By MARY ANN LIENHART CROSS
County Extension Director, Extension Educator – Health & Human sciences, Purdue Extension Elkhart County
Last week I wrote about holiday traditions and how many of them are connected to food.
This week my thoughts are on planning breakfast so everyone can be a part of the activities and all enjoy tasty food. I have learned that we can’t really celebrate any kind of holiday without food and I know for sure the Christmas holiday is no exception!
What I am sharing today really applies to anytime when people are gathering together to eat. There are numerous times of the year you look forward to having family and friends over and it all provides the opportunity to share food.
With some planning and a willingness to ask for help, no one will have to spend all their time in the kitchen while everyone else is having a good time. When it comes to breakfast, as the host or hostess you have the challenge of guests or family members rising at different times along with some who like to eat right away and others who prefer a later breakfast. Then there is the issue of some of your guests liking a big breakfast and others only wanting a light one.
Not only with the holidays but any time you have people together and you have the added stress, you might consider some of the following ideas to try when it comes breakfasts.
The easiest might be to set up a breakfast buffet with an assortment of plates, silverware, glasses and cups. This is one of the opportunities you can ask family members and guests to help you the night before. You can also ask for help from the early risers to warm beverages or put food in the oven.
Some of my thoughts: your coffee maker might already have a timer, or you could plug the appliance into a timer. Whatever way, the early risers will probably appreciate being able to enjoy a cup as soon as they are up. Some of us are tea and hot cocoa drinkers so don’t forget the hot water.
The way to plan when it comes to serving hot foods is the overnight breakfast casseroles. Your cookbooks and the internet are filled with recipes.
There are so many casseroles including hash brown, egg and cheese; overnight French toast; and of course the egg and ham ones. Overnight coffeecakes are delicious too. Probably one of the favorites would be overnight cinnamon rolls or anything that is yeast bread.
To me, winter means hot beverages and choices are a bonus. If you want to provide several hot beverage choices, you can keep water hot in a crock pot or other container like a teapot. You can set out an assortment of beverages such as hot chocolate, tea both regular and herbal and coffee. An extra bonus is the flavored creamers. I really like them in hot cocoa.
If the family members like cold cereal: set out several boxes of different cereals. Make sure to have the raisins, dried cranberries, sugar and some fresh fruits like bananas and oranges, nearby.
Another idea is to have a variety of breads and bagels by your toaster. Keep these items covered or in their container so they stay fresh. Make sure to have a knife and cutting board on a tray or towel to collect the crumbs. Don’t forget to set the peanut butter and spreads nearby.
I cannot encourage you enough to plan ahead and please ask others to help, you should be a hostess who enjoys your family and friends not a short order cook. Enjoying your family and friends is what the season is all about and the food should really come second. Enjoy family, friends, and good food!