Last week, we looked at how to stop looking broke by upgrading those tired old PB&Js, and I know I promised we’d move on to Mac & Cheese next, but in honor of Universal Hangover Day I thought we’d take a look at something more practical. After all, even brunches at your local greasy spoon start to add up, especially if you’re like me and you don’t do brunch without at least four different beverages. Luckily for us, the most popular brunch items are also the easiest to make at home, but since we’re all unique snowflakes and not everyone can stomach black coffee and a Denver omelet (vegans, mostly) after a big night out, I’ll just lay out the options and let you decide how you’d like your first meal of 2010 to go.
Beverages – If nothing else, the hangover+coffee+booze combo is usually a good way to get your groggy breakfast companions chatting and filling in anything that might be missing from your memory banks, but there’s a very important order to which these must be imbibed. First, drink some water. Sweet, life giving water to replace all the fluids you probably pissed out on someone’s sidewalk last night. Last I checked water is still free most places, so go nuts with it. Second, you need some coffee. It’ll get your brain working and kickstart the advil. (You did take some advil, right?) Coffee comes in a range of price points, but I’ve found it all mostly has the same effect as long as you have a good way of brewing it. Consult your local artisan coffee purveyor for more on this. Third, it’s time for another drink. I’ll spare you the hair-of-the-dog speech, but from experience this always takes the edge off whatever the advil isn’t helping with. (Don’t over do it on this bit though, or you’ll have the same problem tomorrow.) Most people don’t keep bloody mary fixins just laying around, but this is New Year’s day we’re talking about, so look around your apartment for some unfinished champagne and hope that mixing it with OJ will kill any backwash germs.
Eggs – the most popular brunch item by far, probably due to the endless possibilities a couple of eggs holds. Want every breakfast meat in the kitchen wrapped up in a fluffy yellow blanket? Sure, no problem, we’ll make an omelet. Like your eggs scrambled? Boring, but OK, we can do that. Have a cholesterol problem? No worries, we’ll go egg whites-only. Eggs are too bland? Just slather your favorite hot sauce on there. Seriously, eggs are like martinis, no one will fault you for ordering them just how you like them.
Potatoes - the perpetual Robin to Egg’s Batman – besides being one of the cheapest items in the grocery store, potatoes are also endlessly configurable. Since we’re all grownups with our own personal taste here, I won’t tell you the “best” way to make breakfast potatoes because there is no best way, only your favorite way. Grate them and make latke-like things, chop up some chunky homefries, whatever floats your boat – just don’t drive to McDonald’s because even if that hashbrown is only 99 cents it will only leave you feeling empty and you could have gotten like four whole potatoes for that much. Personally, I like to go all rustic on a big bowl of new potatoes and cut them into cubes, coated with a little olive oil and some Old Bay Seasoning. West Coast readers will try to defend Lawry’s Seasoning Salt because Lawry’s has a chain of steakhouses and must therefore be fancy, but East Coast readers can attest Old Bay is infinitely better for a comparable price*. PRO-TIP: When making homemade Bloody Marys, line the rim of your glass with Old Bay because it’s delicious and no one keeps celery salt around anyhow.
(Sidenote: Whatever seasoning you choose, be wary of the bottom-shelf seasonings, some of them actually contain sand [yes, sand!] to prevent clumping. Clever consumers will recognize “silicone dioxide” on the ingredients list, but not everyone was as attentive in high school chemistry.)
Finally, like they told you in Driver’s Ed, the best way to sober up is time. So take advantage of the long weekend and go take a hangover nap so you can start 2010 for real on January 2nd.