I was recalling recently a thought I had when I was in labor with Ben. And it was: “This is like a mechanical bull!” And I couldn’t stay on. But I couldn’t get off, either. And sometimes that’s kind of how it is.
Anyhoo. Where was I? Oh yes. School mornings. Here’s a confession: they have not historically been frantic at my house. I mean, yeah, it’s a school morning. Are folks brimming over with extra time and joie de vivre? No. They are not. But we try to get up early enough that, should the kids want to crawl into bed for a few minutes with the cat and me, well, there’s a little time for snuggling and the admiring of clean fur, for warm, sleepy conversation. Which I love.
But these days, that’s mostly Birdy. While Ben. Ben. Ben is falling into paroxysms of starvation and judgment, and the combining of the two into pronouncements of his own hungry grievances. What’s that you say? Welcome to teenagerland? I know! But guys, it’s Ben. The sweetheart of sweethearts. Whom I typically love to feed and feed, but who has become a person who says, irritably, “Are we out of dried cherries?” like this missing ingredient from the muesli he’s assembling constitutes a serious incident of neglect.
|The face of RAVENOUS MONSTROSITY! On the way to a Stromae concert with his Ava friend.
He is starving. He is standing in front of the refrigerator, accusing me. “We have no food in the house!” “I’m not totally sure what you’re looking for,” I say, reasonably. “We have toast and eggs. Cheese and ham. Cereal and yogurt and fruit. I heard Birdy offer to share the smoothie she was making.” Ben is visibly exasperated. Clearly, I do not understand what is needed.
“I feel like you want to put out your hand and have an Egg McMuffin fall into it,” I say, and he admits that this is kind of true. “What about toast with melted cheese?” I say, as if this is a problem that could actually be solved, and he groans. “I think that pea under all your mattresses really got to you last night!” I say, which is a funny joke, which Ben doesn’t laugh at, because I’ve said it in a meaner way than I intended. I kiss his starving, irritated cheeks. “Let’s make breakfast burritos this weekend,” I say. “Like we did last spring, when you were in another one of your princessy fits.” “Okay,” he says. “That would be great.”
And so we do! The end.
Only not really, because a kind of overcaffeination takes over while we’re making them, and the hash browns stick—which remind me that they stuck last time too—and then I burn a tortilla, and Birdy is pissed at me because I’m raging around cursing, and she doesn’t like it. Also I suggest that she’s washing the sandy arugula poorly—“Not in a colander. In a sinkful of water,” I sigh, like what kind of idiot?
By the time we’re done with the burritos, two of us have cried. “Enjoy these,” I say to Ben, cramming the bag into our too-stuffed freezer, from which two empty pints of ice cream drop to the ground. “Think of all the love that went into them."
Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos
These are great! Seriously. It’s the thing you’re starving teenager really wants to eat in the morning, and if you don’t use those damned sticking hash browns, they come together very quickly and easily. Plus, they can be varied pretty widely: use ham, sausage, or chorizo instead of the bacon—or whatever veggie versions of those things you like best. Add sautéed onions and peppers. Skip the hash browns (!) and add black beans instead, along with a spoonful of salsa. You might want to add the salsa—or a few shakes of hot sauce—anyway.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 20-ounce shredded bag hash browns
12 (or 16) ounces bacon
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 heaping cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Jack, or a blend)
8 (8-inch) wheat tortillas (make sure they’re fairly pliable or you will end up killing somebody)
Heat the oil in a wide pan and sauté the hash browns until they are tender and brown, or according to the package directions. If you have a nonstick pan, NOW IS THE TIME TO USE IT. These stick maddeningly. Aaaaaaagh.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon and drain it on paper towels.
Beat the eggs with the water and salt. Heat the butter in a medium pan and cook the eggs, scrambling them until they are cooked through but still nice and soft.
Heat the tortillas to soften them: I do this by stacking them right on top of a low burner, and flipping and rotating them so that a new one is always on the bottom. There are doubtless better ways than this, especially because I tend to burn at least one.
Now lay the tortillas out on a clean counter. Divide the bacon among them, breaking up strips as necessary to equal it all out. Arrange a scoop of hash browns over the bacon (you may have some leftover hash browns). Dive the eggs over the hash browns, keeping the filling in a fairly even strip down the middle of the tortillas and leaving about an inch free at the top and bottom. Divide the cheese over the eggs.
Now roll the burritos up. I do this by wetting my hands in a bowl of water, then folding over the top and bottom inch of plain tortilla before rolling it up tight, tucking in the filling as I go, and compressing it tightly. We your hands again, then put the burrito seam-side down on a baking sheet, pressing it down a little to secure. Continue with the folding and rolling, wetting your hands to help compress everything. The water also helps the burritos freeze solid so that, after the whole pan of burritos is frozen overnight, you can move them into a large freezer Ziploc bag, and they will keep their shape.
To heat one up, put it on a plate, lay a wet paper towel over it, and microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes, until heated through. Or wrap in foil and heat in a 350 oven for around 20 minutes.