A Breakfast Picnic

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If you were to look in Little Man’s cave of a mouth, you would see some newly formed pearls desperately trying to make themselves noticed in this world.  They are quiet obnoxious, their mischievous shenanigans during the afternoons have deprived him of enjoying simple things like completing a puzzle or smooshing play-doh into the carpet.  Crayons are being bitten and he is miserably demanding popsicles and ice cream for all meals.  By far, their worst offense is coming out late at night to play, waking LM up from his silent slumber with their raucous soirees.  Three in the morning or five seems to be when they are particularly devilish.

Just as most adults, LM hates being miserable alone and often extends the invitation for me to come and be miserable along with him. (Mr. H does help out, too, but lacks the super-sonic bat-hearing I possess.)  After a while a tooth matures, takes its place among the other decent teeth, and has become useful member of society.  This development takes about two weeks or so.

Unlike most adults, LM doesn’t realize that sleep is a glorious institution to return to after such an ordeal and he must be re-trained to sleep through the night for a day or two.  By then, while I quite remember and desire to return to a normal sleeping habit, I discover that I am in the god-awful habit of rising at five in the morning and wondering what to do with myself.

Sunrise

My go-to routine: make coffee, open the windows to watch the sun rise, enjoy a little uninterrupted reading, and possibly make a delicious breakfast.  On a recent morning with a glorious apricot-pink sunrise I was craving coffee cake.  Not any coffee cake but the coffee cake of my childhood.  Not because we had it often but because we didn’t.  It was my mother’s standard contribution for my dad’s work functions or church brunch potlucks.  The torture my siblings I would endure as we smelled it baking knowing that, unlike cookies or bars, obtaining a taste would not go unnoticed and we should therefore abandon the idea of such luck.  On the rare occasion the cake was for us, we devoured each piece, licking the jam and crumbs from our fingers.

My mother’s recipe calls for Raspberry Jam and Almonds, which is divine.  Of course, the morning I wanted to make the coffee cake I was out of both.  I substituted Apricot Preserves and Hazelnuts, and decided to add bit of Cardamom because I cannot help myself.  (If I were a spice...)  For not being the nostalgia-evoking original, this cake was scrumptious.  Like raspberry, apricot is tangy and balances the richness of the cream-cheese layer.   The cake itself is tender and delicately sweet.  And of course the best part is the crumb topping with crunchy, toasted nuts – it is absolutely impossible not grab little bits from the edge while the cake cools.  You have been warned.

Fog

A new cake demanded a new memory.  The weather was just warm enough for me to conceive the idea of a breakfast picnic on our patio; moreover, to convince Mr. H. (He is fond of spending his mornings in a warm robe, on a warm couch, inside the warm house, where people should be at such a time.)  Freshly baked cake and hot coffee are also powerfully persuasive.  We sat bundled up in our sweaters, quietly eating, ritualistically licking jam and crumbs from our fingers.  We sipped coffee as the fog rolled in, dimming the sun and adding a chill to the air.  It was a glorious morning and hopefully to be repeated as the next set of  little molars make their unsubtle debut.

 

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Apricot, Hazelnut, & Cardamom Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

2 ¼ cups All-Purpose Flour

¾ cup Sugar + ¼ cup

¾ cup Butter + a little for the pan

½ teaspoon Baking Powder

½ teaspoon Baking Soda

¼ teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon Cardamom

¾ cup Sour Cream

2 Eggs

1 teaspoon Almond Extract

8 ounces Cream Cheese, softened

½ cup Apricot Preserves

½ cup Hazelnuts, chopped

Grease and flour a 9 or 10” spring-form pan.  In a large bowl, combine flour and ¾ cup of sugar.  Cut in butter until mixture forms coarse crumbs.  Reserve one cup of the crumb mixture and combine with hazelnuts.

To the remaining mixture add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom.  Stir in sour cream, one egg, and extract; blend well.  Spread batter in the pan pushing up the sides, about two inches.

In a small bowl, blend together the cream cheese, ¼ cup of sugar, and remaining egg.  Pour over the batter in the pan.  Spoon preserves over the cream cheese filling, gently spreading out evenly.  Sprinkle the hazelnut-crumb mixture on top.

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 to 55 minutes. The cream cheese filling should be just set and the top of the cake golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes before unmolding and serving.  Serve warm and store leftovers in the refrigerator.

