We had a lively discussion last month about all the things kids should learn to cook before they fly the coop. Do you feel like you developed basic kitchen survival skills before you left home? Or did you acquire them through trial and error later in life?
Regardless of whether you're bringing up baby chef in training, or expanding your own repertoire, when talking basic kitchen skills, we like to start with breakfast. After all, how can you accomplish anything without a solid breakfast? Here are ten skills to master that will help you survive and thrive first thing in the morning.
1. Cook bacon anywhere, anyhow.
What is a traditional breakfast without a little bacon? Here are three tried and tested ways to cook perfect bacon — in the stove, the oven, and microwave. (Dorm-dwellers, take heart.)
2. Make oatmeal that's yummy no matter when you eat it.
Oatmeal is a morning staple for so many of us — rich in protein, easy to make ahead. What, you say? You don't like warmed-over oatmeal? You may not be making the right kind. Here's how to cook steel-cut oats according to your schedule, and how to make creamy, al dente oats that are just as delicious on day 2.
→ Also? If you're really in a hurry, make a stash of your own homemade instant oats.
3. Brew coffee that is much better than Starbucks.
We appreciate the convenience of the drive-through coffee stand as much as anyone. However, even if you don't do it often, you should know how to make great coffee at home. My pick: the French press. Or coffee concentrate you can dilute and warm up on your way out the door.
→ And oh! Prefer a cappuccino? Let us show you how to make frothy milk without an espresso maker or frother.
4. Learn how to bake, boil, and scramble an egg.
Eggs = breakfast for many of us. Do you know how to make eggs to your particular liking? If not, you should learn. Maybe you detest hard-boiled eggs; try them soft-boiled! Maybe you've only had rubbery scrambled eggs; learn how to make them velvety and creamy.
5. Master the muffin, sweet or savory.
Muffins are the perfect weekday package in their frilly little cups. Learn a muffin recipe or two, and you'll never lack for a grab-and-go breakfast. And you don't even need to like sweets. Try a protein-rich savory muffin instead of that blueberry thing.
6. Find one thing you can make ahead and eat all week.
Once you've mastered the basics of a Norman Rockwell breakfast — eggs, bacon, coffee — let's move on to even more practical skills. If you, like most of us, have busy mornings, then make-ahead breakfasts are the name of the game. Here are three make-ahead breakfasts you may not have considered yet.
7. Develop your own custom granola blend.
Ready to get customized? Time to stop buying granola and start making your own. Pretty soon that dried-peach-almond-honey-and-pistachio amazingness won't just be your breakfast; it will be your signature Christmas present, housewarming gift, and, if you're anything like Megan, your livelihood too.
8. DIY one of your breakfast basics.
Once you've covered the basics, there are a few ways to get really in-depth with your breakfast. Why not pick one of your store-bought staples and make it at home instead of buying it? Here are a few suggestions.
9. Master French toast, pancakes, or waffles. Pick one.
Moving on to weekend essentials. Everyone should know how to make some kind of indulgent griddled bread — pancakes, French toast, waffles. We don't care which. Just pick one and get really good at it. And serve it with real maple syrup. Essential.
10. Bake something that will impress your morning guest.
Last but not least on our list of essential breakfast skills, is the impressive brunch dish. There are times when even pancakes or waffles won't do; you need to pull out all the stops. In those cases, it's helpful to know that cinnamon rolls can be frozen (and baked later), that biscuits are actually really quick, and that Dutch babies are basically the most impressive thing to ever come out of the oven.
All right. Those are our essentials, should you choose to accept them. Should my house ever be so lucky as to have a young impressionable mind on the premises, I shall endeavor to teach all these (and maybe a couple more).
What about you? Did I leave out any absolute essential skills for breakfast from this list?
(Image credits: Sabra Krock; Emma Christensen; Faith Durand; Chris Perez; Sara Kate Gillingham; Dana Velden)