vegetable frittata

vegetable frittata

A friend of mine, shortly after high school, asked me if it ever bothered me that I was fat. The thought had never really occurred to me, I had been overweight nearly my entire life. I like to tease that I simply don’t have a metabolism, but between lifestyle choices and a genetic propensity to pack on and keep the pounds, I found myself nearly 70 pounds overweight by the end of high school, so the question my friend asked was not entirely out of left field. I don’t ever remember actually feeling fat or different than anyone else during my adolescent years. This could of course be selective memory, but I remember feeling well liked by everyone. I had friends in every circle and was never once taunted because of my weight.

veggie frittata-2

Being overweight looks like a physical battle from the outside, but in reality it is an emotional battle most of the time. Every day, my least favorite thing to do is get dressed. I used to work in a hospital, so I would wear scrubs every day. They are baggy and shapeless, which for me, was perfect. It seems counter intuitive to want to wear clothes that make you look bigger but the more I can cover up, the better. Two of my closest friends point out every summer that I have a serious deficit of summer clothes in my closet. That’s because I hate to wear clothes that show my arms or legs. I much prefer the seasons which allow me to bundle up with bulky sweaters, scarves and long pants.

I was married to my best friend in the spring of 2009. A couple years before I met my husband I lost about 40 pounds with the help of Weight Watchers. When we got engaged in December of 2008, I knew I had a very limited time to get to a weight where I was comfortable enough to be photographed. These pictures would be something we would look back on for the rest of our lives and I wanted to really enjoy looking at them.  During our short four month engagement, I went back to Weight Watchers and started biking a lot. I lost another 20 pounds and was 142 pounds on the day of my wedding. Although I don’t think the number is as important as the way I felt, it’s a place I now look back on as a goal for myself. On the day of my wedding, I felt beautiful and I was even showing my arms.

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As most women do, I gained weight over the course of our marriage as I became comfortable and happy in my new life. I started to learn to cook and bake and realized I really enjoyed both. I wanted to learn as much as I could, so without regard to the healthfulness of what I was making, I cooked and baked my heart out. (I’m pretty sure I am responsible for several close friends gaining weight during this time as well, so if that’s you, I’m sorry!) All in all I gained back 30 pounds while I ate my way through every good thing. That sure was easy and delicious.

Last summer I found out I was pregnant with our son. I was no where near the weight I hoped I would be when I became pregnant but at that point there wasn’t much I could do. During the course of my pregnancy I gained about 50 pounds and at full term, I weighed more than I have ever weighed in my life. I’m just glad I had a fairly good reason for the weight gain besides far too many croissants.

Currently, I am 40 pounds heavier than my wedding day and I still hate getting dressed in the morning. I wear leggings and nursing tanks most of time and even when it’s warm, I prefer to have on long sleeves. I am learning what it means to have a balanced and healthy lifestyle without compromising my love for food. I refuse to eat ‘diet’ food because who wants to eat poached chicken breasts and steamed vegetables? If I am to live a healthy lifestyle it has to be sustainable. It can not be a crash diet or something I’m going to struggle through until I meet my goal weight. It has to be a lifestyle change, for life. 

I returned to Weight Watchers last week with renewed resolve and already my efforts are paying off. I lost nearly four pounds my first week and I look forward to stepping on the scale next time. My hope is that I will find myself at a point where I can enjoy going into my closet in the morning and that I can again, feel like the best version of myself, inside and out.  (more…)

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August 1, 2013. breakfast, eggs, quick and easy. 3 comments.

going bananas

I still have not returned to the land of the living. It has been 15 weeks today, with at least 12 of those consisting of a very simple routine. Get up for work, go to work, come home from work, put on yoga pants, hit the couch, go to bed, repeat. Last night, I did force myself to cook dinner, particularly because I could not even consider having cereal for dinner even just one more time. I’ve been told that the sicker you are when you’re pregnant, the better. Well, I am certainly glad for that! If this is what I need to get through to have a healthy baby, I am in this 100%. I just hope you’ll bear with me as I share with you the few things I have the energy to make. Let’s just all hope I get my second wind real soon. 

Simple, comforting and quick has become my mantra these days. There have been no marathon cooking events happening in our kitchen, only short and precise dishes that fill our (growing) bellies. This baked banana dish meets all the criteria. Easy, quick, comforting and completely un-fussy, this breakfast treat will satisfy everyone in your family. Pair it with pancakes or waffles or even over ice cream for dessert after a family dinner to add the feeling of fancy.

