Monday, April 13, 2009


I love breakfast. It’s my favourite meal of the day. When I was a teenager my friend Geneva’s mom gave me a standing invitation to join them for their morning breakfast, unsure that my usual cereal and coffee was really enough to sustain a kid through the day. Oh, the breakfasts she made! Hot muffins right out of the over, pannekoeken with berries or just a little powered sugar. It was heavenly. I decided then that when I had kids I would make breakfast a priority.

So this year, when my dad suggested skipping the traditional ham dinner for Easter in favour of brunch I was all for it. I’m not a fan of traditional holiday meals in general. I don’t like to feel boxed in by a set menu and, while I like to take my time making putsy laborious dishes when the mood strikes, I don’t want to feel obligated to do so. On holidays in particular I like to spend my time with my family, not stuck in the kitchen for hours on end.

We had a simple ham and cheese strata, fresh pineapple, blackberries and grapes, homemade blueberry muffins and deviled eggs made from our Easter eggs. The girls helped to make the strata. In fact, other than a few adult-only tasks such as cutting off the bread crusts and putting it in the oven, they made it themselves under supervision.

It was a lovely meal, relaxed, delicious and full of lively conversation. Best of all, by 1:30 in the afternoon the dishes were done and we had the rest of the day to enjoy ourselves.

Here’s the recipe for the strata. It’s simple and like many egg dishes it’s very versatile. We used ham and cheddar, but any combination of meat, veggies or cheeses that strikes your fancy would work. Herbs are good too.

6-7 slices of white bread, crusts removed

6 eggs

1 ½ c milk

½ lb sliced ham

Shredded cheddar cheese (I didn’t measure this, just eyeballed it)

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350. Line the bottom of a greased 9 X 13 inch baking pan with the bread slices. Top with ham and cheese. Beat the eggs, milk salt and pepper. Pour over the bread. Sometimes, like today, I let this sit for a while in the fridge so the egg can soak into the bread. Sometimes I don’t. Either way seems to work. Bake in the 350 degree oven for about 30-35 minutes.

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