 

– One of my mother’s old Pillsbury Cookbooks.

* For the original recipe: swap the Apricot Preserves for Raspberry, sliced Almonds for the chopped Hazelnuts, and omit the cardamom.

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The Heralding Day of Autumn

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I woke up last week and discovered that magically, in the deepest black of the night, autumn had subtly made her arrival.  The morning sky was grey and foggy, sprays of yellow and red crept into the verdant tree line, and the air was cool, intoxicating, and begging for me to inhale it all voraciously.  I smiled and my soul laughed.  This is my season and regardless of whatever storms are brewing, I feel my most powerful, most grounded in the autumn.

I took LM out to a local park on this glorious day.  He enjoyed exercising his physical limitations on a playground while I watched in awe of how strong his little body has become and how eagerly it collects every bit of mud and dirt it can possibly find.  We walked around the lake looking for deer and observing the new colors of wildflowers dancing in the brown, summer-burned fields.  They are not as ornate as the spring wildflowers yet are lovely in their own right.  The forest was anything but silent as acorns made their descent from towering branches.  They “pop” as they hit limbs and twigs on their gravitational ride downward; their tiny percussions echo, piercing the woods with an elegant staccato.  Then, as if enticed by the little symphonic beats, the rain began to fall pattering the leaves and puncturing the glassy lake with rippling little circles.

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The rain was still drizzling by the time we arrived home a little muddy yet invigorated.  Hot cocoa was in order as was baking something autumnal.  This impromptu baking urge required something simple and comforting.  Ah – Apple Blondies!  A household favorite enjoyed only once, or twice, a year.   Imagine buttery blondies with their thin, crunchy exterior giving way to a soft, melt-in-your-mouth interior with sweet apple in each bite – perfect for the heralding day of autumn.

 

Apple Blondies

½ cup + 1 tablespoon Butter, melted and cooled

1 cup All-Purpose Flour

1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

½ teaspoon Baking Powder

½ teaspoon Salt

¼ teaspoon Baking Soda

1 cup Sugar

1 Large Egg

2 Large Apples, peeled, cored, cut in half, and sliced

Use one tablespoon of the melted butter to grease a 9 x 13” baking pan**.   Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.  In another bowl, beat together the sugar, egg, and melted butter until pale, about two minutes.  Fold in the flour mixture.  Pour the batter in the pan and spread to the corners.  Place the apple slices on top of the batter, overlapping slightly, and pressing gently into the batter.

Bake the blondies in a pre-heated 350°F oven for 30 – 40 minutes.  The blondies will be lovely golden all over and the apples just starting to brown at the edges.  Cool the pan on a wire rack for half an hour and then cut into bars.

 

– Martha Stewart (Original Recipe here)

 

*When it comes to baking, I usually prefer McIntosh or Granny Smith. For these blondies, being they were a made on a whim, I used Galas.  They aren’t as strong in flavor as the other apples but do just as well and hold up nicely.  Do you have a favorite baking apple?

** The original recipe calls for an 8 x 11″ pan.  I do not own one and find a 9×13″ with a shorter baking time is fine.  If you want a thicker blondie then try out the smaller pan and aim for the full 40 minutes.

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Standing Still (And Metaphorical Scones)

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I’ve been a bit melancholy lately.   I blame it on the impending equinox. I feel restless.  I’ve made up my mind to quit this blog about five times.  Every morning I want an adventure but feel like staying home.  I want to wear sweaters and run through piles of leaves but am mourning the ending of our sunshine-filled days by the poolside.  I’ve gone through my closet three times already and have started a donation pile based on colors I don’t like anymore.

My solace is that the weather is also being moody.  Cool grey mornings followed by muggy afternoons with sunny rainstorms.  I have no need of mirrors anymore, I just look out the window.

Transitions are hard. As a child constant change was the norm, we moved every few years and sometimes to a completely different country – Germany.  Also inculde Texas in the category.  During my childhood, nomadic adventurism wrote itself into my genetic code.  Then one day I stopped moving, fell in love, and decided to call one place home.

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I am grateful for this standstill, for the opportunity to lay down roots and nurture a life for my family.  It is a life I always imagined as a little girl, having a physical home, family and friends close enough for holidays and weekend gatherings.  However, as I begin to pull out boxes of sweaters and put away straw hats,  my brain and my heart begin colluding without my permission.  They start whispering, nagging “Shouldn’t we be going somewhere? Doing something life changing? Something spectacularly terrifying?”

