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Archive for the 'Breakfast' Category

The Episode in Which I Go Granola…Again

A few weeks ago, the Unicyclist was tapped to bring in food for an evening seminar he’s taking. He said the group has been on something of a hummus kick, so he decided to stick with the theme and whip up a batch of homemade hummus. I chose to balance it with a sweet treat and made a couple pans of granola bars for him to take along.

Apparently, the granola bars were a huge hit, as my husband came home with nary a granola bar and a heaping pile of requests for the recipe. Of course, when he delivered this news to me, the Unicyclist shook his head ruefully. He knows me and recipes…particularly where a staple like granola is concerned. All this meant, however, was that our household wound up with another batch of granola bars this week, as I had to make and measure in order to pass on instructions! So, without further ado, this one goes out to the hungry grad students. May you have long life and abundant supplies of granola. Wo0t!

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The End of the Darkest Days: Breakfast Tacos

Belatedly, due to the constant rush around here these days, I present our featured Dark Days dish: breakfast tacos.

Oh, wait.  Those are kumquats.  We had some of those for breakfast, too.  Seeing as how this was the last day of the Dark Days 08-09 Challenge, we decided to hit the nearby Sunday farmers’ market and see what goodies were for grabs.  I couldn’t pass up these beautiful, sweet, tangy little citrus fruits.  Nor could I stop eating them.  A day later, they were all gone.  As was the bag of blood oranges, which we turned into a delicious and dramatically-hued juice.  But anyway—breakfast tacos.  I know I have that picture here somewhere…  Ah-ha!

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On Peanut Butter Apple Oats, Organics, and the Economy

My scalp cringes whenever I hear a middle-class person opining that organically or sustainably produced food is too expensive to be practical (right before said person biffs to Starbucks to drop $3-6 on a caffeinated beverage) or when I hear any garden-variety personfolk bloviating about how it’s cheaper to eat at a fast food joint than it is to eat at home.

Neither of these assertions is necessarily true.  Can they be?  Certainly.  However, that depends largely on what organics you are buying and what types of dishes you are preparing at home, including how many prepared ingredients you are using.  For whole foods vegetarians, especially whole foods vegans, they’re often false.  I don’t even need to address the “hidden costs” of factory farmed produce, dairy, and meat (through environmental damage, taxpayer-funded subsidies, etc.) to prove that.  Case in point?  How about breakfast?

The Unicyclist has been on breakfast duty for the last couple months, something which has allowed him to develop our favorite everyday oatmeal: Peanut Butter Apple Oats.  Today, out of curiosity, I dug up receipts, a food scale, a calculator, and I crunched the numbers to find out how much this tasty, filling dish was costing us. Are you ready?

3 oz. conventional rolled oats from the bulk section at Whole Foods (for .79/lb) = .15

4 oz organic apple bought in a five-pound bag at Whole Foods for 4.99 = .42

1 c Trader Joe’s organic rice milk, at 2.69 for 8 servings = .34

1 T Trader Joe’s organic peanut butter at 2.99/jar = .11

1 T farmer’s market apple butter at 5.00/jar = .17

Add a cup of water (for those of you keeping score to make this in your kitchen, that’s 1 heaping cup rolled oats and 2 cups liquid, plus a diced apple), combine well, cook until creamy and piping hot, and you have breakfast for two people and one Hippo for the grand total of $1.19, or less than sixty cents.  If we’d gotten the organic oats (at about $1.60 in the bulk section, which we skipped because they were out last time we were at the store), we’d have doubled the cost of our oats, which would have upped our total bill to…$1.34.  Again, we’re feeding two people and a 10-pound dog on that. Go ahead and compare that to a fast food breakfast value menu.  I dare ya.

If you’re on a tight budget, embrace the bulk bins.  No, seriously.  Cozy right on up to them.  Snuggle a little if no grocery store employees are watching.  Then stuff a bag with its contents and cart it to the register because dry beans and grains are some of the most affordable items you can pick up, even when they’re organic.

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Dark Days Challenge: Sweet Potato and Brie Omelet with Caramelized Onions

If you’re like me (and a lot of other people), the smell of onions cooking verges on intoxicating.  So many delicious dishes start this way that most of us have accumulated years and years of positive associations with the smell.  Needless to say, a pan full of onions caramelizing over a low heat was a doggone good way to start out this week’s Dark Days Challenge.

