Category Archives: Breakfast

Welcome to Singapore. Leave your dirty habits at the door.

They don’t seem to mess around in Singapore.


I spent three very short days here and for all the rules and general over-the-top cleanliness (particularly for a city in Asia) I have to say, I kinda liked it.  A lot.

The food was everything I hoped it would be, which is saying a lot.  My first night I walked to a hawker center (like an outdoor food court) down the street from my hotel and tried popiah (my favorite of all the food I tried in Singapore), grilled swordfish, white carrot cake (not at all like what you are probably imaging… kind of like an omelet with some kind of mild radish), fresh coconut milk and fresh lime juice.  All of it was amazing.


Other food favorites included dinner at the hawker center in Little India, where I got to watch my naan being made, and all of the fresh, ready-to-eat fruit for sale all over the city.  See, I like fruit, love it even, when I don’t have to do anything to it.  No peeling.  No slicing.  No worrying about pits or seeds.  I buy it and I eat it.  I would be such a healthier person if I lived in southeast Asia.  Really, I would.


Saturday morning a friend and I did the 12 km loop through the nature reserve in the center of Singapore.  The whole hike was amazing, but honestly, the monkeys were probably the highlight, at least for me.


Don’t worry.  I was careful to keep my food tucked away in my backpack for the duration of our hike.



Honestly, though, and somewhat surprisingly, the architecture may have made the greatest impression on me.  I loved the look of the city, the towering skyscrapers, the funky modernism of some of the buildings, the sense of history imparted by the occasional relic from decades past.






That pretty much sums up my brief visit to Singapore.  Food, nature, architecture.  And one somewhat bittersweet phone call to my favorite place on earth, a little farm in Maidstone, Vermont where my four closest friends were celebrating the 15th anniversary of our friendship.

And I wasn’t there.  As wonderful as Singapore was, I would have much preferred to be in Vermont with my girls and their husbands and babies and corn and BBQing and hiking and cooking and laying about being lazy, and maybe kicking butt (or not, as is often the case) during a game or two of Settlers of Catan.

Every year Lyn invites us to the Farm in August for her annual Corn Roast.  Most years I make it.  Often she is kind enough to rearrange the schedule so that I can come (like last year… when she held it in September, long after the corn is no longer in season).  This year, well, it just wasn’t happening so in honor of the corn roast, I whipped up a batch of corn pancakes during one of my weekends in Okinawa.  Not as good as the real thing, but not a bad substitute given the circumstances.

For my girls… who knew 3 months in Maine would change each of our lives so much for the better.  I love you.


Sweet Corn Pancakes
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

2 tablespoons butter, plus additional for pan
3/4 cup corn (use fresh if you have it, but I used frozen sweet baby corn)
dash of salt
1 egg
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup  cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add corn and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, until it begins to brown ever-so-slightly. Sprinkle with salt and set aside to cool. Wipe out skillet.

Lightly beat egg in the bottom of a large bowl, then whisk in buttermilk, corn, vanilla and sugar. In a smaller bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir dry ingredients into wet, mixing until just combined but still lumpy in appearance.

Reheat your skillet or saute pan to medium. Brush the pan with butter and ladle 1/4 cup batter at a time, 2 inches apart. When the pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges, flip them over and cook until golden brown underneath.

Adjust heat as needed if the pancakes are cooking too fast.  Repeat with remaining batter, and serve immediately with real maple syrup (very important if you are friends with any native Vermonters).

Alexander would understand.

Its been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  I do think Alexander, were he real and here, would understand.  If you are not familiar with Alexander, you really should be.  One of my favorite childhood legacies.  I’ve sent him to many friends over the years who have been going through rough times.  He’s my quick fix when I need a little pick me up or an easy laugh to put things back in perspective.  I have a couple of books I like to rely on for instant mood enhancement, but when push comes to shove, Alexander generally manages to take down both The Giving Tree and Oh the Places You’ll Go.  Quite a feat.

Sadly, (and yes, I know this next piece of news will make you cry, just a little) I don’t have Alexander here with me today.  Thankfully he’s been enough of a constant in my life that I can pretty easily call him to mind… the pictures, the story, the angst. Mostly I identify with his desire to move to Australia.  Somehow that also seems to be the solution to all of my problems.  Wouldn’t life be better in Australia?  Maybe not, but if things don’t improve, come visit me next summer in Sydney (or maybe Brisbane or Melbourne) and I’ll let you know.

OK, so no Alexander and no chance of moving to Australia anytime in my immediate future.  What’s a girl to do?  Well, in my case, a bit of comfort food and a cup of hot chamomile tea seems to have done the trick (at least temporarily – I’m counting on sleep to do the rest).

