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Kick start your day with a good breakfast

When did cooking become a chore?

What happened to the DIY movement? The artisan preservers, the butchers, the seed-to-skillet crowd? I loved that back-to-the-kitchen, fill-your-own-larder, resurrecting-lost-skills trend. Well, I guess that was its fate… a trend has a finite life.

Nowadays, it’s meal-delivery kits and grab-and-go and ordering in. Makes me very sad. Cooking and baking are two of life’s most nourishing activities, in every sense of the word. (I know I’m preaching to the choir here.)

This weekend, we were invited to dinner with friends: a happy, relaxed, homemade sit-down meal outdoors around a beautiful platter of roast chicken and potatoes. We handed around not one (broccoli), not two (asperagus), but three vegetables (mashed sweet potatoes), and homemade bread (ok, the butter was store-bought). They were all made by hand by a lovely Australian mother of three, living in the States for her husband’s job. Their two daughters and son made lively conversation; we learned a bit about life in Australia; we were able to see America from a new perspective. The perfect evening!

On a blog called Life Currents, I found a recipe for dessert, an old-fashioned apple-walnut cake. 

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In my enthusiasm, I forgot to measure the apples, so I suspect I had an apple-to-cake ratio that wasn’t ideal. But I enjoyed every minute of making it, from paring the apples (and sharing nuggets with three hungry dogs) to beating the batter to watching it rise in the oven to enjoying the compliments from the kids and adults (and to this nice slice for breakfast!). It didn’t have to be perfect; it was a gesture of friendship. It wasn’t a chore; it was a gift both to myself and to my hosts.

Life should never be too hectic to push you out of the kitchen and away from handmade meals. Take the time today, tonight, tomorrow, next month, next year…. You’ll be so glad you did.

 

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Quick & Easy Herb Focaccia Rolls

Happy Spring! I’m actually not reeeeeeallllly ready yet to give up my turtlenecks and mittens, and you can see why.

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We are so lucky not to have had Chicago’s brutal cold earlier this year and the Midwest’s horrific flooding now, but it’s still raw, so I let some fresh herbs work their magic this morning to bring a vibrant Mediterranean warmth to my kitchen.

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The recipe is from Taste of Home What Can I Make In My… Instant Pot, Air Fryer, Waffle Iron & More, written to be made in a muffin tin. But this dough is so wet and sticky, I used the option of a glass 13×9 pan. Much, much easier! The bottom has a delicious crunch to it. A “Molto Grazie!” to Linda Schend of Kenosha, Wisconsin (whose spring, no doubt, is a whole lot rawer than ours!).

Prep: 15 mins + rising           Bake: 20 mins       Makes 1 1/2 dozen

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 pkg. (1/4 oz.) quick-rise yeast

2 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme, divided

2 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary, divided

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided

1 1/2 cups warm water (120 to 130 degrees)

6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  1. Combine flour, yeast, 1 Tbsp. thyme, 1 Tbsp. rosemary, sugar and 1 tsp. salt. Add the water and 2 Tbsp. oil; beat 1 minute (the dough will be very sticky).
  2. Divide dough among 18 greased muffin cups. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes. [Or spread dough in a greased 13×9 pan and let rise.]
  3. Preheat over to 375 degrees. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together remaining seasonings and oil just until herbs are fragrant and oil is hot, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat; cool.
  4. Gently spoon cooled herb mixture over each roll [or pan]. Bake until golden brown 20-25 minutes [or 25-30 minutes for the pan].

(c) 2019 RDA Enthusiast Brands LLC

 

 

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

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Not hard to guess what’s on the menu this morning: Irish Soda Bread from the Brooklyn Bread Lab in honor of the grit and talent of the Irish and Irish-Americans who made New York City such an energetic, productive city.

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And the end result: Light and sweet! The dough is very shaggy, so keep your hands well floured as you incorporate the raisins and shape the loaf.  I cut an X into the top to ensure it cooks through.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. fresh orange zest

1/2 tsp. baking soda

3 tbsp. butter (chilled, cubed)

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup raisings

Sugar in the raw to garnish

Preheat over to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, orange zest, and baking soda. Add butter and pinch into flour until pea-size pieces are formed. Add buttermilk and stir with a spoon until dough begins to form. Add raisins and word dough with hands until mixture is fully combined. Grease a lined sheet tray. Form round dough ball in tray center. Flatten dough ball until it’s 1 1/2 inches thick. Sprinkle loaf with raw sugar. Bake for 40 minutes. Cool before cutting.

So I’m off to the parade and a pint at my local. I’ve had many a raucous time at St. Paddy’s Day celebrations in my past, so this one can be quiet for a change. I saw a notice for a Sober St. Pat’s party and I thought, “Hey, maybe…” and then I said, “Nah.”

I’ll be thinking about Donegal, my favorite part of the Auld Country. You can see why.

 

 

 

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Savory Puff Pastry Tart

An evening to myself can be dinner on a tray in front of Netflix or a relaxed, indulgent treat. Tonight? The treat.

