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Kick start your day with a good breakfast

What Can You Do With a Crumpet–Encore!

This morning’s English muffin creation is called “Coop and Corral.”

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Perhaps it should be “Coop et Corral, since there’s a little French influence in here. Friday night, I ate with my family at Le Veau d’Or, bringing home a good bit of my steak au poivre. So this luscious bit of steak added a whole second layer of flavor to whole grain muffins, egg, and butter.

The New York Times Book Review this morning was a good reminder that farming is not all locavorism, hay rides, and baby animals frolicking in green fields. They reviewed four memoirs of people who’d been forced to sell the family farm or retreated to the woods to start over or were stuck in the middle of nowhere with an increasingly angry spouse. Their subtitles include words like “ragged” and “lament.” Far truer than the Technicolor photos in today’s lifestyle magazines.

Upstate NY, dead of winter; looks lonely, doesn't it?

Upstate NY, dead of winter; looks lonely, doesn’t it?

 

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What Can You Do With a Crumpet?

Well, we Americans call them English muffins (I know, I know…purists will have a long list of the differences, but I’m just looking at them as a simple bread not a clash of cultures).

drinking tea

One of my lifelong loves, the English muffin can be doctored up in every way imaginable. This morning, I bought six whole-grain muffins, so let’s embark on a kitchen experiment: “What Can You Do With a Crumpet?”

This morning, I created “The William Tell.”

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Toast the muffins. Fry half a dozen apple slices in butter until soft. Spread the muffins with grainy mustard, place the apple slices on top, drape with Swiss cheese and broil until the cheese is bubbly. If you’re looking for a healthy, quick, savory breakfast sandwich, you’ve hit the bull’s-eye!

 

 

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Confidence

My niece Elizabeth will be interviewing at the Bank Street School of Education later this morning for a place in their Child Life Development program. They should be so lucky!

I’ll go by this morning to deliver an energy boost of a chocolate-chip muffin, frosted with more chocolate, for the girl who never met a dessert she didn’t like…and hasn’t gained a pound since she was sixteen.

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She’s the sweet, responsible girl loved by everybody: her friends and their parents. In one of my favorite photos of her, she looks so poised…and she was only five!

eliz in grand rapids

But Elizabeth has another side to her: fearless, exuberant, and eager to kick up her heels. Knock ’em dead, Liz!

eliz swinging

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What I Love About Blogging

Roger Angell wrote a really rich piece in this week’s New Yorker called “This Old Man.” There’s so much any one of us helping an elderly parent navigate their lives can take from this.

Photo by Brigitte Lacombe

Photo by Brigitte Lacombe

His take on blogging is spot-on: “I’ve also become a blogger, and enjoy the ease and freedom of the form: it’s a bit like making a paper airplane and then watching it take wing below your window.” Yes, a blog is definitely publication with a personal touch. People’s passions have room to bloom.

I love this blog because, besides carrying on about breakfast which I do adore, it helps me illustrate the ways in which I haven’t changed, to be reassured of the continuum from youth to (God, how did I get here?!) middle-age. Everything around me might be racing to some cold, robotic, tech-driven future, but I’m still that little girl in the pink party dress, the one who craves her grandfather’s bacon and eggs on Sunday morning, the one who gets up early to read books before the day’s rush starts.  I have never graduated beyond my mom’s simple Sunbeam hand mixer. This is a place where I can say, “My old-fashioned life matters.”

So…I beg your patience while I extol the simple pleasures yet again.

My favorite jug (and when was the last time you heard that word?!):

DSC01701Isn’t that just perfection? My sister-in-law Jan gave me this years ago. Miraculously, though it sits out on the counter so I can use it often, I’ve never chipped it. I think it’s the deliciously naughty suggestion of morning sex in the baguette going through the round loaf that makes me smile.

And what comes of being deliciously naughty in the morning?

Jan Charles Chase

The start of a beautiful family: Chase is the elder brother of Kate. Both children are now so grown-up, but their mom Jan has never lost the golden highlights in her hair or that contented smile. I hope she never does.

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Blueberry Muffins…Hold the Eggs

I wish I kept chickens.

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These are the chic residents at The Beekman Boys’ spread in Sharon Springs, NY.

I never have eggs when I want them! To have a lovely coop outside the back door, filled with energetic layers, would just be heaven.

With the rise in food allergies, there are many more egg-less recipes available on line than ever before. I picked the Eggless Blueberry Muffin recipe from Pot & Kettle, a valuable and heartwarming blog here on WordPress. Thanks!

Though I may not have eggs, I do have some bacon and wanted that sweet/savory interplay this morning. I replaced the melted butter with bacon drippings and folded crumbled bacon into the batter with frozen blueberries.

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OK, I can save the chickens for another day.

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As American as…

colonial era fireplace

Pearlash? According to Feeding America, “the Historic American Cookbook Project,” America’s second Declaration of Independence was Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery, originally published in 1796, the first cookbook by an American for us Americans. Simmons’s baking recipes used pearlash, a potassium carbonate obtained from wood ashes and a common household staple in America’s kitchens, as a chemical leavener. It’s the precursor to today’s baking powder.  Amelia, I raise my tricorner hat to you!

A tip of the coonskin cap goes to the pioneer women who settled the frontier. Their ingenuity was severely tested. We can thank them and their men for cornbread, mush (gee, swell!), and distilled whiskey. 

