Category Archives: breakfast

Only on Sundays

eggs, quiet

The day begins a little before 7 in a tangled, laughing pileup of pouncing baby and garrulous older brother and bleary-eyed parents, the late November light creeping through the blinds a merciful pearly grey. After a few minutes I take a deep breath and throw back the quilts, one child on my right hip and the other at my left side, hand in mine. We close the door behind us and slip out into the world of coffee and Legos. (Only on Sundays; the rest of the week my husband is the one wrangling the early birds and scrambling eggs and unloading the dishwasher, and I am the one burrowed deep under the covers stealing a blissful bit of uninterrupted sleep.) I plug in the waffle irons (we have two!) and put on a Christmas record even though it’s not yet Thanksgiving. I am almost 37 and I find myself pleasantly loosening my iron grip on these sorts of things. I sip my coffee through a smile and marvel at these two children playing amicably, needing little more than my nearness.

Before long my husband joins us, taking my spot on the couch when I rise to make the batter and set the table and put on the kettle for another cup of coffee. I pull buttermilk from the fridge. We never used to keep buttermilk around and now we do and I find myself reaching for it all the time. I smile at this too. Some eggs, some butter, some flours. Quiet whisking. I think to slice some apples into a small pot with a knob of butter.

I call everyone into the kitchen. We’re easy and merry. The baby is ravenous recently. I think she’s growing. After nine months of not really napping she’s napping, and maybe it’s just for this week, but I’ll take it, because she is also nursing like a new piglet all night long. At the table she reaches for everything, stewed apples and red pepper hummus and pork roast and buttery carrots and, because I am trying to chill out a little, a couple bites of her brother’s waffle, pre-syrup. She slaps the table and yowls out for more.

Our mornings are not always like this, not by a long shot, but sometimes they are.

holly

(seven posts in seven days)

Whole Grain Waffles
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

I didn’t post yesterday but I do have waffles to share. I hope that counts for something. We love breakfast around here. Growing up, we all had to be out the door pretty early for school or work most days, and so it was usually, and happily, cereal and milk, maybe a Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tart. These days we mostly do oatmeal or scrambled eggs with toast and fruit. But I do love a Sunday morning, the one day we’re all home. We take it very easy and we usually up our breakfast game, just a little. Scrambled eggs with scones or muffins instead of toast, often. Tara’s berried breakfast cobbler. Dutch babies and bacon. My dad’s French toast (which is really his mom’s French toast). Or waffles! I’ve tried so many recipes over the years and while I can’t say I’ve ever met a waffle I didn’t like (except for the one time I tried using organic vegetable shortening that had been sitting in the cupboard for who knows how long; those tasted exactly like plastic), I kept coming back to two Deborah Madison recipes – these and her yeasted waffles, which I make with a blend of white whole wheat, millet, and buckwheat flours. Really, really good, but you have to remember to start them the night before.

(See note below on substitutions.)

1/4 cup (half a stick) butter
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk or 1/2 cup yogurt stirred into 1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup white whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, or all-purpose flour
1/4 cup each of four additional flours or meals (try cornmeal, millet flour, barley flour, buckwheat flour, oats whirred into coarse flour in the food processor or blender, even a cracked grain hot cereal blend)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat your waffle iron and melt your butter.

Whisk all the wet ingredients except the butter together in a bowl. Whisk the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients and the butter to the dry ingredients and whisk or stir to combine. The batter should be fairly thick but shouldn’t get stuck in the whisk; if it seems too thick (and it might, depending on which combination of flours you choose) add another splash or two of milk. Cook in your waffle iron until nicely browned!

(A note on substitutions: we love these waffles on a Sunday, when I relax a little about starting the day off with whole foods, but I’m happy to make them on other days too, because there’s only white flour in them if you want it; they’re fantastic without it. Feel free to play around with the flour combination. I’ve found the recipe quite flexible, although I find rye flour does make them a bit heavy. I have not worried too much about the percentage of gluten flours. These are easy to make vegan by subbing in flax eggs for the regular eggs, any milk alternative plus a splash of vinegar or lemon juice for the buttermilk, and oil for the butter.)

waffles

PS If you’ve made it this far: who wants to weigh in on this?

Weekending

Sweet Annie/Artemisia annua. February 2013, Virginia.

Sweet Annie/Artemisia annua. February 2013, Virginia.

So grateful for this practice of noticing and remembering some really delicious stuff, here in the thick of the move. For National Margarita Day on Friday, which brought joy to my packing, and for our whole grain waffles the next morning, which brought joy to my belly. For a child who called out gleefully from the backseat, “Turn that up, Mama!!” when this came on the radio, and then “Dance, Mama!!” when I was too still at the wheel. For a fantastic coffee date where we really did fit in a fair amount of adult conversation, even with our little ones at our sides. For the moment when I showed myself a little compassion and tossed the dry lumps of whole wheat tortilla dough into the pig scraps bucket and pulled out the tub of white flour. (I still want to talk about my seemingly Sisyphean efforts to find the perfect whole grain tortilla recipe – but not today.) For last night’s riff on our favorite new one dish meal: baked bratwurst with cabbage, carrots, and sweet potatoes, inspired by Dinner: A Love Story. For Connie Britton. For sleeping in. For this berried breakfast cobbler (two suggestions: top it with yogurt thinned with juice from the orange you’ve zested, per the recipe, and use salted butter – it does something amazing to the crust), and for the wee boy who did all the measuring and mixing himself. For the blue skies and blinding sun, and for the coffee I drank while the boy dug in the dirt and (ahem) threw dirt at the chickens. For a long midday snuggle with an under-the-weather bub who needed his mama.