Talking to some friends at work today the whole idea of breakfast for dinner came up.  It was mentioned recently on Laura’s blog (which I love and highly recommend) and so when everything kind of fell apart this afternoon maybe it was only natural that my mind would move in that direction.  Throughout my whole miserable afternoon, the one spot of sunshine on my otherwise grey horizon was the thought of having some breakfast for dinner when I got home tonight, namely, my aunt’s whole wheat pancakes with Smuckers boysenberry syrup.

Ingredients

Whole Wheat Pancakes

I LOVE this recipe.  My mom made it regularly when I was growing up, and its now one of my favorite things to have for breakfast.  If you are eating alone (like myself) you can either cut the recipe in half or make the whole batch and freeze the leftovers to have for breakfast over the coming week.

1 c. whole wheat flour

1 c. milk

1 T. sugar

2 eggs, separated

1 T. baking powder

½ t. salt

Beat egg whites just until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.  Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  In another bowl, combine milk and egg yolks.  Gradually stir into flour mixture until smooth.  Gently fold in egg whites.  Fry on lightly oiled griddle.  They cook a little slower than regular pancakes.

I’m only sharing a photo of the pancakes cooking, not the final product, because if there is one skill in the kitchen I lack, its making beautiful pancakes.

Pancakes web

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

My apologies for the slide show that is about to follow…

I don’t have any deep or meaningful thoughts to share tonight.  However, I’ve been away for so long I thought you might like to see what I’ve been up to.  I had an incredibly busy summer.  The photos below are a quick snapshot of what I’ve been up to, but they don’t even begin to tell the whole story.  For example, I’m only including photos from one of the 3 trips I took to Boston this summer (ah yes, it has been good to be back on the East Coast).  Also not included: Busch Gardens (finally), 4th of July in Vermont (sadly, I didn’t really take any pictures), my first Nationals game (only noteworthy because they were playing, you guessed it, the Red Sox), and oh so many more awesome moments with family and friends.

Day trip to Philadelphia with Hillary and M for the Cezanne exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Hill and Marisa at the Continental

Hillary and M at our favorite breakfast spot in Philadelphia.

View of downtown from the Philadelphia Art of Museum

View of downtown from the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Regan came for a visit in May.  We went to Busch Gardens and Manassas and we saw Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.  We had a great time, and we’re already planning our visit to Kings Dominion next summer to try out the new Dale Earnhardt roller coaster they are building.

Regan and Hillary at Manassas National Battlefield Park

Regan and Hillary at Manassas National Battlefield Park

Manassas National Battlefield Park

Manassas National Battlefield Park

Memorial Day weekend: Road trip to Newport, RI and Boston with Hillary, M, and T.

On the Freedom Trail in Boston

On the Freedom Trail in Boston

Boston: How could you not love this city?

Boston: How could you not love this city?

Goofing around in Boston's Public Garden

Goofing around in Boston's Public Garden

Lobster Rolls from Modern Pastry.  This picture so does not do justice to how big these babies are.

Lobster Tails from Modern Pastry. This picture so does not do justice to how big these babies are.

In June Sara came down to DC for a weekend for a visit.  We had a blast, and I was finally able to go to the Marine Corps Museum.  I highly recommend visiting if you are ever in the area.  If you are wondering why you should go, let me give you one reason: Marines! In their dress uniforms!  Need I say more.

The Marine Corps Museum

The Marine Corps Museum

Sara at the Marine Corps Museum

Sara at the Marine Corps Museum

Also in June, I went home to Utah for a week.  It was a very busy week because, as usual, I tried to fit too much in.  But I had a great time, and as always, it was wonderful to spend time with family and friends in the Beehive State.

Home

Home

Bison on Antelope Island State Park (Utah)

Bison on Antelope Island State Park (Utah)

Sometime in June I dragged T to an Orioles/Red Sox game because Beckett was pitching and I knew I’d be able to get good seats at a decent price.  I can’t speak for T, but I at least had a great time… even if Beckett’s pitching wasn’t so great.

Finally, I get to see Beckett pitch... and in the best seats I've ever had at a baseball game, no less.

Finally, I get to see Beckett pitch... and in the best seats I've ever had at a baseball game, no less.

The same day as the Red Sox game in Baltimore, T and I sped back down to Virginia in time to meet M and go for an evening hike at Great Falls park.  Its one of those places I have always meant to go, but somehow, have never gotten around to actually visiting.  It was beautiful.  Loved it.  And we even got to watch a crazy kayaker go over the falls.

Great Falls Park (Virginia)

Great Falls Park (Virginia)

And finally, I wrapped up my summer with a delightful little (ha!) hike at Harpers Ferry.  Truth be told, the hike totally kicked mine and M’s butts.  But it was a good workout and we were rewarded at the end with this gorgeous view.

