Brunch. The best of the weekend meals. It combines all the delicious breakfast foods with the ability to sleep in. Brunch is a big thing in some places, including Brooklyn, which is where I hang my hat (lie—I’m not really into hats). So I was pretty excited when a Bloody Mary Crate and a Morning Glory Crate recently found their way to my stoop. As a hungry and thirsty person, I knew I had to jump into action immediately. It was time to host a brunch party.
Now, going out to brunch may seem like an easier option, maybe even a slam dunk in a town so dedicated to the fine art of brunch. But that’s not always so. For starters, a gazillion other people have the same idea you have. And then if you make the mistake of waiting until after 1 p.m., you’ll be met with rejection, failure, defeat and, worst of all, no food. The struggle is real, my friends. Luckily, salvation can easily be found in two words: Man Crates. And then seven more words: Bloody Mary Crate and Morning Glory Crate. And then five more: “Come on over for brunch!” But first things first—the opening of the crates.
Breaking the seal
Teddy Roosevelt, a man who said a lot of things, once said: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.” It’s a safe bet that he was opening a Man Crate when he came up with that one. Opening one of these things is nothing short of frustrating, but in the most fun, curse-filled way. Even with the handy pry bar that comes along with it (which, by the way, can be reused over and over for any of your pry-y activities). Opening it was something akin to an MMA fight—some grappling, the occasional headbutt, a near loss of consciousness. Granted, I got the TKO in the end, but had we been judged on points, I’m pretty sure the crate would’ve won. Although I totally would’ve gotten points for style, considering my creative use of thighs and colorful language. Sidebar: I was ecstatic when the Bloody Mary Crate was slightly—I repeat, slightly—easier to open. Because after all that, I really needed a drink.
So, crates opened, heart rate back to normal, I had the foundations for a tasty brunch.
The Morning Glory Crate had my food stuffs:
- Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes mix: A whole grain, protein packed flapjack and waffle mix. This is the kind of power breakfast you’ll be happy to participate in.
- Marionberry syrup: Not to be confused with Marion Barry, former D.C. mayor and some other stuff, this syrup is sweet and an excellent companion to your flapjacks.
- Batter dispenser: One quick squeeze of this thing and you’ve got the perfect size and shape flapjack. Once you’ve filled it with your batter, that is.
- Egg rings: Pretty self-descriptive, they’re meant to keep your egg whites from escaping. I got you, egg whites!
- Bacon press: This keeps the heat on the meat and also has a pig on it, which may make the pig you’re cooking at the time feel more at home.
- Wooden bacon flipper: You won’t be forced to put your bacon’s fate in the hands, or tongs, of, well, regular tongs. Because your bacon deserves the best.
And the Bloody Mary Crate, oh, the Bloody Mary Crate. It contained the stuff of dreams (at least my dreams):
- Two plastic pilsner glasses: The perfect shape and size to contain your bloody, boozy masterpiece.
- Demetri’s seasonings: Customize your bloody with a trio of flavors—Classic, Chilis and Peppers and Horseradish.
- Pepperoni straws: The straw you can eat! Plus regular straws are boring anyway.
- Bacon rim spice: Since a meat straw is not enough, you can also rim your glass with bacon. Yes.
- Clamato: A Bloody Mary made with Clamato, also called a Bloody Caesar, is Canada’s unofficial (it may be official, I’m not Canadian) drink. The more you know.
With the purchase of a few additional non-crate ingredients—vodka, regular tomato juice, eggs, bacon, potatoes, peppers, bubbles and o.j.—we were ready to get our brunch on.
And so it begins
So it was on this cold and gloomy Sunday that the brunch bash commenced. Any meal worth its salt will begin with a fine and delicious appetizer. In most cases (read: all cases), this starter should be filled with the boozes. Now, some may turn to that effervescent wonder called the Mimosa (totally fine choice, by the way). But for me, there is really only one brunch drink that can appropriately act as both beverage and meal. That is the Bloody Mary. And so we, the brunchers, began by constructing our Bloodies.