I concocted a savory tart out of frozen puff pastry, goat cheese, caramelized onions, chicken, and fresh rosemary.

I lit the candles, turned on one of my favorite CDs (the soundtrack to a romantic comedy with Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline called “French Kiss”), and sat down with an advance reading copy of Ruth Reichl’s Gourmet memoir, Save Me the Plums.

I savored Reichl’s colorful and touching writing, the jaunty French music, the soft light, the flakes of pastry and smears of cheese, the leisure to sit here as long as I felt like, the quiet when the CD ended.

On a Monday night, with the rest of the work week to come, I treated myself the way I would a guest, with love and respect. Hostess and guest in one…perfect together.

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Grateful for Hump Day

Yes, I’m thrilled it’s already Wednesday. Only threevwork days this week. It’s still very quiet uptown.

Also grateful for the time to think. I have a terrific solution for a donation to MAPC’s Open Table which asks a bit of me, but is a good creative hack.

But I so appreciate that I don’t have to or want to use my walk across Central Park to yak on the phone. Silence is a superb idea incubator.

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Happy New Year!


The words on everyone’s lips at the moment are “self-care.” I’m all for that!

The Goehring version includes a CD of classic carols, our tree lit, and a tea tray with a cheese savory, a piece of stollen, and a Niederegger marzipan Santa.

Please take good care of yourselves and your loved ones today and throughout 2019. Namaste.

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Kicking off the Leftover Season

Thanksgiving deserves its own moment and attention, and Chuck and I did it up big this year: 23-pound turkey with all the trimmings. Now… onto the leftovers!

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The breakfast of champions.

Martina McBride’s bacon-cheddar biscuits with Chuck’s homemade cranberry sauce! I need to be more generous with the cheddar next time; there’s plenty of bacon!

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Oxmoore House $30 hardcover October 2018

Martina’s new cookbook is as pretty and warm as her gorgeous voice.

Martha Stewart’s cheddar-sage biscuit has been my go-to biscuit for a long time—long enough to need a rest, but so delicious nobody wants me to stray too far. Martina’s Cheddar Biscuits With Bacon do the trick. ‘The original recipe didn’t call for bacon,’ she says. ‘(That was my idea. You’re welcome!)’ Thank you, Martina, for your magical music and your culinary magic!

Cheddar Biscuits With Bacon

Serves 6         Hands On 30 Minutes          Total 45 Minutes

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cubed

1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

6 pieces smoked bacon, cooked and chopped

1 cup buttermilk

1 large egg, beaten

  1. Preheat oven to 450˚
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly coat with vegetable oil.
  3. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender, or use two knives, until butter is the size of peas; stir in the cheese and bacon.
  4. Combine the buttermilk and egg in a small bowl. Add to the flour mixture just until incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a lightly flour surface, and pat or roll dough into ¾-inch thickness; cut with a 3-inch round cutter, and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown.

If you’re in a rush, these work great as drop biscuits. Using an ice cream scoop or ¼-cup measuring cup, drop the batter on the prepared pan.—(c) 2018 Martina McBride

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Sweet Potatoes for Breakfast?!

Hell, yeah! Darshana Thacker, the author of Forks Over Knives Flavor!, convinced me with her Sweet Potato Cornmeal Pancakes.

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Obviously those are squashes, not sweet potatoes, but are they photogenic, or what?! 

Redolent of cinnamon and allspice, sweetened by applesauce, crunchy with cornmeal… these are going to set you up for a productive morning. The recipe below made 10 pancakes, so I froze some. This morning, I heated up a couple and, instead of maple syrup and blueberries, I spread a little creamy peanut butter on one and strawberry jam on the other… even better!

One caution: unless you’ve got a big griddle or pan, this doesn’t go quickly. Oh, how I wish I had a fancy stove top with a griddle built in, but I made these two-by-two in a small frying pan and that’s a rather tedious exercise. That’s why making extra to freeze is great; re-heating takes no time at all and, boom!, you’re off to the races!

“These delicious, satisfying pancakes…have the same spices that you find in all-American pumpkin pie; in fact, you can substitute pumpkin purée for the puréed sweet potatoes….

Makes 6 to 8 pancakes                                                                       Ready in 30 minutes

¾ cup cornmeal (or whole wheat flour)

¾ cup oat flour (or whole wheat flour)

2 TBSP cashew flour (or almond flour)

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground allspice

¼ tsp sea salt

1 (15-ounce) can sweet potato purée (about 1 ½ cups)

1 cup unsweetened, unflavored plant milk (or water)

½ cup applesauce

Pure maple syrup

Blueberries or sliced bananas, for serving

  1. Combine the cornmeal, oat flour, cashew flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together to distribute the ingredients.
  2. Whisk the sweet potato, milk, and applesauce together in a medium bowl. Add to the bowl with dry ingredients until no flour is visible.
  3. Heat a non-stick sauté pan or non-stick griddle over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until it’s hot. Use a 1/3-cup measuring cup to scoop the batter and pour it onto the sauté pan or griddle. Cook for about 2 ½ minutes, until the tops of the pancakes appear dry. Use a spatula to gently lift and flip the pancakes. Cook for another 2 ½ minutes, and remove to a warmed serving plate. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  4. Serve the pancakes hot, with the maple syrup and fruit.”–from Forks Over Knives Flavor! Copyright (c) 2018 by Forks Over Knives LLC
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Harper Wave October 2018 $29.99 hardcover

 

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Heads up!

