For two nights running, Lytle has woken up at least three times in the night. Bleary-eyed and cranky does not begin to describe how I started this Sunday morning. The only thing I could think to do was take a deep breath and settle into the kitchen.
I started the day with My Favorite Breakfast. Have you ever seen The Runaway Bride? No judgement either way, it’s enjoyable but not great. I did, however, love reporter Richard Gere’s assessment of Julia Roberts, aka the runaway bride. He observes that her egg preference is always the same as the guy that she is with. It’s a metaphor, see? Get it? Not especially deep, I know, but there’s something to be said for knowing your own egg preference. To know your favorite breakfast is to know yourself. And I knew that this morning, I needed homefries, pan-fried greens, toast with jam, and fried eggs. And tea. Lots and lots of caffeinated black tea.
Nothing brilliant here, but if these are some of your favorite breakfast items too, let me quickly run you through my process and we can compare notes.
- Homefries. I like to parboil my potatoes until they are pierce-able with a knife then dice them up small to medium sized and fry them in olive oil. The trick is to give them time and to not overstir them. You also need a killer seasoned cast-iron skillet, or loads of olive oil, to prevent sticking while you refrain from stirring. Too much stirring and you don’t get a nice browned crust.
- Pan-fried greens. Collard greens are Travis’ favorite so we frequently have them on hand, but kale, chard, and beet greens all work as well. Cut out any tough stems, slice up the greens and fry them in a hot pan. I like to sizzle them in oil first, then throw in a bit of water so they steam up. Again, the seasoned cast-iron skillet is the tool of choice.
- Toast with jam. Good toast is key. Don’t skimp with some variation of Wonder Bread. It’s best if you can get a wood-fired style loaf that you slice yourself. This morning I got to have some of the cranberry date walnut bread I picked up at the farmers’ market this week. Yum. And don’t get me started on industry vs. small-batch jam. It’s Sunday, people, use the good stuff.
- Fried eggs. I use butter. I guess you could use something else. But why? You need, yep, a good skillet, and then enough butter that the eggs can slide just a bit to prevent any sticking. The flip is critical, but don’t overthink it or go to slow. And I like my yolk runny so I will usually turn off the pan after the flip and the cast-iron retains enough heat to cook the rest of the egg without overcooking.
Throw in some tea, and I was well on my way to recovery. But it’s a grey Sunday. It’s Thanksgiving next week. My Christmas cookie gift plates are on my mind. So I went for it.
I started with almond blondies. I got these from Megan Gordon’s blog A Sweet Spoonful. She is one of our maple syrup customers in Seattle, maker of the delicious Marge Granola and she was blogging about tasty preggers treats. I figured anything good for preggo gals will be good for kids and I’d been looking for new school lunch treats.
I tweaked her recipe due in part to preference (how can I not add maple syrup to something like this?) and in part to necessity (I somehow missed that I only had a little bit of almond butter left, so I supplemented with peanut butter). The taste is excellent, but I think I need to chop the roasted almonds much more finely – the chunks of almond make it hard for the bar to hold itself together. I suspect they will not hold up well in the school lunch but I think they taste so good that James will happily eat the crumbs.
Next I moved on to chocolate chunk cookies from the gorgeous Bouchon Bakery tome my sis got me for my birthday. I replaced the chunks with dark chocolate M&Ms. So not my usual thing but I’m freezing these for my Christmas cookie plate and I want James to be excited about helping. The M&Ms seemed to draw him in more than my suggestions for candied citrus peel or shortbread have so far. I know, you’re surprised too. Lytle enjoyed participating in dark chocolate quality control, so this was overall a good kid choice.
Not exactly what I envision for a beautiful dessert option, but this is a super yummy cookie. I was a big fan of the dark brown sugar and small amount of molasses to darken things up a bit. Could become a staple cookie, but it may end up on a picnic blanket rather than a holiday plate.
Last, I worked on a recipe for biscuits that I’ve been meaning to try for ages, but it calls for lard and buttermilk and I rarely have both of those ingredients on hand. I actually dragged my sufficiently-caffeinated self to the grocery store for buttermilk. And M&Ms. And more eggnog, cause parenthood is all about passing on parts of one’s self, and I would be remiss if I did not pass along my eggnog addiction to James and Ly.
So buttermilk in hand, I dove into one of the biscuit recipes from The Gift of Southern Cooking. I did not have the soft Southern White Lily flour (made with an especially low-protein type of wheat) but I figured I could make do with a blend of cake flour and all-purpose flour.
I was thrilled with these! Perfectly light, not too dense and crumbly, pulled apart just right. These will definitely appear on the Thanksgiving table.
So in the end I managed to pull off a decent Sunday. All thanks to a good start with a favorite breakfast. I suggest you do the same next time you’re a little bleary and cranky.