What’s your favorite meal? In the morning, at least, mine is breakfast. 🙂

And my last three breakfasts have started a good day with a bang. Here’s the table setting:

Breakfast at "Tiffany's" otherwise known as The Bishop's Hall

Breakfast at “Tiffany’s” otherwise known as The Bishop’s Hall

Along with my two “Pilgrim Sister” friends, I enjoyed the hospitality at The Bishop’s Hall at our annual meeting, this time in Oak Park, Illinois.

Our hosts, Sam and Chuck, prepared sensory delights of all kinds — color, texture, sound, light, beautiful objects, intentional design and attention unsurpassed.

When I sat down to this table, gazing at the freshly-squeezed orange juice for the first time, and anticipating the three courses ahead, I said, “I feel like Goldilocks without the other two options.”

Chuck chuckled and said, “And you don’t even have to eat the porridge.”

The next morning, of course, Chuck arrived at the table with bowls of steel cut oats garnished with apples, bananas, and maple syrup.

We all exclaimed, “Porridge!” It was the best ever, of course. And it included more condiments, toasted raisin bread in its own special blue ceramic dish, and a finishing course of little pumpkin cake squares topped with whipped cream.

On the final morning the center piece of the meal was Eggs Benedict, done perfectly and served with yummy roasted potatoes.

Eggs Benedict at The Bishop's Hall

Eggs Benedict at The Bishop’s Hall

The conversation around the table included many exclamations of appreciation for the food, the cook and server, and for the beauty of the Oak Park setting. As is our custom,  we also talked freely about religion, education, writing, and politics — and about our lives.

The Pilgrim Sisters, who have met at least once a year ever since their first meeting at the Harvard Seminar for New Presidents in 1996, were blessed!

Pilgrim Sisters Shirley, Anne, and Janet at Norwich Cathedral, July, 2012

Pilgrim Sisters Shirley, Anne, and Janet at Norwich Cathedral, July, 2012

Now that I’m home, tomorrow I’ll probably have simple scrambled eggs and coffee. If I get up early enough, Stuart will make breakfast for me. If not, I’ll make my own and sit in the red chair looking out at the mountains, grateful for plain food after having fancy, and most of all grateful for three perfect pearls of time shared with true friends. A good day now begins with freshly-pressed memories instead of freshly-squeezed juice.

Do you love breakfast — or is this the meal you skip? Why? What are your favorite foods, settings? Does a good breakfast assure a good day — in your book?

Shirley Showalter


  1. Elfrieda Schroeder on November 5, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Your breakfasts look so delicious! Several years ago Hardy and I went to a Bed and Breakfast in Stratford Ontario (It wasn’t in England, but we slept in the “British” room so could pretend we were there)! Every morning the host made a delicious granola. I really liked it, but forgot to ask for the recipe. When I got home I emailed him and asked him for it. He graciously sent it to me, and I eat it every day for breakfast. I also make it for my daughter and her family. Whenever I make it I say a little prayer for the couple who ran that B&B and thank God for the good time we had there.

    • shirleyhs on November 6, 2014 at 7:37 am

      What a beautiful memory and a lovely practice, Elfrieda! Both the granola and the prayer of blessing seem sacramental. That’s a wonderful word for the past three days –sacramental. May you continue to enjoy and share and return the blessings that come your way. Thanks for reminding others of us of the importance of the continuing circles in our special times with friends.

  2. Tina Fariss Barbour on November 5, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Oh, my goodness, now I’m starving, and breakfast is hours away! I do like breakfast. Usually I eat a simple one, nearly always including Greek yogurt. Eating breakfast out is one of my favorite meals to do so because I eat foods that I usually don’t take time to cook at home. And I love it when Larry cooks breakfast, usually on the weekends. Scrambled eggs or his pancakes are treats.

    • shirleyhs on November 6, 2014 at 7:41 am

      We buy Greek yogurt in large quantities at our house also, Tina. Your comment about the picture making you hungry made me snort. Your sense of humor is one of your many delightful qualities. Hope you and Larry have some lovely breakfasts together this weekend, luxuriating in one of the other gifts of the last three days — Kairos time.

