Joni Woolf: Vacation breakfast or brunch

Published 1:09 pm Saturday, September 1, 2018

I write this as I make plans to leave for a brief vacation at St. Simons Island with children and spouses — a brief respite from their busy lives and careers and a chance to catch up on all that’s been going on throughout the family. By the time this is read, I will be back in Schley County, bemoaning the end of summer (almost) as September signals the end of one season, and the beginning of the next. And this is life.

But in the immediate future, I will be enjoying warm, relaxing days at the beach, where the biggest meal of the day is often brunch. And if we took seriously that old adage: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper,” this would be our norm — getting the calories in early in the day, then working them off before a lean dinnertime. At any rate, that’s my excuse for a hearty breakfast or brunch, around 10 a.m., after I’ve been for a walk on the beach and given thanks for the beauty of it all.

This week’s recipes are meatless, but not by design. They are simply good recipes for an enjoyable mid-morning meal, that begins with my favorite Bloody Mary recipe, one I brought home from a Faulkner conference in Mississippi, many years ago. It’s not so much a recipe as a walk through the kitchen of a man named Price Caldwell, who was the director of the Creative Writing Program at Mississippi at the time. Now gone from this earth, he is remembered in this Bloody Mary.


Apocryphal Bloody Mary

“Find a 64-ounce orange juice jar (he likes the Tropicana one, with handy grip). In the bottom, deposit a small pile of Krazy Jane salt, say, a rounded teaspoon full. Color it black with black pepper. Say, three-quarters of a teaspoon. Redden it with Tabasco. Hit the bottom of the bottle exactly twenty times if your predilection for heat is exactly like mine; more, or less, if it isn’t. Whiten it with one rounded teaspoon of horseradish. Drown the whole thing in Worcestershire sauce. I let the bottle glug long enough to count to eight. Say, an eighth of a cup. Squeeze a lemon into your measuring cup, being very careful to pick the pesky little seeds out with a spoon if you feel like it; if not, to heck with them. Pour the juice in. Over the resulting concupiscence pour the contents of one 46-ounce jar of V-8 juice or the generic equivalent. Stand back as you pour or the fumes rising from the jar may cause your eyes to water in an erotic way. Add vodka or gin until the level reaches about two inches of the top of the jar … Shake well, Taste to make sure all is well; store in the fridge.” (It is, as I said, the best Bloody Mary.)


Cheese Strata

8 slices white bread, trimmed and cubed

3 tablespoons melted butter

½ pound extra sharp Cheddar cheese (2 cups, grated)

4 eggs

2 ½ cups milk

2 teaspoons prepared mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon paprika

Cut off bread crusts and discard. Cut bread in large cubes and dip in melted butter. Put 1/3 of bread crumbs in bottom of casserole. Sprinkle with 1/3 of cheese. Repeat with remainder. Beat eggs with milk, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt and paprika. Pour over bread and cheese. Chill 2 hours in refrigerator (or overnight). Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F. for 1 hour. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. (Note: recipe is easily doubled for a crowd.)


Angel Biscuits

(Everybody has a favorite Angel Biscuit recipe. This one came from Louise Dodd, my writer friend who published a grand cookbook, “Eating from the White House to the Jail House,” in 2004.)

5 cups sifted self-rising flour

½ cup sugar (I use only ¼ cup)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup shortening (I use butter)

2 packages yeast, dissolved in ¼ cup warm water

2 cups buttermilk

Combine flour, soda, and sugar, cut in shortening and stir in yeast and buttermilk. Be sure to mix well. Keep covered in refrigerator at least 1 hour or 2 before using. Roll out and cut as desired. Placed on lightly greased pan. (I use parchment paper instead of greasing the pan.) Let rise for 2 hours. Bake at 450 degrees F. about 10 minutes, until lightly brown.


To these delightful dishes, add sliced tomatoes, a bowl of mixed fruit, a pot of coffee, and enjoy the morning. In fact, let the morning stretch until at least 1 p.m. Then it’s time for a nap. That’s called Vacation.


Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at