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How important is breakfast?

Barely a day goes by that I don't hear some expert declare that breakfast is the most important meal and that we absolutely must eat it. Yet I'm among those who do not awaken with an appetite, especially when I rise early to work. I start my day with good tea and start to feel hungry around noon or a bit earlier.

I'm not alone. My 11-year-old grandson Lucas seems to have a similar constitution and over the years I've met many people who have an aversion to eating too early in the day. It's simply how we are made. Lucas likes tea, too, so I often make him milk tea, which has plenty of good protein.

I think breakfast is most important if you're doing heavy physical activity, such as working on a farm, in construction or walking or biking a distance to school or work.

Yet to me, breakfast suggests leisure, sleeping late, lounging in bed, reading in the soft morning light. It does not further my daily goal of sitting down at my computer with a first cup of morning tea and writing a thousand words before the first pangs of hunger start to distract me.

The one time of year I do enjoy breakfast is around the winter holidays, when, if I am lucky, I can fit in a bit of leisure, including leisurely mornings with friends and family. Then, I am happy to cook our favorite breakfast foods.

I also enjoy breakfast foods at midnight, or after. It's a rare indulgence these days -- it's been years -- but I look forward to the next time I crack eggs, shell oysters, make toast and pour Champagne while most of the world is snuggled in bed.

Some of my favorite breakfast foods come from Asia. I love traditional Japanese breakfast, with miso soup and several types of pickles and fish. Rice porridge, also known as congee and jook, is another favorite, as is creamy polenta, prepared overnight in a slow-cooker so that it is ready for a crowd first thing in the morning. I also love British breakfast, though I would prefer to eat it at Downton Abbey or with the Bellamys at 65 Eaton Place so I don't indulge very often. I've posted links to recipes for several of these foods at this column's companion blog, "Eat This Now," which you'll find at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.

For today's recipes, I'm reaching far back into my childhood, for two favorite dishes that I knew how to cook by the time I was about 13 years old.

Over the years, I've enjoyed many coffee cakes, some that I've made, others I haven't, but I always come back to this one, my absolute favorite. If you have any left over, heat it in the oven and serve it with good butter alongside.


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