Bless Your Spoon: Veterans breakfast

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 1, 2024

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Aromatic whiffs of sweet, baked confections lured me to the kitchen. A chef and his assistants were busy preparing a substantial breakfast that included fresh homemade biscuits filled with sausage and ham along with a delicious, moist, sweet bread pudding. And if that didn’t whet your appetite, how about savory eggs benedict and a fresh raspberry and blackberry tart? And I won’t neglect to mention the sweet, glazed, freshly baked, Krispy Kreme doughnuts — all washed down with a few swallows of fresh juice or piping hot coffee. What would an early morning gulp of steamy java be without soft, warm, sweet pastry to enjoy with it? However, the start to this day was no continental breakfast of just coffee and doughnuts but more like a Wheaties moment — a breakfast for champions.

Hosting the event, Veterans Cup Coffee aims toward bridging generations of veterans “one cup at a time.” The get-togethers are held on Thursday mornings at the new Veterans View Intake Center (VVIC) located at the former Autumn Care location on Howard Street near downtown Mocksville.

Sandy Czuba, regent, and other members of the Elizabeth Maxwell Steele Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) greeted the servicemen at the inaugural weekly veteran social.

Mama always said that the best way to get past your troubles was to get out and do something nice for someone else. When I was a teen, she’d tell me to get my mind off myself and think about other people — there were always many who were worse off than I was. Mama knew that because she was a good egg — always serving, working at the church, preparing food and spreading kindness.

As usual, Mama hit the nail on the head. You can’t focus on your woes if you’re out helping someone else with theirs. And when you discover your calling — that place where you belong — it’s amazing how all of a sudden, the service truly does make you feel so much better.

And you know it’s our way in the South that when we’re doing something nice for someone, often it involves the preparing and delivering of home-cooked meals. But you’re not just serving food, you’re serving people. Service to others begins with caring and good care promotes healing.

And before you know it, the work has become a blessing to you — like the sugar in your cake or the sweet syrup on your pancake. It’s true, people who work to help others — we all come together to serve one another for the greater good.

And as things turned out, it was good for us, too.

Mama was right.

Cornmeal Griddle Cakes

• 1 beaten large egg

• 1 Tbsp. brown or white sugar

• 1 cup yellow cornmeal

• ½ cup all-purpose flour

• ½ tsp. each salt, baking soda, baking powder

• 1 cup buttermilk

• ¼ cup whole milk

• ¼ cup Wesson oil

• More oil for griddle

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar and mix well. Add the cornmeal flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder while alternating with buttermilk, whole milk and oil. Beat just until well mixed and batter is thick. Heat and oil griddle lightly. For each pancake, pour ¼ cup onto griddle and cook 3-4 minutes until browned on underside. If too thick to spread, thin with small amount of milk. Turn pancakes over, and cook until browned on bottom. Makes about 10 griddle cakes. These have more cornmeal so if you want them sweeter, add more sugar. Serve with real maple syrup or Brown-Sugar Syrup.

Berry Delight Torte

• 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs

• 1/4 cup sugar

• 1/3 cup melted, salted butter

Filling

• ½ cup heavy whipping cream

• ½ tsp vanilla extract

• 8 ounces softened, Neufchatel cheese

• ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

• 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

• Fresh raspberries and blackberries

• Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

For the crust, in a bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Mix thoroughly. Press into bottom and slightly up sides of a round tart or other tray. Chill 15 minutes. Meanwhile, for the filling, in a mixer bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Beat in vanilla and set aside. In another mixer bowl, beat Neufchatel cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add half the whipped cream to the cheese mixture and gently fold together. Add the rest of the whipped cream and continue to fold until thoroughly combined and smooth. When ready to assemble, evenly spread the cheese mixture on top of the cookie crust to edges. Then top with fresh blackberries and raspberries so they’re touching, and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Favorite Pancakes with Cornmeal

• 1 beaten large egg

• ¼ cup sugar

• ½ cup cornmeal

• 1 cup whole wheat flour

• 1 ¼ tsp. baking powder

• ½ tsp. each salt and baking soda

• 1 ½ cup buttermilk

• ¼ cup whole milk

• 3 Tbsp. melted butter

In a mixer bowl, beat egg. Add sugar and mix well. Add cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda while alternating with buttermilk, milk and butter. Mix just until combined. Cook on a hot griddle and serve warm with syrup. These pancakes have less cornmeal and are sweeter.