And for this:

“Piano”

Touched by your goodness, I am like
that grand piano we found one night on Willoughby
that someone had smashed and somehow
heaved through an open window.

And you might think by this I mean I’m broken
or abandoned, or unloved. Truth is, I don’t
know exactly what I am, any more
than the wreckage in the alley knows
it’s a piano, filling with trash and yellow leaves.

Maybe I’m all that’s left of what I was.
But touching me, I know, you are the good
breeze blowing across its rusted strings.

What would you call that feeling when the wood,
even with its cracked harp, starts to sing?

Patrick Phillips
Boy

(joining Amanda at The Habit of Being)

Grace in a muffin

In a month – perhaps a bit sooner than that, certainly not much later – we are leaving our farm in central Virginia and moving to a new-to-us farm in New York. We have been farming on our own for seven years now, and when we bought our own land five years ago, we had every intention of staying for the long haul. We built a business and worked our soil and had a baby and picked a lot of tomatoes and had a lot potlucks and really dug our feet in. We love what we built and the vision we had for our life here.

The decision to leave was very, very hard, but I don’t mean to write about that just now. Some months have passed since we decided. Our grief has faded, as it does. Our excitement is mounting, as it will. And in between … well, the devil is in the details, and right this moment? BLLLLLAAAAAAARRRRRRGH!

But I believe there’s grace in a muffin.

Pear chocolate nutmeg muffin

 

It’s hard, when you’re in the trenches, to act with all the perspective and poise that come so easy when things are … easy. Your fuse is short and your to-do list is a mile long and your worries pile up like so much dirty laundry and who knows when it’s all going to sort itself out? Who knows when things will feel calm again?

I guess these muffins say: “How does right now sound to you?”

Partly it’s that they’re so reliable. So many muffins sit at one extreme or the other: dry and regrettable, or loaded with oil and sugar and heavy enough to prop a door open. These aren’t like that. They’re lovely and toothsome, just sweet enough, with a perfect crumb – owed entirely to the leftover oatmeal, I believe.

But mainly it’s that if you get out your flour and your eggs and your milk and you begin measuring and whisking and stirring and scooping, you pretty much have to stop thinking about your mortgage. (You may have to think about how to get eggshells out of the batter if your kids are with you, but that’s a distraction I highly recommend.)

So maybe it doesn’t have to be muffins. It could be applesauce, or mayonnaise, or a soufflé. Or pie! But for me, this week, it’s muffins.

Leftover Oatmeal Muffins

We make these muffins a lot – two or three times a month. They’ll cater completely to your whim, the season, or the contents of your pantry. We most often use blueberries or mixed berries, frozen, for our extras. Sometimes we add the zest of a lemon too. Other nice combos: toasted fennel seeds plus raisins or currants (plump them first by soaking them in very hot water for about 10 minutes; then drain and add to the batter); dried apricots plus fresh and/or candied ginger; chopped apples plus chopped toasted walnuts; dried cranberries plus chopped toasted almonds plus a little almond extract … be bold! This week I upped the ante and used about a half cup each of frozen mixed berries, coarsely chopped chocolate, and coconut flakes. Yup, that’s more than the cup of extras I suggest below, but I was feeling a little brash – although I was pretty certain those flavors would complement one another nicely. They did. And the muffins were big! My point is, throw in what sounds good.

Also, thanks to Amanda for the original recipe and the heads up about using leftover oatmeal. That’s really where the genius lies in this recipe.

Update 11/2/16: When I first posted this recipe I called for two tablespoons of baking powder. That always seemed a little, hmm, alarming? We continue to make these muffins regularly and I find the leavening amounts in the updated recipe to work well.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 cup cooked oatmeal
1/2 cup buttermilk or milk or milk substitute, room temperature (or gently warmed on the stovetop or in the microwave)
1/3 cup maple syrup, honey, or sugar
1 egg, room temperature if possible (try warming it in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes)
1-2 tablespoons melted lard or butter or coconut oil (other oils would be fine too)
about 1 cup extras

Preheat the oven to 400°F/205°C. Generously grease a 12-cup muffin tin, or use liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon if using, and sugar if using. Add oatmeal, milk, maple syrup or honey if using, egg, and lard or butter or oil. Stir until combined but try not to overmix.

(I used to mix the wet ingredients separately and then gently combine them with the dries, and this is probably a good idea if you’re worried about overmixing the batter. But I’m an utter tornado in the kitchen, and for love of my chief washer of dishes I’m trying to use fewer bowls where I can.)

If you have a child who does not like extra stuff in his muffins, scoop one or two muffins’ worth of batter into your tin now. Fold your extras into the remaining batter.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling each about 3/4 full. I find an ice cream scoop is perfect for this. Bake about 20 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Cool for just a minute or two in the pan and then pop them out and eat them warm, with or without butter, or let them cool on a rack.

Makes 12 muffins.