Making Things: New Year’s Brunch

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Today my children went to their father’s to spend the rest of their winter break with him and their little brother. Before they left, I wanted to give them a good meal, full of veggies and love. They certainly eat veggies at their dad’s house, this has nothing to do with correcting any deficiencies there; I just like to express my love for them through caring for their physical health, and stuffing as many veggies into them as I possibly can. They are kids, they avoid the veggies whenever possible!

It is amazing to me how much I enjoy chopping fresh veggies and making a meal for the kids. I do like cooking, but the process of making food from scratch (mostly…), considering their nutritional needs as I cook, it makes me feel like I am doing something good and loving for them. Of course, I am, but I am continually surprised at how I notice this as I chop and cook. I enjoy cooking for myself when they are gone, but I really love cooking for them and knowing that my effort is going into them. It sounds cheesy to me as I read over this, but it is still true.

Here is a recipe for what I did today, but I do it differently other days, depending on what kind of veggies I have on hand. The hash browns are from Costco and are a staple in our house–the kids love them so much and they are fast and easy. I try to avoid processed foods for the most part, but sometimes fast trumps fresh, especially when it provides a vehicle for more fresh veggies, like this dish does. Also, I don’t have good measurements for a lot of the ingredients, because I throw things in as they occur to me, generally.

Brunch in a Skillet

1 box dehydrated hash browns
1-2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
½ an onion
2 oz. pancetta
1 yellow bell pepper
1 large clove of garlic from the garden
½ bag shaved Brussels Sprouts (from Trader Joe’s)
6 eggs
splash of plain soy milk
shredded cheddar cheese
fresh ground pepper

First, I added hot tap water to the hash browns and set aside. I chopped the onion and then added that to a large skillet with the olive oil and pancetta. I just swirl the oil in the skillet until it looks right, but it isn’t a lot. I added the Brussels sprouts next, then chopped the pepper and garlic, adding them to the pan as I went. If I had thought of it earlier, I probably would have added more garlic, because we all love it, but I thought of it at the last minute today, so I only added one large clove. When everything looked a bit softened, I made sure that the hash browns were drained of excess water and added those to the skillet as well. I spread it out to let the bottom start to get crispy, and started prepping the eggs–cracked, beaten, mixed with the milk and pepper, then adding some cheese. We are all really not good with dairy, but the cheese I found says it is lactose free, and I find it we don’t add too much, it doesn’t seem to bother us. Once the hash browns are browned on the bottom, I like to turn them over and let the rest get a bit crispy before adding the eggs, but then I pour it all over the top and cook for just a minute or two, mixing the eggs and cheese with the veggies and cooking until just set.

Although I had my Making Things project in mind when I made this this morning, I didn’t take a picture. It’s not really a pretty meal, anyway; pretty is not the point. It is nourishing and healthy and filling, an important attribute with growing children. I had to laugh when we ate–both kids ate around the yellow bell pepper, something they eat raw with no problem, but didn’t seem to notice that there were Brussels sprouts mixed into the potatoes. I am probably shooting myself in the foot posting this here, because my daughter does read this sometimes, I think, but I am risking it. She does care about her health, so maybe she will appreciate the extra nutrients that she didn’t even notice in the dish. That, or she’ll tell me she knew it was weird but didn’t want to say anything, and then view all of my food suspiciously in the future, hard to say with her.

In any case, the kids had a good serving of vegetables this morning, lovingly prepared by me. It was more work than going out for a special brunch, but so much more satisfying.

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