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  • Breakfast memories can last a lifetime

  • Once a morning has been scented with sizzling bacon, scrambled eggs and hot-off-the-griddle flapjacks, you've got a memory for life that demands repeating.
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    • Tips: Outdoor breakfasts for a crowd
      First of all, take a clue from my husband when it comes to bringing along the necessities to pull off cooking breakfast for a group. As self-appointed equipment wrangler (and with years of experien...
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      Tips: Outdoor breakfasts for a crowd
      First of all, take a clue from my husband when it comes to bringing along the necessities to pull off cooking breakfast for a group. As self-appointed equipment wrangler (and with years of experience at living with me), Steve figured out what we'd need to facilitate cooking under rustic conditions: He filled a couple flip-bins with extension cords, portable butane hotplates with extra gas canisters, two electric griddles, plenty of aluminum foil, zip-close baggies, dishwashing soap, towels, sponges and extra water.

      • Additional basic cooking equipment to consider: nonstick skillet, medium to large lightweight pot, portable grate (if cooking over a fire) or portable gas or charcoal grill, tongs and spatulas.
      • Figure out your menu in advance and measure ingredients ahead of time and pack in zip-close bags. Label each bag accordingly.
      • Opt for block ice over cubed; it lasts longer.
      • Use a separate cooler for drinks so as not to open the food cooler too often.
      • For your final camping breakfast, use your leftover meats and vegetables to make omelets.
      • Pre-chop ingredients such as onions and peppers at home, then pack in zip-close bags. Also consider pre-cooking sausage and bacon, then freezing for a quick breakfast preparation.
      • Instead of risking broken eggs, crack them at home and gently place them into a hard-sided, reuseable water bottle or quart-sized canning jar. They transport really well this way. You can pour them out one egg at a time or simply dump the contents into a bowl to whisk for scrambled eggs.
      • Have a supply of kitchen equipment/utensils packed and ready to go for spur-of-the-moment outings: decent knives (a chef's knife for chopping; a paring knife; a serrated knife), a nest of bowls, spatula, can opener, wire whisk, grater, sieve or strainer, tongs, disposable lighter, wooden spoons, serving spoon and fork, paper plates, cutting board, kitchen towels (bring enough of them so you don't have to worry about laundering them during your trip), paper towels, quart- and gallon-size zip-close bags, plastic wrap, heavy-duty foil and garbage bags.
  • Once a morning has been scented with sizzling bacon, scrambled eggs and hot-off-the-griddle flapjacks, you've got a memory for life that demands repeating.
    Although not a breakfast eater on most days, I grew up with the concept and embrace it heartily. It's how families bond, children feel special and friends connect. Something about the sleepy hour of breakfast time puts people in a mellow mood. Politics and religion are dinner-party fare. Morning conversations are more along the lines of where to find the best apricots for jam or which trails to hike.
    I learned that from the master, my uncle Reg. His energetic pancake productions always lured observers into the kitchen on those sleepy, lazy mornings at their country house in Northern California. He made quite a show of it — and my cousin Bonnie and I made the perfect audience. We giggled and gawked at every act he performed, from the operatic tunes he sang off key, to the breaking of the eggs (held high and broken swiftly with a single blow from his left hand).
    From his post at the stove, while beating the egg whites to an exact stage of firmness, he would direct the troops to the proper setting of the table, the heating of the syrup and the melting of the butter. During the act of folding those perfect egg whites into the batter, he would lecture us all on the importance of perfectly executed egg whites.
    Thanks to such childhood memories, breakfasts take on a special significance for me under three conditions: Summer's in the air, we're gathered at some sort of retreat, be it campground or cabin, and a hoard of likeable people are milling about.
    Those conditions merged a few weeks ago for a group of us who gathered to celebrate the summer solstice at our friends' Corvallis-area century farm and winery. The Friday eve of the solstice had its own charm with plenty of the house wine, and an outdoor buffet table groaning with potluck offerings.
    The morning of the first day of summer unfolded slowly and lazily for the 12 who survived the night. Under the fresh summer sky, coffee and conversation eventually morphed into breakfast mode as our pal Paul whipped up a batch of buttermilk-laced flapjacks while I quickly cooked up mounds of heavenly scrambled eggs loaded with delights sauteed and staged the previous day. We reached the finish line in perfect harmony, as hungry friends sat down to a hearty-but-simple meal, rounded out and perfected by friend Peg's homegrown and canned peaches and applesauce.
    Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a cookbook author and columnist in Corvallis. Reach her at janrd@proaxis.com.
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