I have no idea how to stand still while the world around me changes, how to be a constant amid fluctuation.  I am a novice in accepting small changes, such as the shift in seasons, without becoming impossibly capricious, dramatically introspective, and turning every detail into a miniature life-crisis.  Not all great things in life need to be significantly life-altering, although they often are.  The little things grow into monumental milestones and journeys cannot be had without thousands of individual footsteps.  I am learning how to embrace these little things, the simple and quiet things of my life, in a grandiose way.

I’m sure my funky mood will last for a few more weeks.  My restlessness will have me thinking about deleting my Facebook account once or twice, throwing out the couch because it takes up far too much room, and getting bangs, which I already tried this year and hated.  I think my best defense is to replace these these urges with positive action.  And so,  I am taking the recent advice of one of my dearest: to enjoy life, stop over thinking, and “cook your heart out.”

Storm Clouds

 

The kitchen is a calming place for me.  With every move, my mother always first unpacked the beds and then the kitchen.  Any place could begin feeling like home once you had a place to lay your head and fill your belly.  There is something grounding about cooking and baking, despite whatever significant or insignificant thing is on my mind, the kitchen is where I am again cohered.  All I have to do is follow a recipe, new or beloved, and I get a pleasurably predictable result.

I decided to make a favorite recipe: scones also caught in the cross-hairs of the seasonal transition.  (I always love  metaphorical food.)   Strawberry Rosemary Scones are a wonderful combination of summer-y sweet strawberry and autumnal herbaceous rosemary.  Unlike heartier scones – which I enjoy – that require some clotted cream and tea to balance out, these scones are tender and sweet; perfect for enjoying with a cup of hot tea or cold milk depending on what the weather calls for.  Moreover, they are perfect for diverting me from re-arranging our bedroom on my own.  Again.

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Strawberry Rosemary Scones

2 cups Flour

½ cup Sugar

2 teaspoon Baking Powder

1 tablespoon Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon Salt

6 tablespoons Cold Butter, cut into pieces

1 cup Heavy Cream

1/3 cup Strawberry Preserves

In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, rosemary, and salt to combine.  Add the butter pieces and pulse just until crumbly.  Transfer mixture to a bowl.  Slowly stir in the heavy cream to form a dough.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 10” circle about ½ “ thick.  Use a 3” cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out the scones.  Place the rounds on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, an inch apart.  Gently bring together leftover dough, roll out again, and cut out more scones.  Discard any remaining dough.

Using the back of a teaspoon, press an indentation into the center of each scone.  Fill each indentation with a teaspoon of the strawberry preserves.  Bake in a 375°F oven for 18 to 20 minutes, the edges of the scones will be golden.  Cool on a wire rack before serving.

This makes about 14 scones.

 

Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis  (The original recipe has a glaze for the scones.  I prefer mine without.)

 

 

 

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Photo Credit – The picture of LM smelling the flowers was taken by my friend, JB, at the Dale City Farmer’s Market.

Magic, Tidal Pools, & Chocolate Cake

What are little boys made of?

What are little boys made of?

Snips and snails and puppy-dogs’ tails

And such are little boys made of.

 

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The sun-kissed days of summer are taking their exit cue and while I can hardly wait for the crisp days of autumn, I am savoring these last weeks of warm breezes and bright blue skies.  Little Man has been enjoying our daily outdoor adventures, especially now that he is at this grand age of discovery and observation.  Should we stumble upon a family of obstinate geese or a fanciful and energetic butterfly, he is entranced; magically his vibrating being becomes quiet and still for a few moments.  His intensity and curiosity for this wide world, for the seemingly mundane or often ignored, renews my own zeal for life and I find myself, also, in a constant state of wonderment.