  3. Marian Beaman on November 6, 2014 at 12:54 am

    The Eggs Benedict in the setting of Bishop’s Hall seems more befitting to a queen than to Goldilocks. And I imagine the conversation would match the ambiance. How blessed you are to look forward to such refreshment ever year.

    Actually, I wrote about breakfast after retirement in a post published last year which includes a spiritual dimension too: http://plainandfancygirl.com/2013/08/31/breakfast-is-served/

    Incidentally, in your comment to my recent post, I wrote about a possible solution to the WP notifications problem:
    http://plainandfancygirl.com/2014/11/05/ive-been-tagged-in-the-2014-wip-tour-whos-next/ Whether that nails the problem or not, I am pleased you have re-subscribed to my posts – Bless you!

    • shirleyhs on November 6, 2014 at 8:10 am

      You made me chuckle like Chuck, Marian. Thanks! I found your lovely breakfast essay but wonder if the second link was the one you intended?

      I want all my readers to go there, however, because your WIP will be a must-read for anyone who has enjoyed any part of this blog or the book it helped create — Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World.

      You add the dimension of silence to a good breakfast and a good day. Yes. Yes! Silence is essential to the spiritual life and for all the reasons you describe — especially the recognition that we are not in control. Thank you once again, friend.

  4. Kas Sartori on November 6, 2014 at 1:51 am

    Your photos truly enhanced the breakfast experiences you described so well! It’s true, eating breakfast elsewhere can be wonderful but the most important element is sharing with friends around the table.

    • shirleyhs on November 6, 2014 at 7:45 am

      You got that right, Kas! All three of us can be moved to tears of gratitude and joy for the gifts of attention, insight, challenge, and love we share when we are together. Elegance enhances those ingredients, but even at this table the point was Being together. Thanks for underscoring that essence.

  5. melodie davis on November 6, 2014 at 8:49 am

    I’ve always said breakfast was my favorite meal of the day: and in settings like this, magical. Also in Europe, even though not traditional eggs & bacon, the many varieties of cheese and meats, the dark breads, the croissants, with a fresh cup of café con leche (Spain) or café au lait, (French) um. Making me nostalgic and hungry. I’ve had some great one sin NYC also. But maybe I enjoy most the fact that my kids and their spouses love my Sunday morning breakfasts that I’ve spun out for years. Thanks for the memories!

  6. shirleyhs on November 6, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Thank YOU for adding these memories to our collective basket. Oh yes, the exotic European breakfast. My own favorite was in Amsterdam in 1971. We traveled on the Fromer book Europe on $10 a Day. Our room was on the top floor of one of those straight vertical, narrow staircases. The breakfast was a pot of hot coffee, breads of many kinds, hard-boiled eggs, and lots of toppings for the breads, my favorite being chocolate sprinkles.

    You are lucky to have children and their families so close. And what a good way to entice them to return to the nest. Wonderful Sunday morning breakfasts at Grandma’s house.
    Thanks, Melodie, for again connecting food, family, fun, and memories. To go from your table to worship is to worship God twice, I am sure.

  7. Laurie Buchanan on November 6, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Shirley — Having relocated from Crystal Lake, Illinois, I’m familiar with the lovely setting of Oak Park. The beautifully described intention and attention plied by hosts Sam and Chuck sound heavenly and have set my mouth to watering this morning.

    My favorite breakfast is comprised of two over-easy eggs atop a small “stack” of sweet potato hash browns, with a side of vanilla yogurt that has fresh pomegranate seeds stirred in.

    You asked, “Does a good breakfast assure a good day?” In my experience, a positive attitude is much more likely to assure a good day.

    • shirleyhs on November 6, 2014 at 9:36 am

      Laurie, your blog is a minimalist version of Sam and Chuck’s hospitality. I’ve “enjoyed” many of your meals online, so colorful and nutritious. I knew you would have a complete understanding of both setting and style. If perchance you return to your previous home and want to make an adventure out of it, I highly recommend The Bishop’s Hall.

