Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


The Fun Part

I had so much fun last night. (Don’t tell anyone.)

Know what I did? Broke a bunch of eggs. 🙂 If I left it there, would you think I was egging houses and TPing yards? I hate to disappoint you, but I wasn’t.

I helped cook the Wednesday night dinner at church and it was FUN! Hot, but fun. 🙂 Cooking that meal isn’t something I normally do, because there are usually a bunch of members there to help out.

But this time, there weren’t. Sister Deb told me several of the usual workers were gone on the mission trip to Joplin, so (naturally) I volunteered. “I can help.”

The menu? Pancakes, scrambled egg casserole with cheese and ham, and oven fried potatoes. But that wasn’t the fun part.

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Do You Believe

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. (At least, that’s what the big boys tell us.) Kids who eat breakfast learn better. People who eat breakfast have fewer problems with their weight. 

I’m convinced. Breakfast is a good thing.

I believe in breakfast. Probably because I’ve eaten breakfast every morning of my life, with the rare exception of forced fasting days. (Days when babies, blood or surgeries are happening.)

Before we moved to C-Town, we lived in Old Ford in a house with my parents, my just-younger sister and my grandparents. Mom and Grandmother spent a lot of time in the kitchen at least twice a day, cooking big meals.

I have more memories of breakfasts than I do dinners. Even as I little kid, I could tell Grandmother’s biscuits from Mom’s. And who made the scrambled eggs. Dad made the best.

All the men in our family are wonderful cooks, in case you’re wondering. Sometimes the kitchen was crowded with cooks.

We had to be careful if Granddad was in the kitchen just after we’d butchered. He loved to fix scrambled eggs and calf’s brains. And while brains might be non-toxic, I never wanted gray matter in my mouth. Eeeeew.

One of my memories of Old Ford was when I discovered sugar. After the cereal was out of my bowl, I put in more sweetener. Now that was good! I kept adding until Grandmother said, “I think you have enough sugar.” She glanced into my empty bowl and immediately took the sugar off the table.

Mama’s favorite breakfast was pancakes. Blueberry, if possible. My favorite is biscuits and gravy with fresh side. (That’s probably Dad’s fav, too.)

Have you ever eaten fresh side? It’s the same meat as bacon, except it hasn’t been cured. To me, it tastes kind of like pork chops, except much better. Sometimes you can find it in the store, but not often. Usually, you have to butcher.

When you cook fresh side (if you ever get the chance) salt and pepper it well, then fry until the fat along the edge is well done. Oh! My! Stars!

Like my daddy says, It’ll make your tongue lap your brains out.

When we moved to C-Town, we had a neighbor who had kids some of my siblings’ ages. (With six kids in our family, we had someone almost everyone’s age.)

When the sibs stayed all night over there, they came home talking about eating Egg in a Well. (I think that’s what it was called.) It might be the dish that’s called Egg in a Hole or even Toad in a Hole. Whatever it’s called, it’s good!

We just called it Egg in Toast. Here’s how–

Butter a slice of bread and cut a hole in the middle. I put a little butter on the pan in the hole, then drop in an egg. (Try not to break the yolk.)  Salt and pepper egg to taste.

Lightly butter the up side of the bread. When the egg is set, turn the whole thing over and toast the other side.

I like to fry another slice of toast to go along with my egg in toast. 😉  Strawberry jelly is WONDERFUL on fried toast. Don’t ask me how I know that. And don’t tell Weight Watchers I eat it. I might get banned for life.

Some of my favorite breakfast memories are from our vacations. Sometimes my parents would take all their kids, Grandmother and Granddad, and whatever of the rest of the fam who wanted to go, and we’d travel in campers.

We camped out (if sleeping in campers is camping out) and cooked most of our meals over an open campfire.

For breakfast, we didn’t just have cereal. We had meals.

Aunt Phyllis could cook a half-dozen eggs at a time, baste them until they were just done perfectly and slide all six out of the pan in one motion without breaking any.

Mama took along a heavy cake pan, made of cast aluminum (I think) to use as a griddle for frying bacon or making pancakes.

I inherited my mother-in-laws pan like that. While I don’t often cook for a lot of people like Mama did, I take it along when I fix biscuits at our writers’ retreat each year.

It would be about the right size to fix cinnamon rolls in, too. I may have to try it later.

So how about it? Do you believe in eating breakfast or not?


Breakfast is Ready!

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. Proverbs 31:10-11.

Those verses describe my mom exactly!

The article below was published in C-Town’s paper, THE CLEVELAND AMERICAN, back in 1986. I have it laminated and keep it on my desk at work.

It has several of Mom’s favorite breakfast recipes. Try a few. You (and your family) will be glad you did!

Lori Lucas, the coordinator of the article, is the author of the blog, “I’ve Got a Big Story to Tell.” Take the time to go visit. She grew up in C-Town, so you know she’s good people!

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Sit Down and Stay Clean

When I was growing up, Mom, like most of my friends’ moms, stayed home. But she wasn’t a sleep in and take it easy woman. Every morning she was up (usually first) cooking breakfast for us.

I could gain weight just imagining those breakfasts.

Biscuits and gravy was my favorite, but depending on what was in the larder (or what we’d recently butchered) we had eggs (usually fried) pancakes, waffles, squaw bread, bacon, sausage, pork chops and fresh side (uncured bacon.)

But Sunday mornings were a little bit crazy in the Spess house. To start with, Mama slept late–8:00. Okay, that’s not very late to most people, but for Mom, it was. That was the one day of the week when she didn’t cook breakfast.

Sunday mornings we had cereal and Sara Lee Coffee Cake (I’m hungry now just thinking about it) because Sunday mornings she had to get her kids ready for church. Brother Jeffrey wasn’t difficult to get ready since his hair was always fairly short. At least it never got much past his ears. 🙂

By the time Deb and I were old enough to pretty much get ourselves ready, we had three younger sibs who were very close in age and we all had long hair. So on Saturday, Mom washed our hair in the kitchen sink, rolled it up and we sat under the dryer while she did the next sister’s hair.

Do I need to mention we had a lot of rollers? (aka-curlers) A whole big drawer full! Half the time we couldn’t find enough picks (kept the rollers from unrolling) but curlers we had.

So Sunday morning, we’d eat our cereal, get dressed, and then Mom would do our hair. I remember when she had a baby once and was in the hospital over Sunday. When she fixed my hair the next Sunday, she mentioned that my part had been crooked the week before. (Someone ratted me out for having less than perfect hair!)

Once we were ready she’d say, “Sit down and stay clean until we’re ready to go.”

As we got older, we started doing our own hair. And choosing our own clothes–but it always something special that we saved for dress up. When we were ready, Mom still checked us out to make sure we looked okay before we headed out the door.

I have a feeling if she were here today, she’d look me over, probably tell me to put on a dress, then tell me to sit down and stay clean until we’re ready to go.

Boy, I’d like to have Mama pass me a slice of Sara Lee right now.