It should come as no great surprise to anyone who can read and infer things that Clamato has clam broth in it. And while I’m not opposed to a little clam juice here and there, there are some folks who are. And, to be honest, I prefer plain old tomato juice given the choice. Point is, if you’re throwing a brunch party, be sure to have some tomato on hand should any of your guests be anti-clam. Some won’t be.
Whatever you use for your base, you’ll be pleased with your mixers. Now I don’t mean to toot my own horn (totally tooting my own horn), but I am a bit of a Bloody connoisseur. I love to make them and make a decidedly yummy version. So, you know, my standards are high. I was not let down by Demetri. I’ve been burnt by Bloody mixes in the past, so my guard is usually up when it comes to them. But the Demetri’s blends have turned this doubting Teva into a believer.
I’m a massive horseradish fan, so I was definitely interested in the horsey blend and that’s where I began my taste test. It had excellent horseradish flavor, but it was a little less spicy than I prefer. I turned to the Chilis and Peppers. Now that was some nice spice. It had the heat I was craving without being all heat and no flavor. I’d kept the Classic for last, assuming it would be just a plain, old blend. Au contraire! It had good flavor, a nice amount of spice and was all around tasty. And so I found myself with the unexpected conundrum of having to choose from three yummy mixes. So I went with the obvious choice—make a blend!
The instructions on the Demetri’s bottle call for 2 oz. of Bloody mix to 1 quart of tomato juice. I was making a pitcher, so I just threw a full bottle of juice in there and some vodka. I’d measured out 2 oz. of the Horseradish blend, but then just decided to wing it (I’m a bit of a winger). I squeezed in some of the pepper blend—I’d say a good, hearty, few-seconds squeeze—and then mixed ‘er up. It was a flavor revelation. Ok, maybe nothing so dramatic, but man was it good.
We bacon-ed our glass rims, poured in the mix and topped everything with a lemon wedge, a lime wedge, a celery stick and, of course, the much-anticipated pepperoni straw. NOTE: You will be tempted to eat the pepperoni straw right away—one bite of that thing and you’re hooked. But don’t give in. Let it last through your whole drink—savor it, delight in its unusual combination of weird and delicious. You’ll be glad to have it as a chaser at the end of your drink, or drinks (mine personally only lasted through one round. I am weak.).
Later batches would consist of various combinations of the mixes—original and horseradish, original and pepper, all three mixed in—but this first blend was my favorite. I may or may not have taken a few sips of just the mix as the day wore on. Don’t judge until you’ve walked in my shoes.
Once we had the cheersing done, it was time to make some food.
Breakfast of champions
Full disclosure: I’m not a huge fan of the flapjack. I mean I’m fine with them, but I’m not usually (ever) going to order them for brunch. I’m more of a meat and eggs sort of person and quite honestly pancakes just take up too much space that could otherwise be filled with delicious meaty goodness. So I began this venture with a pancake-sized chip on my shoulder. But I was happy to investigate the wonders of the Power Cake. And I was pleased with both the making and eating of them.
The pancake batter was cinch to compose—for approximately six 4-inch pancakes, all it takes is 1 cup of the mix and 1 cup of water. We used milk instead of water to make it richer (totally recommend this). We got about 16 cakes total out of two batches of mix, which was the perfect amount.
The pancake dispenser was like a bit of magic—it created the perfect sized and shaped pancakes. Admittedly, the batter looked a little weird squeezing out of the dispenser, but that only made for some giggles and immature sound effects. At this point we were all a couple of Bloodies in, so that may have been a factor as well.
