smoked salmon toast

There are times when I feel like packing everything up and jumping ship. In those times I convince myself that some change would suit me well. Maybe a new city, new job or a sweet cuddly kitten would bring me back to feeling normal and content. For the past few months I have been in a mild state of discontentment and although I’ve done my very best to convince my husband to move back to San Francisco, or to let me quit my job to follow all those vague dreams I have (while throwing complete caution to the wind) he knows me better than that. With a kind heart he has approved a soft cuddly kitten if my heart desires it, but on the other huge life changes, he has been quietly letting the waves run their course, knowing that they will settle soon enough. See, he knows something I don’t. He knows that somewhere in my nature lies a reset button. This button takes many forms. A long lazy walk on the trail, a mini vacation to Seattle, a lovely breakfast in bed, or a trek into the wilderness of God’s creation will renew my spirit and bring me back to looking around at all that is right in front of me. Often, I need to hit that reset button for perspective and to awaken my thankful heart.

In The Breakfast Book, Marion Cunningham sprinkles bits of wisdom in between her recipes. Beneath this particular one for smoked salmon toast she wrote about breakfast in bed. It seems to be the perfect description of the type of reset I most definitely need.

Breakfast in Bed

One of the most blissful escapes is breakfast in bed with something good to read. Breakfast in bed is cozy, quiet and private. I instantly forget that it was I who fixed the tray. The simplest food tastes special. Since food that spills or sloshes can ruin the mood, this is the moment when toasts should be considered. A thermos of coffee or tea is ideal.

As one is softly propped up in bed the world falls away, and breakfast becomes what some poet called “a parenthesis in time.”-MC

Marion’s wisdom was evident in her cooking and her words. She hits the nail right on the head here in this perfect description of the joy that comes when we slow down enough to eat from the comfort of our own beds. Whenever I begin to feel that need for sudden change creep up inside of me, I’ll remember that all I really need to do is to fix myself a tray of simple food, prop myself up under the covers and let the world fade away.

This is a series of recipes from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham. There are five other incredible women cooking through this book with me. Please head on over to the blogs of Aimee, Sammy, Natasha, Claudie and Emily for other delicious recipes from the toast chapter. (more…)

July 17, 2012. Tags: , , , , , . appetizers, bread, breakfast, fish, quick and easy. 10 comments.

raisin cinnamon wheat bread

There is something simply beautiful about community. I believe we were built to thrive in relationship with one another, supporting and encouraging those around us through the often tempestuous seas of life. Our joys are never more exciting than those shared with a giggling best friend, and our sorrows rarely felt more true than moments spent sobbing with an empathetic lover. Relationships are designed to, in a sense, complete the equation.

This little blog has allowed me to become a part of a community of men and women who inspire me, challenge and humble me every day.  I am thankful to have met many new people who breathe the same air as I do and seem to be cut from the same mold. Whether we have met in person, or only virtually, I am continually in awe of their strength, creativity and outlook on life. A group of us, whom have come to know one another through various ways, wanted a way to stay in touch while encouraging the craft we all hold so dear, so we concluded we would pick a cook book and do our best to cook through it together. The book we chose is a classic, most notably known for the famous yeasted waffles which lie within. The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham boasts 304 pages of breakfast nirvana. Recipes ranging from the standard omelette to custard filled cornbread (Aimee I can’t wait for that one!) keep you coming back to it’s wisdom every morning. Each of us have chosen one recipe from each chapter and will be regularly posting about our efforts. To me, this is more than just working through some undoubtedly exceptional book, it’s about building relationships with friends I have come to admire, and it’s about forming a community here, one in which I hope you will feel a deep connection to and a strong sense of being at home, among friends.

The first chapter of the book covers yeast breads. It’s a fitting place to start since bread is the foundation for so much of our diet. It’s a starting point, a building block we use to jump from. This particular recipe feels like a comfortable place to start for me. It’s familiar. Like many of you I’m sure, I have memories of raisin cinnamon bread with melted butter dripping between the cracks in the bread made by the cinnamon-sugar swirl. It evokes a feeling of family for me, which is exactly how I want this project to feel.