See how pretty and sweet and brown they are becoming?  That’s what happens when you are armed with patience, a good pan, and some clarified butter.  It’s only my second time caramelizing onions, but I think I’m becoming addicted.  I have a love affair with a lot of the allium family, in fact.  Garlic, onions, shallots, chives…mmmm…  Some stinky things are just so dadgum tasty!

Things are busy around here, as you may have surmised from the less-frequent postings.  That’s a combination of work deadlines and Christmas rush, though I’m starting some classes next week as well.  It’s hectic, but it’s good.  In any case, that busyness is what led me to choose something quick and easy for this week’s challenge.  It doesn’t get much easier than an omelet.

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Tangerine Spice Pancakes: Kitchen Odds and Ends At Work

This morning, the Unicyclist and I had an impromptu and very delicious breakfast of pancakes.  I started with the Honey-Wheat Germ Pancake recipe in the Recipes from the Moon cookbook (from the Horn of the Moon Cafe), but (as often happens when I wind up in the kitchen) that recipe was just a skeleton for the pancakes I actually made.  See, when it comes to me and recipes, I’m something of a “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” sort of personfolk.

I love recipes.  I love cookbooks.  I love reading them, looking at pictures, imagining delicious dinners to be.  However, I am both an incurable meddler and a thick-skulled pragmatist.  Specifically, whenever feasible, I believe in adapting recipes to what you have on hand rather than going shopping for missing ingredients.  This is exactly how I wound up with some golden, citrus-infused, wheat-germ-free pancakes this morning.  I still don’t know what the Honey-Wheat Germ pancakes from Horn of the Moon taste like, but I had some durn good breakfast.

I adapt for different reasons, but it’s mostly to use up what I have on hand.  The purpose of this post today is to help you figure out how that works, and how you might start using up odds and ends in your cooking.  Shall we dive in?

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Holiday Recipes: Pomegranate Sunset Salad

The holiday season is here.  Cue the food!

Let’s face facts.  The colder months can be great inspiration for some delicious dishes, but they can also be a shortcut to a pie-and-gravy-strewn path of personal destruction.  Specifically, the chill and the short days somehow inspire carbohydrate hoarding, at least for some of us.  (I speak from a purely observational perspective, of course.  You’d be surprised how much you can see from behind the delicious fort of bread I’ve built.) While carbs–especially those slathered in butter–taste great, I always find that a heavy rotation of too many bready or sweet items makes me tired and kind of cranky.  Nobody likes that.

Still, it is a good time to enjoy delicious food, particularly when you can share it with friends and family.  Over the next few weeks, I will be posting some holiday-themed recipes you can use for the myriad shindigs and goings-on that inevitably pop up this time of year.  Some of these recipes will be meant to balance the richer fare found at holiday dinners, while others will be more self-indulgent.  I hope you enjoy them all.

First up is a salad inspired by one my friend Rachel mentioned when I was in Philadelphia.  Apparently, her aunt used to toss melon and pomegranate seeds together into a lovely and delicious treat, one Rachel describes with considerable enthusiasm years later. I decided to see if I could dress up this recipe into something gala-worthy, seeing as how I had gotten a canary melon from our farm CSA last week and some pomegranates from the nearby farmers’ market.  Pomegranates are everywhere here this time of year, growing fat and red and nigh-to-bursting on the neighbors’ trees.  (Pomegranates are, in fact, classified as an exploding fruit, one that bursts to release its seeds.) It’s a good time of year to make friends and beg for fruit.

Anyhow, the cooking gods smiled on me; my experiment turned out to be both tasty and beautiful to look at.  I am confident your guests will be über-impressed by the splash of color on the dinner table.

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A Different Take on Granola

Because Miz Valerie has been asking about some rough-and-ready guidelines for granola for the faint of heart, in the interest of research, I riffed on my generic granola recipe and made some extra-nutty honey nut granola yesterday with twice as many nuts as usual, no millet or flax, buckwheat honey thrown in with the sweeteners, and a generous splash of almond extract.  Hello, deliciousness!

What prompted the out-of-season granola fest?  Well, a few things have been weighing on Miz Valerie’s mind about the granola-making process.  Specifically, she wanted some wet-to-dry ratios and the details on how long it would keep.  Miz V, this post is for you.

