Simple Breakfasts with One Specific Purpose

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and as cliche as that is, I’ve discovered that certain breakfasts have the power to become exceptionally important.

Photo © Robert Chapman

My ever-so-quickly-growing seven-year-old and I have always shared a special love of that glorious morning meal, one that initially started with a dozen donuts and has since grown to exploring options both at home and on the road.

When my first born entered the world, she didn’t sleep so well through the night. My wife and I had a deal about late night/early morning wake ups with her—one that I couldn’t pass up. Since I had to go into work in the morning, Meg said she would get up with Charlotte throughout the night if I would only give her Saturday mornings to sleep until she felt like waking up. That meant that in my bucket was “consistent sleep but no sleep ins” and her bucket was “sporadic sleep with a glorious sleep in.” I couldn’t pass that one up.

So, for just over 10 years, I’ve been a Saturday early morning riser. At first it was a chore, but when biological clocks start a-tickin’, you just go with it.

Then, enter John. He’s my second born. At night, anywhere between 8 and 9, if you get him still…he’s out. We often will watch some sporting event on the couch with him bundled up in a blanket. At most it takes 20 minutes, but usually averages around 10.

But when morning comes, John’s typically the first one awake. He’s at least gone from getting up at 5:30 when he was brand new to around 6:30 these days. With The English Premier League being on the time schedule it is, we usually get up and lazily watch whoever is playing, especially if it’s Arsenal.

What does this have to do with breakfast?

Right. Back to it. When John was around 2 or 3, we used to get up on Saturdays and pick up a dozen donuts to bring back to the house. I had the notion that this was a wonderfully opportune time to show my young grasshopper that simple, kind deeds can go a long way.

So, we started doing what we called “Donut Day.” We would buy not one dozen donuts but TWO, and the second box would be placed on someone’s doorstep with a message written on the box: “Happy Donut Day from The Chapmans.”

It began to catch on. We took boxes to friends, family, fellow educators, you name it. And, of course, who doesn’t love a donut? Even if it’s a bad donut, a free box on your doorstep that lets you know that someone was thinking about you and wanted to give a tangible “what’s up!” to start your day…it was fun.

John started waking up knowing Saturdays were “Donut Days.” He’d have a list of people he wanted to surprise. But, like Robert Frost said, “as way leads on to way…” Donut Days eventually came to a close. They served their purpose to show him that we are made to make people smile. What usually happens is people tend to get in their own way and talk themselves out of doing whatever it is.

One thing I know he learned from it is this — “Get out there and do it anyway!”

Roll with the Changes

He’s growing up—both of them are. Charlotte sleeps a lot better now (praise the Lord). She doesn’t crash at night like he does, but she sleeps through the night. And being 10, if she does wake up, she has the ability to go back to bed by herself. She’s still my picky eater who doesn’t like breakfast, though.

John, like clockwork, is still my early riser. And though they’re both old enough to wake up and exist without parents being awake, I still get up early-ish on Saturdays.

With Donut Day in the past, I knew that we could build on that foundation and continue to grow our father-son relationship.

What better way to bond than over breakfast with my little foodie? So, over the past two years, we’ve been taking our Saturday mornings to breakfast spots across Jackson and the southeast. When we take road trips, John and I tend to spot great breakfast haunts, be they “sit inside” places as he calls them or a simple pastry shop where we can get a cup of coffee (and a cup of orange juice) and maybe snag a giant cinnamon roll to bring back to mom.

Culinary Consonance

Though he may be a wee lad, he’s got a culinary head on his shoulders and can be quite the food critic. He’s open to anything and everything, and is quick to give his recommendation. Below are four places we’ve recently visited in Jackson: The Bean, Broad Street Bakery, Elvie’s and Urban Foxes.

The Bean — State Street/Jackson, MS

This was a fairly recent stop. It’s right in the heart of Jackson’s Fondren neighborhood. I’d been there once before when it was The Sneaky Bean just to grab a cup of coffee. I’d always seen patrons sitting on the deck and had even seen a few musical performances from the front porch.

For looking like a “little coffee shop” the brunch menu (as well as the coffee menu) was better than what the average joe would expect. I got the Honeybutter Chicken Biscuit and John got the Banana Pancakes (with an extra side of bacon). This was his first time to have banana pancakes, and he liked them. However, he loved the bacon. It was crispy. It was thick. It wasn’t messy. It was right up his alley.

