What I’m Reading – September 2014

Somehow or another, the summer has flown by and fall is on the way. And I find myself eagerly anticipating the cool mornings like this one that almost demand that I sleep in and then make my way to the local coffee shop, as I’ve done today.

And with the shift back to a school-year schedule (yay!), many things seem to fall back into place. Seems as good a time as any to take a look at what’s been inspiring me lately.

Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake: I had the opportunity to meet Lisa and her awesome family at the Food Blog Forum a couple of weeks ago. She and her husband shared some of the strategy behind their very successful blog, which Lisa started a couple of years ago with a 100-day pledge to only eat “real food.” She has kept right on with pledges to avoid processed food on a budget, and she just came out with a beautiful new cookbook.

Definitely an interesting read, and I’m kind of in love with her blog recipe for Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes. They made for the perfect Sunday morning breakfast, and the leftovers reheated beautifully in the toaster oven. The bananas provide just enough sweetness, and they’re delicious with some fresh fruit and just a drizzle of maple syrup. Next up from the world of real food: Lisa’s Super Easy Whole Wheat Biscuits, perhaps with a fresh batch of roasted tomato jam.

“Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt” by Momastery: Glennon writes inspiring, honest blog posts about her life and her struggles and invites guest posts from equally honest women. It’s beautiful, or sometimes—as she puts it—”brutiful,” equal parts beautiful and brutal. But thats life. I’m really interested in checking out her book, Carry On, Warrior.

Anyway, she recently wrote this post about giving herself the best and easiest kitchen makeover ever—a gratitude makeover. In includes gems like: “You guys. I have a REFRIGERATOR. This thing MAGICALLY MAKES FOOD COLD. I’m pretty sure in the olden days, frontierswomen had to drink warm Diet Coke.” Continue reading

Big Ass Pancake

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So we just got back from vacation this week, and as my mother says, the first day back from vacation is always the hardest day of the year.

Because we had been out of town, I hadn’t been to the grocery store in a while, and I wasn’t about to go on that first day back. So dinner was going to have to come out of whatever odds and ends we had in the pantry. Enter the Big Ass Pancake.

The original recipe just refers to it as Big Pancake (also often known as the Dutch Baby), but I prefer the added word, partly in homage to hilarious local blogger and artist Robin, who paints this great, and aptly named, piece here. I have recently become quite enamored with my cast iron skillet—so it’s role in this recipe was the first selling point. The second was that I had almost everything it called for. I say almost because I had to make “milk” out of fat free half & half and some water.

Nevertheless, the Big Ass Pancake turned out delicious in a big ass way. I halved the recipe to make just one pan, and my husband and I split it, topped it with some homemade applesauce, powdered sugar and a few drops of lemon juice. The resulting dish was somewhat like a cross between pancakes and french toast—and my husband said it reminded him of croissants.  But it was good; and I will make it again. Probably this weekend.

P.S.: If you’re curious about cooking with cast iron but worried about the maintenance, check out this article for a super-easy way to keep up the best pan you’ll ever own.

Mystery Breakfast Perfection

Imagine a very delicious breakfast sandwich. And imagine that it’s open-faced, with meat and egg and cheese, but not in a fast-food sort of way. And imagine that with the meat and egg and cheese there’s a huge helping of awesome.

That’s what I made for breakfast on Sunday. An awesome sandwich. Really more like Awesome Benedict. It was so awesome that my husband turned to me and said, “You could make people pay to eat that.”

And what did I do? I forgot to take a picture of it. They didn’t last long once we started on them, so you’re left with the Mystery Sandwich. Sorry for that, but I will try to build a more plausible image in your head, starting with the base and working our way up. The whole recipe was really inspired by this post by the wonderful Ashley English, but I was somewhat limited by what I had in the house. Thus, the Awesome Benedict:

  1. The foundation for this breakfast was formed with a hefty slice of Oat Soda Bread, which I baked on Wednesday when my dance class was cancelled (naturally). It’s one of the easiest bread recipes there is, and it made really wonderful breakfast bread.
  2. On the bread I slathered a good bit of Dijon mustard, then I put the mustard-ed bread into the oven for a nice toast.
  3. The next layer consisted of a little bit of sautéed onion and chopped rainbow chard stems. I used the rest of the chard earlier in the week to make Garlic Soba Noodles, which were really pretty amazing. I subbed trout in for the tofu, and I’ll definitely make it again.
  4. As the onion and chard were finishing up in the skillet, I tossed in a handful of chopped luncheon turkey. Nothing special, just what was in the fridge. Then I piled the hot veggies and meat on top of the toasted mustard bread.
  5. I continued the sandwich tower with a perfectly poached egg, and a little salt and pepper. Well, it wasn’t really perfect. It was pretty difficult timing all these steps to come out at the right moment, so the yolks were set a little more than I usually like.
  6. I am 100% completely convinced this is the most crucial step: I added a tiny dollop of sour cream, maybe a teaspoon. CRUCIAL!
  7. Finally, the whole awesome tower was finished with a bit of grated cheddar. A. MA. Zing. (Normally I would not talk about my own cooking this way, but this one even impressed me.)

So there you have it. The best breakfast I may have ever made, or may ever make. Sorry there’s so much imagining. I’ll take a picture next time.