Couple jump-starts the day with breakfast

Sunday, May 5, 2002

WILTON, Conn. -- Breakfast is usually considered one of the most important meals of the day.

Meet its challenge by keeping close at hand a copy of the new book, "A Real American Breakfast" by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison (Morrow, $34.95).

This is the eighth cookbook written by the award-winning husband and wife team, widely respected authorities on American cooking.

"Our goal with this book is to encourage people to put variety, flavor and fun back into breakfast," Cheryl said, speaking by phone from the Jamisons' Santa Fe, N.M., home.

Complimented on their explicitly written recipes, she explained: "When we write cookbooks, we try to appeal to a broad audience. We try to make sure to include enough information for the more experienced cook as well as for some that may have less experience."

This substantial book is packed with ingredient and technique tips, historical quotes and notes, in addition to the 275 recipes for traditional breakfast classics, regional favorites and ethnic-inspired dishes.

Cheryl and Bill first met in the mid '70s, when they were working in

arts administration. They say they feel lucky that since then they have been able to make a shared career out of writing about food and teaching cooking classes. They have also written four travel books.

Among their other cookbooks are "Smoke and Spice," "The Border Cookbook" and, most recently, "American Home Cooking."

When asked how they divided up the work for the cookbooks, Cheryl explained that Bill does a lot of the research, she does most of the testing -- and they both do the eating!

In the course of working on this book, Bill emerged as a fan of savory breakfast foods and Cheryl as a champion of both sweet and savory breakfast items.

Plenty of recipes for all tastes are included.

Each book they write takes a year or more, she says. Because their livelihood is writing cookbooks, the book gets all their time.

Books are usually taking shape in their heads for several years before they write them; next on their menu is a book on outdoor cooking and entertaining, Cheryl said.

Breakfast for dinner

The book includes items that are easy enough for everyday family fare, as well as recipes suited to weekend cooking and entertaining.

Successive chapters cover pancakes, waffles and special toasts; morning meats; stratas and other morning casseroles; home-crafted cereals; and potatoes, tomatoes, grits, greens and beans.

Another bonus with breakfast foods is that they are often made with ingredients you're already going to have on hand.

For instance, the recipe for Chunky Ranch-Style Home Fries calls for very few ingredients and they are mostly kitchen staples.

Serve the fries with scrambled eggs or other eggs, and a tossed green salad or sliced tomatoes, and you've created an easy, tasty meal.

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