enjoy.
Cheesy Egg Rice
*1 cup cooked white/brown rice (cold and/or refrigerated is best)
*1/2 cup grated cheese
*salt & pepper
Pour a tablespoon of canola oil into a pan on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, dump leftover rice into the pan, and fry until the rice is nice and crispy (8-10 minutes, or until desired level of crispiness). Believe you me, the crispier the rice, the better the end result! Meanwhile, crack four eggs into a medium-sized bowl, whisk until blended, and stir in cheese. Then, when your rise is crisp, pour the egg-cheese mixture over the top, spreading evenly, and then sprinkle salt and pepper over it all. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Serve with salsa and sour cream (or whatever topping you like best). Enjoy!
[You might find that you like more cheese, or less egg or brown rice – do whatever you’d like. It’s not rocket science, it’s just yummy.]
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go rescue that lone piece of cheesy egg rice out of the fridge. But what about you? Do you have a favorite family meal that you just can’t get enough of? Do share!