It comes with the territory: if you are the human companion to a dog, cat, bird, ferret, fish, or even a snake, you will at some point experience what we in my family call a shrek, which, in the mother tongue translates loosely to “a sudden and terrifying occurrence.” This may be why the movie character was called Shrek, but I’m not sure.
Breakfast for Dinner
Addie. A typical pose.
We had a major shrek on Saturday night, with our gigantic yellow lab mix, Addie. Our best friends visited with their dog, Hank, and the two kids loved each other immediately. And early in the evening, Lisa took Addie out to our backyard to do what dogs do outside, all was well, and then less than ten minutes later, the pooch collapsed at the end of our walkway, unconscious. Somehow, Susan and Alyssa managed to hoist our 108-pound love muffin into the car and we raced to the doggie emergency room, where it was discovered that Addie was in severe anaphylactic shock: she had been stung by, or eaten, a bee. When we returned to pick her up yesterday morning, she was a bit stoned, but when she saw her beloved Hank waiting for her at home, all was right with the world.
We, on the other hand, were shaken, and completely exhausted. A bad round of afternoon golf did nothing to soothe our nerves.
This is what happens, I guess, when you are charged with loving someone or something, be it man or beast. The big, beautiful world is fraught with danger lurking in bizarre places–even underneath the bricks in the walkway–and life can change in less than a second. Which is the long way of saying that the next time you get your knickers in a twist over something totally moronic — the no-talent idiot at the office who is determined to make your life a living hell, the tail-gating SUV behind you in the slow lane, the customer service imbecile at the cable company — you should probably find a way to let it go. Because honestly, life is just too short.
Anyway, after the very bad round of golf at a rat trap course that resembled a battlefield in the Argonne, our friends went home with Hank, and we were faced with a dinner question that we usually have well under control: what were we eating. Had I defrosted anything? Nope. Hit the farmer’s market? Nope. The pantry? Unusually bare. There was pasta, or risotto, but we weren’t in the mood for either. And just as I was about to start chopping garlic for Thai chile shrimp, Susan stopped me.
“Breakfast,” she said. “I want breakfast. Scrambled eggs and bacon and I’ll make my mother’s German potatoes.”
A perfect idea and I almost wept with joy when she said it. Because sometimes, you just want to crawl under a metaphysical blanket and suck your thumb, and eating breakfast when you’re not supposed to is a very good way to do that.
Among some people, breakfast for dinner is exactly what you want when you feel like life has kicked you in the teeth, and like someone up there is sort of looking down and snickering at you. Some folks, like Laurie Colwin, feel the same way about nursery food, like rice pudding or a bowl of pastina with butter and parmigiana. But in this house, when we’re feeling generally low and tired, we make eggs and bacon. The German potatoes, however, were something that Susan never made for me in the ten years we’ve been together, and when she broke out the mandoline, I knew she was serious: the work began.
While Susan thin-sliced onions and potatoes and basically threw them in a cast iron skillet with some oil and a lot of pepper, I rigged up our double boiler: a second hand stainless mixing bowl set on top of a sauce pan. I turned the heat to low, added a knob of sweet butter, poured in the eggs, a few drops of half and half, and stirred, very slowly. As they started to come together, I remembered that our friends had brought us scallion cream cheese, so I whisked in a little bit of that. Susan unwrapped the thick-cut bacon they’d also brought (our friends are very good guests, and love all manner of comfort food), and got them going in a neighboring skillet set over low heat.
Thank god for Crestor.
Turning the potatoes.
Whisking local eggs.
Cook slowly in a double boiler, add Aleppo pepper.
A perfect dinner after a scary weekend.
It was all very Zen-like and methodical: in the twenty minutes that it took for Susan to toss and stir her mother’s German potatoes, the bacon was perfectly meaty and crisp but not cremated, and the eggs had gone custard-soft.
We opened a great bottle of wine, kissed Addie on the head, and drank a toast to happiness, and safety.