Tag Archives: brunch recipes

Whole Grain Double Apple Breakfast Cake & Parenting

17 Oct

You know you want this.

We have a two snack per day rule in our house (gasp!) and one of those snacks must be fruit (double gasp!).  We started this when the kids were very young and now that 3 of the 4 are old enough to be in charge of their own school or weekend snacks, they don’t protest (most of the time).  As a result, we have lots of seasonal fruit around which means I have more apples than counter space and when the rest of the world was freaking out about melons being the harbingers of disease thus resulting in cheap organic cantaloupes we had them lining the windowsills.

But back to apples.

Normally, I cook and bake with the kids.  When I don’t, I have that foreign feeling that brings back pre-motherhood days.  The biggest change after being a parent is that lack of singularity, isn’t it?  Once I was a person in this world who, while connected at various tether-lengths to family or friends or lovers, was free to snip those cords or wander or root at will.  Now, no matter where on this planet I find myself, I am always attached.  I don’t mean I’m weighted down by my kids or marriage, though certainly I have felt that at times.  I guess I’m talking more about responsibilities and knowing that parenting, like cooking, is a process in which the goal is change.

We start with a list of ingredients – in this case apples – and then make them not look like apples by peeling and coring and chopping them.  We add in powders and rising agents and, since we know the chemical reaction, are sure the dish we’re making will rise.  We know how this cake will taste (well, I do, you haven’t made it yet – get ready!).

Not so with parenting.

There’s some prep, there’s hands-on learning, but the results are ongoing.  The cake is every day and never.

Eat up this delightful whole grain apple breakfast-snack-dinner cake tonight.  And then do it all again tomorrow.

Whole Grain Double Apple Breakfast Cake

I’ll be honest – this is what’s for dinner tonight.  I’m a big fan of protein breakfasts and breakfast dinners.  7 year old Julia loves dinner leftovers first thing in the morning (hummus and avocado, etc) and looks forward to comfort at night.  This is best served warm with a dollop of yogurt or ice cream.  I make a plate of vegetables to shares and a platter of fruit served alongside this 1-bowl meal. The cake is moist and sweet enough to please without being too desserty (though it is a yummy dessert).

1 1/2 cups  yogurt  (Greek is great, all work well)

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 whole eggs, 1 additional white

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp olive oil

2/3 cup applesauce

1/4 cup maple syrup

2-3 apples, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped

pinch salt

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup spelt flour (or other whole grain)

1/2 cup sorghum flour (or other combination)

scant tsp baking soda

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

dash nutmeg

Oven to 350.  Mix all wet ingredients including apples.  Add flours, baking soda, and baking powder.  Spray a 9 x 13 pan.  Add 1/2 batter.  Sprinkle with part of the brown sugar and some cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add remaining batter.  Top with rest of sugar cinnamon.  Bake for 50 minutes until a tester comes out clean.  Savor the passage of time and the passage of the cake from oven into mouth into stomachs.


Semi-Sweet Breakfast Loaf with Carrots and Zucchini & A Threeway

11 Aug

I’m the kind of baker who likes the load a bunch of foodstuffs in a bowl and see what happens.  This is the School of Anti-Baking.  Sometimes this results in oven explosions or brownies that resemble moose turds but most of the time I have enough of the science down to have it work.

“What’re adding?” Julia wants to know.

“I don’t know yet.”

She watches me and then, out of nowhere says, “Can I have a threeway?”

Huh? If I were the kind of parent who cursed in front of her kids I might have said, “What the fuck did you just say?” But I am not that kind of parent so I thought that and said, “Excuse me?”

“A threeway,” she rolled her eyes as if I should of course know what she means. “Like, cranberries, chocolate chips, and carrot shreds?”

“Oh.  Sure.”

And so the Breakfast Loaf began to take shape as I lost a year or two from my life.

Sweet Breakfast Loaf with Carrots and Zucchini

This is the time to use up the stray carrot sitting in the fridge or the lone zucchini that didn’t make it into your lasagna.  Also, please feel free to substitute flours that work for you – sorghum, brown rice, etc in order to make this gluten-free or wheat-free.  Add seeds, nuts, or other dried fruit as desired.  This is sweet enough to appeal to kids but also great with cream cheese or smashed berries on top.  Add more sugar if you must or other chips for a fourway.