And that is my President’s Day post, composed over a plate of blueberry focaccia with vanilla yogurt and strawberries. 

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A Breakfast Surprise

Who’d have thought you could get breakfast from a cookbook like this?

by Rick Marzullo O'Connell; (c) Copyright 1991; HarperCollins Publishers;

 (c) Copyright 1991; HarperCollins Publishers

I usually use this for serving company a delicious recipe for Chicken Breasts With Artichokes, Cream, and Tomatoes. Chuck loves it for the White Beans With Tuna. Yesterday, I got a craving for rosemary focaccia for a savory breakfast. I had coincidentally just bought a freezer-ful of frozen fruit: blueberries, peaches, and strawberries. What should my eye fall on in this book but Blueberry Focaccia: “this combination is not as untraditional as it may seem. It is inspired by Italian flat breads baked with wine grapes and rosemary, called schiacciate con l’uva. Serve with a dab of sour cream or mascarpone cheese.” Well, there’s the answer for that last bit of crème fraîche I bought last week for a lemon tea bread.

I halved the recipe and used an 8x8 pan. Savory rosemary and garlic focaccia tomorrow!

I halved the recipe and used an 8×8 pan. Savory rosemary and garlic focaccia tomorrow!

Now that I’ve tasted this, a sweet whipped cream would better complement the tartness of the berries (I used a light, light hand with the sugar).

It starts with a traditional pizza dough:

1 cup warm water (about 100°)

¼ teaspoon sugar

1 envelope (¼ ounce) active dry yeast

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1. In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup water with sugar and yeast. Let stand in a warm place for 10 to 12 minutes. The yeast will become bubbly and give off a yeasty odor.

2. In another bowl, combine flour and salt. Make a well in flour, add proofed yeast, remaining ¾ cup warm water, and olive oil. Begin mixing flour and liquid together with your hand; mix until you form a dough that cleans sides of bowl.

3. Clean off your hands.  Lightly flour a work surface. Place dough on surface and begin to knead with heel of your hand, turning and folding dough as you knead it. Knead 5 to 8 minutes, or until dough becomes smooth and elastic. Put dough into a clean bowl and let rise, covered with a kitchen towel, in a warm place (75° to 80°) 1 to 2 hours, until doubled in bulk.

4. At this point, punch dough down with fist. Knead 1 minute. You are now ready to shape dough according to recipe.

Then we move onto the focaccia:

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 recipe traditional pizza dough

1 cup blueberries

¾ cup sugar

1. Preheat over to 350°. Brush a 10 x 8-inch pan with 1 tablespoon butter. Pat or roll dough to fit pan. Brush surface with remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Indent surface of dough by pressing all over with your fingertips. Top with blueberries and sugar, pressing gently into dough.

2. Let dough rise, covered with a kitchen towel, in a warm place 45 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

3. Bake focaccia 30 minutes, or until puffy and lightly golden.

 

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Black, Black, Black

After another “black” Friday of lay-offs (not mine, yet disturbing) and a winter that won’t quit (more snow forecast for this weekend), I am in a bleak mood. What better medicine than buttered pumpernickel toast with black cherry jam, and strong black tea?

DSC02010The pleasantly sour tang of the bread and the not-too-sweet fruitiness of the jam are a combination that could lift even Eeyore’s spirits. The black tea is a gift from my brother Charles, brought all the way from England, which brings back such fond memories of my using the drink as the antidote to any and all of life’s setbacks when I was just 21 (and totally unaware of what a real setback was).

But it’s not all clouds and despair. I came home last night to my handsome husband and this Valentine’s Day gift: love in bloom!

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Birthday Breakfast

Today is my father’s 84th birthday. The man who taught me to love books and the music of Tin Pan Alley and Broadway musicals and Golden-Age movies and art and New York City is a man who deserves a breakfast of exquisite ingredients served in a beautiful setting. Well, that’s today’s lunch…he’s taking me and a young friend to La Grenouille.

To the man whose widow’s peak I got if not his fashion sense:

mom, dad, beth chicago 1956To the guy who loves a good NY tavern like Donahue’s as much as swankier restaurants like “21” and the aforementioned La Grenouille:

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I wish I could give you a perfect soft-boiled egg smothered in caviar…

soft boiled egg with caviar

on the terrace of a Venetian palazzo.

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Oh, poor us…we’ll have to settle for a banquette amid Charles Masson’s flowers and his father’s lovely paintings. We’ll take it!

 

 

 

 

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Good Moo-rning!

Grass-fed beef, G&T Farms, Ridgefield Springs, NY

Grass-fed beef, G&T Farms, Richfield Springs, NY

This week, the breakfast serving sizes will be modest (well, for today anyway). A tall glass of cold milk and a piece of fruit should do it. Because…

I’m still thinking about Sunday morning’s mind-bogglingly delicious plate of steak and eggs. The steak was from Black and Red Angus cows raised on the same clover, timothy, and other grasses upstate that the bees buzz over on their way to Leigh and Sandy Goehring’s hives.

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I’ve told you how their honey is pure sweetness. I can also say that their beef is pure tender meatiness, umami to the max. Not to mention healthy; leaner and less caloric than feed-lot beef, it’s also packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, according to americangrassfedbeef.com (perhaps not a totally impartial source, I admit).

So perhaps this week’s breakfasts don’t have to be as Spartan!

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