Life Skill #3 for Real Men: Cooking Breakfast

Every man needs to have the ability to prepare one yummy and easy breakfast. There will invariably come a time when you will be someplace in the morning, surrounded by hungry people. The context (frat house, marital home, ski trip) doesn't matter. What matters is that you are at the helm of the kitchen, creating the meal, and not sitting on your ass waiting to be served.

Why? Because the hand that beats the eggs is the one that rules the world.

Preparing breakfast for a group is the ultimate opportunity to make provide something wonderful out of (almost) thin air.

Here's all you need:
• Some onions (and peppers too if you have them)
• Some potatoes (white or sweet--whatever you've got)
• Eggs
• Some kind of diary product (cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, milk, cream)
• Some kind of bread or muffin
• Something colorful (fruit, pastries, garnish)
• Something special that you like. (Suggestions include Sriracha sauce, cayenne pepper, rosemary, basil, scallions jalapenos, avocados, tomatillos, salsa or capers.)

Here's what you do:
Dice the potatoes and onions, while making conversation with guests.

Get a decent knife and a clean cutting board and dice up the potatoes. "Dicing" means "cutting into little squares". To avoid hacking your hand off, slice one end of the potato and then turn it over onto that end so it doesn't roll away. Then, slice in strips, then turn the whole thing and do strips again until you end up with little squares.

Do the same with the onions - but be forewarned that they won't turn into little squares, because they'll fall apart a little. Such is one of the difficult realities of life.

All you're doing is cutting--so this is the time to talk about how great last night was, how great today is going to be, politics, weather, etc.

Warning: Hold the knife properly. Failure to do so 1) is dangerous and 2) makes you look like a jackass. Think of the knife the way you would a hockey stick or a baseball bat - you can just tell when the person wielding it knows what he's doing, and when you see it, it looks cool.

Fry the stuff you just cut up.

Put a frying pan on medium heat on the stovetop. Put a couple of tablespoons of butter on the pan to melt. If it bubbles right away, your pan is too hot. If you have olive oil nearby, put a little of that in the pan too.

Oh, and more butter = more delicious. Of course it's also less healthy, so make your choices based on whether your guests are body-conscious yoga girls or ravenous caution-to-the-wind teenagers.

Put the potatoes and onions into the pan. Cover with a pot cover that's smaller than the pan (like they do in a diner -just covering the stuff in the pan, not the pan itself).

Throw some salt and pepper in there too. And don't be shy.

Your only job at this point is to not burn the potatoes and onions - so just stir them around every once in a while so that they get done on all sides.

Nice touch: if you're using an herb as your special ingredient, chop it and put it in with your potatoes. If you want to use corned beef, or ham or peppers, go right ahead -and then it's called "hash"!

Warning: Be sure to pay attention now, because timing is about to become important.

Someone is bound to ask you what they can do to help. Tell that person:
• Make the coffee
• Get the bread or muffins ready for toasting
• Cut up some fruit
• Set the table (but not with plates -keep the plates near you).
• "nothing, just stand there and look beautiful" - if the person is a woman wearing an article of your clothing from last night.

Egg time! If your stovetop is big enough and you have enough pans, just shut off the heat on the potatoes when they're done cooking. ("done" means they're soft enough to eat and a little brownish. Probably takes 7-10 minutes on the stovetop). If you are cramped, then transfer the potatoes into a metal pan and put it in the oven on 250 just to keep it warm.

• Figure out what kind of eggs you're going to make. Your choices are scrambled or fried. This is not the time to be creative.
• If you're making scrambled eggs:
• Crack a bunch of eggs into a bowl and beat them overhand with a fork.
• Add salt and pepper and a dairy product of some kind. Just don't use anything sweet.
• Melt some butter in a frying pan and transfer your egg mixture into the pan.
• Wait about thirty seconds and then use a spatula (or wooden spoon) to drag the outer edges into the middle of the pan over and over.
• While you're doing this, make sure someone is toasting the bread.
• They eggs are done when they're mostly dry with a little bit of wetness and lemon-yellow in color.
• Warning: When you're scrambling eggs, think of a massage mentality. Constant, slow, purposeful motion is what's right - not frantic, random poking.

• If you're making fried eggs:
• Make them two at a time.
• Get a medium-hot frying pan and a pat of butter for each egg.
• Put the butter on the hot pan, and when it's half-melted, crack each egg and let them fall atop the butter.
• Cover the eggs with a potcover for a little while.
• The eggs are ready when the white part is all white (not clear) and the yolks are still soft to the touch (but be careful not to poke and break them).

Warning: When you're frying eggs, the hardest part is going to be getting them out of the pan and onto your plate, so try and use a good spatula and a enough butter to make the eggs slide out easily.
• Get your hash out of the oven and arrange on a plate. Serve scrambled eggs next to the hash or fried eggs on top of it. Cut the toast into triangles and put on the side of the eggs. Garnish with something yummy and colorful.

Making breakfast isn't just about feeding people. It's also about demonstrating your abilities. It shows that you can take control of a situation, that you can create something good out of something simple, and that you are willing to provide for those around you. It also shows that you are sensitive to the needs of those with whom you are sharing space, that you know how to satisfy basic human wants, and that you are willing to serve others even when that service may go unreciprocated. Delivering a delicious breakfast shows that you can manage time, think on the spot, and multitask. Adding an unexpected ingredient shows that you are a little different than the masses, that you know how to stand out, and that you have refined tastes. See how those are the same qualities you'd want to convey on a job interview? Or on a date?

Never squander the opportunity to show off the qualities you already have.

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