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Bless Your Spoon: Hearty breakfast should include Southern staples

The ultimate hike leads to Phantom Ranch, a historic lodge nestled at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the lodge is the only inn located below the canyon’s rim.

There are only three modes of transportation to get there – by sure-footed mules, your own steady feet, or rafting the Colorado River. But any way you choose – you’re going to work up one heck of an appetite. Hikers who make it to Phantom Ranch earn a t-shirt that reads, “I stayed at Phantom Ranch.” Believe me when I say you deserve one.

Greeting weary hikers are dormitory-style accommodations with twin-sized bunk beds. When the wake-up bell rings at 5 the following morning, hikers chow down on hearty family-style breakfasts served in the Canteen. A full meal of scrambled eggs, smoked bacon, farm sausage, fresh fruit, and buttermilk pancakes greets hungry hikers. A healthy mix of protein and carbs ensure hikers have adequate strength and stamina to make it out of the canyon before sunset.

While the meal was tasty, I conclude that any family-style breakfast worthy of its salt includes large bowls of fresh, baked apples. Any true southerner would include hearty potatoes and stone-ground grits to pass around the table. And no southern table would be complete without filled baskets of homemade buttery breads.

Would you please pass the biscuits?

WRANGLER’S WHIP CREAM BISCUITS

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cup heavy cream

5 Tbsp. melted butter

In a mixer bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Fold cream into dry ingredients and mix well until soft dough is formed. Knead for a few minutes on a floured board. Roll out and cut into desired biscuit size. Melt butter and dip each biscuit in butter. Place on a buttered baking tray. Bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden. Easy and delicious!

PARMESAN POTATOES

Cooking spray

1 lb. quartered new red potatoes

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp. dried thyme

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. In a bowl, add potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil. Add parmesan cheese, thyme, salt, and pepper. Toss until coated. Spread out potatoes in an even layer on lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake in a preheated 450-degree oven for 15 minutes or until tender.

BRIGHT ANGEL BACON- CHEESE TRAIL TOAST

1 lb. raw bacon

1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese

2 medium onions

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Thick slices artisan bread

In a processor, process bacon, cheese, and onion until ground. Add Worcestershire and process again until spreadable consistency. Spread on thick slices of favorite bread. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 10 minutes until browned and bubbly. Stores well in freezer. Great as appetizers on small party rye bread slices.

ORANGE CANYON COOLER

Chilled, fresh-squeezed orange juice

Chilled Frexinet Brut or other premium champagne

Fresh orange slices

For glasses, fill glass ¾ of the way with chilled champagne. Fill remainder with chilled, fresh-squeezed orange juice. Garnish with orange slice. For a pitcher, mix equal amounts of fresh orange juice and chilled champagne. Serve in tall glasses over ice. In winter, use 100% cranberry juice and garnish with fresh cranberries.

CANYON CREAM CHEESE SESAME BISCUITS

6 oz. softened cream cheese

1 cup softened, salted butter

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 beaten eggs

2 Tbsp. water

Sesame seeds

In a mixer bowl, cream cheese and butter. Add flour and blend well. Chill for 1 hour. Roll out on floured board and cut into desired biscuit size. In a bowl, add beaten eggs and water. Brush each biscuit with egg mixture. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 13-15 minutes.

CABIN CREAMED HARD-BOILED EGGS

8 hard-boiled eggs

½ cup premium mayonnaise

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 Tbsp. butter

3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 cup whole milk

1 cup sautéed, fresh mushrooms

½ cup artisan bread crumbs

½ cup grated Gruyere cheese

Boil, cool, and peel eggs. Cut in half and remove yolk. In a bowl, combine yolks, mayonnaise, and salt and pepper, to taste. Fill egg whites with yolk mixture. Arrange in one layer at bottom of a square glass baking dish. In a skillet, melt butter, and add flour and milk gradually while stirring until a cream sauce is formed. Season with salt and pepper. Add sautéed mushrooms to cream sauce, and pour over filled eggs. Sprinkle bread crumbs and cheese evenly over all. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 25 minutes.

