Category Archives: breakfast

Breakfast and antiquities for dinner

How awesome is this? The local auction house (and the expensive conversion to 240 V) has inspired a search for vintage non-electric items like this waffle iron.  We found this one on ebay Australia for $27, including shipping, and couldn’t resist giving it a try.

It works (as anything cast iron would, despite years of use), and makes really crispy waffles.  If only I could get the batter measurement down.

Apologies for the photo quality — unfortunately, there’s only so much you can do about the low light in my kitchen.

The only trouble we had with it was keeping both sides of the waffle iron evenly heated.  We put blueberries in this batch, and if the heat wasn’t sufficient, we got mangled waffle-like whatnots in place of the crisp, golden blueberry waffles we wanted.  Not that we minded. We ate them standing up in the kitchen, piping hot, as we prepped the next batch, until we could no longer see the surface of the waffle iron.

Eventually, we gave up and made pancakes, so I guess this is still a work in progress.  Next time, I’ll skip the berries and use two burners to heat both sides of the waffle iron before adding the batter.  Oh, and I’ll try to avoid setting the stovetop (briefly) alight with the olive oil spray…

For the record, we used Mark Bittman’s quick and easy waffle recipe for this batch. The blueberries were my own addition.

Quick and Easy Waffles

Serves 4-6.

  • 2 c. all-purpose or plain flour (~9 oz, or ~250 g)
  • 1/2 t. salt (you can skip this if you need to)
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 3 T baking powder (or use ~ 2 c. self raising flower instead of the plain flour, salt, and baking powder)
  • 1-1/2 c. milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 T. melted butter, or the same quantity of olive or vegetable oil. Olive oil actually works pretty well, surprisingly.
  • 1 t. vanilla extract (optional)

Mix together the dry ingredients. Mix in the wet ingredients, and stir until the batter is smooth. It should be fairly easy to stir, but hold its shape when you take up a spoonful of batter. If it’s too thick, add some milk; if it’s too runny, consider adding some oats or extra flour.

Heat your waffle iron, grease, pour in an appropriate portion of batter for your waffle iron, and bake until light brown and crisp. Serve warm.  If you want to make a whole batch to serve at once, put your oven on warm and stick them in there while you make the rest of the waffles.

These freeze well; just reheat them in the toaster when you’re craving breakfast.

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Overnight waffles

Because I have dishes to scrub, bags to pack, and all sorts of people to see before we leave, I’m going to let the pictures speak for now.

Bittman’s overnight waffles (from How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food) are friggin’ excellent, for lack of a more eloquent expression. They’re light, fluffy, and incredibly simple to prepare, especially if you aren’t really interested in greeting the day with cheer without a giant cup of coffee and adequate time to adjust to the idea of being awake.  And as it turns out, they can be transformed into something sort of healthy.  Out of sheer forgetfulness, I have discovered that they’re just fine without a whole stick of butter. I also much prefer to substitute at least half of the all purpose flour with whole grains — I think the decrease in gluten structure that comes with this particular switch works well for waffles.  Spelt is an especially good choice — it adds a sweet, slightly more interesting flavor to the dish, and complements the sourdough-like taste really nicely.

The best part about these? They freeze really well. Make some extras for the week, and just put them in the toaster directly from the freezer to reheat.

Liz’s lazy / low fat take on Bittman’s Overnight Waffles

  • 2 c. flour — preferably 1 c. all purpose, 1 c. spelt (whole wheat is fine, too)
  • 3/4 t. active dry or 1/2 t. instant yeast
  • 2 c. milk
  • 1 T. sugar or honey (leave this out if you want savory waffles)
  • 1/2 t. salt (I left this out. I could tell it wasn’t there, and I missed it)
  • 1 t. olive oil (yes, olive oil is delicious in sweet stuff, too)
  • 1 t. vanilla extract (or make vanilla sugar by putting a vanilla pod in your sugar bag)
  • 2 eggs

The night before, or 8 hours before you want waffles:

Mix all ingredients EXCEPT for the eggs into a smooth batter.  Cover and let stand at room temperature for 8 hours.

Right before serving:

Mix in the eggs. Oil the waffle iron and make waffles as usual.

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Cinnamon raisin spice rolls

I have been craving cinnamon rolls for years. YEARS. And I resisted up until now. Why, I have no idea — I’m just silly like that sometimes.  I finally made them over the holidays, in one of my, “Damn it, James, I’m not going to work this morning” moods.  They were our Christmas morning breakfast, post-hike lunch, pre-dinner snack, and …

Hey, don’t judge me.

This recipe (or formula, if you’re as pretentious as Peter Reinhart occasionally is, which I fully forgive every time I make another one of his recipes) makes light, warm, and not-too-sweet cinnamon rolls, with a little bit inspirational filling from their slightly stickier relation and a slight nod toward the warm spiciness of hot cross buns.  If there’s one thing I’d change, it’s probably the glaze. I really wanted cream cheese frosting on these, but I’m indulgent like that, so you might disagree.  The icing isn’t bad — after all, we scraped it off the plate once the cinnamon rolls were gone, like rabid, sugar-crazed fiends — but it wasn’t oh-my-god-I-need-MORE good.  Next time, I intend to do better.

Recipe after the jump.

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Camping up the coast

Big Sur

Highway 1 unwinds slowly, precariously, across the state I once called home, inviting only the most daring (or deranged) into the rocky waters of its Northern shores. It’s been decades since I’ve been along this coast, and the first time I’m the one behind the wheel, and oh, it’s so much scarier when you’re the one in charge of navigating its mountainous terrain. But it was good to be home.