This post is part of a series cooked from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham. AimeeClaudieEmily and Natasha have posted their picks from the fruit chapter so be sure to pay them a visit.

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October 17, 2012. breakfast, fruit, quick and easy. 4 comments.

egg in toast (as I like to call it)

Egg in toast is what we used to call it when dad would make it for us. Even though it’s made up of very simple and quite common ingredients, putting the egg IN the toast made it spectacular to us. It was a fairly normal occurrence for my dad to make breakfast for dinner. It was certainly quick and cheap and no one ever complained about it, not once. The only item of contention during one of these breakfast for dinner episodes was when he would make this exact dish and we would all want more of the middle pieces that he had fried in salted butter. The crispy, browned circles of bread were the absolute best part. Not only were they absolutely delicious, they were perfect for mopping up the rest of the runny yolk, making sure our plates were spotless by the time we were done.

I have so many fond memories of my Dad’s cooking growing up. He is, in his own right, an excellent cook. His Massey Beans are famous (when the weather turns colder, I’ll be sure to make them for you), and he always had something new up his sleeve. Even without a lot of money, he made sure we had something delicious to eat. As I think back on these times, I’m so looking forward to passing along the same experiences to our future little one. The last three months have been very sparse around here, because well, there is in fact a little one in me, and growing a human has proved to be a lot of work! Food hasn’t been particularly appetizing and anything green has been a bit of a no-no, so around here it’s been a whole lot of toast and milk and crackers. Although, now that I’m on to the second trimester, I’ve heard I’m supposed to start to feel better, so my hope is that you’ll hear from me a lot more often.

If you find yourself in a bind for dinner, or in a place where kale is the enemy, this dish is the ultimate friend. It’s super easy, comforting and tastes as good as anything I can remember. I imagine even guests would like it for brunch or otherwise, served with some salty bacon and a freshly squeezed glass of oj.

This post is part of a series cooked from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham. AimeeSammyClaudieEmily and Natasha have posted their picks from the eggs chapter so be sure to pay them a visit.

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October 2, 2012. breakfast, quick and easy. 10 comments.

griddling

This weekend my sister Laura was here for a visit to take my very first cooking class. It was wonderful to have her here. Since I moved the bay area, I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like. On Saturday morning, we rose with the sun and snuggled in the living room, waking up together like we did when we were kids. When I could finally pry myself from the warmth of the blankets on the couch, I made us pancakes.

These are an adaptation of what Marion Cunningham calls ‘heavenly hots’. In their original form they are quite wet, almost feeling under cooked. For me, this is not an enjoyable consistency, so I added a bit more flour to make up a batch of something we both recognized and then topped them with chocolate chips for good measure. The batter is primarily sour cream, which makes them quite a bit more tangy than the average pancake. I liked the change from the old standard.

This post is part of a series of posts cooked from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham. AimeeSammyClaudieEmily and Natasha have posted their picks from the griddling chapter so be sure to pay them a visit.

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September 18, 2012. breakfast, quick and easy. 3 comments.

buttermilk breakfast doughnuts

I feel really lucky. I have the best friends in the whole wide world. It’s one thing to be friends with me at my best, when I’m putting my best foot forward, but it’s another to be my friend at my worst (and whiney-est). When life’s blessings disguise themselves as difficulties, I’m the first one to complain and only see the circumstances. It’s terrible, really. I have a very difficult time looking beyond the immediate to see how everything might play out and that there might, in fact, be a reason for such circumstances. And so, despite my behavior and utter listlessness, my dear, dear friends bear with me as I work through my near breakdowns and fits of toddler like behavior and convince me to come to their house on a Saturday morning to make doughnuts. They couldn’t possibly know me any better.

I’m sure they were thinking of themselves a little, I mean they did get doughnuts out of the deal (they’re no dummies), but I believe they knew they needed some way to pull me out of the fog and into a sunny kitchen to fry some dough just to subsequently dunk it in liquid sugar. Have I told you they’re the best?

Being my first time making doughnuts, I wasn’t quite sure they would really be the thing I needed, but after breaking into a hot, sugary one, normalcy started to return almost immediately. Although, hours later, I would start to feel the effect of a few too many doughnut holes, but we’ll get to limiting your joy later.

