Renaissance Me

Sometimes I think the me from 10 years ago wouldn’t recognize the current me. Especially it I saw myself eating. Because my diet looks so much different. I eat a lot of things I didn’t a few years ago, and even when I have the choice over what I eat, I select options I wouldn’t have in the past. Don’t get me wrong, though, this is all a good thing. I just found myself laughing the other day at what the old me would have thought of the food I’ve been eating this week.

Kate is off on another adventure this week, to California, for work. The fun part of this trip is that we actually have family and friends where she’ll be, so she’s getting to mix a bit of work and pleasure this time. The not so fun bit for me, though, is that I’m fending for myself again in the food department. And no, I’m not hoping you’ll pity me. I am actually starting to have some fun with the challenge of feeding myself. The nice thing is that it’s getting easier for me to think of things to make. Kate’s endless dabbling with new recipes, and my taking the time to think about what I’m eating- in large measure due to this blog, mean that I find myself with ideas almost every time I need to cook for myself. I definitely don’t make anything quite as complicated as what Kate makes, but I can usually adapt her recipes to suit my lazy cooking style, or just find simple things she makes that I can duplicate.

Last night I made a beet and goat cheese salad that Kate makes quite a bit. We’ve gotten a bunch of beets in the farm box the last couple of weeks, and I didn’t want them to go bad. That and Kate had already roasted some of them, so they were already halfway ready (remember, I said lazy cooking style…). The beet salad suits me perfectly now. Now that I like beets that is. A few years ago I would have just let the beets rot in the refrigerator and not felt the least bit bad about it. But now I love them so much, I can’t stand to see them be wasted. Do you hear that, past me? I love them now, and I’m not afraid to say it out loud. I pulled the skins off the roasted beets, chopped them up per the recipe, and made the beet and goat cheese salad. It’s pretty simple actually, which I like. It’s just beets, goat cheese, and chopped raw pistachios, and then a simple dressing made from shallots, lemon juice, and a bit of oil. Beets and goat cheese go together really well, as you could confirm even if you don’t like beets, by looking at any good restaurant’s menu these days. And the simple dressing just adds some interesting flavor, but doesn’t hide the beets, which are the stars of the dish.

The best thing about this particular beet salad really was the beets. We always look forward to CSA season for the quality of our produce. The rest of the year, our meals never seem to measure up. In fact, Kate made this particular salad once last fall, using beets we’d gotten at a grocery store. Both of us were really underwhelmed. It was as if they were just masquerading as beets, because they were lacking that strong earthly flavor that they should have had. I’m not even sure we ate the leftovers from that one. Luckily these beets were excellent, and I took the second half for lunch today.

The thing that makes me laugh, though, is that the most remarkable thing about my eating a beet salad while Kate isn’t home wasn’t actually the beet salad. Really, the most astounding thing is what I didn’t eat. Not so very long ago, I used Kate’s being away from home as an excuse to eat mountains of junk food. A typical week of Kate being gone could be filled with all take out and snack food. Pizza one night, Chinese food the next, maybe a bag of Doritos one night (by which I mean an entire family size bag), a quick stop by the hot dog stand on the way home, I could go on and on. And that would be all I’d eat. Not to mention lunch, which since I didn’t have leftovers, would be similarly unhealthy fast food. My clothes from this era would confirm the poor choice in nutrition this was. Even though I’ve generally hidden extra weight well, I currently weigh about 40 pounds less than I did when this all sounded like a good idea.

This week, though, I haven’t even been tempted to order out. Not that it would be the end of the world if I did. But I certainly wasn’t thinking about all the fast food I’d eat when Kate was gone. Over last weekend Kate helped me brain storm what I could eat this week. And it involved things like beet salad, strawberry and mozzarella salad, and chicken breasts cooked with an Asian sauce with daikon and kohlrabi on the side. And last night I even made myself bourbon banana bread for breakfast the rest of the week, even though it meant staying up late enough to not be able to make my usual 4:30am appointment with my running shoes.

It really is amazing to me how habit forming good food can be. Of course, I owe much to Kate, whose excitement about food and trying new things has clearly influenced me a lot. The me of ten years ago would have laughed at choosing a beet salad over pizza or Chinese. To be honest, though, the current me would just laugh right back. It’s almost as if we’re two completely different people. At least, judged by the contents of our stomachs. After all, I still look a lot like that old me, even if I’m not him anymore.

