A world of food in one city

A world of food in one city

On the recent occasion of my first-ever evening in London: I walked down a street named for the patron saint of travelers. Walked past Lebanese, Chinese, Mexican, and Turkish restaurants, past sushi and tapas and burgers, before eating French and Italian food served by a Spanish woman named Melina. I thought I’d gotten around a bit for a girl raised in the heartland. Alaska and Hawaii, Canada and Mexico, France and Italy. I thought I understood “diversity.” But London! London is in a class of its own. London showed me what “multicultural” really looks like.

The Amazing Texas-Toast-Bacon-and-Egg-Sandwich

The Amazing Texas-Toast-Bacon-and-Egg-Sandwich

Kid Two still loves Texas toast but along the way has acquired a taste for paninis with egg and baby greens with a bit of cheese. It was only a matter of time before he decided to try and combine the buttery crunchiness of Texas toast with savory eggy-ness of his panini. Like all good things, it’s a bit of work, but totally worth it. You have to start by making Texas toast. When that’s finished, layer thin slices of cheese and a handful of baby greens on one side. Top with crumbled, cooked bacon and a cooked scrambled egg. Top with the second piece of toast and there you go – a tasty handful of the ultimate bacon and egg meal: It’s pretty good on a paper plate with strawberries, too:...
Doctor up your pancake mix

Doctor up your pancake mix

Trader Joe’s Buttermilk Pancake Mix is my breakfast shortcut of choice. Just add eggs and water – or eggs, water, and oil for waffles – and presto! Pretty good homemade-tasting pancakes in a few minutes. It’s hard to find a from-scratch recipe that has that same rustic taste, and at just under two dollars per box it’s not a bad deal. I say pretty good, because I’ve figured out a way to doctor up the mix to make them great . . . more dense and toothy, moist and flavorful, even more healthy-feeling. Just follow the waffle recipe on the box: 3 1/2 cups mix, 2 eggs, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup oil. Only swap out 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour for 1/2 cup of the mix mix, substitute 1/2 cup applesauce for the 1/2 cup oil, and stir in 1 cup of oatmeal and 1 tsp cinnamon. Cook them slowly on medium-low heat. Mmmm. What is your favorite doctored-up baking...

A Heavenly breakfast

There’s a great breakfast place in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, between Scotts Valley and Felton, California – the Heavenly Cafe. It’s filled with roadside country charm and offers something for everyone, from oatmeal to a full bar. It’s good enough to seek out if you ever find yourself, say, driving from the San Jose Airport to Santa Cruz or Monterey for a vacation and want to start out with some good food and local flavor, or if you are like LL and me that day and were headed to buy some cheese-making supplies at the totally awesome Mountain Feed and Farm Supply and thought to make a morning of it. I had their quesadilla con todo, flour tortilla filled with a turkey, mushroom, onion, cheese, and salsa mixture that was delicious but sadly didn’t photograph well. But here is a photo of LL’s eggs benedict. Quite racy, hmmm? Here is the link to their address and map. Be sure to go, if you ever are in the neighborhood. Tell me what you...
Bannocks – gluten free, vegetarian oat cakes

Bannocks – gluten free, vegetarian oat cakes

It’s been an oatmeal kind of autumn around here – there’s something about the cooler weather that calls out for the warmth and earthiness of hot oats, don’t you think? Recently I was having a taste flashback to the bannocks we used to eat when I was a kid living in Sitka, and decided to try and make them for the boys – but there were so many recipes out there . . . I didn’t know where to start. I wanted simple and oat-y; I wasn’t interested in adding flour to make them bread-like. I also wanted to capture all the flavors of a bowl of oatmeal in a simple round patty. So I did what I always do – read a handful of recipes and then make up my own. After a few weeks of tweeking, here I present (drum roll, please!) the perfect oatcake! Oats, egg, and banana are really the only ingredients you need; everything else just dresses the oatcakes up a bit. And if you use leftover cooked oatmeal, you can omit the egg and make it vegan. Seriously, don’t these look scrumptious? And did you ever think you’d see the words “scrumptious” and “oatmeal” together???   The boys LOVE these oatcakes – seriously love them, like a kid might love a chocolate chip cookie. Ok, they are way too old for me to worry about making kid-friendly food, but these totally pass the test. Kid One has even memorized the recipe so he’ll be able to recreate them when the day comes he has a kitchen of his own.   I love them...

Conversation before coffee

KID ONE murmuring with his girlfriend MIJA. They are sitting at the dining room table with a light breakfast. KID ONE The main character. You know who it is, we both like him. MIJA I can’t picture him. KID ONE (calling out) Mom, can you look up the main character in Contagion? Cut to MOM, sitting at a desk in front of a laptop MOM Sure. (She types in a few command into her laptop and IMDB appears on the computer screen.) Matt Damon? KID ONE Yes! MIJA Who? KID ONE Matt Damon. The dad. He was definitely the main character. MIJA I can’t picture him. There were a lot of main characters. MOM (looking at IMDB and calling out) Mitch Emhoff KID ONE No, definitely Matt Damon. MOM The character. KID ONE Oh, right. MOM Married to Gwenyth Paltrow KID ONE (with great surprise) REALLY? MOM In the movie KID ONE...

