butterscotchblastoff

Kick start your day with a good breakfast

Simplest. Breakfast. Ever.

Natural, chunky peanut butter on fresh banana--it doesn't get much easier than this!

Natural, chunky peanut butter on fresh banana–it doesn’t get much easier than this!

In a world where you’re asked for yet another password every time you turn around and the iterations of coffee at Starbucks are damn near endless, the idea that there’s a “value in simplicity,” as the New York Times reports today is almost laughable. Yes! We all want a less-complicated life more than anything. A brand and corporate identity consultancy, Siegel & Gale, just came out with their Global Brand Simplicity Index. Of the ten top U.S. brands, seven are food-related, chain restaurants and two supermarkets. If you’re looking for simplicity, why go farther than your own fridge and natural ingredients? So, I’m all for seeing Trader Joe’s and Kroger on here, but I say, “Huh?” when it comes to the chains. Why drive to McDonald’s, Chipotle, or Dunkin’ Donuts, for overly processed food when you can feed yourself well with the greatest of ease at home? A complex question to ponder why I’m nibbling at this tasty, simple snack.

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Corn Season

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I’ve had a lot of cinnamon apple teacake this week for breakfast, so on a brisk, quintessential fall day, I want something savory for breakfast. As usual, my favorite baking book writer Lauren Chattman comes to the rescue with Cornmeal & Cheddar Cheese Muffins. Skip on over to Bring Back Home Ec for the recipe and step-by-step photos. These satisfying small bites are as crisp as the air outside.

Handmade wreath courtesy of my talented neighbor Wilma Epstein.

Handmade wreath courtesy of my talented neighbor Wilma Epstein.

 

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Spice of Life

This morning, I’m meeting Ian Hemphill, author of The Herb & Spice Bible, at my club, the Cos (our nickname for The Cosmopolitan Club, started for governesses on their days’ off over a hundred years ago and today a sisterhood of women in the arts and business).

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It’s a terrific reference, very comprehensive on growing, drying, grinding, roasting, cooking with and the history of these essential flavor enhancers. But that’s not all of it. It’s very entertaining, too, with Ian’s “Travels in the Spice Trade” stories throughout. I look forward to asking him how the upheavals around the world influence his work, his words of advice for anyone dying to throw over a corporate life to start an herb farm, and how a relatively unsophisticated cook (errrr, that’d be me) can start to use more exotic herbs and spices.

I began with the basic: cinnamon in an apple tea cake recipe Ian’s daughter Kate contributed to the book. Beginner’s luck!

Moist on top with a feather light crumb, this is not too sweet and not too spicy.

Moist on top with a feather light crumb, this is not too sweet and not too spicy.

 

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Falling Temperatures

Happy Fall! 43 degrees F this morning…perfect! The corgi and I couldn’t be more comfortable. For twelve years old, she’s pretty frisky–especially when there’s kibble dust to be Hoovered up.

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And I got oatmeal: oats for fiber, almonds for protein, raisins for iron, and I read somewhere that cinnamon fights inflammation. I’m reaaaaady to ruuuuumble!

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Best Friends and Bloody Marys

It’s the eagerly anticipated reunion weekend for the St. Bart’s Players of the 1980s, a stellar group of performers whose common bond is long rehearsals, hours of singing, dancing, and acting up a storm under the hot lights, and many more hours of cast parties, tech shows, and gossip.

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In my tenure, all of this mayhem was orchestrated by Tom Briggs who can’t come up from North Carolina this weekend. His talents are too many to count: actor/dancer/singer; director; administrator; juggler. Oh, just to hear his wry digs. Tommy, you’ll have to come up soon and we’ll “take it from the edge.”

Stacy Einhorn, Katherine Wolf, Kim Selby, Ellen Gould in "The Boyfriend"

Stacy Einhorn, Katherine Wolf, Kim Selby, Ellen Gould in “The Boyfriend”

Classic American musicals were our strength: “Gypsy,” “Fiorello!” “Working,” and so many more. In the case of “L’il Abner,” however, the only thing strong was the smell of what came out of frightened animals carried onto an unfamiliar stage!