Posted in Dining Out, Dinner, Lunch | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

The Lonely Can Opener

It occurred to me this morning that since Kate went on her cooking from scratch tear several years ago, we have kitchen implements that just don’t get the attention they once did. As I opened my souvenir from Kate’s trip to Louisiana- a can of Cafe Du Monde coffee, I realized this was probably the second time in six months that I’d used a can opener for anything. Which I find kind of amazing. When I did the majority of our cooking before Kate’s culinary epiphany, I made a lot of things that came out of cans. Which isn’t bad, necessarily, but things have really improved for us in the fresh food department. Even if we aren’t able to get fresh farm produce year round here in the Midwest, we still get 99% of our food these days from the produce section of the grocery store, rather than the many aisles of boxed and canned goods. Kate even generally uses dried beans these days rather than canned, having learned the intricacies of turning hard rock-like beans into edible fare. So I apologize to you, lonely can opener. I do promise to use you once in a while. Also, thanks for opening my coffee. It really is delicious. Mmm, chicory.

And speaking of food that doesn’t come from cans, we’re getting ready to go pick up our third farm box from the new CSA we signed up for this year, which as so far been excellent. Angelic Organics has been doing an excellent job keeping us abreast of what is happening on the farm that our produce is coming from, and with providing us with tasty fresh vegetables. One of my favorite things is their website and facebook page, where we can actually see pictures of the fields our food is growing in, and the people who are doing it for us. For a city dweller, it’s pretty neat to have such a direct connection to the food we are eating. I even managed to use some of the roughage from the last farm box myself when Kate was away working.

Actually, my secret is that I really don’t mind when Kate gives me free reign to do what I want with our kale, when we get it in the farm box. I could eat the stuff by the pound, and do. I can eat it in pretty much any form, but I know a lot of people for whom this isn’t really a favorite. Kate makes really excellent kale chips which usually get strange faces from people I offer them to. I don’t know what it is, but I could eat them all day. Baked with a little oil and salt- magnifique! But this last week, I had an entire bunch to myself. And the great thing about kale is that you really don’t need to do much to it to make it edible. It’s the perfect greenery for someone who likes good vegetables, but lacks the drive to really go to town with a fancy recipe. My favorite kale preparation is simply wilted kale with olive oil, soy sauce, and garlic. This time I went a little exotic and even made a sauce for it of soy sauce, mustard, rice vinegar and sambal. I poured it over the kale when it was just about done cooking and let it thicken up in the pan before eating. I only wish I’d had more kale, because it was really only enough for one meal, and I didn’t have enough for leftovers for lunch. Maybe I should have made it as a side dish to something else, but then it wouldn’t have been the simple meal I’d intended it to be.

I am looking forward, though, to this next week. We have some beets already, and more coming in this week’s box. Plus, Kate is home and itching to do some cooking since she’s been away eating on the road, and is ready for some home cooked food. I anticipate a highly satisfying week of food ahead.

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Eating Away The Weekend

Have you ever come home from trip and just felt kind of depressed to be back home? Oh, who am I kidding, I’m sure everyone has had that experience. No one likes the fun to be over, and to have to come back to reality. I’ve just had it again myself this last week. We spent the end of last week, and the weekend with friends at a house on a lake in western Illinois. It was glorious. We hung out by the lake with our pack of dogs, went for rides in the boat, rode the jet ski at death defying speeds, and generally just had a great time in the sun relaxing. And I have a watch tan to prove it. The other thing we did all weekend was eat. And I don’t mean junk food either. We had several excellent cooks with us, including Kate. And that meant we ate like kings and queens for the weekend. And all of that is what led me to the inevitable depression of Monday.

But alas, I have memories to sustain me. Like the falafel pita sandwiches that we somehow managed to wheedle out of Amy for the third time in about a month. On paper, the sandwiches seem like they could end up being a little boring. They’re basically just a pocket pita,  homemade falafel, and some lettuce and avocado sauce. But these are seriously one of my favorite surprise eats. I think the secret is in the falafel itself. Amy makes them from a combination of mashed beans, some tortillas, and probably other things I haven’t paid enough attention to figure out. Unlike a lot of falafel I’ve had these are not dry at all. The insides are moist and delicious. If I had to guess I’d say it’s because these aren’t made with the traditional chick peas, which I always find dry, even when they’ve been cooked properly. These particular falafel are made with a pinto bean, lending a Latin flair, especially when combined with the avocado sauce. And the combination of the pinto beans and the avocado sauce guarantee that they sandwich won’t taste as dry as it might if it was a traditional pita. I would absolutely put this dish on the list of things I could eat as often as it appears on my plate. And Amy, if you’re reading this, I am making no demands. Seriously.

