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Kick start your day with a good breakfast

Country Life

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Chuck and I are back on G&T Farms, a grass-fed beef operation in upstate New York. In the spirit of re-use and re-cycle, breakfast this morning is chicken-liver stroganoff from the night before, not over noodles but dripping into the nooks and crannies of Thomas’s English muffins. Delicious! Yes, we’re surrounded by healthy, fresh grass-fed beef, but it’s very rare to find three people at the same table willing to eat chicken livers. Chuck’s sister Nancy is with us, and it’s the German coming out in us all.

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Birthday Greetings

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My beloved tri-color Pembroke Welsh corgi is twelve today, as slim and cheerful and curious as a puppy. Of course, she shares my breakfast every day, but this banana-cinnamon pancake was made in her honor.

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Many happy returns, Miss Grace! xx00

 

 

 

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A Toast

I occasionally read The New York Post in the morning. What a screwed-up paper that is! On one page, they’ll be excoriating Obama for everything and ranting that liberal America is not hewing to the religion of our forefathers; on the other, they’ll revel in the dirtiest details of Eliot Spitzer’s love life. Still, there are usually one or two items that are worth reading. Yesterday morning, it was the sweet story of Stephanie Smith who vowed to make her boyfriend Eric Schulte 300 sandwiches. He vowed, if she did, to ask her to marry him. She got her ring at #257.

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What to do but mark this festive occasion with a breakfast sandwich!

Mayonnaise on whole wheat toast, fresh plum tomato, hard-boiled egg, sea salt, and pepper

Mayonnaise on whole wheat toast, fresh plum tomato, hard-boiled egg, sea salt, and pepper

The real reason this story resonates? May 21 is our 26th wedding anniversary. The time has flown; the love and support have not.

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North Carolina, Here I Come

I’m off to the land of grits, biscuits, and hush puppies for my nephew Johnny’s graduation from UNC at Chapel Hill. Ye Olde Waffle Shop, here I come. But more important, there’s a big accomplishment to celebrate.

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Time goes so fast. But Johnny’s never lost that sweet determination and his thoughtful concern for the rest of us. He’s got so much promise. I feel better leaving the future to him.

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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!

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

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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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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…

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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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A Pear CARE Package

It's like mining for gold! There's more under the top layer.

It’s like mining for gold! There’s more under the top layer.

Oh, baby! This is bounty like you wouldn’t believe. Harry & David packaged it, my godmother and aunt Nancy Brown gave two of these to Dad, and he came bearing one as a gift yesterday. Thanks all ’round!

Have you ever seen two more beautiful sisters?

Have you ever seen two more beautiful sisters?

Love you, Nancy–you’re as close to a mother as I have on this earth.

 

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Gifts From the Kitchen

The kitchen gives so many gifts; its warmth, the aromas of good food, the satisfaction when a recipe comes out right. Oh, those are gifts to me! Gifts from my kitchen…. Unlike my early days, when baking frazzled my nerves, I hope my treats convey some sense of the calm, well-balanced, harmonious environment they’re made in. And there’s a little nostalgia, too, particularly at Christmas when a certain vintage kitchen tool gets into the mix.

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Mom’s Sunbeam Mixmaster is still whirling, God only knows how (probably from the “gentle” [read minimal] use it gets!). There’s no time of the year when I miss Mom more.

Chappaqua, NY, c. 1980

Chappaqua, NY, c. 1980

These oatmeal-dried-cranberry-raisin cookies will go to the Christmas tree sellers on our corner.

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They’re also for the California Whittinghams I’m looking so forward to seeing tomorrow, as a little extra with their Christmas presents, and to the cook this morning for breakfast. Self-gifting’s all the rage!

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