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup coarse bran

1 cup leftover cereal, brown rice flour, or any flour you like (or just use more of above)

2 eggs plus one additional egg white

1/2 cup applesauce

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tsp salt

1tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 cup grated carrots

1 cup grated zucchini

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 white sugar

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Oven to 350.  Spray or grease two loaf pans.  Mix everything in a giant bowl.  Pour into loaf pans.  Bake for 1 hour or more until set through.



Maple-Polenta Southern Biscuits & Biscuits & Cuddling (Vegan Option, too!)

28 Jul

Confession: I am not southern.  I am not even semi-southern.  But I harbor deep fantasies about being whisked away and made to eat cheese grits, collard greens, and biscuits.  In fact, last night I ate an entire bunch of collard greens.  ON my own.  I *might* have had to sleep in the attic due to my own stench.


I’ve been thinking about biscuits lately, as one does, in line at the post office or loading children into the minivan.  My youngest son’s thighs are the consistency of dough – soft, supple, delicious.  Last night, before my exodus to the attic, I brought Will in to cuddle with me.  This was my great delight when he was younger.  He’d stay asleep and I would read (my husband works very late on Tuesdays) with a delightful boy curled up next to me.  But he’s older now, and I’ve been writing at night and staying up later with the older kids.  I didn’t realize how much I missed the feeling of having Will near me, the his sighs feel on my shoulder, the way he clucks his tongue as he shifts around.

I carry that memory around with me today while I press coconut oil into the flour and polenta.  The maple syrup is from our friend’s farm in Vermont, the color of an illuminated acorn.

Will asks if he can eat the dough raw.  “It’ll be better cooked,” I tell him and we both wait in the warm kitchen.

Polenta-Maple Southern Biscuits

These are delicate with wonderful crumb and a hint of sweetness.  Great any time of day.

2 cups self-rising flour, plus some to flour the board

1 cup polenta flour (just grind up your regular larger grit polenta)

1/3 cup coconut oil

3 tbsp butter (use all coconut for vegan)

1 cup milk (use almond milk or rice milk for vegan)

2 tbsp maple syrup

Oven to 425.  Cut oil and butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add the milk and maple syrup and mix just until everything is combined.  Put a bit of flour on your surface and pat (don’t roll) into approx 1/2 inch thick.  Use biscuit-cutter or free-form into 2-inch circles.  Place on parchment-coverec cookie sheet and bake for about 13 minutes or until browned.  Serve hot with: jam or butter, melted cheese, turkey and swiss, coleslaw and baked beans, or eat it plain, savoring every last bit.

Cottage Blueberry Crumb Cake & Broken Hearts

18 Jul

My 12-year-old holds a heart in his hands.

“Do you like the blue?” he asks.  We’re in Venice, a place known for glass beads and tiny fragile animals.  I nod.  Jamie has always associated me with blue as he knows it’s my favorite color.  “Who is the necklace for?” Jamie’s dad asks him and Jamie shrugs it off.  We don’t press him for details.  He asked to go back to the store just with me.  He’s done this before, making sure he picks something I’ll really wear.  “Oh, wait, look at this!”  He displays a turquoise heart, thinking it over. “But maybe the regular blue is better?” His huge eyes are the same eyes that stared up at me from his bassinet, back when it was just us.

Jamie and I were our own magical pair; my husband was in medical school and then residency, working days in a row.  Jamie’s first long sentence was “Da-da work hospital nighttime a lot.”  I had few friends – I was the first one to get married, the first to have kids, and while my old friends were still dating and changing jobs, I was changing diapers.  And my new friends, those close bonds that come in your 30s, I hadn’t met yet.  Was I lonely?  Yes.  And yet Jamie and I had so much fun. We talked all the time, made rice sandboxes in which we hunted for pennies, finger-painted with beet juice and smushed blueberries, and explored various towns on foot and cooked when we came home. Sometimes at the end of a long day – and those days seemed to stretch out forever – he would sit on my lap, say nothing, and just put his palm flat over my heart.

“You’re sure you like the blue one?” Jamie asks.  Now 12, he has the same full-lipped smile, the same exaggerated eyes, but new pimples, a body changing rapidly; his jeans are bigger than mine, his feet closer in size to his father’s.  He pilots his moods without a flight map.

I smile at him.  He’s very thoughtful, always remembering his siblings or parents.  Today, he has pocket money, and surveys the Venetian store carefully. “I just want to make sure I pick the right necklace,” he says.  “Whatever you choose will be great,” I assure him.  I can picture the heart on my neck, dangling where he used to rest his palm.  He hands his money over to the store owner, who asks if it’s gift.  Jamie nods.  I imagine unwrapping the necklace, Jamie’s face when I put it on.