The best doughnuts in Burlington, CO

Meet my mom and dad, Grandma Juju and Downtown Tom. Despite their four kids and seven grandkids, they’ve been channeling coolness ever since they moved from our childhood home to a rehabbed hat factory-turned-hipster loft in downtown St. Louis. They’ve been on a road trip recently- not on the Vespa! – to Montana. They called from the Museum of the Rockies to say how blown away they were by the dinosaur exhibit. And they sent a postcard from Old Faithful. We didn’t hear from them again until they were on their way home, with news of an excellent find: Grandpa’s Daylight Doughnuts in Burlington, Colorado. Now, my parents are what you might call doughnut connoisseurs. When we kids were growing up, most Sundays my Dad headed to an excellent doughnut shop somewhere on The Hill and picked out a dozen or so for our breakfast. It was probably a 10 or 15 minute drive each way from the house; there were certainly closer doughnuts, but none as good. Then if the weather was nice, we’d go to Forest Park eat at the Zoo; sometimes when it wasn’t so nice we’d go to Forest Park anyway and sit under the awnings in front of the Muny Opera. Here I am on one of those long-ago Sunday mornings, not channelling coolness in the least, but looking verrry happy with my breakfast: Back to Mom and Dad’s road trip. When they got hungry driving east on Highway 70 from Cheyenne, Wyoming to a family wedding in Kansas City, they thought they may get lucky finding a bakery of some sort. They exited at the first available...
Drinking my vegetables

Drinking my vegetables

“Tiny pellets of poison” what a friend calls peas. Personally, I don’t have any problem with peas as long as they’re not mushy and are mixed in a creamy white sauce, tossed with penne, and topped with crispy prosciutto. Everything is better with crispy prosciutto. I told someone recently that I don’t really like vegetables. That’s not really true, though, I love artichokes, asparagus, zucchini, nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers), and any member of the allium family. I’ll take a tart, crunchy salad any day, loaded with lettuce and cucumbers and radishes and celery and shredded multicolor carrots. I like some vegetables. It’s probably more accurate to say that admonishments to “eat your vegetables” and news extolling vegetables’ virtues have only served to turn me off. They’re just not being presented in a delicious way, and I just don’t have much innate desire for dandelion greens or kale. I’m not like that mom who turned to me that cool Tuesday morning while chaperoning a Kid Two field trip as asked, “I just crave cruciferae this time of year, don’t you?” No. I’ve recently developed a fondness for fennel and parsnip, but I don’t dream of roasted beets. No cooing over cauliflower. Squash and yams are challenging to cook with. Just smelling broccoli makes me queasy, as it has ever since I was pregnant with Kid One. And Brussels sprouts? Big shiver. It was over between us after The Worst Dinner I Ever Ate – LL’s 50th birthday dinner – which infamously finished with Brussels sprouts crème brûlée. Truly disgusting. I’ve since noticed that fall’s fields of ripe Brussels sprouts give off the odor of...

Sometimes I just have to amuse myself (3)

I found the milk carton in the fridge empty on Saturday morning, victim of Kid One’s early-morning pre-work power breakfast of Ezekiel 49 and bananas. Kid Two’s Buddy had spent the night and the remaining boys were promised waffles, but I couldn’t find a milk-less recipe in my Fannie Farmer – although I certainly could have done a Google search with much success. The waffle iron was hot, the eggs were out, so I figured I’d try to make scrambled eggs in the waffle iron. If Alton Brown could cook bacon in there, certainly I owed it to myself to give it a try. Here is what two eggs cracked into a bowl, sprinkled with salt, whisked to within an inch of their lives, poured into a hot waffle iron sprayed with olive oil, and cooked for 2 minutes look like. The waffled eggs got fluffy and frittata-like while cooking but deflated when met a cool plate and had a very un-egg like texture that was deemed “very weird.” The results on my experiment were unanimous: Better luck next...

Make: Online | Individually labeled egg

Last spring I took the boys to the Make Magazine-sponsored Maker’s Faire in San Mateo, an uber-science fair of ideas brought to life by creative gadget-minded people from all walks of life. This is from their blog today, and is too good not to share. Think of the possibilities! Link to the blog here: Make: Online | Individually labeled...

What makes a good hash (latimes.com)

Many weekend mornings lately have started this way: mince a handful of onion, dice a couple ribs of celery, saute in a little grapeseed oil, add some leftovers and a couple of cubed potatoes, and pretty soon we’ve got hash. It’s gone Mexican, topped with poached eggs and smoked poblano and red onion-laced Hollandaise sauce. It’s gone Italian, flavored with our own version of muffaletta (ham, salami, black olives, pimiento-stuffed green olives, celery, yellow onion, green onion, provolone cheese) that was the previous night’s pizza topping. Making hash makes me feel like I’ve made good use of leftovers in a creative, hearty, and thrifty way. So this story from the LA Times caught my eye this morning: What makes a good hash. Sarah Karnasiewic, the author, does a nice job outlining hash’s basic theme and variations. If you’ve never made hash before, you should read this article to get inspired – especially if, as in my case, you’re cooking for a family and find it’s easy to get stuck in the “what in the world am I going to feed them NOW!” rut. I was interested and please to see that my hash-making instincts match a professional’s. Most valuable to me are her suggestions on incorporating different types of root vegetables – and even...
Texas toast

Texas toast

Kid Two has formally requested I share my recipe for Texas Toast with you, which makes me realize that the process of preparing a simple breakfast isn’t so simple after all – it’s also part of the process of creating his childhood food memories. Here it is.