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Enders Island - Fishers Sound

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While we were at Ender’s Island, he had the pleasure of discovering tidal pools.  I had mentioned in a previous post that one side of the island consisted of slabs of rock gradually descending into Fisher’s Sound.  Here, tenacious life thrives, rooted firmly to withstand the constant rush of waves.  Small white barnacles framed the edges of rocks where air and water met and chartreuse seaweed danced with each surge of foaming water.  Also here, cohabiting in these shallow pools, were hundreds of tiny black snails.  Little Man, who was secured with his father’s grip on his overalls, sat with feet submerged, picking up and examining every snail his greedy little fingers could find.  And so we sat, contently with only the sound of the waves and boats, reveling in the simple joys of our natural world.  This moment I captured in my soul and  preserved in my heart.  In future days when I can hardly believe how old he is, or we are, here is where I will come again to play among the tidal pools.

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When snails are in short supply, that magical moment of quiet and stillness can be conjured by appeasing LM’s sweet tooth.  Our family favorite this summer was a Chocolate Zucchini Cake, or Chocolate Courgette Cake if you are partial to alliterations.  Zucchini and buttermilk make this cake remarkably moist and semi-sweet chips scattered on top add a double dose of chocolate and a little texture.  Be sure to use a great quality cocoa powder, such as Scharffen Berger, Green & Black, or Ghirardelli for the best results.

 

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Chocolate Zucchini Cake

2 ¼ cup Flour

½ cup Cocoa

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1 tsp. Salt

1 ¾ cup Sugar

½ cup Butter, softened

½ cup Oil

2 Eggs

1 tsp. Vanilla

½ cup Buttermilk

2 cups grated Zucchini (from about 2 ½ medium zucchini)

1 cup Chocolate Chips

Butter a 9 x 13” dish.  Sift together flour, cocoa, soda, and salt.  Beat together sugar, butter, and oil.  Add eggs, one at a time.  Beat in vanilla.  Mix in the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour (in three additions).  Fold in the zucchini.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the cake.

Bake at 325°F for 40 – 50 minutes.  Cool cake completely in pan.

 

– I do not recall where I picked up this recipe but is is not an original of mine.

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This excerpt is from a popular Nursery Rhyme.  And from what I can remember of my own childhood, little girls are also made of similar stuff.

Grow Wild According To Thy Nature

 

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.  I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary.  I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms… .

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It is a surprising and memorable, as well as valuable experience, to be lost in the woods any time… .  In our most trivial walks, we are constantly, though unconsciously, steering like pilots by certain well-known beacons and headlands, and if we go beyond our usual course we still carry in our minds the bearing of some neighboring cape; and not till we are completely lost, or turned round, – for man needs only to be turned round once with his eyes shut in this world to be lost, – do we appreciate the vastness and strangeness of Nature.  Every man has to learn the points of compass again as often as he awakes, whether from sleep or any abstraction.  Not tell we are lost, in other words, not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.

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Summer is already here and I can hardly believe it.  Forever it was winter and miserably wet and cold.  Then, one morning I awoke to a world running amok with green leaves, delicate blossoms, and dusty yellow pollen.  Spring was fashionably late.

The glorious greenery is what I love the most about Virginia in the spring – there are so many shades concentrated into one area and I am always, every year, surprised by how lush and beautiful this wild State can be.  The trees with their forest green leaves begin at the sky and parade down to where the tangled weeds and vines juxtapose dense colors of fern, moss, olive, and hunter.  Other colors pop against this verdant canvas, especially the wildflowers.  Sprays of white, purple, blue, and yellow fill fields with a confetti-like ecstasy.  We’ve been enjoying the show with daily walks, stopping often to watch the bees shake little flowers or pick tiny clovers.

During the rainy days, I have kept in touch with nature with Henry David Thoreau’s Walden.  I loved this book with one exception – the second half.  The first part was filled with inspirational, challenging, and philosophical discourse that I eagerly devoured.  The second half, I am convinced, would be very interesting if I was Charles Darwin or Bear Grylls.   I’m sure I would find a Discovery Channel documentary, or National Geographic article, on how pond-water freezes fascinating (I am a visual person) but Thoreau’s systematic and dry delivery had me going cross-eyed.  The Conclusion and final chapter is beautiful and re-invigorated my numb mind.  If you have not given Walden a try, now you know to enjoy the first half, skim the second unless you are an avid biologist/botanist/naturalist, and go straight to the Conclusion.

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What is absolutely wonderful, from start to finish, are these little Apricot Tartlets.  To me, the apricot is the official herald of spring.  They come a little later in the season, closer to summer, a sure sign that the cold is behind me and the sunshine will only increase with warmth and intensity.  I love to eat these fuzzy little fruits straight; sweet, tart, and always satisfactory.  Yet, I cannot resist baking with them.  They hold up well and do nothing more than improve what I am already making.