7 Sundays

Howard Books; $26 hardcover

On December 4, Alec Penix’s Seven Sundays: A Faith, Fitness and Food Plan for Lasting Spiritual and Physical Change hits bookstore shelves. I’m giving it a test drive and it is terrific!

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Alec Penix, celebrity trainer 

I’m on Day 11 of 43, so Alec and I are still in the honeymoon period (and I’ve already demurred a lot on the exercise part, though the Worship Walks are no problem for this long-time New Yorker who can do a mile in less than 20 minutes).

Every day, he and his co-author Myatt Murphy ask the reader to work on Alec’s Pillars of Promise, to “concede,” “honor,” “offer,” “sleep,” and “exercise.” That stands for CHOSEN. You do have to surrender to God in this program, but as I transition from my lifelong–so far–Catholic faith to Presbyterianism, I’m happy to think more about that relationship.

There are no recipes in this book, though there is a lot on nutrition and a whole process by which you toss out the processed junk foods in your diet and slowly but surely substitute them with whole foods.

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Wholly delicious! 

This recipe from Reader’s Digest’s Foods That Harm Foods That Heal certainly fits into the Seven Sundays plan! Bake. Share. Repeat! 

Carrot Ginger Yogurt Muffins

Makes 12

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes plus cooling

Healing Foods: flour, ginger, chia, oats, carrots, apples, yogurt

Ailments It Heals: arthritis, blood pressure, hives, interstitial cystitis

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp ground ginger

1 ½ tsp baking soda

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup chia seeds or flaxseed

½ cup rolled oats, plus extra to sprinkle

2 packed cups finely grated carrots (2 medium carrots)

1 packed cup grated apple (1 medium apple)

1 egg

½ cup low-fat plain yogurt

½ tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚ Coat 12 standard-size muffin cups with cooking spray or insert paper liners.
  2. In large bowl, sift flour, ginger and baking soda. Add sugar, chia seeds, and oats. Mix to combine, then mix in carrots and apples. Make a well in center of mixture.
  3. In small bowl, whisk together egg and yogurt. Stir in vanilla. Add to well in large bowl and stir together until mixture is just combined (do not overstir).
  4. Spoon evenly into muffin tin. Sprinkle each with extra oats.
  5. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack.

Per muffin: 118 calories, 4 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 3g  fiber, 2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 16 mg cholesterol, 186 mg sodium

From the book FOODS THAT HARM FOODS THAT HEAL, reprinted with permission by Trusted Media Brands, Inc., Copyright © 2018. All rights reserved.

I’m sharing this recipe with my friends in the New York Walkers Club, a group of about 50 men and women of all ages who race-walk under the direction of an inspiring, funny, friendly, dedicated professional athlete named Lon Wilson:

“Baking is what I do on weekend mornings when I’m not race-walking around Central Park. It took me years to learn the patience successful baking requires, but now that I’m better than I was (I’m always impatient to taste the results)… Wow! What a contemplative, sensual experience it is. Using whole foods, enjoying how the kitchen smells as they come together In the oven, and best of all sharing the treats with friends and family make baking a healthy way to spend quality time.”

 

 

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So grateful!

 

 

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Bounty from Halsey Farm and Nursery, Southampton, New York

As a kid in the ’60s, I thought Brussels sprouts were absolutely heinous. When I encountered them, boiled and gray and sour, at my friend Nonni’s house (no offense intended–that was the way everybody cooked them in those days), I vowed never to touch one again. (Thank God my mother didn’t have the foggiest idea what to do with them, so we were spared at home.) Now of course, having discovered they can be just amazing, simply roasted in olive oil with salt and pepper, I’ve got immense plans!

That’s a honey nut kabocha up there on the right in front of that gorgeous cauliflower and between the green beans and the acorn squash. Can’t wait to try that! Any ideas?

I took two small butternut squashes tonight and made soup: so easy! I can’t peel and chop those things, so I cut them in half, took out the seeds, and roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour. I sauteed one chopped onion in butter, added the softened, peeled squash with 4 cups of chicken broth, and pureed the mixture until smooth. A dash of salt, pepper, and nutmeg and it was like the whole history of New England was playing itself out in my mouth.

 

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I’m sure this is not new to most of you, but for a kid who thought the Jolly Green Giant crossed his arms and, like Samantha on “Bewitched,” produced frozen vegetables with the blink of an eye, this is all so new and thrilling!

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Frozen, 1960s style

 

 

 

 

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