If you want to join us in our endeavors to cover the depths of this wonderful book, please feel free to purchase a copy of the book and cook along with us. Join in our conversation by commenting on our blogs, and be sure to check out the other amazing women involved in this project. Sammy, Aimee, Claudie, Emily and Natasha are all wonderful women, I know you’ll love every one of them. (more…)

July 3, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . baking, bread, fruit, vegetarian. 14 comments.

dill + cracked pepper biscuits

I moved away from home over 5 years ago for the job I still have. My love for the mountain I grew up on is well known and documented, and runs deep. There are times when I go months without visiting, but soon a longing creeps up, building until the only release is that old country road. My father, mother and little sister still live there, not to mention one of my best friends, so the visits are usually full to the brim. This time, however, has been quite different. My poor dad broke his ankle in two places a little over two weeks ago and has subsequently endured a lengthy surgery and slow recovery. All three of us daughters have been here this week, spending time laughing, cooking and keeping the ice packs draped over the bandages to keep the swelling at bay. His spirits have remained high most of the time, not entirely due to the pills the nice doctor gave him. It’s been an unfortunate blessing to spend so much time together, one I’ve really enjoyed despite the circumstances.

Cooking brings me a lot of joy, but cooking for my family is a delight and an honor. The day before dad’s surgery I wanted to make sure he had a few good meals in his belly. I couldn’t think of something more comforting than a soft, fluffy biscuit, especially when you make it into a toothsome sandwich drizzled with gravy. So, with everyone up and about, still in their pajamas, sleepily pouring strong coffee into their mouths, we made up a batch of these dill woven biscuits and built ourselves a hearty breakfast.

(more…)

June 29, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . baking, bread, breakfast, quick and easy. 13 comments.

biscuits: the beginning

I think I’m going through a 1/3 of my life crisis. For the past year or so, I’ve been struggling with big questions and largely vague dreams. I have been in a constant state of discontentment, which, if you know me really well, you know that’s not particularly out of the ordinary. However, these particular questions and desires feel different. They have more pull and far greater consequences than my irritating desire to move every six months, or the fact that I can rarely stand to eat the same meal twice. I thrive on change, it energizes me, but something so big as jumping into a new career or even a new phase of life is proving to be less exciting and far more scary than I expected.

Making it all more difficult is my inclination to like most things, leaving me with no real direction. If I do actually want to pursue a new career, I can’t simply choose to do all of the things I enjoy, or could I? Is it even possible to do everything I love and call it a career? Cooking, baking, photography, antique collecting and writing are among the group of the beloved, but how can I do all of those things and do them well? Clearly I need to narrow it down.

These images are the product of me attempting to do just that, to find a direction I enjoy immensely by actually spending time exploring and working. The amazingly warm and kind hearted Van Dao of Biscuit Bender agreed to share his insanely delicious biscuits with me and spent an afternoon allowing me to photograph them in a beautiful cafe in San Francisco. Though I was nervous to do a shoot like this for the first time, it ended up being a beautiful collaboration and resulted in images that I’m incredibly proud of. I feel so fortunate to have friends like Van who are willing to support me in such a tangible way, and who are shaping the very direction of my life.

I would be remiss not to mention another group who has greatly encouraged these dreams, shaping my life dramatically. YOU ALL, the ones who read this small blog, and encourage me to keep at it. I’m so thankful for all of you. I hope you stick around and travel this road alongside me, wherever it might take us.

Be sure to take a good look at these images. I don’t want you to miss how utterly gorgeous these biscuits are. I sampled all of them, and with full conviction I tell you, they’re the best biscuits you can get in this city. Not only are they beautiful (and quite photogenic!), they are made with a watchful eye and a talented hand.

If one day you have a particular hankering for just about the best biscuits you’ll ever have, or maybe you really miss mom’s meatloaf and figure you can’t go wrong having it wrapped in a biscuit (I know, right?), treat yourself to Van’s biscuits. And because he is genius, he also makes homemade bloody mary’s to go with your biscuit wrapped meatloaf. Yep, I know.

You can find biscuits in the completely inspiring Hollow, as well as a delightful chai latte and ridiculously friendly staff.  Mission Cheese also stocks Biscuit Bender biscuits. Can you imagine that cranberry biscuit slathered with some brie, or even some blue cheese? Go get it y’all. And thanks again, for everything.

May 29, 2012. Tags: , , , , , . bread, breakfast, photography, san francisco food finds, things you should check out. 18 comments.

cinnamon buns

There are a few foods I reserve exclusively for special occasions. Cinnamon buns are among those few. I wait all year for the homemade buns Mrs. Henderson makes on Christmas morning. I start thinking about them in about October when the air begins to chill and I can feel that Christmas is just around the corner. The idea of cinnamon buns, made from scratch is wildly exciting to me.