The night our friend Donna arrived on the scene was also a highlight of our culinarily blessed weekend. Donna has a flair for baking- especially bread. You may remember her from previous posts about pretzel rolls, or helping me start a sourdough mother. But she has also taken that to another level with pizza making, which she is also quite good at. And in particular, one of the pizza’s she made for us this weekend was among my favorites in recent memory. In fact, though I ate at least a piece of everything else she made, I mostly only remember the actual toppings on one of them. I do remember everything being fantastic, but my favorite of the evening was a particular pineapple and prosciutto pizza she made. It was seriously one of the best pizzas I’ve had in a while. The saltiness of the prosciutto and the sweet tanginess of the pineapple were perfect mated together as pizza toppings. I am a huge fan of sweet and savory together, especially when that involves salty and sweet together. I even ate the last few pieces myself after everyone else was full, just to make sure they weren’t wasted. Because that would have been a tragedy.

Our last day on the lake also started and finished with culinary flair. We started the morning with homemade cinnamon rolls, made by a combination of people, including Kristen, Amy and Donna. They were the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee for waking up and getting the day going. And of course, that much better for being eaten right out of the oven when the gallon or so of frosting that was put onto it was still gooey. I could easily have eaten far more than the three I allowed myself. And don’t cringe- they were small. And anyway, our lunch was far healthier, and a perfect way to end the weekend.

The lakeside bar that served as our base of operations for the weekend was where we prepared and ate our final meal of the weekend, in quintessential summer fashion, by grilling out. And this was probably the biggest team effort of the weekend, utilizing almost everyone’s skill in the kitchen, including my own. Kate made a really awesome slaw- without mayo, Amy made marinated shrimp that she grilled to perfection, and I made a Malaysian chicken/tofu satay with peanut sauce provided by Kate and Amy. And Donna added her always welcome gluten-y contribution of English muffin bread. We even served it all in little baskets with checked wax paper like we were eating at a little hot dog stand. This was a perfect meal to end the weekend on. Everything was awesome, and the ambiance of the lake and the sun just made it a completely fitting end to a fabulous weekend. And it all made it just that much harder to come back to work Monday morning, the memory of swimming in the lake and eating delicious food so fresh in my memory. I suppose the only solution is to plan another weekend of fun in the sun sometime again soon. We have only to choose a location, and a menu.




Posted in Baked Goods, Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, Sandwiches, Seafood | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments


Have you ever walked by a restaurant and thought, “I should go in there?” Well I have. Many times. One particular place in our neighborhood I’ve managed to walk by probably hundreds of times in the practically ten years we’ve lived there. I can’t say why exactly. Though I could venture a guess- I’m a creature of habit. I tend to only go to the places I’ve already gone and grown accustomed to. And likewise I don’t go to places I haven’t been. It’s a pattern I aim to change. Which is why I found myself yesterday walking through the front door of Brasa Roja, a Colombian restaurant on the corner a couple of blocks from me. Brasa Roja officially translates as The Red Grill. But it sounds cooler in Spanish.

I had a feeling it would be good. The design of the restaurant is such that you can actually see the huge rotisserie grill they have going from open until close right in the front window. Early in the day there are countless chickens rotating their way around the charcoal fired grill. By late evening, they’ve been known to completely sell out, they’re so popular. And because the grill is in the front of the restaurant, the exhaust vent typical to urban restaurants is also just outside on the facade. I suspect this is intentional, since it basically allows them to advertise by smell. Which is, in fact, glorious. How I’ve managed to just walk by this place so many times since we’ve been in the neighborhood is beyond me. You can usually smell the place for blocks. The combination of charcoal and spices that comes from the vent practically makes me salivate every time I walk by. So much so that the other day I made a pact with myself. I would try it soon. With Kate out of town this week, I decided it was the perfect time.

My only real problem was deciding what to get. I’m not usually the biggest fan of chicken on the bone. But the smell, and seeing the chicken in the window convinced me. I ordered the pollo entero, the whole chicken. Luckily for me, my many years of Spanish class finally came in handy for reading the menu, which was only in Spanish. The chicken came with potatoes, plantain, and a corn pancake. I reasoned that for the price, which was only $10 for the whole order, I could easily have leftovers for a couple of meals. I paid for the order at a register in the back, and then took my receipt up front to the chicken guy, who took a chicken, expertly broke it down into edible pieces, and packed it all together for me. So not only did I get a whole chicken dinner for $10, but I was in and out of the restaurant in under ten minutes. Talk about fast food.

