Posts filed under 'Breakfast'
A few days over the past couple of weeks, the weather has cleared up in the late afternoon. The morning’s low grey skies and fat rain drops swept away, quite suddenly, leaving behind a clean slate of blue sky, ready to go pink with the sunset. And about that sunset? It’s getting later! Avery ate dinner the other night in our dining room, and I didn’t even have to turn on the lights. It felt huge.
There have even been a few days that were clear and bright all day long, after several days of rain. Seattle’s rain is what people talk about, but it’s these clearings that I think are worth a mention. There’s something magical about the curtain of low clouds whisking open, revealing mountains that were hidden for days. Suddenly, you see what’s started to bloom and sprout, thanks to all that rain. And the post-rain smell of freshness? The best.
On the clear afternoons, after Avery is home for the day, we’ve blown bubbles in the backyard and scrawled chalk across the driveway and pushed a red tricycle up and down (and upanddown, upanddown, upanddown …) the sidewalk. Those things haven’t been possible during the dreary months and shorter days, and doing them again has me (and Avery, too, I think) giddy.
As I mentioned in my last post, the first half of January was rough. But we’ve emerged on the other side, and, oh, is it gorgeous over here. Avery is back to smiling and belly laughing and shrieking, with some new tricks and lots of fun new words (!) added to the mix.
Kevin went out of town just when we were in the darkest part of the tunnel between where we were then and where we are now—the stretch where I wondered, melodramatically, if we’d make it out at all. After he left, my sister arrived for a visit, and things started to right themselves almost immediately. Sisters are like that, don’t you think?
Here are some photos of our first meal of 2013: a decadent breakfast of brioche French toast, (very) crisp peppered bacon, and berries. Needless to say, our year is off to a delicious start. I’ve included a photo of another first—Avery’s first taste of solid food (oatmeal!). I’m so excited for the new year and all that it will hold, from more delicious meals (more of which I hope to share here, even it means more photos-and-recipes-only posts, like this) to dozens more firsts for Avery.
Happy new year to you and yours.
Here in Chicago, we’ve reached that time of year when the leaves on the trees are outnumbered by the leaves that pad the sidewalks, crunching underfoot (or, these days, under the stroller wheels). When dinner is increasingly eaten after the sunsets. When the farmers’ markets are winding down, or preparing to move to their scaled-down, winter locations. And when at least one early morning walk has required a big scarf or even a knit hat.
It’s when a panic sets in. After summer’s seeming endlessness, autumn, my hands-down favorite of all the seasons, is suddenly waning. I do the only sensible thing to combat such panic: I stockpile canned pumpkin and I preheat the oven. Or warm the waffle iron. Or set the soup pot over a flame. Well—you get the picture. This annual panic means that I start cooking and baking with pumpkin, and frequently. Halloween just ups the ante, emanating that candle-burnt-pumpkin-flesh aroma, which sends me straight into the kitchen.
We hosted a brunch on Sunday morning. Or, rather: we hosted a brunch on Sunday! Yes, us—the ones with the little baby girl. The ones who not so long ago were subsisting on food delivered by others, and dining to the charming (not) chirping bird sounds that emanate from Avery’s bouncy chair (that still happens, mind you, and those bird noises shall forever haunt my dreams).
It wasn’t the first time we’ve cooked for others since our family’s ranks swelled from two to three. There was a barbecue when Avery was a week-and-a-half old, which ended with a screaming baby (and also some delicious brownies). And there have been sporadic meals for family and friends, all of which have involved large amounts of help and luck. But this brunch was different. I spent a few days dreaming up a menu, and thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of preparing the spread, from food shopping to cooking to plattering it up. The morning itself was lovely—my in-laws and my mom and my little family all ate in our living room, plates balanced on our knees as we caught up and passed the baby. It was a meal that made me feel like we’re actually getting the hang of this.
I’ll start this conversation how I start just about all of them these days: I’m still pregnant. Depending on the audience, reactions range from dejection (grandparents-to-be) to relief (co-workers) to sympathy (women who have recently been 100 months pregnant, when it’s 1,000 degrees outside). These reactions and my own impatience notwithstanding, the fact remains: I’m still pregnant.
I had big plans to distract myself last weekend by ginning up some nesting instinct (mine kicked in weeks ago, and disappeared after a short, but productive, stay) and stocking our freezer. Corn chowder, baked ziti, and some pizza dough were on my list. Perhaps I’d even buy some peak summer produce at the farmers’ market and freeze some purees for the baby’s solid food days, which will strike in the dead of Chicago’s winter.
Every January, I end up on a citrus tear. I’m not much for resolutions, and January is far from my favorite month (I grew up in Minnesota, and I live in Chicago, after all), but I do love the sunny spectrum of citrus that shows up at the grocery store this month. Weekly, I haul home a heaving bag of ruby red grapefruits. Each morning, I top segments of their tart flesh with yogurt and granola. A pair of clementines accompany me to work every day; a crate of the little orange guys rarely outlasts the stretch between our weekly grocery trips. Less frequently, but still dependably, I get hankerings for key lime pies, the urge to make a citrus-hued curd, and an inexplicable desire to squeeze blood oranges until my hands are stained with their brilliantly-colored juice.
And always, there is a lemon cake.
After a busy couple of months, I was just starting to think that I wouldn’t have much time for holiday baking. But that’s when the urge to make these biscotti hit. I was in the mood for a not-too-sweet cookie with crunch, and one of my favorite combinations (almond extract and poppy seeds) leapt to mind. The dough came together in a flash, and I multi-tasked while the biscotti underwent their double-bake. In no time, I had a tin full of festive, poppy seed-flecked cookies, redolent of almond.
With the biscotti behind me, I’m feeling less sorry for myself and my lack of time for holiday baking.
We visited the Green City Market on Saturday morning, and I was struck by the duplicity of this time of year. Depending which way you looked, you might’ve found yourself in one season or the other. To your left, there’s a pile of sweet corn, pale green husks and flaxen silks stacked high—and it speaks of deep summer, of double-booked BBQs, and boat rides, and baseball. Straight ahead, there’s a table of peppers of every hue—and they speak of late summer, Labor Day, and long, savored days. But then, to the right, there are crates of apples, small and tart, telling of the autumn to come, multi-colored leaves, and thick sweaters, and mugs of hot cider.
Our feet, in other words, were in two worlds: one lingering in summer, while the other stepped into fall. In light of this, I’ve been trying to straddle the seasons. Burgers followed by apple crisp, for instance. Or a peach pie, preceded by a hearty stew. But, really, I’m trying not to let summer go, to send it off too soon. So, while the weather might call for butternuts and brussels, my mind is still dreaming of some perfect summer meals gone by.
The last few days of cooler weather and earlier sunsets have me nostalgic for the summer that’s all but slipped away. For long nights on the deck. For meandering walks through the neighborhood. For fireflies and hoses and ice cream on a Wednesday evening. There was all of that this summer, and there was a perfect weekend in the northwoods, too. One I won’t forget soon.
Kevin and I drove from Chicago to the south shore of Lake Superior, to meet my family for a night of camping. (Note to self: camp with my parents more often. Their version of rustic is one that I can definitely get behind.)
Then we went into Minnesota, up along the north shore of Lake Superior—the shore I know like the back of my hand.