There have been too many mornings this year when I wake up, get out of bed, make coffee, then forget to make the rest of my breakfast because I’m reading about the new trauma the internet has brought me overnight. Yesterday was one of those mornings. I woke up very late, unusually late, at 11:30pm, and by that time in the Pacific time zone, an entire day has happened. Yesterday, even more so, as the month which started on Tuesday finally came to an end.
I had barely finished one cup of coffee yesterday before I started to feel lightheaded—again. I’m clinically anemic, so it’s not unusual for me, especially when I haven’t been eating well. It’s a good sign I need to eat some protein, take my iron supplements, and also cut down on the caffeine. It’s recommended you take iron with food, so I ate a spoonful of peanut butter while I continued scrolling.
A cup of coffee and a spoonful of peanut butter is not a good breakfast, but it’s better than nothing! Peanut butter is protein! And it’s even better if you get the stuff with one ingredient: peanuts. So many people eat nothing in the morning, which I have never understood. Are those people eating very late dinners? Do they rely on midnight snacks to get them through to lunch?
Most of my working life, I’ve been lucky to avoid the classic 9-5 job. I’ve worked mall retail, which starts much earlier and ends much later. I’ve worked regular school hours, daycare hours, and now after-school hours. My first class doesn’t start until 3:30pm; I live close enough that, when I have a ride, I don’t even have to leave my house until 3:15.
For the last 6 years I’ve been at my current job, I’ve had the luxury of long, lazy mornings. I already loved a good breakfast—more than many people—but schedule informs energy. When I come home past 7pm, I want easy dinners. I want, ideally, reheated dinners. In the cold seasons, I want comfort dinners. All of my experimental time, interest, and energy goes into cooking and baking during the first half of the day.
Why is it so easy for me to eat breakfast food at night, but not dinner food in the morning?
The other day (week? what is time?), I had one of those mornings when I stood up to pour another cup of coffee and, immediately, I knew I hadn’t eaten. But sometime last week, I hurt my wrist getting up off the couch (is this what my 40s is going to be like?), and I hadn’t yet done the dishes. Nothing was clean, I had no counter space, and even stirring milk into my coffee hurt (of course it was my dominant hand!).
That morning, I looked in my fridge, and this is what I made for breakfast: I put the leftovers from two dinners into the oven at 350. Coconut milk sweet potato soup in one pot; pork Milanesi with penne & cheese and Brussels sprouts in a baking pan. I chopped the pork steaks into bite-size pieces and discarded the bones. I mixed everything together in the pot and added more cheese (old white cheddar and Parmesan). Probably too chunky to call it a soup; not cohesive enough to call it a casserole.
[image description: top-down picture of a white plate with roasted Brussels Sprouts, penne pasta covered in white cheese sauce, topped with slices of breaded pork. This was my dinner when I called it dinner.]
It was breakfast only on a technicality. It was my first meal of my day. During this year, when time and routine have become unmoored, there’s a chance to let go of what you did before. Let go of the way things were. Let go of but I’ve always done it that way.
Tomorrow morning, I might make some pancakes (my wrist is feeling a lot better now). But I just now looked in my fridge, and it looks like this morning’s breakfast is going to be pasta (spaghetti this time), with seasoned, crumbled tofu, and the last of the tomatoes, which I roasted while I made dinner last night and blended up before putting them away. Plus, I still have Parmesan (I’m working on an essay about the calm one feels, knowing there’s a giant wedge of Parmesan in one’s refrigerator).
It’s 11am. Am I making breakfast, brunch, or dinner? I’m making pasta; I’ll let you decide.
Hey there! 👋 I’m Jessica Driscoll (she/they), a writer / teacher / baker, depending on the season. I live and work on the unceded territory of the SEMYOME (Semiahmoo) Nation, in a beach town on the International Boundary. As a white settler, my commitment to unsettling Turtle Island includes earmarking 10% of my monthly income to support Indigenous land defenders. I encourage you to join me and support the Mi’kmaq people and their fishing rights.
This newsletter is the next evolution of a blog I started writing on Blogspot in 2002. My favourite posts, I turn into zines. My shop is All Day Breakfast, named after the best meal. The newest product is rosemary sea salt, collected from the Pacific Ocean, grown in my grandmother’s garden, and packaged with a zine I wrote with Megan Westerby last month.
PS I just discovered Substack now has alt-text for images! I emailed them months ago to ask about that feature, and it seems they’ve finally added it. Let me know if it’s working for you!