Kick start your day with a good breakfast

Whole Grains Month

Last gasp of September, and the final day of Whole Grains Month. When I was a kid, whole grains were at the heart of health food, something that hippies ate.

Do you think the wheels touch the ground occasionally?

Do you think the wheels ever touched the ground?

My mother lived in terror I would be kidnapped by the 1960s version of gypsies. I would’ve loved riding in a colorful VW bus, skipping school, and dancing all day. But when it came to the food…yikes.

Everything a fan of Swanson's and Jell-o would hate!

Everything a fan of Swanson’s and Jell-o would hate!

Thank goodness, we all grow up and our palates mature… but I did have to put a slice of American cheese between the whole-grain rice cake and the scrambled egg this morning.

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What’s better than one breakfast?

Two, of course! This morning, I had my little fresh apple and yogurt concoction at home and at midday brunch with my dad at Donohue’s, a classic bar and grill on Lexington Avenue.

845 Lexington Avenue (between 64th and 65th Streets)

845 Lexington Avenue (between 64th and 65th Streets)

It’s been there for ages, right down the street from St. Vincent’s where I’ll start singing in choir again for the noon mass next week.

St. Vincent Ferrer Church, 845 Lexington Avenue (between 66th and 67th Streets), an historic landmark.

St. Vincent Ferrer Church, 845 Lexington Avenue (between 66th and 67th Streets), an historic landmark.

Their eggs benedict, corned beef hash and eggs, and later in the evening their grilled salmon are all deliciously prepared. The bartenders, the wait staff, the owner…not a dud among them.

A tabloid, a martini...what more could a gentleman wish for? Hi, Dad!

A tabloid, a martini…what more could a gentleman wish for? Hi, Dad!

After brunching indoors on such a beautiful day, I strolled home through the park and east on 71st Street. Fall is in the air!




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Bowling for Breakfast

You’ve heard of bread bowls for soup? Love them. Then there’s the ladies’- lunch classic of crab salad in a tomato bowl (which must be pronounced “toe-mah-toe,”, while wearing couture head to “toe”).

ladies who lunch

So why not an apple bowl for yogurt, oatmeal, or cream-of-wheat? I must admit, on this lazy Sunday morning, I am barefoot in a Land’s End T-shirt and Casual Corner slacks (at least, they’re “slacks,” not jeans or the pill-y bottoms of a velour track suit).

Round one...to be continued and improved.

Round one…to be continued and improved.

Next time, I won’t core the apple, I’ll just scoop out the seeds and some flesh. The heat of oatmeal or cream-of-wheat would soften the fruit. Crisp and cold like this, with the yogurt, raisins, peanuts, and cinnamon, is great for warmer weather.

Spontaneous, quick-to-prepare, and healthy…that’s Butterscotch Blast-off’s motto.  It’s a day or rest–take it easy.

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Southern Flavor

No chickens were harmed in the production of this photo.

This morning, as I was baking sour cream corn muffins, I was listening to Performance Today on WQXR, our local classical music station. In one of those wonderful moments of synchronicity, a modern composition called “Fiddler’s Galaxy” by North Carolinian Kenneth Frazelle came on.

fiddler's galaxy

Frazelle fell in love with the Appalachian fiddlers of Galax, Virginia and wrote the piece inspired by their unique style of playing. If you follow the “Fiddler’s Galaxy” link above, you can sample “Breakdowns.” Just try not to smile while you’re listening to that! Thank you, Southern talents and tastes, for a great start to a beautiful fall day.


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Tears in my Orange Juice


I don’t take my well-paying job lightly, God knows, in this day and age and in the publishing industry. But it’s not easy to go in with great enthusiasm and confidence when you know you’re saying good-bye to a colleague of oh-so-many years.


We’ll be having a farewell party for Deb Sinclaire this afternoon. Before she was Editor-in-Chief of History Book Club and Book-of-the-Month Club, she worked as an assistant on The Good Cook in 1993, so I looked for a baking book that was published way back when. Lucky for me, since I didn’t have a lot of time to bake, I hit on Ann Byrne’s THE CAKE MIX DOCTOR.  I made two layers of her Orange Birthday Cake last night which soaked in orange syrup overnight. I made the frosting this morning and packed up the bits and pieces. I’ll frost it before the good-bye party at 3pm and hope that the “fake” cake will convey my sincere appreciation for her friendship.

cake mix doctor orange cake

As I worked with my my mom’s old Sunbeam hand mixer to make the frosting, I heard her say, so sensibly, “There, there, now…everything’s going to be all right.” Whatever happens in the near future, I know I’ve always treated my colleagues with respect and together, we’ve supported the authors who’ve made our lives more exciting with their dreams.