On the way home, I stopped off at the liquor store and picked up some Modelo Especial, not the best beer in the world, but I can’t seem to eat any Latin food without a beer in hand. When I got home, I chose a couple of pieces of the chicken, a potato, half of the plantain, grabbed a beer, and sat down to see if the chicken was as good as I’d built it up in my mind to be. And it did not disappoint. The chicken itself was moist and flavorful. They obviously do some kind of spice rub on the chicken before they put it on the rotisserie. I’m not generally fond of eating chicken skin, but I made an exception for this. The skin was crispy and tasty, definitely worth whatever the fat content was. I will have to say, though, that even though the chicken was awesome, what really put it over the top was the green sauce that they gave me to go with it. I believe it was tomatillo based, but there were chile seeds in the sauce too, so there must also have been some jalapeno or other green chile used to make it. But whatever it was, the sauce was brilliant. It was spicy and tangy, and perfectly complemented the spice and grilled flavor of the chicken.

In terms of the sides, the potatoes were basically just baked potatoes that I assume were under the grill as it was going all day. They were good, but just your basic potatoes. I couldn’t help but think they would have been made that much better by just being brushed with whatever they’re putting on the chicken. The plantain was also good, though I have had better. The corn pancake I would have had more of. It was kind of like a small thick white corn tortilla. It was great dipped in the sauce. Maybe I’ll have to just order an extra side of them next time I’m over there. Because I will be back over there. Of all the options I have in the neighborhood for take-out, this is certainly one of the better ones, now that I know how good it is. And on top of that, it is absolutely healthier than pizza from the place on the corner, my other stand by for lazy nights I don’t want to work for dinner. And if you live near me, and haven’t tried Brasa Roja, you most certainly should.

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Mother Ate My Tomato

It all begins with bread. I realize in looking through old posts that I am fond of saying “I love” this or that food. So I suppose it goes without saying that I hardly meet any food I don’t like. I’m lucky that way. And the few things I used to dislike, I’ve even changed my mind about (see beets). At any rate, to replay a broken record, I love bread. I especially love homemade bread, one of the few things I have actually learned to make myself. I would call myself an enthusiastic amateur, though. I’ve developed a certain competancy for French bread, pretzel rolls, and sandwich bread. But I have yet to master the sourdoughs. For good reason. I can’t seem to keep my mother alive.

Yes, that’s what I said, I can’t keep my mother alive. Twice now, our friend Donna, master of the sourdough, has given me some of the mother she keeps constantly for her own baking. Side note- “mother” is the old dough you save in order to make a sourdough. It involves combining water and flour, and then letting everything ferment until it is good and yeasty. And since you only use some of the mother each time you bake, the result is a mother than can live indefinitely. It’s not uncommon for bakers to have mother that has been continuously growing for years. At any rate, both times Donna has given me some of her mother, I’ve managed to kill it. Which seems like it would be hard since all I need do is give it a bit of water and additional flour daily. But there you have it, I’m a mother killer.

Donna came over the other day for a relaxing Sunday lunch, and while she was there we talked break making a bit, and she offered to help me start my own mother. We mixed up the flour and water and put that into a tupperware container on the windowsill. Donna did worry at the size of the container we’d used, but I had one of those locking lids, so we thought it would probably be fine. You can probably guess based on my previous history, that something was bound to go wrong. I guess before you can succeed you have to fail a bunch. But this time, it at least went wrong in hilarious fashion. I submit the following picture:

The mother grew so fast that it managed to escape the bounds of the container, and then eat a tomato we had also left on the windowsill in the kitchen. I guess I’ll have to start over for the fourth time. Next time I’ll use a larger container. I am determined to master sourdough. And not because I love baking so much as I love eating bread.

The good news for me, though, is that Donna left some of the perfect loaf she brought over for lunch, so I have had enough of it to accompany the gallons of green chile stew I mentioned I made over the weekend. The sourdough actually goes quite well with the stew. Which is good, because I still have quite a bit of both to eat before I’m done. Luckily, I am a creature of habit, and I can go on and on eating the same thing for days.