Yes, I climbed half dome, cables and all.

I had forgotten how raw the coast of Northern California looks in comparison to Connecticut’s gentle shores. Traversing the whole state is like going through a series of different worlds, as elevation, natural resources, latitude, and human interference transforms the land completely within the span of a few miles. If you’ve never seen it, book a ticket and go. Rent a car and take Highway 1, as long as you’re South of San Francisco. Above SF, you’re in for a bout of car sickness that never ends, as the roads get ever more precarious as you approach its intersection with 101. At the very least, plan to camp along the route; making it to Prairie Creek State Park near Orick from Fresno via SFO in one day was utter madness. Somewhere in there, go inland and check out Yosemite and Sequoia National Park. Yosemite (and the hike / climb up Half Dome) was probably the highlight of my trip, though the redwoods in Prairie Creek State Park managed to make us laugh.

Funny

But this is a food blog. I’m not going to go on and on about the trails we took and the places we went. I’ll spare you the experience of seeing an RV, complete with satellite dish, set up in the midst of one of the most gorgeous campgrounds I’ve had the privilege of staying in. I’ll even skip our encounter with the mountain lion (on the trail! Here!) Instead, I’ll tell you how I managed to keep us fed without resorting to bags of chips and MREs, and I’ll try to give you some pointers (so you can learn from my mistakes).

campfire

Before we get started, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. You will miss your oven. Starting a fire without a pilot light or even lighter fluid is not my forte — enough so that getting the fire going gradually became James’s job. We had matches, wood, and whatever we could find around our campsite for tinder: leaves, pine needles, chocolate bar wrappers, etc. So … good luck. And take a few cans of sterno along in case of emergencies (or for morning coffee, which could be considered an emergency depending on your morning disposition).
  2. Don’t plan anything too complicated. Roasted vegetables from roadside farm stands are awesome, and we ate a lot of them. Barring that, roasted vegetables of any kind are pretty damn good. Pair them with a high protein grain (quinoa) or any other protein / carb combination I describe below.
  3. You don’t need a cooler for anything I suggest here. Cheese and butter are fine without refrigeration for a couple of days, and I stuck to mostly vegetarian meals simply out of necessity. This new one checked bag policy is a bitch, but hey, the whole point of camping is to make do with what you have, right? (Ok, tell that to the souped up RV in the campsite next to you. Especially when they turn on their @#$%@#$ generator at 11 pm).
  4. A cast iron pan is a very good thing to bring along. My friend P, who joined us for the last leg of the trip, brought hers along for the trip, and it made dinner so much easier. That said, we did fine with foil and copious amounts of vegetable oil as well.
  5. You don’t need a full pantry. A few must haves for me were salt, flour, powdered milk, yeast, oil, baking soda, honey / agave nectar, coffee (and a coffee cone), s’mores ingredients, cheap wine or red wine vinegar (for flavoring vegetables as they roast), onions, potatoes, garlic — lots and lots of garlic, lemons, quinoa, trail mix, powdered chicken broth, and masa. Everything else was based on what looked best at wherever we happened to shop. Fresh fruit and veg, a bit of cheese, and a few cans of sardines (for protein! If you’re repulsed, pick up some canned beans instead) rounded out the campground pantry. Oh, and you don’t need all of this. We were gone for 2 weeks, so pick and choose as you like.
  6. Bring measuring spoons, or cook by proportions. Baking soda is the only thing to really worry about, but your food will still taste good if your teaspoon isn’t exactly a teaspoon.
  7. Don’t forget the tongs. Seriously. I did, and my fingers regretted it.

Roasting

Ok, so here are the “recipes” and ideas for meals. I use quotes because I didn’t really measure anything on this trip. I also don’t have pictures of everything, just because it was usually late by the time dinner finished, and my camera is afraid of the dark. Oh, and the challah recipe is finally here, as promised. Scroll to the bottom if that’s all you’re interested in. Finally, I’ll have some recommendations for great places to eat (on a budget) San Francisco in my next post.

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Hot Cross Buns

hot cross buns

Hot cross buns (or hot x buns, as I call them, in honor of my rudimentary decorating skills and slightly twisted Catholic school girl days) are delicious breakfast food, full of warm spices, juicy raisins, and whatever else you happen to want to throw in with the dough. They’re a relatively quick yeast bread, though they would do well with a little rest in the fridge. Fresh-baked breakfast treat, anyone? They also happen to be ubiquitous in Australia, especially around Easter-time.

pre-oven

This is my first go at making hot cross buns, after years of hearing James suggest we should try and make them. Clearly, I don’t know what I’m doing. My Easter memories are limited to cheap chocolate and countless hardboiled eggs, carefully decorated and gathered in the morning dew. But trying out new traditions is kind of fun, especially when I have to ask James to translate the ingredient list for me. Caster sugar? Sultanas? You get the picture.

Citron

This one’s a new one for me, so it’s not quite right yet. It’s good, but it’s not “correct,” as James would say. But I did get to taste an authentic (and delicious) version of these just this morning, thanks to some friends of ours. So I’m kind of hoping I can help you skip this initial awkward phase and get straight to the good stuff.

Prep

So, Happy Easter, even if your celebration is limited to a Cadbury creme egg or two. And since I’m in a curious mood, I’ll leave you with a question: what are your favorite holiday foods?

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