As far as taste goes, they were a good solid fluffy sort of flapjack, the kind that makes even someone who “doesn’t have space” for pancakes grab two—I made a sandwich—and say, “Get in my face, pancake sandwich!” The marionberry sauce was good. Sweet, but good. I have a feeling it would be tasty in a marinade or a sauce with a little spicy combo—maybe something with jalapeños or hot sauce. I haven’t thought it out entirely, but it definitely put the food-wheels in my brain in motion. I suspect it can be kind of versatile, so even if you don’t coat your cakes with it, it’ll come in handy in the pantry. FYI, we also had some regular syrup in rotation for the purists in the crowd.
The item I was saving space for was, of course, the bacon. I’m sorry, pigs, you are absurdly cute and all, but you are simply too delicious to not eat. I bought a lot of bacon for the brunch. I was very excited to eat it. I was equally excited to use the bacon press. So excited that I ripped it out of the box and didn’t read any of the instructions, because how could there possibly be anything to know about a bacon press besides bacon??! Funny thing, there is something to know.
Post-brunch frenzy, when I was cleaning up the various messes about the kitchen, I discovered there were words on the outside of the bacon press box. Included in these words were instructions about how to prep the press for use: “Wash in warm, soapy water. Rinse and dry thoroughly. Put a small amount of oil in a fry pan. Lightly coat with oil. Place face down in fry pan. Heat. Wipe off excess. Your press is now seasoned.” Oops. I did not do any of that. And while it didn’t affect the flavor or success of the bacon, I worry if not having done all that will be harmful to its future use. We shall see. Honestly, I’m not even sure I would use it in its suggested capacity again. As I previously mentioned, it has a pig on it. And also as I previously mentioned, I sure am a fan of the pig and maybe I want to make it more of a decorative element in my home. Like a paper weight. Or a stamp. A fancy pig stamp for all my correspondences. We shall see about that, too.
The bacon flipper prevented me from jamming my hand directly into the pan, which I surely would’ve done because nothing will keep me from my bacon. Not even hot grease. So for that I am grateful to the bacon flipper. Plus, similar to the press, it has a pig on it and I win, pigs! Eggs are my second favorite brunch item after bacon. I will eat them in any form. So will most of my friends. Although, we did have a couple scramble hold-outs. But the rest of us were down with sunny-side up. The egg rings kept the whites in check, as advertised. Sadly a combination of not using a non-stick item (it was ocupado with the pancakes) and a bit of over-enthusiasm resulted in some of the eggs looking a little crazy. No one cared, of course—ugly food tastes good, too—but I felt as though we failed our egg friends slightly in not letting them shine like shiny, well-prepared eggs. I don’t think the eggs held it against us though. They don’t hold grudges. They don’t have grudges. They’re eggs. What’s wrong with you?
We rounded the menu out with some fruit, because we care about health, ahem, and home fries—potatoes, onions and peppers, aww yeah. When all was said and done, we’d all eaten well and toasted even better. BONUS: A leftover potato and personalized whiskey glasses made for some extra weirdness. Now do you understand why homemade brunch is great? Yeah, I thought so.
So what have we learned here? Man Crates are great. Brunch is great. Make brunch with some Man Crates. The end.
Addendum: brunch is magic!
All this talk of brunch may have got you wondering, where did this thing begin? Not wondering that at all? Well then you can stop reading here. For the rest of you, I present the history of brunch.
Had you been alive in 1895, you wouldn’t be reading this right now, for starters. But you likely would have read an essay titled “Brunch: A Plea.” Has there ever been a better title? I don’t think so. Guy Beringer, the essay’s author, was writing in support of a new meal—brunch. Conceived of after a few drinks—man after my own heart—brunch was meant to be a meal that allowed the hungover masses to stay in bed a while longer, get the sustenance they needed and to “sweep away the worries and cobwebs of the week.” Deep, right? So even if you’ve never been intrigued by brunch or you hate bacon (blasphemy!), it’s time to make brunch your friend. Try it. You’ll like it. And even if you don’t—oh wait, that’s not possible. Enjoy!