If this post had sound, you’d hear the calls of cardinals and eastern sparrows from the treetops that surround our bedroom porch. It’s the setting for our traditional brunch that takes place every weekend at our house. From the bedroom you’d hear soft Italian love songs, and from far off in the distance you’d hear the traffic moving across the Tennessee River bridge and up Sand mountain to the small towns in northeast Alabama.
If this post had smells, you’d smell the breeze of September, the warm breeze of leftover summer geraniums with a hint of autumn and a touch of mint still growing in pots around our house. You’d smell the lavender Downy fabric softener from the clothes I hang every Saturday morning. But most of all, you’d smell the roasted garden vegetables in the oven and scrambled eggs in an old black iron skillet left to me by my grandmother.
And oh how I wish you could feel the breeze that blows through the screens… and see the sunlight and shadows of the tree branches that are cast across this oak stained plank floor.
But this post is about memories more than it is about sounds, smells, or food. Everything I place on my little porch table today represents something in our history, something about us or something from our life together. The bowls, the utensils, the decor, the silverware take us back in time to a place, an event, or a special person. Even the table itself was given to me by a dear friend that has a special place in my heart. And my sweet mother-in-law gave me the tablecloth. I always say I’m not a sentimental person because I don’t keep things in a scrapbook or tucked-away in a chest, but in a way, I guess I am sentimental. My scrapbook is used every day in my kitchen and in my house. Everywhere I go I buy things to be used in my home, things that are memorable, things that remind me of this beautiful journey called life. I also use the things left to us by our grandmothers. Sometimes, I break them, too. Oops…James was so sad the day I broke his grandmother’s green bowl. I don’t think she would have been upset; instead, I think Macy Garner would have been happy that a little Cajun girl was using her green bowl to mix up biscuit batter for her grandson.
Today I was really thinking of Venice and the breakfast that our hotel made for us. It was supposed to be an American breakfast. At least, that’s what I think… From what I gather, Italians just like a cup of Italian coffee and a pastry or something sweet to eat for breakfast. However, Italians like to please when it comes to food so when we were in Italy, each hotel tried to make our breakfast American-like. No place ever created the American breakfast, but we loved their renditions, especially Venice: deliciously scrambled eggs with roasted vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh ricotta and all sorts of pickled-in- olive-oil veggies. It was like a little buffet and create-your-own-omelet type of thing. I just loved it!
I wanted to create that little Venetian Buffet with all the memories that represent us… like the memories I have of purchasing this very expensive bowl from Murano Island Glass factory in Venice. All I had to place in it was the oranges, but this bowl was on the table to remind me of the day I sweated my way through that factory watching very old and famous glass making techniques. And I’ll never forget getting lost in Venice in the back alleyways and quiet canals with still waters reflecting the pastel colors of old buildings and the striped mooring posts standing crooked in mysterious, green water.
And the little blue bird given to me by a very special student. Teaching is a big part of my life and my little blue bird is often found on my breakfast table or the kitchen window sill. Each time I see the sunlight shine through its blue wings, I remember why I decided to be a teacher: precious seeds of our future. Thank you, Asa Sparks for giving me this beautiful little bird in fourth grade. It always reminds me of you.
And the Egg Harbor vase that I place on my table with fresh cut flowers from the yard. Such special memories of walking hand in hand through a park far from home and over an old covered bridge to discover a beautiful oasis in the middle of the city. It reminds me of our spontaneity. One Friday night we decided to fly to Napersville, Illinois to buy my car. We woke up early the next day, drove to Nashville, flew to Chicago, rented a car, and drove to the suburb of Napersville. We walked around a story-book town with cool neighborhood restaurants, shops, and walkways winding through old oaks. It was dreamy. We had breakfast at the Egg Harbor Cafe, bought this vase, and we drove home the next day. I love my car, but the memories are priceless..
When we were in Siena, we were looking for a souvenir that would be usable in the house, but I didn’t have room in my luggage so it had to be something small. I decided on a tiny bowl to be used for olive seeds and such. I found this small bowl (piccola ciotola). I remember asking for just that in Italian and the shop owner commented that I had perfect Italian pronunciation. That made me proud, and it made James a little jealous. I use this bowl almost every day during for our afternoon snacks of olives, artichokes, and nuts. The bowl is used to catch the seeds or it’s used for small things, like capers.
And the little bowl from Florence is bigger, but not much. It’s just perfect for a spoonful of sun-dried tomatoes.