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We never saw the poor woman who played Moonbeam McSwine at St. Bart’s ever again.

Somehow, skinny, awkward me got the role of Appasionata Von Climax in “L’il Abner.” I made it work.

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“Never act with animals or children” was advice we should’ve taken!

Having done Leonard Bernstein/Betty Comden/Adolph Green’s brilliant musical “On the Town,” we’re off to see the new Broadway revival this afternoon. And now for the Bloody Mary part: Sardi’s before the show. I can taste it already.

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While I’m in the midst of this creative, funny, energizing, beloved group of friends, I’ll be remembering another St. Bart’s Player, Bob Smith. It’s been a very long time since I saw him last, but I’ll never forget his smile, his kindness, his dancing, or his quiet strength. Here’s to you, Bob. xx00 Scan_20141018 (3)

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Bring Back Home Ec!

Having learned the joy of cooking rather late in life, I’m like an ex-smoker. I can’t stop talking about the benefits and haranguing people to be more like me. Please visit my other blog Bring Back Home Ec for photos and instructions on making a bacon-and-egg croissant-wich in your own kitchen.

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Why go out for this? Nobody wants to see us in the morning before we’ve taken a shower. Only our families should have to put up with that.

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Food Porn

I grew up in the warm embrace of Time, Inc., the publishing company founded in 1923 by Henry Luce and Briton Hadden. My father moved us east from my hometown of Chicago to take a job as an ad salesman for Fortune magazine in NYC in  1962.

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Time, Inc. sent my parents a silver cup upon the birth of my sister later that year. This generous corporate parent moved us west to Mill Valley, CA, and east again to Chappaqua, NY, as my father climbed the ranks. It straightened my teeth, gave my brother his first job, and ensured my father a cushy retirement. That’s a long way to explain why I love magazines. When I see a glossy, perfect-bound collection of ads and editorial, I literally salivate. Imagine my excitement when my eyes fell on the October Food issue of Conde Nast Traveler Saturday morning.

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Let’s take a tour.

What stopped me: 

Martin Parr’s photograph of a bowl of juicy red grapefruit on a breakfast table in Abergavenny, Wales with the red and white tablecloth and the charming little mat printed with a Constable painting beneath the delectable meal.

Rick Bayless’ tortas, available at Tortas Frontera at Chicago O’Hare, voted the best airport food in the world.

The photo and review of Three Chimneys, a hotel on the Isle of Skye which sources its seafood from the docks just steps away.

What I dog-eared to read later:

The editor’s letter from Pilar Guzman, “Never Waste a Meal” (I can’t be the only person who never passes by the editor’s letter, or they would’ve stopped taking up valuable, salable space long ago)

“Olive Oil Odyssey,” the story of Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli (known as the Frankies for their Brooklyn restaurants) eating their way through Sicily

“Supertaster,” a profile of Padme Lakshmi

“Catskills Collective,” upstate NY small-town restaurateurs creating a new culinary weekend getaway

What I hated:  

The infographic, “Here’s Where You Should Go…” God, they’re so annoying–just give me a straightforward narrative, please!

The Q&A with Thomas Keller’s partner Laura Cunningham: the questions are so dull (“Go-to in-flight meal or snack?” “Two surprising things I bring on board are…?”) and her responses which couldn’t have been more bland; I had her mixed up in my mind with Laura Shaine Cunningham, author of a delightful memoir called Sleeping Arrangements

This issue is 134 pages, so I’m obviously missing a lot: “Peru’s Melting Pot” (same old story that Peru will be the new international cuisine of the moment–hasn’t happened yet!), “Magic Kingdom” (Abu Dhabi? Women in chador? Horrible), “The Alchemist” on Andre Balasz (don’t care a bit).

Still, for a rainy Saturday afternoon, there’s almost no better entertainment than page after page of full-bleed photos of well-made food and the beautiful spaces in which it’s possible to consume it. As I turn the last page (a collage of chic, retro cocktail napkins from hotels and bars around the world), I’ll raise a glass of wine to the men who seduced generations with slick paper and smart writing.

 

 

 

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