We took home the Baked French Toast to mom, and she loved it. I happened to steal a bite or two, and the fresh fruit added that great bit of crisp sharpness to a wonderfully baked French toast.

The atmosphere was great too. We timed it just perfectly, beating the late risers and having the corner of the deck to ourselves.

Broad Street Bakery — I-55 North/Jackson, MS

A few weeks ago, the fam was on a regular driving quest that took us by Banner Hall in Jackson off I-55. I, of course, told John that there’s a bakery in that building that has an awesome breakfast with cinnamon rolls the size of your head and an awesome bookstore. One Saturday we’d have to go try it out.

One Saturday we did just that. John had the cinnamon roll and tried to eat as much as he could. We brought his leftovers home for a Sunday snack. I ordered the breakfast burrito and enjoyed it. It’s not a massive breakfast entree, which I was ok with, and the sautéd onions and turkey sausage hit the spot. Of course, we ordered a soccer ball sized cinnamon roll to bring home to mom, and she seemed more than appreciative of it.

When we were done with our meal and breakfast conversation, we ventured in to Lemuria Books to peruse the merchandise. There’s just something about a locally owned bookstore stacked floor to ceiling with fantastic stories and an entire room of nothing but kids and young adult books that helps my heart tick. We checked out some titles to keep an eye on and talked about Mississippi and our world famous writers. My little former English teacher self enjoyed that one.

Elvie’s — Manship Street/Jackson, MS

This one is probably one of my favorites. That’s not really fair to say because we’re comparing apples to oranges, but I think Elvie’s wins the prize because of these four words: Duck Fat Hash Browns.

On the first day in May, the two of us popped up on a Saturday morning with one goal in mind—Elvie’s.

I’d been there before (and have even written about it) so when I discovered they had a breakfast menu, I knew it was only a matter of time. When I saw what was on their breakfast menu, it moved to the top of the list.

With Mississippi’s weather being atypically nice for that time of year, we opted to sit outside on the front porch, imagining we were either 19th century bachelors in New Orleans or maybe even billionaire magnates enjoying the place to ourselves. When conversation turned to new soccer moves and the plethora of dirt bikes desired, we quickly re-inhabited our father/son selves. We just happened to be sitting at Elvie’s.

John ordered the Breakfast Americane and I, of course, gave into the dark domains of the Duck Fat Hash Browns.

Usually, we bring mom back a pastry of some sort, but she had no option that day. I brought her back her own order of the glorious Duck Fat Hash Browns.

Urban Foxes — North Street/Jackson, MS

This is our most recent stop—recent as in this morning. John and I had originally planned to check out a new place, but this new establishment is currently in the “we’re getting there” phase. We’ll hit that place up later.

Instead, we called an audible and headed to the other side of Belhaven split by Fortification Street. We landed at Urban Foxes, and we were pleasantly surprised at how laid back and good it all was. All of it. The food and coffee matched the early morning atmosphere.

Urban Foxes recently celebrated its second anniversary in Jackson. This old Belhaven home has been repurposed as a wonderful small batch bakery. But it’s much more than a small batch bakery.

They have a broad but small collection of freshly baked pastries, scones and muffins as well as a full cafe menu and even some early morning breakfast beers. It transitions well into an easy hangout in the early afternoon and a great place to grab a beer or a coffee during the early evening hours. The high front porch gives a great welcoming yet secluded feeling where you can sit intimately with someone you love in the corner or you can be in the wide open with a dozen others.

John and I split a blueberry muffin, of which he ate most of, and a sausage roll, which he also ate most of.

Again, there’s plenty enough on the menu to warrant a return trip to where you don’t feel like you’re getting the same things over and over again simply because you don’t have options.

You may find your favorite that may become your Saturday usual, but there’s always another option. It may have been my first time visiting, so I’m sure I’ll find my favorite, but I’ll certainly return to try a scone (or two).

Gets deep, but not complicated

I feel lucky that I have a kid who likes to join me on my breakfast ventures, but I’m not ignoring the fact that he and I both share this hobby.

Yes, we could sleep in. And sometimes we do. But I’m being intentional in my breakfast outings. The majority of people view their Saturday mornings as a time to stay hibernated in their homes, and that’s something that is important. But the Chapman boys disappear into the great wide open as often as we can on Saturday mornings, and I encourage you to do it too.

You may say, “But no one else will go with me. It’s weird just going to breakfast by yourself.”

My answer: “Get out there and do it anyway!

Photo Gallery by Robert Chapman

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