Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Rescue: A Champagne "Brunch," Of Sorts

Background: When Denise Holton moves to her mother's hometown of Edenton, North Carolina with her four-year-old son, Kyle, she has no clue how much it will change her life. Kyle struggles with an auditory processing disorder that makes it difficult for him to speak clearly, and Denise works diligently and lovingly to help Kyle through his difficulties. (If you've read Nicholas Sparks' Three Weeks With my Brother, the memoir he co-wrote with his brother Micah, you might recall his emotional accounts of similar challenges that he and his wife Cathy faced with their son Ryan.) One stormy night as Denise and Kyle are driving home from a long day of tests in Raleigh, she swerves to avoid an oncoming car and skids across the wet pavement into a tree. Denise is knocked unconscious, and when she wakes up she discovers the back door open and Kyle gone. Enter Taylor McAden, a firefighter who is called upon to help with the search. He finds Kyle after many hours hiding in a duck blind in a nearby swamp. He immediately bonds with the little boy, and his natural fatherly connection to Kyle eventually leads to a romance with Denise. (The fact that Taylor blames himself for his father's death makes him wary of relationships, and gives The Rescue a nice healthy dose of melodrama. I love it.)

One night Taylor and Denise go out to a nice restaurant for dinner while Taylor's mother watches Kyle for the evening. When they return to Denise's house, they top off the evening with strawberries and champagne. The next morning ('cuz he stayed at her place all night, don't ya know), Taylor cooks them all pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Now, I cook pancakes, eggs, and bacon all the time. This was going to be a no-brainer. Then I thought, why not have a champagne brunch? Okay, a champagne breakfast-for-dinner. We could pretend it was brunch. With my favorite pancake recipe, some strawberries, a little twist to my usual scrambled-eggs-with-cheese, and some little two-serving bottles of champagne I found, I could put together a quick and delicious meal that Taylor and Denise would love.

I used my favorite pancake recipe from my favorite cookbook, The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook:

2 cups all-purpose flour (sometimes I use half white flour and half whole wheat. Not this time.)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten (or 1 heaping tablespoon Egg Replacer with 1/4 cup water)
2 cups buttermilk (since Moe is allergic to dairy, I use a combination of soy milk, rice milk, and "regular" milk)
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Combine first 5 ingredients, stir well. Combine eggs, buttermilk, and oil in a bowl; add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup batter into a hot, lightly greased griddle. Cook pancakes until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked; turn and cook other side. (It says you can save any unused batter in a tightly sealed container for up to one week. I always cook all of the batter and if there are any leftover pancakes, the boys eat them for breakfast during the week.) Yield: 18 4-inch pancakes.

After cooking a few "plain" ones,

I added a little grated apple and some cinnamon. We all have different tastes when it comes to what we like in our pancakes.

For the eggs, I chopped up an onion and a red bell pepper, and sauteed them in olive oil until they started to get soft. .

I cracked about eight eggs into a bowl, added a little milk, salt and pepper, and a teensy bit of cheddar cheese. (Curly was in charge of cooking them.)

Once the eggs were cooked to a consistency that I--er, Curly--liked, we put them into a serving bowl and sprinkled shredded cheese on top. Just before serving, we melted the cheese in the microwave.

A couple of strawberries and a nice thick slice of bacon on the side--Brunch (uh, Dinner) Is Served!

Champagne for the grown-ups. The boys had sparkling apple cider in their mugs.

Today I found a new butcher in town. You don't know how excited that makes me, because now I can get local free-range meat year-round, and I can get just the amount and the cuts that I want. My next project will probably be beef stew (which Moe and I both love, and the rest of them don't care for--too bad for them), and I might even take a stab at venison later if I can get it for a reasonable price without having to buy half a deer or something. This new butcher will love me and my blog, and Nick might just be his new best friend--although I would probably be a regular customer anyway, with or without this crazy cooking adventure of mine.

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