Over the past few weeks, it seems like cinnamon buns have been everywhere. Bloggers, magazines, co-workers, all talking about the forbidden fruit that does not become ripe until Christmas Day. I take strict measures to be sure I stay strong until the big day in December, such as avoiding Cinnabon in the mall, steering clear of the food area after I check out at Ikea, and lastly, never learning how to make them. Despite all of these fail-safes, it appears I could no longer hold it together. I caved. Can you blame me? When everyone, literally everyone (exaggerating) is doing it, how could I possibly wait another 8 months? So here they are, my adulterous buns in all of their sweet, fluffy glory. I sure hope Mrs. Henderson can forgive me and that in light of my deviation she will still allow me my share.

I’m not happy about my infidelity, but if I had to do it again, I would pick these buns every time. They are fluffy and have a punch of orange zest that sets them apart from your garden variety cinnamon bun. Top with carefully sweetened cream cheese frosting and it just pushes them right over the edge into pleasure town. (more…)

April 12, 2012. baking, bread, breakfast. 2 comments.

wheat drop biscuits with marjoram + black pepper

I feel like I’m finally back in the groove. For awhile there, I couldn’t bring myself to cook anything at all. In the middle of summer, when we decided to move south, I just couldn’t find time with the many 4o mile trips back and forth between apartments to make anything even resembling food. Unfortunately, I never really regained consciousness until now. The coolness of fall has roused me and I’m back to finding flour in my hair every morning. Even if that’s inconvenient (and weird), I’m happy to be feeling like me again.  (more…)

October 9, 2011. baking, bread, breakfast, quick and easy, sides, Whole Wheat. Leave a comment.

homemade bagels

My family jokes about how I’m always late. It’s true that when I was younger, I wasn’t overly concerned with being prompt, but I’d like to think that as I’ve matured, I have come closer to being on time in most situations. However, in the instance of these bagels I am admittedly, egregiously late. They were all the rage three or four years ago, lighting up the world wide web with their wonderment. It is no small accomplishment to find a bagel recipe for the home cook that could rival those of New York fame. Recently, this recipe experienced a bit of a revival and I must say I am here to perpetuate the hype. I’ve downed the purple kool-aid and I’m buying a round for all of us.

I first saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Lottie and Doof. Tim gives some very helpful tips for the whole process. His advice to press harder than you think when you’re shaping the bagels is right on. Give it a look through before starting the process, it helps to remove some of the mystery.

(more…)

May 31, 2011. baking, bread, breakfast. 6 comments.

farmers market toast

Spring has always been my absolute favorite time of year. It is a beautiful picture of renewal and restoration after a long, cold winter. With new growth, fresh sun-kissed air, and birds singing a sweet song in every tree, I just can’t help but feel the urge to create, to make something lovely, tasty and utterly gorgeous with this gift of new life. The wonderful thing is, everything is already drop-dead-gorgeous all on its own.  click here for the full post..

April 4, 2011. appetizers, bread, quick and easy, spring, vegetarian. 4 comments.

country bread

Do you think it’s possible for a loaf of bread to change your life? It probably sounds utterly ridiculous to even entertain the thought, but for me, the loaf you see here, has sparked something deep within me; a feeling of something strangely familiar all jumbled up into a crackly bundle of joy. Let me explain, if I may.  click here for the full post!

January 5, 2011. baking, bread, Italian, vegetarian. 4 comments.

brown irish soda bread

Yesterday was incredible. On Wednesdays, I have to be at work at 7am. This is awfully early for a non-morning person and for some reason, yesterday was particularly difficult. It was one of those days where you stand in the shower, under the hot water and just stare into space. I was nearly catatonic. Somehow, I pulled myself together after only allowing myself about 20 minutes to get up, get ready and dash out the door. The drive down the peninsula was uneventful, nearly easy, if not for the sleepwalking state I was in. At about 6:45 and one exit to my destination I received a phone call. The voice on the other line told me that clinic was cancelled. It was a sign. God wanted me to go back to my warm, squishy bed to snuggle with my darling. And so I did.
(more…)

August 5, 2010. bread, breakfast, quick and easy. 2 comments.

Next Page »