With a Side of Warm, Southern Wit Please: Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs

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     In Sarah Combs’ charming debut young adult novel, Breakfast Served Anytime, a quartet of talented Kentucky high schoolers meet for the first time at summer “Geek Camp,” also known as the Governor’s Scholars program.  These superbly intelligent teen-agers find common ground and opposing sides in issues as close to home as mountain-top removal and summer crushes and as far away as the difference in metropolitan and farm living.

    Since this review was first published, author Sarah Combs has graciously supplied me with her own menu, a recipe for the Swiss Chard Lasagna featured in the book, which I’m going to try right away, and her playlist for the book.  Sarah is a frequent teacher, collaborator and contributor to the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington and a swell girl in general!  Thank you Sarah.

    While looking for signs in all things, the protagonist admittedly misses some of the most obvious.  She generally “hates” first the things she will become most fond of, including her summer classmate Mason, who she ignores because he is a) smart; b) sassy; c) attractive; d) dressed like the Mad Hatter; e) not the brother of her friend who she has a crush on; or f) all of the above.  (ding ding ding for those of you who guessed “f”.)  Gloria’s prophetic signs include a Magic 8 ball, written words, random references to To Kill a Mockingbird, a drawing on a crypt and most prominently, a proliferation of blue butterflies.

Image  The butterflies appear as harbingers of change, forecasters of pleasure and soothsayers.

     In between the rather bizarre English class conducted at the Governor’s School by a rather mysterious teacher known as X and his adorable boxer Holyfield, Image the gang eats breakfast at a local restaurant.

    It’s a charming book.  I read it quickly and then gave it to my niece for her to enjoy as well.  If your book club chooses to read Breakfast Served Anytime, may I suggest:

MY MENU

Christmas Eggs

This is our family tradition.  Prepare 6-12 eggs as if you were going to scramble them.  Heat butter in a large skillet.  Crack and whisk the eggs with salt and pepper.  Add 1/2 to 1 block of cream cheese and whisk again.  Scramble in the buttered skillet until fully cooked.  You’ll never eat regular old scrambled eggs again.

Old Ham

According to the book, country ham is what city slickers call old ham.  Whichever you call it, serve it with the eggs.

Whole wheat toast with real butter and homemade jam

Fresh asparagus and fresh corn on the cob from your local farmers’ market

SARAH’S MENU

country (“old”) ham biscuits
Krispy Kreme doughnuts
just-picked corn on the cob
just-picked summer blackberries
Ale-8 (Bourbon optional 😉
 
And for Calvin’s mom’s Swiss chard lasagna, how about this recipe…I’m not positive, but I think it came originally from Three Springs Farm. It’s a little bit complicated), but MAN, it’s worth it and so good:
 
SWISS CHARD LASAGNA WITH RICOTTA AND MUSHROOMS
 
Bechamel Sauce:
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 Turkish bay leaf
6 tbs unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
 
Swiss chard & mushroom layers:
1 lb chard, center rib and stem cut from each leaf
4 tbs olive oil
1 1/3 cups chopped onion
4 large garlic cloves, chopped, divided
1/4 tsp dried crushed red pepper
Kosher salt
1 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
9 7×3 inch lasagna noodles
olive oil
1 15-oz package ricotta
6 oz Italian fontina
8 tbs parmesan
 
for sauce:
  • Bring milk and bay leaf to simmer in medium saucepan; remove from heat. Melt butter in heavy, large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and whisk to blend. Cook 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Gradually mix milk and bay leaf into roux. Add 1/2 tsp salt, nutmeg, and cloves and bring to a simmer. Cook until sauce thickens enough to coat spoon, whisking often, about 3 minutes. Remove bay leaf.
  • Blanch chard in boiling salted water 1 minute. Drain, pressing out all water, then chop coarsely. Heat 2 tbs oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, 1/2 of garlic, and crushed red pepper. Saute until onion is tender, 3-4 minutes. Mix in chard and season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat remaining 2 tbs oil in heavy. large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and remaining garlic. Saute until mushrooms are brown and tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Mix in nutmeg and season with coarse salt and pepper.
for lasagna:
  • Cook noodles in medium pot of boiling salted water until just tender but al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain; arrange noodles in single later on sheet of plastic wrap.
  • Brush 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with oil to coat. Spread 3 tbs sauce over bottom of dish. Arrange 3 noodles in dish to cover bottom. Spread 1/2 of chard mix, then 1/2 of mushrooms. Drop 1/2 of ricotta over in dollops and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle with 1/2 of fontina, then 4 tbs parmesan; spread 3/4 cup of Bechamel sauce over. Repeat layering with 3 noodles, chard, mushrooms, ricotta, fontina, parmesan, & 3/4 cup Bechamel. Cover with 3 noodles and remaining Bechamel.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake lasagna covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until heated through and top is golden, 20-30 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

MY MUSIC LIST

Black Coffee in Bed, Squeeze

Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, Lucinda Williams

Punky’s Dilemma, Simon & Garfunkel (the cornflakes song)

Up for Breakfast, Van Halen

Orange Juice Blues, Bob Dylan

Easy Like Sunday Morning, Bob Dylan

Lots of good morning songs too.  Good Morning from Singin’ in the Rain, jazz standard Good Morning Heartache, etc.

SARAH’S MUSIC

Author Sarah Combs has created a story soundtrack for Stay Bookish that she shared with me.  It’s a lovely addition or alternative and Sarah explains her choices here:  http://staybookish.net/ah-may-zing-reads-2014-breakfast-served-anytime-story-soundtrack/.  Her soundtrack includes some John Prine, The Everly Brothers and one of my perennial favorites, The Decemberists.

CASTING

Again with the young adult!  I’m clueless.  Do you have suggestions?

Cheers!

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One thought on “With a Side of Warm, Southern Wit Please: Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs

  1. Pingback: School Classics | daeandwrite

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