Jamie holds his purchase as though it might break.  Back at our rental flat, the younger kids are asleep and my husband sits reading while I head to bed.  The shutters are closed to block the bright moonlight.  “I can’t say goodnight to the moon,” Jamie jokes when he pads in and sits on my bed.  It’s an old story now, when he was a toddler and couldn’t reach Daddy to say goodnight, I would have him say goodnight to the moon.  One night, the clouds blocked the moon and a toddler fit ensued.  Now, Jamie sits waiting for me to speak.  I know what he wants me to ask, and I feel my own heart start to split but do it anyway.

“So,” I say.  “Who is the necklace for?”



“How did you know?”  He laughs and shakes his head, then smoothes his hair.

“I just had a feeling,” I say.  I do not tell him that – just for a while – I thought the gift was for me.  That somehow we crossed a bridge from when every paperweight, each macaroni necklace and drawing, each haiku, was brought to me to now, to here where the world has opened up and there are so many people he can love, so many people to meet. This is not the last heart on a string he will give.

“I thought, you know how you got that ink?  I could use the quills we collected and write her a letter about Venice and then give her the necklace.”  He waits again.

“She is so lucky,” I say. “You’re really thoughtful.”  I tell him how I’ll be there no matter what, that sometimes hearts get stepped on or worn around the neck and then lost, and how special it is that he thought to spend his money this way.  He beams and then asks if I should carry the necklace for him so nothing happens to it.  In the past I have been the treasure-keeper, the protector of glass or cameras or Ipods.

“It’s your responsibility,” I tell him.

“Yeah,” he says.  “I’m, like, carrying a heart in my hands.”  He squeezes my hands and we sit, laughing about the day for a minute.

“Well,” he says and leans down to hug me, “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” I tell him.  And then I let him go.

Cottage Blueberry Crumb Cake (nut-free)

1 cup wheat flour

1/2 cup flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup applesauce

2 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp butter, melted

1/2-1 cup blueberries

granola for topping (optional)

Oven to 375. Sift first 5 ingredients.  Add everything else except blueberries and mix until just blended.  Grease 8×8 pan (or individual ramekins) and pour just over half of the batter in.  Spread blueberries on top.  Cover with rest of batter and sprinkle with granola.  Bake for 30 minutes until set through and golden brown on top. Serve with love, warm with ice cream or whipped cream or left over for breakfast at room temperature.

Brown Sugar Plums & What We Leave Behind

6 Jun

My husband’s grandma died a few weeks ago.  She escaped Germany in 1938 with a fur hat, a determination to survive, an ugly teapot, and money hidden in her vagina.  True.  In the interview my husband conducted with her and her husband (“Opie”), she recalled stashing “up zer, in ze woo-hoo”.   She lived a long time, and amassed not only a large family but many, many tins of buttons, old bits of tinfoil, cat-eye glasses and spools of thread my daughter is using on her sewing machine.  Despite being the size of a cupcake and the thickness of a windowpane, Nana loved to eat.  She did not love to cook.  Yet the two best items left us are her old German cookbooks and a tiny, well-loved skillet.  The skillet is the perfect size for one or two fried eggs.  Also for a brother to use as a paddle to whack his older brother’s butt for no reason.  Also for the mom to take away and clean and re-season and use to make Brown Sugared Plums.

What we leave behind is probably not what we think we will.  Maybe there’s a house or some money or love letters or records of family lost in concentration camps or thousands of goddamn buttons that spill out on the wooden floor.  Or maybe it’s great-great-grandma’s cookbooks with actual handwritten recipes in script no one uses anymore but remind everyone of who came before us; tastes that will linger long after we are gone.

Have you ever seen less appealing food? I believe the directions translate into: boil the shit out of every potato you have.  Now let your peas gather mold.

But Nana would have enjoyed this with some vanilla ice cream:

Brown Sugar Plums

1 plum for each person, split in half, stone removed

few drops vanilla

dark brown sugar

lemon juice


bit of butter for pan

Oven to 450. Place plums cut-side up in buttered small skillet. Dab plums with vanilla and sprinkle with dark brown sugar.  Place in oven for 8-10 minutes until sugar is bubbling and fruit has begun to soften and brown.  Remove from pan, lightly sprinkle lemon juice on top, and serve as is or with vanilla ice cream.  Buttons on the side make a lovely tablescape.

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