The original recipe from Mireille Guiliano is for one large apricot tart – this is easily adaptable to six tartlets if you have the smaller tins.  I love the almond mixture before the addition of fruit; it soaks up the juices and gives great texture between flaky crust and soft baked fruit.  I served mine with a small dollop of honey-sweetened crème fraîche and freshly grated lemon zest.  However, they would be great with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and a few toasted almonds.  Or, as I can personally attest to, with a bit of yogurt for breakfast, along with a cup of hot, black coffee.

 

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Apricot Tart

Makes 1 (9”) Tart or 6 Tartlets

1 recipe Sweet Pâte Brisée (for 9” tart)

1 cup Slivered Blanched Almonds

¼ cup + 2 teaspoons Sugar

1 ½ – 2 lbs. Fresh Apricots, halved and pitted

2 teaspoons Honey

Preheat the oven to 400°F. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough to an 11” round. Transfer to a 9” tart pan. Prick the dough with a fork, cover, and chill for 10 minutes. Place the tart in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 375°F.

In a food processor, combine the blanched almonds and ¼ cup of sugar and pulse just until the almonds are finely ground. Spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of the tart shell. Place the apricot halves, cut side down, on top, slightly overlapping. Drizzle with honey, place the oven, and bake for 40 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned.

Remove from oven and sprinkle over the remaining two teaspoons of sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature with desired accompaniment.

For Tartlets: Only blind bake the pastry shells for about 5 minutes. Bake the tartlets for about 30 minutes.

– The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook by Mireille Guiliano (page 232)

 

Sweet Pâte Brisée

This makes enough for 2 (9”) pie shells; or a top and bottom.

2 ¾ cups Flour

1 ½ teaspoons Salt

1 tablespoon Sugar

18 tablespoons Butter, cold and cut into pieces

7 – 10 tablespoons Ice Water

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter and pulse until coarse crumbs form, about 10 seconds. While pulsing, add ice water in a slow steady stream until a dough forms but is not sticky or wet. (Pulse for no longer than 30 seconds.)

Gently fold and bring together dough on a lightly floured surface. Divide into two portions, shape into disks and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

The dough disks can be tightly wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

– Saveur Magazine

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Go fish and hunt far and wide day by day, – farther and wider, – and rest thee by many brooks and hearth-sides without misgiving. Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth. Rise free from care before dawn, and seek adventures. Let the noon find thee by other lakes, and the night overtake thee ever where at home. There are no larger fields than these, no worthier games than may here by played. Grow wild according to thy nature.

 

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Excerpts from Walden, the better half, by Henry David Thoreau.

 

 

 

An Impromtu Picnic

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There is nothing quite like an impromptu picnic to cure the ennui caused by a long rainy week.  And today, it was a cure that the Little Man and I desperately needed.  I packed away an old alumni blanket, placed our lunch into little containers, and we ventured out to a park in search of a shady tree and a little fresh air.

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I had already planned on making these Chicken & Honey Mustard Pinwheels but the clover field and butterflies in which we enjoyed our lunch was little additional pleasure.  I must confess I am terrible at following directions. (Although, I really shouldn’t say “confess” since I am quite aware and comfortable about this character trait.*)  I forgot to soften the mascarpone cheese and added lemon juice instead of zest to the dressing –  making it more of a spread, less of a drizzle. I do think when it comes to any future wraps I will always use lavash bread. It is fabulously sturdy and chewy, full of flavor, and frankly makes tortillas seem like a ridiculous option for housing sandwiches.

These little pinwheels pack well and are prefect for small hands (and delicate in larger ones).   I packed along some crunchy carrots, a sour-sweet plum, and a few salty chips to complete our al fresco feast.  Little Man tried dirt for dessert.  I don’t recommend it.  I don’t think he would either.

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Chicken & Honey-Mustard Pinwheels

½ cup (4 oz.) Mascarpone Cheese

2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard

2 tablespoons Honey

Lemon Juice (just a quick squeeze)

Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper

1 ½ cups Arugula, slightly torn

2 cups of cooked, shredded Chicken Breast

4 Lavash Breads

Combine the cheese, mustard, honey, and lemon juice with a wooden spoon; season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the lavash with the honey mustard mixture. Sprinkle over arugula and chicken. Roll up the long side of the lavash and cut into slices.