View of Harpers Ferry from the Maryland side of the river.  I was tempted to include pictures of how sweaty M and I became on our hike, but thought better of it.  Needless to say, it was a little more strenuous than we expected.

View of Harpers Ferry from the Maryland side of the river. I was tempted to include pictures of how sweaty M and I became on our hike, but thought better of it. Needless to say, it was a little more strenuous than we expected.

With summer winding down, I find myself thinking more and more about slowing life down this fall and taking things a little easier.  To that end, I present this lovely little breakfast dish.  Its a little different than your typical American breakfast, but so tasty.  I love making it on lazy Sunday mornings when I want to pamper myself and I have a little extra time to relax and read the paper (ie. look at the Sunday ads).

I hope your summer was as enjoyable and as memorable as mine.  Its good to be back.  I’ve missed my little blog and can’t wait to get cooking again.

Polenta

Warm Breakfast Polenta with Chocolate, Marscarpone, Chocolate, and Almonds from The Authentic Cafe

1 c. water

2 1/4 c. milk

3 T. Sugar

½ t. kosher salt

3/4 c. fine yellow corn meal

Topping:

2 T. Marscarpone cheese

Finely grated good quality bittersweet chocolate

lightly toasted, chopped almonds

ground cinnamon

Bring the water, milk, sugar, and salt to a boil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to low and add the cornmeal in a thin stream, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  Cook the cornmeal, pressing out any lumps with the spoon and stirring constantly until it thickens and all the grains seem cooked and slightly swollen, about 10 minutes.  Taste the polenta.  It should be soft, not gritty.  The polenta should be thick, but not stiff.

Ladle the polenta into soup bowls.  Drop 1 ½ t. of marscapone cheese into a well in the center and garnish with almonds, cinnamon, and chocolate.

My Favorite Breakfast

For about a year now, one of my favorite things to have for breakfast is a bowl of Fage nonfat yogurt with agave syrup (light) and chopped roasted almonds.  I can’t claim to have invented this breakfast all on my own.  Truth be told, I discovered it over at Kalyn’s Kitchen.

Lately however, I have felt inspired to experiment with the formula a bit.  Last week I added a rhubarb compote to the yogurt.  That was good, but the texture of the cooked rhubarb wasn’t entirely to my liking.  I also tried adding the amazingly tasty Meyer Lemon Syrup I picked up at Zingerman’s.  The combination was pretty good, but then I missed having something with a little more texture in the yogurt (I can be so picky, I know).

Today I put together a new combination that might just be the ultimate winner.  I had some raspberries in the fridge that I picked up at Costco last week and got to thinking that the raspberries would taste mighty good with some yogurt and a little of the Meyer Lemon Syrup drizzled over the top.  Voila!  Breakfast magnificence.

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For My Mother…

I’ve been meaning to get this post up for, oh, months now.  But life has been incredibly busy for the past two months and at the end of the day, I find I’m often lacking in the motivation department.  The topic of this post (my mother) quite possibly contributes to my lack of motivation.  Its been hard to decide what I want to say, and yet for many reasons, writing this post has been incredibly important to me.

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As noted above, my life of late has been incredibly busy, and I’ve been feeling a fair amount of stress, uncertainty about the future, doubt about my current life path, and a general discombobulation caused by the current unsettled nature of my recently very nomadic life.  Partly as a result of all that, I’ve been thinking a lot about my mom… calling on her to help me meet life’s pressures.  In the few moments where I have felt hopelessly inadequate and unable to meet the challenges ahead of me, the thought of failing her, of not living up to her legacy, has helped renew my determination to move forward.

mom-and-me-temple

My mother passed away in January.  Her passing, while more sudden than our family had anticipated, was not unexpected.  She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in August 1999.  She had a lumpectomy, radiation treatments, and chemotherapy that lasted until May 2000.  In May 2005 our family breathed a collective sigh of relief as we passed the all-important five year mark without any recurrences.  Two months later the pain in my mother’s shoulder that had been bothering her since January was re-diagnosed, correctly this time, as metastasized breast cancer that had moved into bone.

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Never one to admit defeat or accept limitations that lessened her ability and freedom to enjoy life, my mother put up a truly epic fight.  Up to the very end, when hospice was the only remaining care option, my mom was calling her radiologist for a second opinion and planning future family vacations.  Teaching, one of her greatest passions, sustained her up until the final weeks of her life.  Through her last few months of life, while enduring massive pain as a result of fracturing her hip, she continued to teach four days each week.  No longer able to drive and having no choice but to use a wheelchair, she had a member of our family drive her to and from school each day.

