Sunday, March 27, 2011

Family, Breakfast Goodies and Baby Girls...

Eliana Sarah Tahereh Amusin

Ilene and I do "family" right.  We haven't done quite so well with the "marriage" part, but in the long run, in my opinion, "family" trumps everything.  I have no doubt that when the end of our lives comes around, should the situation allow, Ilene and/or I will be next to each other and supporting each other as best we can. So will our children and grandchildren.

Grandma Ilene and Eliana

When Danny got married, the photographer didn't quite know how to handle Kath being there.  Which pictures was she to be included in?  How come Ilene didn't seem distressed with Kath's presence?  Is she Danny's mom, along with Ilene?  We found out later that some of Steph's family were wondering who the younger woman with Danny's dad was.  It was answered when Danny stopped everything and told the photographer..."This is my nuclear family...Mom, Dad, Kathy, Danika, and Savva and the baby inside of Danika."  Ilene and I have tried, flat out, to be the best parents for our children and nothing in the world can take that away.  Mom, Dad, Kathy, Danika, and Savva (now Eliana and Stephanie) will find some way to care for each other always.

One way our commitment to family is expressed is "Family Breakfast".  Every Saturday, at 10 AM, the Kopankes have a standing commitment to having breakfast together.  We eat at Organic Outdoor Markets, local diners, high end "green" restaurants, and each other's houses.  We've eaten at restaurants or homes in Pilsen, Lakeview, West Loop, Rogers Park, Taylor Street, Uptown, Greek Town, University Village, Old Irving Park, NorthCenter, Evanston, Wrightsville Beach, N.C., St. Joseph, MI., and Lincoln Park.  Not everyone can make it each and every time, but the question is ALWAYS asked... where do we have breakfast this week?

This week, we had breakfast at Danika and Savva's condo.  They have a gorgeous place in Rogers Park that is as big as Ilene and my separate condos combined.  It is a peaceful place, obviously filled with love.  The disarray that comes from bringing a new born home the day before was quite evident.  (Ilene, Kath, and I have wisely gifted them with a cleaning lady for the first several months of Eliana's life.)  They have a new electronic device, not available when Danika and Danny were born, which allows them to pump breast milk and eventually combine it with formula to make up Eliana's nutritional requirements.  The thing that hasn't changed in 28 years is the fatigue, uncertainty, and frustration of getting the whole "breast feeding thing" to work.  They'll get it, I am sure, and Eliana will grow up to be a strong, intelligent woman who will make a real difference in this world.

Back to breakfast.  Ilene made her incredibly good biscuits.  They have been the backbone of every great "at home" family breakfast for as long as I can remember.  They are flaky, have an excellent outer crust, and take butter and jelly superbly.  (I want the recipe before I open my restaurant someday.)  I had stopped at Green City Market on the way up to the condo and picked up Burbank Russet potatoes, onion shoots, farm fresh eggs, Honey Crisp Apples, Organic Fresh Rolled Oats, Granny Smith Apples, 6 year aged Cheddar Cheese and farm smoked ham slices.  The menu was:

Grandma's World Class Biscuits, Butter and Strawberry Jam

Farm Fresh Egg Omelet with Cheddar Cheese
Hash Browned Potatoes with Onion Shoots and Farm Smoked Ham
Two Apple Cobbler and Raisins with Rolled Oat Topping

Coffee... always coffee

Grandpa and Eliana

I didn't have much time to hold Eliana on Saturday, so Kath and I came back to hold her on Sunday morning... uh, I mean... uh, I wanted to see Danika again... yeah... that's the story.  While we were up there, I made Danika a little something to let her know that she is always my baby girl.  Always.

Danika's Sandwich

Hash Browned Potatoes with Onion Shoots and Farm Smoked Ham

1 1/2 pounds Russet Burbank Potatoes (any baker will do)
1/2 pint onion shoots (They look like tiny Pearl onions.  Pearl Onions can be substituted.)
1/4 pound farm smoked ham slices, cut up into squares
1 cup Peanut oil
Salt and Pepper to taste.

1. Parboil onion shoots for one minute.  Squeeze between thumb and forefinger, ejecting the inner leaves of the onion.  Set aside.
2. Peel potatoes and cut into 1/4 inch cubes.  Soak in water for 5 to 10 minutes and then rinse.
3. Add oil to 4 quart saute pan, bring to 375 degrees and add drained potatoes.
4.  Stir often to brown evenly.  After browned, dump  pan into colander and drain off oil.
5.  Return to pan, add, onion shoots and ham squares, salt and pepper to taste and cook until onions are soft, about 10 minutes.

Enjoy, in peace, with your family surrounding you.


  1. you forgot to mention the coffee that gets mixed in with the breast milk and formula for little Eliana!

  2. What a wonderful family tradition. Congratulations to the entire clan on the newest arrival. She's beautiful.

  3. Congratulations to the whole family!!