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Baby Food Grown Up

apple oven

Applesauce, like jam, is a treasure that no pantry should be without.  Fall is descending so gently and beautifully on NYC that I could almost be convinced the simple pleasures of apple harvesting could break out in Central Park any day. Then I remember Dorothy Parker’s line to her hostess who commented the guests were in another room “ducking for apples.” “But for one letter, that’s the story of my life,” she replied. That’s more like NYC!

Dorothy Parker--I suspect not much of a breakfast eater.

Dorothy Parker–I suspect not much of a breakfast eater.

This morning, all I’ve got in the way of applesauce is a plastic cup from my neighbor Shirley’s Meals on Wheels (no, I don’t steal food from the mouths of elderly ladies…she shares!). If I warm it up and add a sprinkling of fresh rosemary, that’ll hold me over until I can make my own tomorrow. Parker, of course, would’ve added a good shot of apple brandy. I’m tempted!

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Swedish Fish for Breakfast

My handsome husband in Stockholm

My handsome husband in Stockholm

These rice cakes are like little magic carpets, taking me back to all sorts of wonderful places! In spring 1999, Chuck and I took a fabulous two-week trip from Iceland to Norway to Sweden to Denmark, and back to the fjords in Norway. Every step of the way, we ate like royalty.

Each morning, whether we were in cosmopolitan Sweden, rural Norway or charming Denmark, we’d choose from an amazing smörgåsbord which always included herring in sour cream, herring in vinegar, herring in tomato sauce, herring in mustard sauce…it was heaven!

This morning, I could’ve been back on the banks of the fjords as I enjoyed my rice cake slathered in sour cream and topped with herring tidbits and dill. As they say in Norway, “Vær så god!”

I can't imagine why the Vikings ever left!

I can’t imagine why the Vikings ever left!

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‘Morning, Honey!

Elegance personified, even in the chaos of getting Thanksgiving dinner on the table.

Elegance personified, even in the chaos of getting Thanksgiving dinner on the table.

This morning’s rice cake topped with natural peanut butter and drizzled with honey makes me think of my mother, Jean Whittingham. She used to make us peanut-butter-and-mayonnaise sandwiches. As awful as that sounds, it did mean her four kids weren’t all gummed up with marshmallow Fluff, the sweet equivalent, as far as I’m concerned, of Velveeta.

I never saw a bite of dessert cross Mom’s lips. What she really liked was salsa on her scrambled eggs, buttery baked potatoes, and bread.

I inherited many things from Mom: a talent for needlework, the need to read, an ability to laugh at myself, and a craving for salt.

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Hit the Beach!

It's not good-bye; wait 'til next year!

It’s not good-bye; wait ’til next year!

It’s much easier to get back to your workaday routine after a wonderful week of vacation when you discover such friendly things said about the book you just published! Thanks to yoga and Pilates instructor Barbara Purcell for this funny factoid about a sumo wrestler’s routine in her blog mention of my book, Breakfast. 

And just in case you’re not a regular reader of David Patrick Columbia’s New York Social Diary, Liz Smith gave the book props and included my author photo with Grace. There we are, just inches away from Catherine Zeta-Jones!

But enough about me….

Fast, fresh, cheap! Take that, McDonald's!

Fast, fresh, cheap! Take that, McDonald’s!

Did you think about what you might want to put on a multi-grain rice cake? That crackly little confection of brown rice, flax seeds, caraway seeds, and millet needs something to give it flavor and this morning it’s cucumbers, cottage cheese, and diced ham.

Just a few more weeks of rice cakes and thighs like these could be mine!


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Sinfully Good Breakfast Without Sin

After a couple of Nick and Betty’s Bait and Tackle gut-busting–and addictively delicious–breakfasts last week (we tried to balance the calorie load with slivers of watermelon most mornings), I must repent.

Watch those almonds in the toaster oven--these could've used about 10 seconds less.

Watch those almonds in the toaster oven–these could’ve used about 10 seconds less.

It’s time for half a cup of vanilla flavored Greek yogurt on a multi-grain brown rice cake with ten–count ’em, ten–raspberries and toasted slivered almonds.

Quite tasty and so far, it’s almost noon and it’s held my healthy appetite at bay.

What would you put on a rice cake for breakfast? It’s a 40-calorie, no-fat, no-sugar, 1-gram-of-protein, 8-grams-of-carbs blank canvas. I’ve got 13 of them left, so it’ll be a challenge to keep from repeating myself. But oh, watch the pounds melt away!

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