I still have not returned to the land of the living. It has been 15 weeks today, with at least 12 of those consisting of a very simple routine. Get up for work, go to work, come home from work, put on yoga pants, hit the couch, go to bed, repeat. Last night, I did force myself to cook dinner, particularly because I could not even consider having cereal for dinner even just one more time. I’ve been told that the sicker you are when you’re pregnant, the better. Well, I am certainly glad for that! If this is what I need to get through to have a healthy baby, I am in this 100%. I just hope you’ll bear with me as I share with you the few things I have the energy to make. Let’s just all hope I get my second wind real soon.
Simple, comforting and quick has become my mantra these days. There have been no marathon cooking events happening in our kitchen, only short and precise dishes that fill our (growing) bellies. This baked banana dish meets all the criteria. Easy, quick, comforting and completely un-fussy, this breakfast treat will satisfy everyone in your family. Pair it with pancakes or waffles or even over ice cream for dessert after a family dinner to add the feeling of fancy.
Egg in toast is what we used to call it when dad would make it for us. Even though it’s made up of very simple and quite common ingredients, putting the egg IN the toast made it spectacular to us. It was a fairly normal occurrence for my dad to make breakfast for dinner. It was certainly quick and cheap and no one ever complained about it, not once. The only item of contention during one of these breakfast for dinner episodes was when he would make this exact dish and we would all want more of the middle pieces that he had fried in salted butter. The crispy, browned circles of bread were the absolute best part. Not only were they absolutely delicious, they were perfect for mopping up the rest of the runny yolk, making sure our plates were spotless by the time we were done.
I have so many fond memories of my Dad’s cooking growing up. He is, in his own right, an excellent cook. His Massey Beans are famous (when the weather turns colder, I’ll be sure to make them for you), and he always had something new up his sleeve. Even without a lot of money, he made sure we had something delicious to eat. As I think back on these times, I’m so looking forward to passing along the same experiences to our future little one. The last three months have been very sparse around here, because well, there is in fact a little one in me, and growing a human has proved to be a lot of work! Food hasn’t been particularly appetizing and anything green has been a bit of a no-no, so around here it’s been a whole lot of toast and milk and crackers. Although, now that I’m on to the second trimester, I’ve heard I’m supposed to start to feel better, so my hope is that you’ll hear from me a lot more often.
If you find yourself in a bind for dinner, or in a place where kale is the enemy, this dish is the ultimate friend. It’s super easy, comforting and tastes as good as anything I can remember. I imagine even guests would like it for brunch or otherwise, served with some salty bacon and a freshly squeezed glass of oj.
This post is part of a series cooked from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham. Aimee, Sammy, Claudie, Emily and Natasha have posted their picks from the eggs chapter so be sure to pay them a visit.
This weekend my sister Laura was here for a visit to take my very first cooking class. It was wonderful to have her here. Since I moved the bay area, I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like. On Saturday morning, we rose with the sun and snuggled in the living room, waking up together like we did when we were kids. When I could finally pry myself from the warmth of the blankets on the couch, I made us pancakes.
These are an adaptation of what Marion Cunningham calls ‘heavenly hots’. In their original form they are quite wet, almost feeling under cooked. For me, this is not an enjoyable consistency, so I added a bit more flour to make up a batch of something we both recognized and then topped them with chocolate chips for good measure. The batter is primarily sour cream, which makes them quite a bit more tangy than the average pancake. I liked the change from the old standard.
This post is part of a series of posts cooked from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham. Aimee, Sammy, Claudie, Emily and Natasha have posted their picks from the griddling chapter so be sure to pay them a visit.
I feel really lucky. I have the best friends in the whole wide world. It’s one thing to be friends with me at my best, when I’m putting my best foot forward, but it’s another to be my friend at my worst (and whiney-est). When life’s blessings disguise themselves as difficulties, I’m the first one to complain and only see the circumstances. It’s terrible, really. I have a very difficult time looking beyond the immediate to see how everything might play out and that there might, in fact, be a reason for such circumstances. And so, despite my behavior and utter listlessness, my dear, dear friends bear with me as I work through my near breakdowns and fits of toddler like behavior and convince me to come to their house on a Saturday morning to make doughnuts. They couldn’t possibly know me any better.