These doughnuts are perfectly wonderful. They’re sweet, slightly spiced and a bit dense, making them feel substantial. They couldn’t be easier to make, which in all honesty makes me pretty nervous. It’s a dangerous thing to know I can just whip up some doughnuts any time I feel like it, especially if I don’t have two dozen friends to share them with.

Remember how I said I have amazing friends? Well, the lovely and very talented Emily Scott documented our process, and the darling Anna was the glaze aficionado. Those two are also solely responsible for twisting my arm to make them.

This post is part of a series of posts cooked from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham. Aimee, Sammy, Claudie, Emily and Natasha have posted their picks from the doughnut and fritters chapter so be sure to pay them a visit. (more…)

September 4, 2012. breakfast, quick and easy. 12 comments.

overnight steel cut oats

The past week has been a rough one. I’ve been under the weather, spending most of my time on the couch, feverishly speeding through episodes of How I Met Your Mother. I’m pretty sure I’m already on season 3, but really, I’ve lost count. Food has become a four letter word in our house, only spoken of when absolutely necessary for survival. It’s a strange thing, detesting food. That’s a feeling I hope to soon forget.

It’s no coincidence that this week’s cook the book post happened to be an upset stomach’s dream. Steel cut oats are as close to soothing as you can get, besides eating a whole tube of saltine crackers (which may or may not have happened) and since standing for an extended period of time also proved to be rather difficult, I decided to throw these in the slow cooker and let them work themselves out while I slept soundly in the other room. In the morning, I awoke to freshly stewed oats, smelling of cinnamon and milk. They were wonderfully smooth, more like porridge than the usual toothsome oats I am used to when I cook them in a pot on the stove, but this was a welcome change for my poor belly. The only additions necessary were a sprinkling of brown sugar and a few ripe raspberries to brighten things up a bit. It was exactly what the doctor ordered. Now I’m hoping the left overs get me through the rest of the week.

[This post is part of a Cook the Book project with 5 other incredible bloggers. Take a stroll on over to see Aimee, Samantha, Natasha, Emily and Claudie to see what they’ve come up in the rolled oats department!]
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August 21, 2012. breakfast, quick and easy. 4 comments.

banana bran muffins

Human beings can be grouped into two categories: those who snooze, and those who don’t. For as far back as I can remember, I have always set my alarm ten minutes before the time I actually should get up. After the first alarm sounds, I snuggle up under the covers and drift peacefully back to dreamland for another nine minutes. When the next alarm sounds, there is a subsequent push of the snooze button allowing for an extra few minutes to gradually come around to the idea of planting my bare feet on the cold wood floor. By the time the next alarm sounds, I’m forced to get out from under the soft protection of our duvet by the tangible fear of being late for work. For some people, this method is purely insane. Let’s take my husband for example. When we first got married, he would set his alarm for a certain time each morning and when that thing went off, he rose up out of bed like Frankenstein from the dead, swung his legs over the side, planted his feet on the ground and never looked back. No lingering thoughts of fluffy pillows and sweet dreams, this man was moving on to greet the day. For sometime, it drove him absolutely insane that I would let my alarm go off, snooze, let it go off again, and snooze one last (sweet) time. He could not understand how this was an effective way to start the day. However, as time went on, he started turning off his alarm, only to just roll over. Now, after three years of marriage, he hits snooze, hits it again, and on some days, one more time.

To me, mornings should start off slow and relaxed. I prefer to linger there in the wee hours and enjoy the gray morning light for just a few minutes before I start to consider what the day might throw at me. I always eat breakfast, sometimes something as simple as a bowl of cereal, but never do I pass it up. Since I like to spend most of my morning in bed, I do tend to rely on quick breakfast foods to keep me satisfied for the better part of the morning. These hearty muffins surely fit the bill. They are moist, slightly sweet and wholesome enough to carry you for a few hours. They would be incredible with a bit of greek yogurt and some honey to give you an extra punch of protein.

[This post is part of a Cook the Book project with 5 other incredible bloggers. Take a stroll on over to see Aimee, Samantha, Natasha, Emily and Claudie to see what quick breads they’ve baked up this week. I’ve heard there might be custard filled cornbread, might not want to miss that one!]

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August 7, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . baking, breakfast, fruit, quick and easy, vegetarian. 11 comments.

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.

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.

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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.

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