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Kick start your day with a good breakfast

Still Giving Thanks!

Cranberry sauce is a versatile condiment. I put it on cornmeal pancakes this morning for a last blast of Thanksgiving flavor.

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It looks so festive, too. Happy December, everybody!

 

 

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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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Gifts to My Kitchen

smoked salmon and gingerbread--not perfect together, but lovely on their own!

smoked salmon and gingerbread–not perfect together, but lovely on their own!

‘Tis the season to gather goodies! At left, Cambridge House(R) Atlantic smoked salmon (thanks to a friend of my dad, Ed Arnold, whose taste in Christmas gifts is impeccable!). At right, handmade gingerbread animals. Sue Tamoney rolls sheets of gingerbread dough as thin as paper and cuts out 1,000 animals, using a toothpick to put on two drops of icing for eyes. Deliciously spicy! You’ve eaten about 35 before you know it which is why 1,000 is barely enough to satisfy Sue’s fans.

I don’t have a photo of the Leckerlee lebkuchen I got from a friend in publishing because I re-gifted it to my father-in-law, as German as J.S. Bach (but not nearly so talented!).

I’ve got to make this short; thinking of J.S. Bach, here’s the opening of this glorious Christmas Oratorio to help you, too, power through those last chores before we celebrate!


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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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Guten Morgen!

The snow is coming down gently in giant fluffy flakes this morning, so a fresh-baked pretzel seemed like a good idea.

I had a good bit of dough left from Thursday morning’s pretzel adventure, so I twisted off two pieces, rolled, twisted, poached, and baked them with two different toppings: Parmesan cheese and cinnamon-sugar.

Why choose sweet or savory when you can have both?

Why choose sweet or savory when you can have both?

Deliciously yeasty, these are not as heavy as a bagel and more substantial than a pastry. I wouldn’t want to make a habit of this, but they’re fun and easy to turn out and make a nice change. The yield of the recipe below says 24, but I could easily make 36 from the dough it produced.

You’ll find the recipe, from Country Living’s December 2013 issue, right here. Guten Appetit!

 

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Dog’s Breakfast

Gracie and I often share half an apple for breakfast. While a dog would happily wolf down the entire thing, seeds and core and stem included, I always trim that off for her. What wouldn’t I do for a creature who is so kind about my cooking–there is nothing I make that she doesn’t beg for.

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This morning’s fare was absolutely delicious: three brown ‘n’ serve sausages sauteed in a little olive oil for about five minutes with half a MacIntosh apple, sliced. It’s that savory-sweet combination I live for…as does my dog.

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Cobbler for Breakfast

It’s really starting to feel like fall now. 6 a.m. and still dark, the forecast is for a mixture of clouds and sun. A mixture of warm dark sweet cherries under a crumb topping will help me forget the Tigers’ loss last night to the Sox. Torii Hunter’s heroic reach for Big Papi’s grand slam will be harder for him to forget…ouch!

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If you make your crumb topping ahead of time, this couldn’t be simpler. Mix 3/4 cup brown sugar with 1 cup of flour; cut in 1/4 cup of cold butter chopped in pieces until the mixture is crumbly, and keep cool. Thaw enough frozen berries to fill a ramekin, top with crumbs, and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350° F until bubbly.

A homey little dish like this would not be out of place in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan which Chuck and I visited a few years ago in the fall. Absolutely gorgeous! When it wasn’t snowing, the air was crisp, Lake Superior was placid, and the people were wonderful. Tough! One woman wore a U.S. Marines T-shirt with a slogan Torii Hunter might find helpful: “Pain is just weakness leaving the body.”

It was hunting season--this was not quite as peaceful as it looks!

It was hunting season–this was not quite as peaceful as it looks!

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Fall Harvest Breakfast

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Pears are in season and there’s nothing I love more than a fragrant, juicy blue-cheese pear turnover!

I leave a piece of puff pastry to defrost while Gracie and I go out for the newspaper and my coffee brews.

While Gracie wolfs down her kibble and treats, I cut out a square of pastry about 6″x6″.

Between perusing the front page and checking the obits, I preheat the oven to 400° and cover a baking sheet with parchment.

Under Gracie’s hungry stare, I peel, core, and chop half a pear. I scoop a little pear into her bowl and pile the rest in the bottom corner of the square. As she begs for more, I sprinkle the fruit with a little sugar and just a pinch of ginger, cloves, nutmeg, or cinnamon. After a sip of coffee, I put on blue cheese to taste and seal the edges.

It bakes for 15 minutes while I put together an outfit to wear to work. I ignore Gracie’s demands for a forkful, take that first bite, and enjoy!

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Breakfast RX: An Apple A Day

Best of luck to the NYC kids who start public school today.

Exciting days ahead.

Exciting days ahead.

This week, in their honor, I’m working with apples. I always share a cold, crisp one with Gracie under the assumption that an apple a day keeps doctors and vets away.

Today, I grilled a Smucker’s natural peanut butter-and-apple sandwich on whole wheat bread on the stovetop.

Under construction

Under construction

I’ve tried the Elvis special with banana and that’s way too rich for me.  Both fruits are good for you, of course, but according to this handy nutrient chart, apples have fewer calories, more fiber, more calcium, and more Vitamin A.  Galas provide just the right sweet-savory burst in every bite.

The heat is on!

The heat is on!

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Aloha Summer! (I swear this is it!) Bloody Mary

My dad just gave me a boxed set of all of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musicals made into movies. Divine! No matter what hour of the day or night I sing along with the opening number of “South Pacific,” I crave a “bloody.” I cried salty tears when Trimingham’s of Bermuda closed and we could no longer get their special hot-pepper sauce. You can get a pretty good approximation of that quintessential preppy taste with Outerbridge’s Original Bloody Mary Fix.

It's a health drink! Clearly, the RDA of several important vitamins.

It’s a health drink! Clearly, the RDA of several important vitamins.

Even though Juanita Hall was a recording artist and the Bloody Mary of the original Broadway production, she was dubbed for the film. Now ain’t that too damn bad!

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So, when you watch this movie, lift a Bloody Mary to Juanita who made that role really swing!

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