I’m sure they were thinking of themselves a little, I mean they did get doughnuts out of the deal (they’re no dummies), but I believe they knew they needed some way to pull me out of the fog and into a sunny kitchen to fry some dough just to subsequently dunk it in liquid sugar. Have I told you they’re the best?
Being my first time making doughnuts, I wasn’t quite sure they would really be the thing I needed, but after breaking into a hot, sugary one, normalcy started to return almost immediately. Although, hours later, I would start to feel the effect of a few too many doughnut holes, but we’ll get to limiting your joy later.
These doughnuts are perfectly wonderful. They’re sweet, slightly spiced and a bit dense, making them feel substantial. They couldn’t be easier to make, which in all honesty makes me pretty nervous. It’s a dangerous thing to know I can just whip up some doughnuts any time I feel like it, especially if I don’t have two dozen friends to share them with.
Remember how I said I have amazing friends? Well, the lovely and very talented Emily Scott documented our process, and the darling Anna was the glaze aficionado. Those two are also solely responsible for twisting my arm to make them.
This post is part of a series of posts cooked from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham. Aimee, Sammy, Claudie, Emily and Natasha have posted their picks from the doughnut and fritters chapter so be sure to pay them a visit. (more…)
The past week has been a rough one. I’ve been under the weather, spending most of my time on the couch, feverishly speeding through episodes of How I Met Your Mother. I’m pretty sure I’m already on season 3, but really, I’ve lost count. Food has become a four letter word in our house, only spoken of when absolutely necessary for survival. It’s a strange thing, detesting food. That’s a feeling I hope to soon forget.
It’s no coincidence that this week’s cook the book post happened to be an upset stomach’s dream. Steel cut oats are as close to soothing as you can get, besides eating a whole tube of saltine crackers (which may or may not have happened) and since standing for an extended period of time also proved to be rather difficult, I decided to throw these in the slow cooker and let them work themselves out while I slept soundly in the other room. In the morning, I awoke to freshly stewed oats, smelling of cinnamon and milk. They were wonderfully smooth, more like porridge than the usual toothsome oats I am used to when I cook them in a pot on the stove, but this was a welcome change for my poor belly. The only additions necessary were a sprinkling of brown sugar and a few ripe raspberries to brighten things up a bit. It was exactly what the doctor ordered. Now I’m hoping the left overs get me through the rest of the week.
[This post is part of a Cook the Book project with 5 other incredible bloggers. Take a stroll on over to see Aimee, Samantha, Natasha, Emily and Claudie to see what they've come up in the rolled oats department!]
Until tonight, I never quite grasped how important Julia Child was to American cooks. I have read her endearing memoir and flipped through her cookbooks, but until tonight, I had never cooked through a full recipe of hers (unless you count a basic vinaigrette). Last week, my husband gifted me a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It’s a classic and one that I believe every home cook should have. Although I’ll likely never prepare an aspic or de-bone a duck, there are so many recipes within these pages that will be part of my permanent collection. Her recipes are straight forward, impeccably on point and explained perfectly. There was not one confusing thing about this chocolate dessert, which for a maiden mousse voyage, proved to be very helpful.
Tomorrow would have been Julia’s 100th birthday. People from all over the globe are celebrating the contribution she made to the culinary world through her extraordinary life. She effortlessly empowered men and women to become better cooks, to be fearless in the kitchen and to love what they do. One of her most famous quotes, “Never apologize!” seems unfit coming from such an accomplished chef, but her accomplishments did not come immediately. In her memoir, My Life in France, she recounts a meal she made for a friend that was nearly inedible, but instead of apologizing and offering something else, she just powered through it and moved on, without a word. Her husband Paul, quipped in some letters to his brother that Julia was not a great cook at first, but she was determined and she improved every single day until eventually she commanded the kitchen. What an inspiration! We all begin that way don’t we? No one starts something they know little about with the skill of an expert, we learn as we experience and as we do.
Although Julia got her start later in life, she made a monumental impact. I can’t imagine what she would have accomplished had she started in her 20′s. Who knows where we would be now, having had that much time with Julia. Her life, her love and her relentless dedication to the kitchen has shaped us, and for that we are better people and supremely grateful.