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Nutty Autumn Millet

As the mornings get chillier, breakfast ’round these here parts keep getting warmer.  Exhibit A: Millet.  Note the heavenly glow.  It’s a godsend on cold days.

Millet is a filling whole grain, high in magnesium and niacin for a healthy heart and improved cholesterol levels.  It cooks reasonably quickly, it’s easily digestible, and it’s generally safe for people who have a lot of allergies or reactions to food.  It’s also a happy sunny color.  I like it.

This is one of my on-the-fly recipes, which means I made it up this morning while peering into cupboards to see what we had.  Although I have a nice, long shelf groaning under the weight of a plethora of cookbooks, I have figured out over the years that, overall, recipes aren’t as important as being comfortable in the kitchen and knowing a couple things about nutrition.

Yup.  I can tell you this because I’m not planning on publishing a cookbook.  I’m more interested in getting more people comfy with food and cooking.  To that end, I’m giving you a front-row seat today into the workings of my noggin.  Pull up a chair.  Can I get you some spiced cider?

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Granny’s Omelets

Even in Phoenix, it’s clear autumn is here.  The air has a definite crispness to it in the early morning and at dusk, and my north-facing office carries a chill.  It’s time to set vats of soup to simmer on the stove, time to pull warm, crusty loaves of bread from the over, time to enjoy the brilliant colors of winter squash, rosy apples, and bitter greens.  Our cold granola/yogurt/fruit breakfasts have long ago lost their appeal, and the Unicyclist and I are seeking out speedy, hot breakfasts to get us up and out when even the sun itself is slower to rise.

This morning, I set to work trying to recreate the delicious apple and cheddar omelet Rachel had enjoyed (and let me sample!) at Sabrina’s Cafe in Philadelphia.  Contrary to what some might believe, omelets aren’t actually much work.  Outside any necessary chopping, Julia Child insists they are a 30-second meal when done in the classic French style.  Plus, eggs aren’t likely to break the bank.  This breakfast for two people cost all of about $3.25, using all organic ingredients.  That’s $1.63 a person.  Not bad on a budget.  So, let’s see how to make this:

into this:

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Cleaning Out the Freezer: Peach Muffins

Note: Since I am still on my delirious food tour of Philly, frolicking merrily with friends I love and far too busy to update you on the fun I’m having while I’m having it, I penitently offer you a post I wrote before leaving about some very delicious muffins I recently made. See–I planned ahead because I care. (I also knew it was impossible not to have ridiculous amounts of fun with Rachel, Sara, Becca, and Mary.) I leave for New York tomorrow, and I hope to have a little time to tell you all about the amazing places I’ve been so far in Philly–the Italian Market, Reading Terminal Market, Sabrina’s Café, White Dog Café, and Dock Street Brewery. Stay tuned!

One of the best things about the change of the seasons is the coming ready of different crops. Right now, apples are blushing and growing heavy, greens are sprouting tall, and squash are swelling full and bright. Other times of year have other gifts to offer. Last May, the Unicyclist and I took advantage of the first peaches of the year at Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek. The orchards are about a half hour from our home, and they grow several different varieties in pesticide-free orchards. We spent a morning there among the trees, enjoying the evidence of natural pest control–I came across several of the little alligator-like lacewing larvae as we picked, and an assassin bug stowed away in one of our flats of peaches. Both creepy-crawlies are beneficial insects that keep crop-munching pests under control.

We came back with a small mountain of fragrant peaches and apricots that filled the house with a wonderful scent. Then, a friend came by with about 20 pounds of peaches a neighbor had giver her from a tree in their yard. The peaches she brought were even more juicy and sweet. Softly furred, delicate, sunset-colored, we ate a half dozen fresh peaches or more a day. However, a couple days passed and the peach pile still loomed large. It was time to get down to business. Peach crisp. Peach jam. And a whoooooole lot of frozen peaches to enjoy later. All we had to do was wash them, pit them, and cut them in generous slices.

Since fresh peaches are long gone from this neck of the wood, I decided last weekend that it was time to enjoy some of them again. I pulled out a bag of my frozen peaches and chose, after a bit of deliberation, that muffins were the destination. This recipe is loosely based on the blueberry muffin recipe in Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible. They turned out great–dense and moist, sweet and tasting richly of peaches. While you may not have such amazing peaches hiding in your freezer, try it with fruit you do have squirreled away, or experiment with what’s fresh now. Recipes are frameworks, not rules.

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