02 October 2011

Remembering Sunday

I have always thought of brunch simply as a late breakfast. During my childhood, I didn't believe that brunch necessitated an exceptional variety of items or anything remotely complicated to prepare, as I tend to expect when brunching these days. At its most basic, this once-in-awhile type of meal was just a way to have a morning meal close to midday--one reserved for late risers on lazy days. Brunch was what my family called a hot, hearty breakfast at home that was served around 10 or 11AM on a Sunday (the only day that involved a cooked breakfast, apart from the occasional bowl of oatmeal on weekdays).

Sunday brunch with the family would include either fried Portuguese sausage, SPAM, or turkey bacon; eggs; steamed white rice; and possibly sweet cornbread, pancakes, or waffles. There may have been fresh melon slices, if they were available. The meat-egg-rice combination was typical to a Hawaiian "local-style" breakfast plate (an aspect of Hawaiian regional cuisine, if you want to be more technical). It was a staple, really; the meat was the central component of Sunday brunch--what made it a hot meal--and always accompanied with rice. These meals were greasy and heavy, perhaps befitting the slow pace of the remaining day.

As a vegan, I obviously don't consume animal products, so sausage, SPAM, bacon, and eggs are no longer part of my diet. I'm not a later riser or eater, either, nor do I prefer huge morning meals. Needless to say, eating brunch as it was back in my childhood isn't much of an option without certain adaptations.

For the sake of creativity and nostalgia, I decided to forgo my go-to breakfast of miso soup or green smoothie in favor of veganizing the Sunday brunch of my youth. Admittedly, it wasn't a particularly late meal (unless having dishes washed by 9AM is one's idea of a slow start), nor the greasy affair that this home-style event normally becomes. And I skipped the egg-substitute aspect altogether. I couldn't finish everything, either (ah, more leftovers). But it was still an interesting experiment that reminded me of days long gone.

I decided to make waffles, because my current belief is that brunch is incomplete without bread of some sort--be it a waffle, pancake, quick bread, or even just toast. In an homage to Sunday laziness, I took a wing-it approach to preparing club soda waffles (the type my mom usually cooked). Basically, I threw in a few things that needed to be used up--namely, almond pulp and the dregs of a jar of unsweetened applesauce--and made sure that I added the all-important club soda. It was very much a move born of necessity, because I don't use baking mixes. It's apparently difficult to botch waffles, anyway. In an odd twist of fate, these vegan club soda waffles was probably the most successful of all my attempts so far. At their best, they had the proper crispness and airy texture, albeit borderline burnt in some areas. I'll have to tinker with the formula a bit more before establishing a reliable recipe.
Of course, my nostalgic brunch required "meat" with a side of rice. (Expect to see white rice a few more times this week. It's a staple of my childhood meals and backbone of Hawaiian-style meals in general.) I attempted to make Portuguese seitan "sausage" from scratch, but the flavoring still isn't quite right. It's another thing I'll have to revisit (again). It was still good, mind you, and thankfully, not nearly as fatty as the real thing.
Although vegetables didn't usually figure into breakfast or brunch back in the day, the plate needed something green. This was already a reinterpretation that I don't claim to be authentic, so I saw no harm in catering to my veggie-craving adult self by including a little pile of broccoli pickles. Same goes for the small bunch of grapes on the side.
I can't say it was one of my more successful attempts at recreating a non-vegan meal from childhood, but it was nostalgia-inducing and tasty all the same. Such is the nature of this ongoing experiment. Stay tuned for more breakfast-related goodies tomorrow.

What was a typical brunch for you as a child?

6 comments:

  1. Alessandra Zecchini10/2/11, 12:49 PM

    Being Italian I find it hard to eat all of that for breakfast, and I would push branch to 12, so that I could call it lunch :-)!

    Ciao
    A.
    http://alessandra-veganblog.blogspot.com/

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  2. veganinbrighton10/2/11, 1:06 PM

    Wow, what a great brunch! The waffles look perfect. I'd actually never had brunch until going vegan, it's not really a thing in the UK.

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  3. I don't know that we ever did brunch when I was a kid but we did have pancakes with eggs and bacon on a few rare Saturdays. Actually, it was nice, now that I think of it because my father always made the pancakes, which was the only time I would ever see him cook or bake, since it was his one free morning. Brunch is a nice idea but it never really seems to work out for me, haha.

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  4. I don't remember eating much brunch as a kid, but I would definitely love some of that sausage and waffle action.

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  5. Your waffles look yummy! Brunch as a kid was the typical breakfast/brunch types of food at a restaurant. I don't think we ever did brunch at home. :-)

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  6. That is one beautiful plate of food!

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Thanks for reading! Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. :)