From the Blog

One Last Story Before Moving On

On the last day of our trip to Los Angeles, I said I’d make breakfast. My sister was going to come to my parents’ house and then she was going to drive Dave and me to the airport.

Breakfast. No big deal. I was going to make a strata, which is bread, onions, some kind of breakfast meat, usually crumbled sausage, and cheese, all soaked in egg and milk and baked. It’s a pretty rocking breakfast dish, especially for a crowd. I even added peppers and mushrooms because I was baking for my family and not everyone (okay no one on the planet, apparently) is as picky an eater as I am.

Dave and I made a list and went to the grocery store to get all the ingredients. I love grocery lists. I love grocery lists a lot more than other lists, for some reason. But you can only use them once. I’m always finding wrinkled up old grocery lists in the bottom of my purse. And there is nothing in the world more useless than a used grocery list.

We got everything we needed, drove home and I started cutting up veggies and browning up ground turkey with sausage seasonings. This is a trick of ours. Instead of using real breakfast sausage, we take lean ground turkey and add sage, thyme, cayenne pepper, and a little brown sugar. You let it sit for a while, over night if you have time, and whammo: Lean, tasty breakfast sausage. I like it better than the real thing.

Anyway, I was in a hurry in my brain, mostly because I was hungry and I knew it would take an hour to bake. We also had some time constraints since my sister would be arriving, and my uncle would be picking up the rest of the family: my Aunt, my Gramma, my other Gramma, and my Grandpa, from a nearby hotel. I didn’t need to feed everyone, but I knew that my grandparents were going to Start The Commotion, and I wanted breakfast in the oven before the house was packed full of people.

So I’m cutting stuff up, and browning up onions, and tearing up chunks of bread and I realized I could get Dave to do some of this stuff for me. So I ask him to rip up the bread for me. He comes over to help, but he saw the bread I’d already ripped up and alarm bells must have started going off in his head.

“But. This isn’t how we usually do the bread. We usually slice it.”

“Yes, but we can do it this way too.”

“But. Won’t it cook differently?”

“No, it will cook just the same.”

“But. Won’t it not have layers? And it won’t be a strata anymore?”

Time is short. I’ve got a knife in my hand. “Just slice it or do whatever you want. Whatever makes you happy.” Gah. The family is about to bust in the door, we’re having a breakfast emergency, and I’m arguing semantics with a vocabulary nerd.

I set the oven to preheat. I get ready to assemble everything. The browned onions, peppers, and mushrooms, the crumbled up turkey, the shredded (low fat) cheese, and the bread, which I see Dave has torn into pieces instead of slicing. It’s wise to placate the crazy woman with the knife.

And then, like a bolt of lightning, I realize I forgot to get eggs. GODDAMMIT. How could I forget eggs? They were on the list! They were on the goddamn grocery list! I love grocery lists! Eggs! How could I forget the eggs?

Damn. My dad saw me slapping myself in the face and came to the rescue. He made another run to the grocery store and got a dozen eggs. He also accidentally doubled up on a bunch of the other stuff we had gotten earlier, because he didn’t check the fridge and he thought he was going to save the day even more.

Right. Everything layered in the pan. But not really layered, because it was “chunks” of bread not slices, so therefore, not really a “strata.” And I turn to the preheating oven and see smoke.

Smoke. What the hell is this? I open the oven and there is a giant, half-eaten apple pie in there. Like, a hubcap sized pie. I remembered that on the first night that my family was in California, my parents got about a half-steer’s worth of BBQ. And with the BBQ, they got a giant apple apple. This giant apple pie, the one that is smoking in the oven. They had so many leftovers, there was no room in the fridge for a giant apple pie. So what better place to store an apple pie than in the oven?

Except, damn, that’s a dumb place to store an apple pie. Why would I bother to look in the oven BEFORE I started preheating? The pie was covered with plastic wrap now melted to the pie and sitting in a plastic dish, now melted to the rungs of the oven rack. And smoke is pouring out of the oven.

I turned on the oven fan so it was jet-engine loud. I ran around the house and opened all the windows. One of the dogs was in a corner shaking uncontrollably, because of this, and I was going to have a hard time forgiving myself if I validated her neuroticism. My mom saw me flapping about and hyperventilating and I asked her what she wanted me to do with this apple and molten plastic pie? She told me to go bring it outside and put it on the grass. That is what I did. Here is a picture.

The white plastic had melted into the rungs. I had no idea how that was going to come off. And, now I only had one oven rack. But my dad, whistling, as dads do, rummaged around and produced an extra oven rack from the garage. Because, an extra oven rack? In the garage? Wha?

Nevermind. The oven was still smoking like it was on fire. Why? Why is the oven still smoking? There is nothing in there. My dad informed me that it was probably from trying to bake bacon the day before. BAKED bacon. On like, a cookie sheet or something, in the oven. He saw it on a show once, plus there were instructions on the bacon package, to bake the bacon. Evidently, it didn’t work out all that great and it ruined a pan. He was unconcerned about the smoke. It was probably grease from the baked bacon and it would burn off. The dog was still shaking uncontrollably.

So I finally put our not-goddamned-strata in the oven. I set the timer for an hour or so. I was fricken starving. And I felt like I needed a bourbon before our grandparents came over.

We went back outside to investigate the melted plastic pie. Dave pulled it apart with ease. The plastic came right off the rungs. What luck! You could almost eat that pie! But we decided against it, and threw it in the trash.

The oven rack didn’t seem damaged at all. The plastic came off in one piece. However. In my haste to set the rack and the giant pie and the melting plastic down on the grass, I inadvertently put the pie and the rack right on top of a pile of dog turds.


No, I did not take a picture of the dog turds.


  1. And you know the whole family has heard this story of how Heather preheated the oven for breakfast, with a plastic, covered apple pie inside, then threw the whole thing on a pile of dog crap. But the strata was awesome!!! And I want the turkey sausage recipe!!

  2. I like the bacon baked in the oven. It turns out great, but we always use a wire rack placed in a cookie sheet. That way the air can move around and the oil has somewhere to go (besides the bottom of the oven)

    It’s also useful if you’re making a big breakfast for a bunch of people, you can have eggs and hashbrowns and whatever on the stove cooking while the bacon is in the oven. Fantastic!

  3. Wow – insane!

    I also would like the turkey sausage recipe. I’ve made sausage from ground pork and would like to try it with turkey, but have never used a recipe and it is such a crap shoot guestimating ingredients and quantities when you can’t taste it as you go along.

  4. LOL!! LOL!! LOL!! dog turds!!! love it.
    baked bacon is fantastic. tell him to give it another try. line the cookie sheet with foil, lay the bacon out in a single layer, put it int he oven. if the bacon is super fatty, you need to drain some of the grease off, halfway through or it gets mealy. you also need to turn the bacon, which all the recipes say you don’t have to do. but you do have to turn it. i use thick cut applewood smoked bacon. it is super yummy. i have some in my fridge now, as a matter of fact.

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