Serves 4.

– This is a barely adapted version from Feel Good Food by Giada de Laurentiis (pg. 108). You can also view the recipe here.

 

*Essentially, when it comes to cooking, I just go with the flow.  And my instructions will portray this attribute of mine.  If you ever need any clarification, please do not hesitate to ask.

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Beautiful Mornings

 

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I am, by nature, not a morning person.  I am a creature of the night, or so Mr. H lovingly calls me.  The jive of the stars, the occasional sonata of the moon, the aria of the darkness swelling with mysteries and discoveries make me such a creature.  I am captivated by wonder and comfortable in the unknown – this is where I thrive and my imagination gorges itself on all possibilities and impossibilities.

Unfortunately for me, we live in a sunrise-to-sunset society.  This is my bane.

Mr. H works a 9-to-5, or later, grind and the Little Man is up with the sun.  And when I say “up with the sun” I mean “sprinting with the sun” until he falls in a heap at some undetermined time in the evening.  What is unnatural for me is only natural for them.  What is also very natural for me is to be reticent and aloof before 10 AM.  While I am usually boasting that embracing one’s nature is healthy, I began hating how much I loathed the morning.  The blurred rush of covers tossed, feet on the ground, diapers changed, coffee made, poured, and drunk did little more than put me in a foul mood for the rest of the day.  Not to mention feeding people.   It appears that morning people like to eat at odd hours.   The morning may not be my favorite but the start of one’s day shouldn’t be detested.  This much I know.  And so I decided to take on the Herculean task of making my mornings beautiful.

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I began by rising a little earlier and beginning my day in personal solace – orienting myself in these foreign hours.  As my amicable attempt at a relationship with the morning continues, I am finding there is indeed beauty in it, unique to itself.  The light filling the sky and breaking the barriers of our place, casting its golden life onto every surface is a constant intrigue.  I smile at waking sighs of my loves: heavy and stalling groans from the taller one and high-pitch coos and laughter from the smaller one.   Even the singing of the birds, which once grated, gnawed, and drilled against my ears, can, on occasion, transform itself into a melodious sunrise concert.

As I find beauty in these first moments, breakfast has also become a pleasurable moment as opposed to a necessary chore.  On most occasions we stick to toast or yogurt.  However, the need for variety has me looking for simple, fast, and energizing starts, such as our new favorite: Oatmeal Pudding.

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It is actually Baked Oatmeal but we found it to be of similar consistency to Bread Pudding, and so have named it thus.  (Yes, pudding for breakfast!  I wonder how long the Little Man will believe this one.)  The best part is that it is made the night before, kept in the fridge overnight, and baked the following morning.  As the kitchen fills with the delicious aroma of the false notion that I have been up before dawn preparing a scrumptious breakfast, I can sip coffee, read BBC, and feel particularily awesome about myself.  The second best part is that this pudding is a blank canvas and easily adaptable to a variety of tastes and preferences.  The boys love Peanut Butter, Bananas, and Maple Syrup while I love Yogurt and Fruit.  There also the classic standby of Raisins, Milk, and Brown Sugar.  Butter, Jam, Honey, Toasted Coconut or Hazelnuts… the possibilities are yours for the making.

Enjoy! And may you have a beautiful morning.

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Overnight Oatmeal Pudding (or, Baked Oatmeal)
¼ cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons Honey
1 ½ cups Whole Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla
3 ¼ cups Old Fashioned Oats
½ teaspoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
½ teaspoon Cinnamon
¼ teaspoon Nutmeg

Grease a 9 x 9” pan with a little extra olive oil or cooking spray. Sift together the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, eggs, honey, milk, and vanilla. Add the baking powder-spice mixture and oats, and stirring to combine. Pour into the prepared pan and using a spoon or spatula press the top to even out. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and keep in the refrigerator overnight.
In the morning, preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the covered dish in the hot oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes until the top is golden. Remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes before cutting into nine slices. Serve warm with desired accompaniments.

Store remaining oatmeal in the refrigerator, reheating individual pieces for future breakfasts.

Adapted from various recipes

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See more of my daybreak inspirations HERE, on my Good Morning Pinterest Board.