By Katherine Burnett
Retirement has its perks, one of which for me is staying in bed later.
Now that the extra morning hours are good for uninterrupted devotions while sipping green tea, reading the news, checking emails, Facebook and Instagram, I put off the breakfast ritual and remain unnourished till 11:30 or 12. But retirement has also brought absence of time spent with friends in the workplace. I miss the Lady Baker’s Tea people, both co-workers and patrons, that kept me so well connected!
A granddaughter gave me a mug a couple of Christmases ago. On it, in large letters are the words Brunch Club. For years I have been so attuned to tea times and afternoon teas that the idea of brunch with friends was a forgotten option. I have many acquaintances who I long to know better. There was always too much demand of my time in my tea business to follow up on so many wonderful folks I met in one setting or another. Then, of course, we all had Covid challenges.
My Brunch Club mug is a basic receptacle, nothing delicate or fancy, with coffee the likely intended beverage. It emanated simplicity. It occurred to me that I could start my own brunch club. I could have one acquaintance at a time – a one-on-one experience with as little work as possible so that my guest wouldn’t feel that I went to too much fuss and effort and so I could keep my morning routine! One brunch a month, maybe two would renew the dormant hospitality spirit within. So far I’ve brunched with a childhood Sunday school friend, a once upon a time theatre friend, a tea and book lover, a singing inspiration, and another warm and very funny retired teacher who tells the best stories!
It’s not what’s on the table but on the chairs…
A simple menu it would be! Omelette, toast and a strong cup of black tea to give enough caffeine for my invitee who likely would have already consumed their morning coffee. For me, coffee doesn’t sit well, but tea with brunch works, especially Lady Baker’s Keemun, Scottish Breakfast or Golden Monkey. I have a toast rack that holds the toast upright. When in England this was brought to the table with cold crisp toast perched in it. I thought I would not like cold crisp toast having been raised with butter melting into the surface as soon as it popped. But I love cold toast now with a thin spread of butter and marmalade.
The omelette is open to a variety of additions. I always sauté onions on the bottom, and then any of the following: mushrooms, peppers, bacon, spinach. Spinach is the must have ingredient for me. I soak the leaves in the eggs and then pour this on the sauteed ingredients. On low heat and covered, the omelette can sit awhile before adding grated cheese. After a few more minutes, when cheese is melted, I fold over the omelette and serve in two wedges. Most of this is done before I answer the door. Last minute touches of putting honey and milk, a couple of jams and maybe some fruit on the table are done with the help of you, my friend. The tea is brewed and the pot sits with us at the table.
And the conversation begins, just you and me catching up and discovering each has had a lot happen in our lives since we last bumped into each other.
In case you didn’t know:
The ‘Renaissance’ is the name of the apartment building where I live in Charlottetown.
The meal originated in the British hunt breakfast. The word brunch is a portmanteau of breakfast and lunch. The word originated in England in the late 19th century, and the word was coined in Britain in 1895 to describe a Sunday meal for "Saturday-night carousers."
Author Beringer wrote
“Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting. It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week."