RANCH HAND’S BACON FRIED APPLES

½ lb. bacon strips

3 ½ cups sliced Granny Smith Apples (4)

Bacon strips

1 cup honey or sugar

3 tsp. ground cinnamon

In a skillet, line bottom with bacon strips and fry until crispy. Remove bacon from skillet and drain, reserving the grease.  Add apples to the bacon grease. Add honey or sugar and cinnamon. Cook on high for 5 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer until apples are soft. Serve crispy bacon alongside fried apples.

CAMP FIRE FRY PAN BISCUITS

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup packed dry eggs

1/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk

1 cup water

¼ cup melted Crisco shortening

In a mixer bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, dry eggs, and instant dry milk. Mix well. Add water and melted shortening. Stir with a fork just until mixed and batter is slightly lumpy. Drop from tablespoon onto a lightly greased cast iron fry pan. Cook over low heat until browned on one side. Turn over and brown other side. Yield: 16 biscuits.

BIG BEAR BACON & POTATO HASH

½ lb. smoked bacon

2 lbs. diced Yukon gold potatoes

1 diced onion

2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

2 tsp. chopped fresh parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a skillet, fry bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Add diced potatoes to bacon fat and cook on medium heat until golden brown on one side. Flip potatoes and brown on other side. Drain on paper towels. Saute onion with thyme until onion is translucent and tender. Crumble into skillet all the crispy bacon. Add potatoes and toss together. Season with salt and pepper. When ready to serve, sprinkle with fresh parsley.

CANTEEN’S COTTAGE CHEESE PANCAKES

2 beaten eggs

2 heaping Tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 pints whole fat cottage cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste

Crisco shortening

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add flour and mix well. Fold in cottage cheese and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and allow to stand for 30 minutes. Drop by tablespoons into skillet with melted Crisco shortening. Fry until brown. Serves 4.

BACON GLAZED WITH CITRUS HONEY

12 slices premium thick-cut bacon

2 Tbsp. honey

3 navel oranges

In a small saucepan, add honey and orange juice. Cook on medium for 10 minutes until glaze thickens enough to cook back of spoon. Lay bacon slices out on a baking sheet. Brush over one side of bacon. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and brush with more glaze. Continue baking 15 minutes or until golden.  Remove and brush with remaining glaze. Drain on paper towel before serving.

GOURMET CHEESE GRIT CAKES

1 quart whole milk

½ cup salted butter

1 cup regular grits

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground pepper

1/3 cup melted, salted butter

1 cup grated gruyere cheese

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a saucepan, bring milk to a boil. Add butter and stir until melted. Slowly stir in grits. Cook and stir until thick. Remove from heat. Stir in salt and pepper. Beat with a hand mixer at high speed until creamy. Pour into a 13 x 9 ungreased casserole dish. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, cut in squares. In a greased casserole, place grit squares barely overlapping one another. Pour 1/3 cup melted butter over squares. Sprinkle each square with both cheese. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden and crisp.

HOT CARAMEL APPLES

3 lbs. cored, sliced, Granny Smith apples

½ cup melted, salted butter

1 cup light brown sugar

1 juiced lemon

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

2 oz. premium brandy

Prepare apples by coring and slicing. Sprinkle apples with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. In a skillet, melt butter. Saute apples in butter for 5 minutes while continuously stirring. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, and brandy and mix well.  Pour into a butter greased baking dish. Bake uncovered in a preheated 325-degree oven for 1 hour. Serve while hot.

SPICY SAUSAGE GRAVY

1 pound sage spiced breakfast sausage

¼ tsp. salt

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. ground sage

4 cups whole milk

4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

In a skillet, crumble and brown sausage with salt, pepper, and sage. In a saucepan, heat milk to very warm but not scalding. Sprinkle flour over the sausage and brown with sausage for 2 minutes. Add very hot milk while continuously stirring until it thickens while bringing to a boil. Reduce heat and add additional milk or small amounts of flour until desired consistency. While hot, pour over warm biscuit halves. For non-spiced gravy, use plain sausage.

FRESH PEACH PRESERVES

1 lb. fresh peaches

¾ lb. sugar

1/3-1/2 cup water

Peel peaches, cut in half, and remove pits. Cut into same-size pieces. Add sugar and water and slowly cook to a boil while continuously stirring. Bring to a rapid boil and cook until syrup is thickened. Cool and allow peaches to stand in syrup overnight. Pack in sterilized jars. Process in water bath for 25 minutes for cold preserves.