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Cooking with Myra: Breakfast for dinner

By By Myra Starkey
Jan. 31, 2012 at midnight
Updated Jan. 30, 2012 at 7:31 p.m.

Fried Chicken and Waffles

FRIED CHICKEN AND WAFFLES

It is believed that the chicken and waffle combination started with Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson brought a waffle maker from France in the 1790s. The dish began to be served shortly thereafter. In the South, this dish is soul food and served on Sundays as a special breakfast in many households.

10 chicken breast tenders (or slice a chicken breast in 3 pieces)1 cup flour1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoningOil for fryingButtermilk waffles

2 cups all purpose flour3 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. sugar 1/4 tsp. salt 2 large eggs 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted 1 1/2 cups buttermilkUnsalted butter, topping Maple syrupChicken:

Heat enough vegetable oil to come about 1-inch up the sides of a large, deep cast iron skillet to 350 degrees.

Rinse the chicken under cold running water and do not dry; leave wet. In a large sealable bag, combine the flour with the Cajun seasoning. Add the chicken one piece at a time and seal and shake bag to coat evenly. Remove and place on a wire rack over a baking sheet and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

Carefully add the chicken to the hot oil and fry, turning once, until golden brown and the meat is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Remove the pan from the heat and with a slotted spoon, scoop out any browned bits remaining in the pan and drain on paper towels.

Waffles:

Preheat a waffle iron and lightly grease. Into a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients together.

In a clean bowl, beat the eggs. Add the butter and buttermilk and beat to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix well.

Pour the batter into the hot waffle iron and cook until golden brown and lightly crisp. Remove and if desired, top with a pat of butter, and serve with the chicken and maple syrup.

Maple Butter:

3/4 cup butter, softened1/2cup maple syrupIn a bowl, beat butter until smooth. Gradually add syrup, continuing to beat until smooth. Freeze in small portions.

"A simple enough pleasure, surely, to have breakfast alone with one's husband, but how seldom married people in the midst of life achieve it."

- Anne Spencer Morrow Lindbergh

Breakfast has not always been one of my favorite meals of the day. When the kids were young, it was a time of morning which brought blurry-eyed children to the table who wished they were anywhere but awake in the kitchen.

On school mornings, the children came down from their bedrooms upstairs, plodding step-by-step in order to snatch a bite to eat before going across the street to school.

They would have preferred to still be asleep. This harried pace of morning feeding was not enjoyable to any of the participants. The fact that the kids went to school less than 50 yards from my kitchen door allowed us to have a precious few minutes more at the time to enjoy breakfast.

As time progressed and the kids grew up and went away to college, our kitchen table grew quiet in the mornings, and Taylor and I settled into a sort of morning ritual. I stay asleep until the last possible moment and then Taylor wakes me up.

For at least 19 years, I arose early enough to prepare breakfast for him and the kids, and so he probably figures he will take the early shift from here on. At least, I hope he will because like I said, I like to sleep as late as I can.

Taylor is an early bird and always has been. He is a little more disciplined than me. If I am watching a great movie on television, I will stay up until it is over. Taylor will retire to the bedroom like an adult knowing that staying up too late will only result in exhaustion the next day at work.

I know that he needs to be rested because as a physician he is required to concentrate and make error-free decisions all day long. However, from my perspective, I don't mind being a little fatigued the next day if I get to watch a good movie or enjoy an entertaining book.

These days, our mornings are very special, and I enjoy spending time at the kitchen table with Taylor. Perhaps it is because he allows me to sleep a little later, and then clumsily enter the kitchen rubbing my eyes and looking for the morning cafe latte.

Taylor is a latte king and has perfected this particular coffee concoction. He first microwaves the milk in the mug until it is piping hot then adds a generous teaspoon of sugar before he whips it into a foamy froth. He then adds the strong coffee he has just made from freshly ground beans. Since I allow myself this one cup per day, I cherish every sip. It seems to slap my brain awake in a very pleasant way.

While he is frothing at the cup, I am toasting English muffins, whipping up chorizo eggs or making pancakes. That is unless he has already made a morning visit to Mary at the Rosita Bakery for pan dulces.

Our breakfast is simple, and we sit down to a peaceful table, read the morning paper and talk.

Occasionally, I may surprise him and arise early enough to make waffles. His mother's waffles are usually better than mine since they contain bacon grease, but I run a close second. Besides that, she doesn't live at our house, so those waffles are not available to him, and he settles for mine.

Finally, after we finish eating, take our last sip of coffee, and feed any remaining scraps directly off our plates to our poodles who are drooling attentively, he kisses me and says, "I love you," and goes to work. I like it all, exactly like that.

Several weeks ago, it was my turn to host our monthly supper club. We have six couples and have been meeting together for about 20 years.

We have experienced almost every dinner idea possible, and so it is somewhat of a challenge to come up with something new. I had the idea of having a breakfast for dinner theme, and so I served a Southern soul food specialty, chicken and waffles with warm maple syrup slathered in maple butter. I also prepared caramelized bacon.

Janet brought eggs and grits, and Cindy made pumpkin biscuits. Mel prepared morning mimosas (champagne and orange juice). Nancy made granola and fresh fruit for dessert. I thought perhaps a few would arrive in their pajamas, and I had every intention of putting on my robe but ran out of time. I even found a wooden rooster for the table, although I am unsure if the guests caught the theme of the centerpiece.

We had a lot of fun just like we always do when we sit around a table and talk about our daily lives. Almost all of us are empty nesters, so we enjoy hearing Nancy and Sean talk about their two girls, and we all nod in agreement at the challenge of raising teenagers.

The talk generally turns to previous or future trips, or catching up on our grown children's lives. We have all become close over all these years, and no subject is too sacred to discuss. Perhaps it is because we love each other and, no matter what, intend to be there for one another.

My breakfast theme was a huge hit and one of the easier meals I have prepared.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email myra@vicad.com.

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