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She loved life and she refused to let the cancer, its resulting pain, her impending death, or her family’s lack of faith impede her enjoyment of all that life offered.  She gardened.  She traveled.  She renovated her kitchen, redecorated the living room, and redesigned her bedroom.  She played with her grandkids.  She cooked.  She shopped.  She ordered books from Amazon on new subjects that caught her attention, like the Turkish Empire and the Silk Road.  She went to concerts.  She visited with friends and family and continued serving in our church.

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I miss her all the time.  About a month and a half after she passed away, I went to LA for a weekend with a friend.  I felt her loss keenly over the course of the weekend.  I kept wanting to call her; to ask her for directions or recommendations, to tell her we were eating at her favorite fish place in Malibu, to share my shock at how much the Santa Clarita valley had changed in the past 8 years.

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With Mother’s Day this past month, I was reminded constantly that she is gone, that this is the first year I won’t be able to express my gratitude to her for the many ways she blessed and influenced my life.  I can’t, and won’t, claim that we always saw eye to eye.  We didn’t.  But in spite of our occasional clashes, she truly was one of my best friends and definitely my greatest champion.

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One of the greatest influences she had on my life, was to instill in me a love of and a curiosity for our world.  She was my favorite travel companion.  Trips with my mom were always a fun-filled adventure.  One of my favorite memories with her was our trip to Iceland in 2004.  That year she was planning to come visit me in Boston for a week over Labor Day.  A month or so before her trip, I was talking to her on the phone, and seemingly out of nowhere she announced that she was contemplating flying to Iceland for a weekend while she was out visiting me.  I was, to put it mildly, surprised.  I think my first question was, “Alone?”  She responded by saying, “Well, you can come if you want, but if you don’t, I’m going on my own.  I’ve always wanted to go there.”  So we bought our tickets and flew to Iceland for a long weekend.  We rode horses, visited museums, saw some truly breathtaking scenery, and even spent time at one of the public pools so we could try out the hot pots (hot tubs).  We had a fantastic trip and it was just one of the many ways she showed me how important it is to make the most of every day of your life.

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This past month my sisters and I saw Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band when they performed in Washington, DC.  As always, it was an amazing concert, but in the lead-up to the concert I was a little worried that it would be a bittersweet experience.  I felt sure that seeing Bruce without my mom (truly one of his greatest fans) would just make me miss her that much more.  In the end, it wasn’t bittersweet at all, and if anything, being there helped me feel again her love.  That night Bruce played Badlands at the very beginning of the show, and as I sang along, I was particularly touched by the following words, which I feel, are a very fitting tribute to my mother:

I believe in the love that you gave me.
I believe in the faith that could save me.
I believe in the hope and I pray that some day it
Will raise me above these badlands.

Cinnamon Rolls

I probably should have mentioned food somewhere in my thoughts above, but there was never a moment where it felt right.  However, my mother was a fantastic cook and she instilled a love of food and cooking in all of her daughters.  This recipe has particular meaning to our family because when we lived in the Marshall Islands my mom would often make these for breakfast on Saturday mornings when our good friends the Ackleys spent the night.  I’ve continued the tradition with my own friends and try to make these whenever the opportunity presents itself.  Now, I know that there are A LOT of cinnamon roll recipes out there, but honestly, I think these are very hard to beat.  I’ve had multiple people who profess to HATE cinnamon rolls happily devour these.
1 c. butter
3/4 c. sugar
2 T. Yeast
1 ½ t. salt
7 ½ c. flour
2 ½ c. warm water (about wrist temperature)
4 eggs

Mix in order given (I dump it all in my Bosch and mix together).  Refrigerate overnight (can keep for 3-5 days in fridge).  In morning, punch down dough, knead briefly, and then divide in half.  Roll half of dough into a rectangle.  Spread with melted butter.  Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar (you can also sprinkle with chopped nuts, if desired).  Roll up lengthwise and slice into ½” slices and place in prepared pans (see below).  Let rise about 2 hours (or until doubled in size).  Bake at 350° for 25 minutes.  Glaze (recipe below).

To Prepare Pans:
Cover bottom with 3 T. melted butter and a light drizzle of Light Karo syrup.  I usually need 2 9×13 pans, but if you cut the rolls wider, you may be able to fit them into one pan.

Glaze:
1/3 c. butter or margarine
2 c. confectioners sugar
1 ½ t. vanilla
2-4 t. hot water

Melt butter and mix all ingredients together in a blender.  Double the recipe if you make all the rolls
at once.  My mom usually triples it because people love the glaze.

Note: To save time in the morning, you can make the dough sometime the day before, let it raise during the day in the refrigerator, then before going to bed the night before, roll it out and make the cinnamon rolls, put them into the prepared pan, and then let the pans raise overnight in the refrigerator.  In the morning, all you will have to do is pre-heat the oven and throw the rolls in.  Because of the increased raising time, this method yields a lighter, fluffier roll (which most people like).

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