Radio Readers BookByte: Harper Breakfast -- or Not

Sep 29, 2017

Sometimes the best intentions are not destined to become a tradition. Thank goodness, perhaps.
Credit Jason Harper / Hays, Kansas

Hello. This is Jason Harper in Hays, Kansas. Earlier this morning I was looking at the clock, waiting to take a work break, when I remembered something that happened a couple of years ago: "The Breakfast Bomb."

Last time we talked I mentioned how my wife May has said that before she met me, she was living alone in a bleak, dark, drafty apartment, working long hours at a law firm, and only ate ramen noodles every day because she was too busy with work to learn how to cook on her own.

I also mentioned how, way back in my single days, my Mom had encouraged me to learn a few basic cooking skills that a fellow needs to somehow stand out from other bachelors in the pack.

Well, while growing up I was a big fan of my Pop's weekend breakfasts, so I took to studying the how-tos and the what-fors of the Harper Breakfast, and learned the process of his classic Saturday meal.

How long do they say it takes to become a master at something? I've heard it's something like 10,000 hours -- which is roughly ten years.

Well, years later, after I'd finished college, I lived alone overseas for nearly a decade. Over this time, I had cooked so many of Pop's signature breakfasts that I could've arguably been bestowed a master's degree in Brunch.

So, while my wife and I were courting, I'd cook up Harper Breakfasts for May, hoping to make a lasting impression that would seal the deal.

She was intrigued watching such a foreign cooking methodology -- mind you, she grew up in Mongolia and had traveled to many, many places, including China, Laos, Vietnam, The Philippines, Shangri-La, Jiǎnpǔzhài, and Katmandu. She became eager to learn a few basic cooking skills her own self, so she watched and asked questions and took mental notes of the process as I diced and sautéed and served.

Then one Saturday, May said that she was going to going to cook Harper Breakfast solo, and shooed me out of the kitchen. "Do not disturb me!" she commanded, "I will cook Harper Breakfast better than you. I will make it my specialty!"

So, I retreated to the living room and turned on the TV. Soon, the smell of sausages, peppers, and onions filled the air and I heard the microwave hum as red potatoes steamed. It seemed like her first culinary voyage was off to a good start. I flipped thorough the channels while I waited. And waited. And waited.

Curious about the delay, I took a sneak peek at what was going on in there. Harper Breakfast seemed good to go: the sausage, peppers, onions, and potatoes were looking great -- all except the eggs! The eggs just sat still in a pan full of water, not boiling. I entered the room and said, "May? I think maybe you forgot to turn on the burner..."

"Do not disturb me!" she commanded, "I will cook my specialty, May Breakfast, better than you!"

Again, I retreated to the living room to flip through channels, but when I heard the microwave hum again I couldn't quell my curiosity.

As I rounded the corner to take another peek. "How are things going now?" I asked.

"I put the eggs in the micro to cook faster," May said, proudly beaming, and suddenly the microwave made a high squealing noise, followed by a big, bellowing breakfast bomb boom!

We just looked at each other and laughed. I slowly opened the microwave door; a mix of smoke and steam puffed outward and upward. Inside the microwave, splattered and steaming white and yellow goo clung to shards of shattered eggshell shrapnel, all of it hanging from the microwave walls, the window, the ceiling.

"This can be your specialty," May curtly announced, grabbed some paper towels, and we began cleaning up our Harper Breakfast together.

Harper Breakfast

Ingredients

half dozen golf ball-sized red potatoes, quartered

1 green pepper, chopped (2-3 Serrano peppers are ideal!)

1/2 chopped white onion

2 tablespoons butter

salt and pepper to taste

2 sausage links, diced

4 eggs

 

Instructions

Eggs:

Place eggs carefully into a pot and cover with cold water by an inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover, remove from the heat, and set aside 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, cover with cold water, then peel.

Potatoes:

While the eggs cook, arrange potato quarters in a 1-quart microwave-safe dish. Add a 1/4" inch water, and cover with plastic wrap, leaving vent space. Microwave at HIGH approximately 8 minutes or until tender. Drain.

Sausage:

Heat large cast iron skillet or heavy bottom skillet w/ lid over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter and sauté sausage for a few minutes, then add onions and peppers. When shimmering and hot, toss in potatoes. Shake on salt and pepper to taste. Add the rest of the butter and drop in the potatoes to brown and sauté until crisp among the sausage, Serrano, and onion.