butterscotchblastoff

Kick start your day with a good breakfast

No bread–day 2

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This looks pathetic, but tasted delicious. The egg was fried to perfection in unsalted butter, as was the grilled tomato. Really, a grilled tomato is one of the best things in the world. No English or Irish fry-up is complete without it. For years, until their cuisines were improved by new chefs with an interest in quality ingredients and a wider variety of techniques, the only thing worth eating on a trip to either exquisitely beautiful country was breakfast.

Eat Move Sleep by Tom Rath reinforced my own doctor’s advice to consume less bread: “According to one expert, eating two pieces of whole wheat bread increases your blood sugar more than eating two tablespoons of pure sugar…. As one of the world’s leading researchers on obesity put it, the next time you consume buttered toast, consider that the butter may be healthier than the bread.”

Rath’s book is filled with safe, sensible advice on nutrition, exercise, and what too many experts ignore–at our peril–how to sleep well. So, that’s my rant for this evening. Good night!

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No bread for Lent…

except for the host at Mass, of course. This self-denial has a secondary advantage. (I never claimed to be a terrific Catholic–well-meaning, maybe, but good? No). I eat way too much bread: a piece of whole wheat under melted cheese for breakfast, two pieces of whole wheat in my sandwich at lunch, and whatever’s in a break basket at a restaurant for dinner. (This week, it was the most luscious naan at Sahib in Curry Hill: 104 Lexington @ 27th Street. Note to self: remember this place, the food was delicious!)

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Crunchy peanut butter on crisp, sweet apples is a satisfying combination.

My own doctor has said, “Make bread a treat.” Well, for 40 days, I’m going to take a break from bread altogether. Who knows? I may learn to love tuna salad on crispy greens, hummus on kale chips, and a slice of cheese without the salt and crunch of a cracker. It’s worth trying: 40 days should be more than enough to change a habit.

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Watching the Clock

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Oh, brother, does a Friday afternoon drag. At my age, I’m usually bemoaning the speed by which time passes, but a Friday afternoon brings me back to the torture of that seemingly endless last hour of grade school.

And what makes it even more painful today? I can’t wait to get home to cook from Workman Publishing’s Will It Skillet?

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Spinach, Mushroom & Ricotta Lasagna is on the menu tonight. And once I’ve done that, I’m going to make the Tortilla Española, Deep Dish Pizza, Scallop Risotto, oh pretty much everything in here. I love Daniel Shumski’s voice: funny, friendly with a no-nonsense “you can do it!” confidence. “My mom’s feedback has always been valuable–she taught me how to drive, for example, and then continued to give feedback on my driving for many years afterward-but her comments on the recipes in this book were particularly helpful and made them that much better.” From an eager user, thanks, Mom!

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Rye, Straight Up

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This foggy Sunday just begs for a hearty teatime treat. With one last cup of dark rye flour left over from testing the recipe for Pecan Sablés in Luane Kohnke’s Ancient Heritage Cookies (available from your favorite on-line bookseller), I baked  a half-dozen of Taste of Home’s Raisin Rye Muffins. Rustic in look and flavor, they’re a refreshing change, more savory than sweet. I don’t want to say they hit the spot because they’re not heavy at all, just chewy and full of that sharp rye tang. I’d call them “husky.” Great for breakfast with a bowl of yogurt or for lunch with a bowl of soup. I had to stop myself from scarfing down a few, so I can enjoy them all week. The forecast for tomorrow has a Scandinavian feel about it.

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On the Norwegian fjords

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A Wall of Women

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Here I am, at the ripe old age of “Mind your own business!”, and I participated in my first protest, Women’s March on NYC. The atmosphere was electric! Until now, I’ve always been a spectator, stopping for a few minutes on the sidelines to see what’s going on. Today, I marched up the middle of Fifth Avenue, chanting “This is what democracy looks like!” and singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” while the carillon of St. Thomas Episcopal Church rang out the tune.

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I was with old friends, one of whom’s father at 88 years old walked with us the whole mile and a half, and then some to find a bite to eat afterwards. On our way to the pizzeria, he asked to stop and sit down for a moment, but when he saw a young woman take her sneaker off because her foot hurt so much, he walked his chair over to her and insisted she sit down. Imagine Donald Trump doing that….