Julia, you are the chocolate to our mousse, and we thank you for the light of your life. Happy birthday darling.
When I plan a meal, I have several check points I go through. I want to be sure that the meal is comprised of ingredients from the current season, and that on a whole, the meal feels cohesive from start to finish. If we are having friends join us, I also try to plan a dessert of some sort. This is usually my favorite part of the meal and the item I spend the most time thinking about. I’m a self diagnosed sugar fiend, so naturally this area excites me the most.
Most often, I like to dream up desserts that have several elements and can take hours, but when we are planning a meal for the middle of the week that doesn’t always work out very well. Unless we just decide to forgo dinner altogether and serve dessert alone, I better think of something a little more speedy.
During the summer, I tend toward the natural bounty of fruit that needs little done to it, if anything at all. Fresh peaches, while amazing in cobblers and crisps, can be divine all by themselves and as far as I’m concerned, make an excellent dessert. However, roasting them for a bit and then topping them a sprinkle of crisp and a dollop of creme fraiche won’t make anyone I know turn up their nose.
There is a lesson to be learned in this recipe: dessert does not have to take hours to be awesome. I’m going to repeat that to myself: dessert does not have to take hours to be awesome. This is a great mantra for me to remember. Too often I jump right to something unnecessarily complicated. Maybe after repeating this to myself a few hundred times I’ll think more simply the next time I want to make a dessert that takes three days.
This dish is just as versatile as it is quick. You can use whatever fruit is available at your farmers market, in fact I think apricots would be delicious here, so would plums or nectarines. The crisp topping can be frozen and used to stir into yogurt or crumbled onto pies, I also think it could be a great base for a granola too. (more…)
Human beings can be grouped into two categories: those who snooze, and those who don’t. For as far back as I can remember, I have always set my alarm ten minutes before the time I actually should get up. After the first alarm sounds, I snuggle up under the covers and drift peacefully back to dreamland for another nine minutes. When the next alarm sounds, there is a subsequent push of the snooze button allowing for an extra few minutes to gradually come around to the idea of planting my bare feet on the cold wood floor. By the time the next alarm sounds, I’m forced to get out from under the soft protection of our duvet by the tangible fear of being late for work. For some people, this method is purely insane. Let’s take my husband for example. When we first got married, he would set his alarm for a certain time each morning and when that thing went off, he rose up out of bed like Frankenstein from the dead, swung his legs over the side, planted his feet on the ground and never looked back. No lingering thoughts of fluffy pillows and sweet dreams, this man was moving on to greet the day. For sometime, it drove him absolutely insane that I would let my alarm go off, snooze, let it go off again, and snooze one last (sweet) time. He could not understand how this was an effective way to start the day. However, as time went on, he started turning off his alarm, only to just roll over. Now, after three years of marriage, he hits snooze, hits it again, and on some days, one more time.
To me, mornings should start off slow and relaxed. I prefer to linger there in the wee hours and enjoy the gray morning light for just a few minutes before I start to consider what the day might throw at me. I always eat breakfast, sometimes something as simple as a bowl of cereal, but never do I pass it up. Since I like to spend most of my morning in bed, I do tend to rely on quick breakfast foods to keep me satisfied for the better part of the morning. These hearty muffins surely fit the bill. They are moist, slightly sweet and wholesome enough to carry you for a few hours. They would be incredible with a bit of greek yogurt and some honey to give you an extra punch of protein.
[This post is part of a Cook the Book project with 5 other incredible bloggers. Take a stroll on over to see Aimee, Samantha, Natasha, Emily and Claudie to see what quick breads they've baked up this week. I've heard there might be custard filled cornbread, might not want to miss that one!]
This could turn out to be the most exciting summer of our lives. There have been so many changes around here that I don’t think our heads have stopped spinning. We have been through a whirlwind of travel and will continue to be dictated by the jet stream well into the beginning of fall. It has been such a glorious couple of months, most of which I hope to share with you sooner rather than later. For me, this time has been marked by a whole lot of soul searching and healthy doses of reality. I mentioned recently that I tend to jump right to the most extreme reaches of a situation and need to feel the pull of my tether (whom I warmly refer to as my husband). Thankfully, he keeps me grounded when the world is rushing around us.