Vintage Scotch Pancake Recipe

• 1 beaten egg

• 2 Tbsp. sugar

• 2 cups all-purpose flour

• ½ tsp. salt

• 1 tsp. each baking soda, cream of tartar

• 2 Tbsp. dark corn syrup

• ¾ cup whole milk

• ½ cup cold water

In a mixer bowl, beat egg. Add sugar and mix well. Combine flour, salt, soda and cream of tartar. Add to the egg mixture while alternating with corn syrup, milk and cold water. Beat until smooth. Drop ¼ cup of batter onto a hot griddle. Cook until bubbles begin to burst. Turn over and cook until golden. Transfer to warm platter. Serve with hot Butterscotch Syrup.

Cornmeal Waffles

• 3 beaten egg yolks

• 1 ½ cups buttermilk

• 1 ½ cups boiling water

• 1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal

• 6 Tbsp. melted Crisco shortening

• 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

• 2 tsp. baking powder

• ½ tsp. baking soda

• 1 tsp. salt

• 3 beaten stiff egg whites

In a mixer bowl, beat yolks. Add buttermilk and blend well. Place cornmeal in a bowl and pour boiling water over cornmeal and stir until blended. Add melted shortening and stir until mixed. Allow to cool. Add egg mixture to the cornmeal mixture while alternating with combined flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix well. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into batter. Mix well. Pour batter onto the prepared waffle iron and bake until done. These are savory waffles, so if you want them sweet, add more sugar, to taste.

Cornmeal Biscuits

• 1 beaten large egg

• 1 Tbsp. sugar

• 1 ¼ cup yellow cornmeal

• 1 ¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

• 4 tsp. baking powder

• 1 ½ tsp. salt

• 1 cup whole milk

• 3 Tbsp. Wesson oil

In a mixer bowl, beat egg. Add sugar and mix. Add cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt while alternating with milk and oil. Stir just until thoroughly mixed. Remove dough from bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead a few times and pat roll into a ½-inch thick circle. Using a 1 ½ -inch cutter, cut out as many biscuits as possible. Add flour to board if necessary to prevent sticking. Gather scraps into a ball, flatten, roll out and cut additional biscuits. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven on lower third of oven on a parchment-covered sheet and 1-inch apart for 15 minutes or until done. Transfer to rack to cool. If you want them sweeter, add sugar to taste.

Scotch Bread Pudding

• 2 cups whole milk

• 1 cup heavy cream

• 2 beaten large eggs

• 2 beaten large egg yolks

• 2/3 cup sugar

• 2 Tbsp. Scotch whiskey or melted butter

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 3 split, plain, or cinnamon raisin Eng. muffins

• 2 Tbsp. softened, salted butter

In a heavy saucepan, combine milk and cream and heat until bubbles begin to form. Meanwhile, in a mixer bowl, beat eggs and egg yolks. Add sugar, whiskey or butter, and vanilla and whisk until pale and thick. Continue to whisk while you pour in hot milk mixture. Pour half at first, whisk and then the remainder. Spread muffins with butter. Arrange the muffins in a buttered 9-inch baking dish, split side up, overlapping and in two rows. Evenly pour custard mixture over muffins. Put the baking dish in a larger baking pan. Place in oven and then pour ½ inch of water in the larger pan to create a water bath. Bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for 45 minutes or until custard is gelled in center and firm around edges. Remove both pans from oven and allow to stand 10 minutes. Remove pudding dish from the water bath, and place it on rack to cool for 30 minutes before serving warm. Drizzle with syrup.

Butterscotch Syrup

• 1 cup brown sugar

• 1 cup maple syrup

• ¼ cup salted butter

• 2 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1 ½ cups light cream

In a saucepan, combine brown sugar with maple syrup. Heat gently until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter, vanilla and salt. Do not stir. Allow to cool. Add cream and beat until creamy and well blended. Makes about 3 cups of sauce. Great poured over any confections.

Cranberry Apple Syrup

• 3 tsp. salted butter

• ¼ cup chopped pecans

• 1 ½ cup (12 ounces) maple blend syrup

• ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

• Dash of salt

• 1 cup chopped fresh cranberries

• 1 cored, peeled, chopped apple

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add pecans and brown slightly while stirring. Spoon out pecans and set aside. Add syrup, cinnamon, and salt to remaining butter. Stir in cranberries and apple. Simmer while covered for 10 minutes. Remove cover and simmer 2 additional minutes. Remove from heat and stir in nuts. Serve over waffles or pancakes.

Brown Sugar Syrup

• ½ pound light brown sugar

• ½ cup water

In a saucepan, mix sugar and water. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes while stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and serve warm. Store in refrigerator.