One of Ours

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Ever read One of Ours?  It’s a book by Willa Cather that chronicles the life of Claude Wheeler, a Nebraskan who seems to have everything you could want in life living on his father’s farm but is constantly searching for meaning. He joins the army and fights in WWI. Through his journey to France and beyond, Claude ends up finding a purpose to his life in some way that satisfies him.

I just finished reading the book and I read it for several reasons. One of these reasons is that I love Willa Cather as an author. She depicts the land in all of her work so brilliantly, and captures the connection between man and nature in every sentence that she writes (I wrote a post a while back about this subject and Willa Cather a little while back if you’re interested). Another reason I read the book is because I’m doing a research project this summer comparing works of literature (and their commentary on the world wars) to an antique pictorial promoting peace. I know, it sounds complicated. To be honest, it’s complicated to me! I love the book One of Ours but it’s a tricky one to analyze, especially in terms of what it’s trying to say about war. I mean, when you’ve got an introduction dedicated to telling you about countless scholars that have tried to uncover the meaning of the book (and have failed), it doesn’t exactly scream ‘read me and figure me out’.

Whew. Sorry for whining. Long story short – read the book! You’ll love it. It’s a perfect book to read while sitting out under a grove of shady trees, or while you’re on a train across the country, or in a field of alfalfa, or even while you’re staring at the statue of liberty before you take a long boat ride across the pond. Okay, you don’t have to be any of those places – all of those are just locations that would make you feel closer to main character Claude while reading because those are situations he experiences. The book reads just fine if you’re lounging by the pool with fifty million kids screaming about lion coves and mermaids while their parents soak up the sun nearby. How do I know? I tried it. And Cather’s writing is so good that no matter what is happening around you, you’ll find your way into the story.

There’s one aspect of this book that I haven’t addressed yet. Can you guess what it is? Ah, yes…the subject that’s been on my mind lately: figuring out what Cather is trying to say about war in this prolific novel food. If I’m going to rack my brain for hours each day trying to come up with ways to integrate my reading of One of Ours into a comprehensive document comparing historical texts, then I’m definitely going to need good food to do it. And as you all know, making food that relates to what I’m reading is something I love doing.

So today for breakfast, I ate like Claude. Well, not exactly like Claude (I’m not sure if I could fit twelve eggs in my belly for breakfast) but I was inspired by a meal that he ate. After he had been on the front for a while, him and his friend David got a few weeks of leave before they had to return to combat again. They ventured to a couples’ home that they had stayed in before located in the French countryside. Beautiful, quaint, and blooming with local flora, fauna, and food, the town nourishes their bodies and souls during their weeks of leave. David and Claude arrive one night at the home dripping wet, dirty, and unshowered. Neither of them had been dry for four days and they’d been eating the canned food provided by the army for weeks. After showering and putting on dry clothes, Mme. Joubert prepares a twelve egg omelette stuffed with bacon and fried potatoes for the two men to eat. They consume every last morsel of the meal and then finally allow themselves to rest after the strenuous journey.

As soon as I read that passage, I knew I wanted to make some sort of egg-creation for myself to eat so I’d be full enough of good food to think about this text. I still had the mini-muffin tin from when I made Nuttin’ Butter than Cheesecake Bites so I decided to make mini omelette bites for myself. I substituted vegetarian breakfast sausage for bacon, and used 2 egg whites instead of 12 eggs and voila! my meal came together in no time. I hope you make this breakfast for yourself and then scurry along to a pool or a dock by the lake to kick back, relax, and read One of Ours for the fun of it (make sure you skip the introduction revealing how confusing the text is supposed to be).

Sausage, Egg & Potato Breakfast Bites
Ingredients
2 egg whites
1 vegetarian breakfast sausage patty
1 sliver potato
Salt and pepper (to taste)
How To
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cook the breakfast patty in the microwave according to package directions. Once cooked, cut the sausage up so that a chunk fits into the bottom of a mini-muffin tin compartment.
3. Spray muffin tin liberally with cooking oil and then put sausage patty chunks inside.
4. Crack eggwhites into a bowl. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Stir. Gently pour egg whites into each mini muffin tin containing sausage until they are all full. If there is leftover egg, put the egg in muffin tin compartments until you’ve used it all up.
5. Put the muffin tin in the oven. I baked mine for 12 minutes, but I like my eggs well done so if you want them softer, cook them for less time. While your eggs are in the oven, chop the sliver of potato into very thin slices. Cook the slivers in a skillet with a tiny dab of oil or butter. Cook until crispy.
6. Pull the muffin tin out of the oven when the bites are done, and top each bite with a couple slivers of potato. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper on top if desired. Serve and eat immediately.

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