There is actually one piece of news I would love to share with all of you, and since I tend to be a little impatient with all this good news rolling around in my head, at least this one can slip out, right? Well, come this September, I will be teaching cooking classes! This is something I am deeply looking forward to. They will be held in my home to begin with and will hopefully branch out to others homes, as well as new, inspiring venues. We will start by focusing on the basics of every day cooking and will eventually move on to more intensive subjects like tackling the always cumbersome Thanksgiving menu. My hope is that people who are not as confident as they would like to be in the kitchen will leave our home feeling well equipped in front of their own stove. Our first class will be Monday, September 10th at 6:30pm. We will be learning how to season food. Although that sounds simple, it is quite possibly your most powerful tool in the kitchen. I am always amazed by what a little salt can do.
If you are interested in taking a class, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you on the list to receive a calendar when one becomes available. Our first few classes will have limited space, so sign up soon if you’re interested. We are going to have a great time!
Now, on to this summer tomato tart. Normally, I try to avoid turning my oven on during the warm summer months. I do my best to plan meals around dishes that don’t need much cooking, or can be cooked outdoors on the grill. Our apartment has no air conditioning and it’s on the top floor. Just by putting two and two together you can imagine that equals a toasty home on really warm days. Adding the heat of a 400 degree oven usually doesn’t make it into that equation. However, I had some tart dough that was defrosted in the fridge that needed a filling, and well, there were these amazing little tomatoes at the market and raw tart dough is quite unpleasant to eat even with amazing tomatoes, so on went the oven…
This little tart comes together in no time flat as long as you have chilled tart dough ready to go. A purchased pie crust will work beautifully here as well if you don’t have any dough lingering in your fridge. If you plan ahead though, you might want to try making the crust at home. The recipe makes enough for two of these tarts, so freeze one and the next tomato tart you make will come together rather quickly.
There are times when I feel like packing everything up and jumping ship. In those times I convince myself that some change would suit me well. Maybe a new city, new job or a sweet cuddly kitten would bring me back to feeling normal and content. For the past few months I have been in a mild state of discontentment and although I’ve done my very best to convince my husband to move back to San Francisco, or to let me quit my job to follow all those vague dreams I have (while throwing complete caution to the wind) he knows me better than that. With a kind heart he has approved a soft cuddly kitten if my heart desires it, but on the other huge life changes, he has been quietly letting the waves run their course, knowing that they will settle soon enough. See, he knows something I don’t. He knows that somewhere in my nature lies a reset button. This button takes many forms. A long lazy walk on the trail, a mini vacation to Seattle, a lovely breakfast in bed, or a trek into the wilderness of God’s creation will renew my spirit and bring me back to looking around at all that is right in front of me. Often, I need to hit that reset button for perspective and to awaken my thankful heart.
In The Breakfast Book, Marion Cunningham sprinkles bits of wisdom in between her recipes. Beneath this particular one for smoked salmon toast she wrote about breakfast in bed. It seems to be the perfect description of the type of reset I most definitely need.
Breakfast in Bed
One of the most blissful escapes is breakfast in bed with something good to read. Breakfast in bed is cozy, quiet and private. I instantly forget that it was I who fixed the tray. The simplest food tastes special. Since food that spills or sloshes can ruin the mood, this is the moment when toasts should be considered. A thermos of coffee or tea is ideal.
As one is softly propped up in bed the world falls away, and breakfast becomes what some poet called “a parenthesis in time.”-MC
Marion’s wisdom was evident in her cooking and her words. She hits the nail right on the head here in this perfect description of the joy that comes when we slow down enough to eat from the comfort of our own beds. Whenever I begin to feel that need for sudden change creep up inside of me, I’ll remember that all I really need to do is to fix myself a tray of simple food, prop myself up under the covers and let the world fade away.
This is a series of recipes from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham. There are five other incredible women cooking through this book with me. Please head on over to the blogs of Aimee, Sammy, Natasha, Claudie and Emily for other delicious recipes from the toast chapter. (more…)