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Land of Enchantment

Does anyone else notice the ways in which it seems the world orders itself into common patterns and themes? Or maybe it’s just that our lives order themselves like that, with ourselves as the impetus. In fact, that seems quite a bit more likely. Either way, I find it amusing when themes emerge in our lives through no conscious intention of our own. Perhaps it’s just the power of suggestion, and nothing more mysterious than that. Take for instance last weekend. Through no intent on either of our parts, Kate and I had an Indian themed Saturday evening. We’d decided that we wanted to go to a movie that we’d previous seen a preview for, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It looked like an interesting story, and it had the added bonus for Kate of including one of her favorite actresses, Maggie Smith. Once we’d found a theater that was playing the movie, we set about trying to figure out where to eat. Which didn’t take long because the movie theater was in Evanston, and I remembered an Indian restaurant we had particularly liked when we’d been there for a movie once before. So the plans were set.

What we realized partway through dinner though, is that we felt like we were in a theme book club. I’m sure you’ve heard of the kind- they read a book that is set in a particular country. And for the discussion, they meet at a restaurant serving that same country’s principal fare. The idea, I suppose, is that it somehow enhances the conversation, eating the food from the place you’ve been reading about. At any rate, we laughed at ourselves a little bit for doing that kind of thing unintentionally. Not that anyone else in the restaurant knew what we were planning to go see, but we knew, and that made us a little embarrassed. Granted, we hadn’t done it on purpose. We would have eaten at the same restaurant, Mt. Everest by the way, no matter what movie we happened to have chosen. At least, I’m quite sure, but perhaps not entirely certain. In either case, we liked both the movie and the food. And it probably was just a strange coincidence that the movie, and our dinner, were both Indian.

More recently, we were subject to this phenomenon again over the past weekend. Though admittedly, it was possibly less phenomenon, and more just a married couple thinking in similar ways. This happens more and more the longer we are married. After eleven years, it seems like it already happens to us a lot. Maybe we both saw a commercial for something in the Southwest. Who knows. Anyway, Kate will be working late all this week training interns, which means I’ll be in charge of my own food for the week. I’ve had several weeks of practice at being in charge of my own food while Kate is doing trainings, and am actually sort of enjoying the challenge. And not just because it gives me the opportunity to make a few of the meat dishes that I like, dishes that only get made in Kate’s absence. This week, for some reason, I settled on making a staple of New Mexican fare, Green Chile Stew. It’s a wonderfully hearty stew using primarily green chiles for flavoring the broth. You basically roast a bunch of green chiles, remove their skins, stems and seeds, chop them up, and add those to water. To this chile broth, then, are added chunks of pan seared beef, potatoes, onions, and a bit of garlic. The final product is a heartily chile pepper laced stew. The pepper pieces fairly dissolve into the broth as it cooks, so the it ends up a green color similar to the color of the peppers (poblano, in this case, though in New Mexico they’d use Hatch peppers). I love this stew, and make it as often as chance and desire allow.  Even in the summer, which isn’t really the season for good chiles. It is a love that will be tested, though, since I can only seem to make this stew by the gallon.

I wasn’t the only one, though, looking to the Southwest with my menu planning for the week. When I looked Kate’s shopping list, short because of her busy week, I was surprised to see that she had added green chiles to her list of ingredients for Sunday dinner. She informed me that we were having Navajo Tacos. They are similar in form to a tostada, but with Native American fry bread instead of a tortilla underneath. Kate makes hers with black beans, cabbage, green chiles, chipotle sour cream, and cheese, and of course, homemade fry bread. They’re seriously pretty amazing. You take balls of the dough, and make them into small rounds much like a tortilla shape, and then just put them in the oil until they’re a golden brown. The trick is to get them out before they become too crispy, something I’m not totally adept at yet. Though I think they did turn out well last night. If you’ve never fry bread, it’s a bit like an elephant ear, without the powdered sugar you would get on it if you were at the fair. It’s a delicious change from a tortilla on what is otherwise basically a taco.

When we were done cooking dinner Kate remarked that with the Green Chile Stew simmering on the stove, and the fry bread aroma hanging in the air of the kitchen, we had made a fair approximation of the smells of her childhood in New Mexico. Strangely, we hadn’t really consulted with each other when deciding what we were making. It just happened, our Southwest themed culinary journey. But it doesn’t really matter I guess how it happened, especially because it had such mouth watering results.

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We’re Jammin’

I don’t think I’ve ever hidden my love for all things baked when it comes to breakfast food. But perhaps it bears repeating, that for breakfasts during the week, I absolutely love anything baked. Okay, maybe not anything. For instance, baked salmon. Nope. I don’t really even like fish much to begin with, but certainly not for breakfast. I suppose, then, that I should clarify my own statement. I mean the realm of baked goods which might include biscuits, scones, bars, or croissants. Things you might find at a bakery in the morning. Though through mostly no fault of my own, these things are provided me at home thanks to Kate.

