I am an honorary member of the Men’s Club of St. Paul’s and proud of it. Members of the Men’s Club cook breakfast every Sunday morning. I used to just arrive in time to eat, until one day Mark called me frantically at about 7:15 a.m. The rest of his team didn’t show up. Breakfast is served at 8 a.m. I threw on some clothes and drove to church to help him. I didn’t realize it then but I had just broken the gender barrier.
Well, of course, I loved the cooking and didn’t care so much that I was the only woman doing it. Time went along, as it always does, and one day the head of the Men’s Club, who also buys the supplies for breakfast, called me to say he was going out of the country and could I make sure the kitchen stayed stocked with eggs, sausage, grits, gravy and biscuit mix. Well, of course, again. Who doesn’t love buying things in bulk?
I don’t go to the Men’s Club meetings or even think about attempting to help them with the annual BBQ. Some lines are not to be crossed and I’m smart enough to know it. But I do enjoy cooking breakfast. And if any of the men mind, at this point, well they’re too genteel to admit it to me. Here’s what we cooked today. We always have scrambled eggs, grits, cream gravy, biscuits and sausage. You can tell from the photo that we do not have the most sophisticated of equipment or the most elegant serving layout. We just slap it on the counter.
I will say that I usually add a few things to the menu because I’m just like that. So today I made hash brown casserole and Mark made these delicious chorizo quesadillas and we fried up some bacon because that’s what Johnnie Jackson wanted when I told him we were cooking today. Johnnie is the sexton at St. Paul’s, which has nothing to do with sex. He takes care of the building for us. And I adore him beyond reason. He’s quick-witted, kind-hearted, devoted to the Titans (which is really hard to carry off right now) and he loves my boy, Noah. Johnnie was first in line for breakfast, which was good because it’s fall break and business was a little show. Johnnie always has grits covered in cream gravy. He’s the only person I know who loves that combination. And bacon today, naturally.
A few minutes later, Johnnie came back to the kitchen and gave me the best complement I may ever receive as a cook. “You must have some black blood in you because you sure know how to cook,” he said. I just beamed.
Hash Brown Casserole
1 bag frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
½ cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
1/3 cup chopped red pepper
1/3 cup chopped yellow pepper
2 pints sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Corn flake crumbs
Saute the onion and peppers in butter until translucent and beginning to brown. Cool. Mix together the sour cream, soup, and cheese. Add the onions, peppers and potatoes. Spoon into a 9-by-13-inch pan. Sprinkle with corn flake crumbs and dot with butter.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until bubbly.
Note: I add about a ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika to the sour cream/soup mixture. It really adds character, but if you don’t have smoked paprika, don’t buy it just for this.