There were boys and girls, men and women–everyone intent on getting the message across that a large swath of America cares very deeply about decency, our fellow citizens, refugees, civil rights, and women’s rights. But they did it respectfully with peace, love, and laughter.

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The cops were just as steadfast and stoic as you’d imagine. They re-routed the crowds with calm and good humor, watched without judgment, and protected everyone.

My favorite sign of the day was one word, black type, all caps, on a white background: GEEZ.

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‘Bye-bye, Obama

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Vaya con Dios and don’t be a stranger. I look forward to reading your next book, seeing your next interview, watching you at Sasha’s graduation and at Malia’s wedding, standing beside Michelle when she speaks out for decency and children’s health. Because watching the other guy who’s stepping into your job (which you performed with passion, grit, and honor)…?

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Happy Thanksgiving

It’s a week of gratitude at the Goehring household every Thanksgiving: on Thanksgiving Eve in 1987, I accepted Chuck’s proposal to marry him. Ten years ago, during the week before, we brought our corgi, Grace, to NYC from eastern Long Island. Let the confetti fall and the fireworks blaze!

Did you put anything new on your Thanksgiving menu this year? Chuck has a good eye for composition, so he asked for some color on the plate, more than just the brown of gravy, crisp turkey skin, and roasted Brussels sprouts. Cook’s Illustrated came to the rescue with a delicious recipe for carrots and parsnips with dried cranberries.

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Here’s the recipe; you’re welcome!

Serves 4 to 6

3 TBSP unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces

1 shallot, minced

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup apple cider

6 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper

1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias ¼ inch thick

1 pound parsnips, peeled and sliced on the bias ¼ inch thick

½ cup dried cranberries

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 TBSP minced fresh parsley

  • Melt 1 TBSP butter in large Dutch oven over high heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and just beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add brother, cider, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, 1 ½ tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper; bring to simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add carrots and parsnips, stir to combine, and return to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 10 to 14 minutes.
  • Remove pot from heat. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves and stir in cranberries. Push vegetable mixture to sides of pot. Add mustard and remaining 2 TBSP butter to center and whisk into cooking liquid. Stir to coat vegetable mixture with sauce, transfer to serving dish, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

–from Cook’s Illustrated November & December 2016 by Andrew Janjigian

From our house to yours–this galley kitchen is now Grace’s preferred napping spot, precarious for busy holiday cooks!–have a wonderful, safe, and politics-free holiday!

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March of the Penguins

A friend at the office has just published a charming book of papercrafts, A Very Merry Paper Christmas. If you’re at all handy with a matte knife and pretty paper, there are terrific projects in here (votive lights, tree toppers, lovely winter scenes to put under a bell jar, ornaments…).

For her pub party, I decided to do a little “papercrafting” of my own: potato-stamp napkins. Thanks to a YouTube tutorial, I stamped two dozen penguins.
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Here’s the body (one medium potato painted with black poster paint).

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A smaller potato makes the stomach (painted with white poster paint).

Here’s the moment that brings you right back to pre-school: mix red and yellow to make orange for the beaks and feet.

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Let them dry between these steps.

A hole-punch makes perfect white eyes; one tiny touch with a black magic marker and you’ve got a penguin.

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The more chilled champagne you drink, the better these look!

 

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DIY Dog Treats

A friend whose father was a professional baker told me he makes his mini-dachshund Zelda her own dog biscuits. In that wonderful way the Universe has of listening in and offering just what you need at the right time, I was reviewing an upcoming cookbook by Julia Turshen called Small Victories, turned a page, and voila! Hope & Winky’s Dog Cookies! What’s good enough for Zellie is good enough for Grace, so I made a special trip to the supermarket for Peter Pan creamy peanut butter. Mixed with olive oil, chicken broth, rolled oats, cornmeal, and a dash of salt and baked until toasty with a crackly top,  I’m tempted to steal a couple of these for myself.

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Perfect snack: cookies and milk!

Grace would like to thank Zelda and her dad Ricky for waking me up–FINALLY!–to homebaked snacks.

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Tiger, tiger burning bright

First tiger lilies I’ve seen this year!

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