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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.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Makes 1 9-inch-by-9-inch cake

For the topping:

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

? cup, packed, brown sugar

? teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

? cup chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted (optional)

For the cake:

-- Butter, at room temperature

1? cups all purpose flour, sifted

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

? teaspoon baking soda

? teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup best-quality sour cream

2 large eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

Put the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl and use a fork to blend together thoroughly. Use the fork to work the butter into the sugar mixture until it forms a uniform crumb. If using nuts, fold them in and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter a 9-inch-by-9-inch baking dish.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl and stir quickly with a fork to blend thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, combine the sour cream, beaten eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon or medium rubber spatula to mix thoroughly but quickly; do not overmix or the coffee cake will be tough. Pour into the buttered pan.

Sprinkle the topping over the batter and bake until the cake has risen and is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let rest 5 to 10 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the cake, turn it out carefully onto a large plate, set a cooling rack over the cake and gently turn it over, so that the cake rests on the rack. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes more and serve warm.

I cooked this dish many times when I was a young teenager, after learning how in 9th grade "Foods" class, which was offered to girls, not boys. (They were in either wood shop, metal shop or auto shop.) The girls had just two options, cooking or sewing. Then, we made this hash with canned corned beef, which still works today, in a pinch.

Corned Beef Hash with Poached Eggs

Makes 6 servings

2 dozen very small new red potatoes or creamer potatoes, washed thoroughly

-- Kosher salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

6 cups (about 2 pounds) cooked corned beef, cut into ?-inch cubes

2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley

-- Black pepper in a mill

6 eggs, from local pastured chickens

-- Tabasco sauce or other bottled hot sauce of choice

Put the washed potatoes into a heavy saucepan, cover them with water, add 3 tablespoons of kosher salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork or bamboo skewer. Drain, saving a cup or so of the cooking water, and let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, pour the olive oil into a heavy skillet set over medium heat, add the onions and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 to 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the corned beef and cook, tossing now and them, until the meat is heated through, about 7 or 8 minutes.

Use a fork to crush each potato. Do not mash the potatoes; they should be in chunks. Add the potatoes to the meat mixture, along with half a cup of the cooking liquid or a bit more if needed to moisten. Do not stir. Cover and cook 5 minutes; remove from the heat and keep hot.

Poach the eggs, one or two at a time, in gently simmering water to which you've added about a teaspoon of white vinegar until the whites are just set, about 3 minutes. While the first eggs poach, put some of the hash into individual plates or bowls, then set one poached egg on top of each portion. Working quickly, continue until all the eggs have been poached. Sprinkle parsley on each serving, season with a little salt and serve immediately, with hot sauce alongside.

Michele Anna Jordan hosts "Mouthful" each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 & 91.1 FM.

E-mail Jordan at michele@micheleannajordan.com. You'll find her blog, "Eat This Now," at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.

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