      Thanks for answering the question about breakfast assuring the good day. I love your response.

      Hope the delicious start of the day brings you many other rewarding experiences. Your attitude has brightened my day and lifted my own spirits many times.

  8. Dolores Nice-Siegenthaler on November 6, 2014 at 11:47 am

    How I love reading all the comments here and feeling a oneness related to food, eating and friendship.

    My love of breakfasts is based in eating breakfast in all the distinct northwest Illinois seasons with my childhood family. The one constant is that we came to our feast AFTER doing morning chores and AFTER a morning family worship which involved singing, scripture and kneeling in prayer.

    I guess that’s why breakfast still tastes better to me after visiting the nine chickens in my urban back yard and after time spent with the sunrise and lighting a candle.

    • shirleyhs on November 6, 2014 at 1:02 pm

      Thank you so much, Dolores. You have activated a memory of walking from the barn to the kitchen, eager to sit down at the table because I had already worked physically for an hour or more. Our morning family worship was more like a reading and table grace and sometimes just the grace.

      I remember a lovely breakfast at your table in Oakland, and I can see those chickens in my mind’s eye right now! Bawk bawk. Thank you again for your hospitality and also for connecting this sumptuous breakfast with the breakfasts on the farm. When you are hungry, all food is beautiful!

  9. diane on November 7, 2014 at 10:57 am

    of couse i love breakfast! and lunch, dinner, snacks. and i always say grace, though not before the meal. usually during and after with a resounding “YUM”. (like om, but deeper in the belly)

    shirley – i’m reading your book now – finally. savoring every little page!

  10. shirleyhs on November 10, 2014 at 5:13 am

    Diane, you made me smile, no, chuckle. Thanks for stopping by. It’s been far too long since I did the same, so here I go.

    I’m delighted to know that you are reading BLUSH. And even more so that you are enjoying. Thanks for letting me know.

  11. Barbara McDowell Whitt on November 11, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Shirley, you and your Pilgrim Sisters were treated royally at The Bishop’s Hall. For some years now I have found my “go to” breakfast to be a half cup of frozen blueberries heated in the microwave for 30 seconds, topped with a cup of Cheerios, a sprinkling of walnuts, then the milk. It satisfies me enough that I no longer feel hungry before lunch and no longer have a craving to walk a block for lox and a bagel at Ingredient or three blocks for a spinach and artichoke souffle at Panera Bread Company. I still have those two favorites occasionally on a weekend morning. Another Sunday favorite is eggs benedict Florentine with a side of dressed greens at a First Watch restaurant. One is a 30 minute walk away and the other a 20 minute walk for Bill and me. And yes, I am grateful for breakfast and feel as if I need and want it to start my day, even if it is Cheerios from a dispenser and milk from a pitcher at a Microtel.

    • shirleyhs on November 11, 2014 at 11:46 am

      Barbara, I have some frozen blueberries just waiting for a creative breakfast idea like this one. Thanks. I think I’ll try it with hot cereal instead.

      I can go on a basic breakfast all morning when I’m not in the house.

      When I’m sitting at my computer, however, I seem to get the munchies more often. 🙂

      Thanks, as always, for stopping by.

  12. Sharon Lippincott on November 19, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Your post reminds me that it’s not difficult to treat ourselves well in the morning, eating something more elegant than cereal or simple eggs and toast. However, after eating like a queen on a cruise ship for a month, I appreciate simple food more than ever — at least for the next week. How I wish I’d had your smart phone in hand to take pictures of some of the awesome meals we had. I must crawl out of my cave into the 21st century soon, if only for the tiny email-linked camera.

    • shirleyhs on November 19, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      Hi, Sharon! Long time no see. A cruise ship for a whole month! Wow. I’ll have to go see whether you’ve blogged about your trip yet. I’ve never been on a cruise.

      I do know what you mean about simple food, however. After I’ve overindulged, I feel really sluggish and not myself until I get back to my standard diet and exercise practices.

      An occasional splurge is great. Good to have you back home. And yes, smart phones are wonderful for travel. I take all my photos on the blog with my iPhone.

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