In Vernanza, one of the Cinque Terre villages, I didn’t think about the size of my purchases because it was at the beginning of my journey. I bought a larger bowl, hand-painted by a local artist. Signed and everything! It brings back such beautiful memories of local, homemade pesto and farinata and the best foccacia you’ll ever taste in your life!
At San Gimignano, a hill town not far from Siena, I found this little carved olive-wood bowl. I thought it to be so unique, and I especially like olive wood because it’s illegal to cut the trees. You can only get things made from the cuttings of trimmed trees. It’s usually a very small find, and in my case, that was good because I had my very tiny souvenir bag with very little space left for carry-home items. This teardrop bowl reminds me of the Fiat 500 we rented and drove through the hills of Tuscany, stopping at Chianti vineyards to eat and drink their fruits. Tuscany is a rolling, green striped, heaven of earth and grapes. God made Tuscany for sure!
There’s so much more on the breakfast table that I could share with you, like the antique forks given to me by a sweet lady on the square in our hometown. Let me just say that Ann Cobb is a dear angel from heaven. Thank you for my forks, Ann. I could go on and on and on with the memories on my table, but I want it to end with something James gave me for Valentines Day almost 20 years ago. It was just a little metal attachment to a gift. It hangs on our bedpost and it reminds us of what we have. We are so lucky to have each other.
So when you’re trying to create a perfect, romantic brunch, just look around your house for all the things with really good memories and put it all on the table. Mix up the perfect scrambled eggs and enjoy. You’ll hear the sounds, smell the smells, and be taken back to the places, the people, and the memories. You’ll remember why…you’re lucky to have each other.
I start with the perfect scrambled egg… I guess you’re saying, “Thank God she’s finally going to tell us how to make these eggs!”
Okay, here it is: to get the perfect eggs and healthy, too. Just whisk in Greek Yogurt. Yum, Yum, Yum! More protein and a probiotic to improve digestive health. What more can you ask for? Simple and healthy.
I took pictures of me whisking the eggs and yogurt, but I can’t show them to you because they just aren’t pretty. The artist in me will not let me post a yellow and white glob of slime so just crack six eggs in a mixing bowl, throw in two tablespoons of Greek yogurt, and whisk until it’s all smooth and light yellow.
Add a little olive oil and a teensy bit of real butter (optional) to a non-stick skillet. Scramble these babies up on really low heat. Remove before they are completely done and let them finish cooking with just the heat of the skillet.
In the meantime, prepare the fixings…which is nothing more than putting things in pretty little bowls (with lots of memories). This is kind of like toppings at a yogurt bar. This is so easy that it’s almost embarrassing to post it as a recipe.
Today I used left over roasted eggplant, onion, and bell pepper. The night before I roasted chopped eggplant, red bell peppers, a large onion, and one fresh tomato in the oven with olive oil, fresh rosemary, fresh oregano, and salt and pepper. I saved what was left after dinner in the fridge. That’s what I used for the main toppings for this delicious breakfast.
Then, it’s all up to you: put about three or four other toppings in small bowls for your guests to add to their scrambled eggs. Today, I chose: Ricotta with basil, Kalameta olives, capers, sun dried tomatoes, artichokes and cornichons. It was so delicious. I think the next time that I’ll just do the same thing all over again. I hope this gives you inspiration to go out and add something special to your scrambled eggs. Just be creative! Make it memorable! And have fun because you are lucky to have each other. And if you do it right, it will always look like this:
- 6 eggs
- 2 tablespoons Greek Yogurt
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- real butter (optional)
- Roasted Vegetables, to your taste (eggplant, onions, bell peppers and tomatoes)
- kalamata olives
- ricotta cheese (Sorrento brand is the best)
- Romano or Parmesan cheese
- Whisk 6 eggs in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of Greek Yogurt.
- In a non-stick skillet with olive oil and (maybe a bit of butter), scramble the eggs lightly
- Remove the eggs before they are too done, and let them finish cooking off the flame in the skillet.
- In separate little bowls, prepare the Venetian buffet for the toppings: Ricotta, capers, olives, and cheeses.
- Scoop eggs onto a plate.
- Add desired roasted vegetables to the top. (see my post for how I roasted mine)
- Add a small scoop of ricotta cheese
- Sprinkle on a few capers, olives and chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- Place a pickled artichoke on the side (optional)
- Sprinkle with Romano cheese.
- Serve with fresh fresh fruit or a slice of tomato