Good breakfast is the best capital upon which people who have real work to do in the world can begin the day. If the food is well selected and well cooked, it furnishes both cheer and strength for their daily tasks. Poor food, or good food poorly prepared, taxes the digestive powers more than is due, and consequently robs brain and nerves of vigor. Good food is not rich food, in the common acceptation of the term; it is such food as furnishes the requisite nutriment with the least fatigue to the digestive powers. It is of the best material, prepared in the best manner, and with pleasant variety, though it may be very simple.
“What to get for breakfast” is one of the most puzzling problems which the majority of housewives have to solve. The usually limited time for its preparation requires that it be something easily and quickly prepared; and health demands that the bill of fare be of such articles as require but minimum time for digestion, that the stomach may have chance for rest after the process of digestion is complete, before the dinner hour. The custom of using fried potatoes or mushes, salted fish or meats, and other foods almost impossible of digestion, for breakfast dishes, is most pernicious. These foods set completely at variance all laws of breakfast hygiene. They are very difficult of digestion, and the thirst-provoking quality of salted foods makes them an important auxiliary to the acquirement of a love of intoxicating drinks. We feel very sure that, as a prominent temperance writer says, “It very often happens that women who send out their loved ones with an agony of prayer that they may be kept from drink for the day, also send them with a breakfast that will make them almost frantic with thirst before they get to the first saloon.”
The foods composing the breakfast menu should be simple in character, well and delicately cooked, and neatly served. Fruits and grains and articles made from them offer the requisites for the ideal breakfast. These afford ample provision for variety, are easily made ready, and easily digested, while at the same time furnishing excellent nutriment in ample quantity and of the very best quality. Meats, most vegetables, and compound dishes, more difficult of digestion, are better reserved for the dinner bill of fare. No vegetable except the potato is especially serviceable as a breakfast food, and it is much more readily digested when baked than when prepared in any other manner. Stewing requires less time for preparation, but about one hour longer for digestion.
As an introduction to the morning meal, fresh fruits are most desirable, particularly the juicy varieties, as oranges, grape fruit, melons, grapes, and peaches, some one of which are obtainable nearly the entire year. Other fruits; such as apples, bananas, pears, etc., though less suitable, may be used for the same purpose. They are, however, best accompanied with wafers or some hard food, to insure their thorough mastication.
For the second course, some of the various cereals, oatmeal, rye, corn, barley, rice, or one of the numerous preparations of wheat, well cooked and served with cream, together with one or more unfermented breads (recipes for which have been given in a previous chapter), cooked fruits, and some simple relishes, are quite sufficient for a healthful and palatable breakfast.
If, however, a more extensive bill of fare is desired, numerous delicious and appetizing toasts may be prepared according to the recipes given in this chapter, and which, because of their simple character and the facility with which they can be prepared, are particularly suitable as breakfast dishes. The foundation of all these toasts is zwieback, or twice-baked bread, prepared from good whole-wheat or Graham fermented bread cut in uniform slices not more than a half inch thick, each slice being divided in halves, placed on tins, or what is better, the perforated sheets recommended for baking rolls, and baked or toasted in a slow oven for a half hour or longer, until it is browned evenly throughout the entire slice. The zwieback may be prepared in considerable quantity and kept on hand in readiness for use. It will keep for any length of time if stored in a dry place.
Stale bread is the best for making zwieback, but it should be good, light bread; that which is sour, heavy, and not fit to eat untoasted, should never be used. Care must be taken also not to scorch the slices, as once scorched, it is spoiled. Properly made, it is equally crisp throughout, and possesses a delicious, nutty flavor.
Its preparation affords an excellent opportunity for using the left-over slices of bread, and it may be made when the oven has been heated for other purposes, as after the baking of bread, or even during the ordinary cooking, with little or no additional heat. If one possesses an Aladdin oven, it can be prepared to perfection.
Zwieback may also be purchased in bulk, all ready for use, at ten cents a pound, from the Sanitarium Food Co., Battle Creek, Mich., and it is serviceable in so many ways that it should form a staple article of food in every household.
For the preparation of toasts, the zwieback must be first softened with some hot liquid, preferably thin cream. Heat the cream (two thirds of a pint of cream will be sufficient for six half slices) nearly to boiling in some rather shallow dish. Put the slices, two or three at a time, in it, dipping the cream over them and turning so that both sides will become equally softened. Keep the cream hot, and let the slices remain until softened just enough so that the center can be pierced with a fork, but not until at all mushy or broken. With two forks or a fork and a spoon, remove each slice from the hot cream, draining as thoroughly as possible, and pack in a heated dish, and repeat the process until as much zwieback has been softened as desired. Cover the dish, and keep hot until ready to serve. Special care should be taken to drain the slices as thoroughly as possible, that none of them be wet and mushy. It is better to remove them from the cream when a little hard than to allow them to become too soft, as they will soften somewhat by standing after being packed in the dish. Prepare the sauce for the toast at the same time or before softening the slices, and pour into a pitcher for serving. Serve the slices in individual dishes, turning a small quantity of the hot sauce over each as served.