If I had to venture a guess, I would say that I probably prefer baked goods over other breakfast foods for the convenience of them. That is, assuming they’re already made. I like to streamline things for myself in the mornings so the proper amount of time can be spent lounging and waking up before I have to head out the door to work. Which for anything Kate’s made usually just involves opening the container and taking out my allotted quantity of whatever is playing the part of breakfast for the week. If I’m feeling particularly free with my time I’ll even drag a plate out of the cupboard and slap it on there for the sake of manners. And if I’m left with an even larger surplus of time, I’ll even heat up whatever it is I’m eating in the microwave for a few seconds. I’ll only rarely add butter or jam to the mix, mostly because I just don’t need them.

I do, however, make an exception for one particular jam that Kate makes, which is absolutely spectacular as a breakfast accompaniment. I mentioned it before, in a long ago post that just happened to be the very first one I ever did for this blog- Of Sauces and Jams. I still find myself disbelieving that I like anything with rosemary in it that much. Though as Kate is fond of reminding me every time I say that, it appears I’m all talk since I do like almost everything she makes with rosemary in it. I guess I dislike it more in theory than practice. Which makes my brain hurt trying to figure out an explanation for. Not that it needs to be explained. Some things just are. I’ll probably continue to bad-mouth rosemary whenever I’m not eating it. But I have digressed for an entire paragraph now, so I’ll get back to the matter at hand, the strawberry and rosemary jam that Kate developed after having something similar on a trip to the Dominican Republic for our tenth wedding anniversary.

I don’t jump up and down with excitement for many foods these days, mostly because if I did that for everything I liked I’d probably be wearing through the floor of our kitchen. But no matter how many times I have it, I will probably always get excited about this jam. It transcends the category of mere jam or jelly. It could practically stand on its own in fact. I would absolutely eat it with a spoon if no other vehicle for delivery to my mouth existed. Gladly, though, I have always had something at hand on which to put the jam. And this is one of the few exceptions for my morning routine. When this jam is in the refrigerator, time is always made to add it to whatever I happen to be eating.

In recent memory, I’ve been able to add two new breakfast options for which this jam is particularly well suited. A while ago my friend Brooke, in her obsession with all things Alton Brown, brought some of his biscuits to work for a potluck. I was immediately in love with them. They were buttery, flaky, light, and everything else a good biscuit should be. I asked Brooke if she could give me the recipe, and she gladly shared it with me. I think I even tried making them myself within a week, to go with a dinner I believe. But circumstances later caused me to believe that these would also make a perfect breakfast, given the right addition, which turned out to be the strawberry rosemary jam. Kate was going out of town for a week in which I would have to handle my own food preparation, something I’m enjoying more and more of late in small doses. At any rate, I asked her to make me some of the jam, and then I made myself a batch of the biscuits. I think that was the first of about three weeks straight I had the same thing for breakfast, two biscuits covered in jam. They were heavenly together. The buttery warm biscuits and the savory sweet jam. I almost lack words to describe how good they were together.

Then, this week for breakfast, Kate found another use for the jam. One to which it also seems to be particularly well suited. She has been making oat-based bars for us occasionally for breakfast recently. Usually these have a jam of raspberry that she makes herself to put between layers of oats, and then bakes into a semi-soft bar. They’re great. They last all week from a dish of bars the size of a large lasagna pan. And I would have gone on thinking these were a great breakfast if it hadn’t been for Kate one-upping herself this week by substituting the usual raspberry for the aforementioned strawberry jam. Let me tell you, the strawberry jam just made the bars that much more awesome. I’ve been struggling the most this week with portion control because of this. Kate didn’t cut the bars up herself as usual, but has left them in the dish to be cut for each breakfast. And I love these so much that I have had to resist eating half of the dish at one time. But I’ve been good, and haven’t taken more than a granola bar size portion for myself each morning this week. But I have perhaps savored my breakfast a bit more than usual.

I can only hope that our farm box this summer offers some fresh locally grown strawberries with which to make this jam again soon. We are very near heading into the territory where most of what we eat will be farm fresh, which means we will be at the culinary mercy of the growing season in Illinois. If I was a praying man, I would pray for good strawberry growing weather.

Posted in Baked Goods, Breakfast | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments