I don’t know if you’d ever noticed, but I have a bit of a sweet tooth. I think it seems even more predominant on this blog, if only because sweet things tend to be more attractive. (Really, it’s easy to style a cookie and make people’s mouths water, but it’s pretty hard to make even the world’s easiest and tastiest Cod Veracruz look like anything more than a jumbled heap of tomatoes and onions.) Maybe one of these days I’ll find the time to do some more reading or take a real class on food styling and photography, but until then, you might just have to assume you’re getting a dessert from me.
But not today! Today, I steered wildly off course and made a savory version of a traditionally sweet dish. Inspired by a blogger at Food52 who grew up eating savory French toast, I decided that making my own version was an ideal way to sell the breakfast-for-dinner concept to my distinctly dubious family.
I know; you thought I’d given up. I could make a lot of excuses, but all I have to offer is this:
How to have the perfect English muffin: Buy bag of Thomas’s. Open. Toast. Top with butter and jam, or peanut butter, or cheese and tomato. Finis!
But I jest! You won’t even contemplate that old standby in the orange-and-white box once you have tasted these homemade versions, and you won’t believe how easy they are to make. It’s like making pancakes, with a half hour to wait before you can griddle them up (ideal for sipping your coffee, taking your shower, poaching up those eggs for the Eggs Benedict that these would be an incredible ground floor for… ) And the extra-nice thing is that, unlike pancakes, these keep a bit better and toast up beautifully the next day, if you have any left.
Two weeks, ten pounds of sugar, three dozen jars, and who can say how many pounds of fruit later, and I think I have to ‘fess up: I discovered “putting up,” and I am hooked.
This is funny, because I was the kid who never wanted peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – straight up peanut butter for me. This is also funny because I’ve always said I could never can anything because I was intimidated by day-long efforts for a few jars of product, scared about the prospect of exploding jars, and terrified by the chance that I might poison my friends and family if everything didn’t go exactly as it should.
But a recipe in the latest Canal House Cooking for tomato jam was too unusual not to try, and made the process of actually preserving the goods seem straight-forward and oh-so-doable. Thanks to that confidence booster and a handy and cheap buy-this-with-that offer from Amazon.com, and I had everything I needed to make my first batch of jam. It was a huge success (though I’m having a hard time convincing anyone other than myself that tomato jam is the perfect thing to have with a salty cheese or with some kind of porky thing. Really, it is!) It was much easier than I thought, and the perky little “pop” that those mason jars make as they cool and seal is incredibly satisfying – kind of like a gold star for a food geek.
Is it a vegetable disguised as a treat, or a treat pretending to be good for you? It might be both.
Morning Glory Farm on Martha’s Vineyard always has the best zucchini bread, and I love to grab a loaf when I get on-island. When I was there a few weeks ago, though, it was not only too early for the market to be open, but the farm stand was also rebuilding after a fire last summer. Not having the chance to pick up the bread made me really want it – or want to at least track down the recipe.
Then came the Great Zucchini Incident, in which I made breaded zucchini sticks as a vegetable for dinner, and bad, bad things happened. The failure of the side dish left me with a few extra zucchinis, and no one but me to eat them. Flash back to the zucchini bread, and the mini muffin tins that I’d just found on sale: little muffins, with vegetables hidden inside. It was an inspired solution!
I am so feeling like Cinderella after the clock struck midnight. Was it really just 10 days ago that I was in New York City for a friend’s birthday with Husband, spending his hard-earned Starwood points for a night at the St. Regis, where rooms come complete with a butler? Yes, I said butler. I know – even I want to roll my eyes right now. But let me just tell you about him. At first, I thought, what utter foolishness – I’ll hang my own clothes, thankyouverymuch, and please just point me in the direction of the nearest Starbucks for that coffee. But then he brought cookies as we were preparing for our evening out. And then he took Husband’s shoes to be polished and my dress (which I’d packed thoughtfully in a duffel bag, of course) to be steamed. And when we arrived back, the bed was turned down, classical music was playing, and – best of all – the bathroom that I had left looking like the morning after a tween slumber party was neat and tidy, and smelled of lavender. Ohmigod, I loved the butler. Then I returned home, where even while I sleep (or try to sleep) I hear the words “Mommy, can I have …” and “Mommy, do this …” And I realized that that must be why my family (particularly my children) love me: I am the butler. Well, hell.
I am not a breakfast person. I am not a morning person. I am not a cook-in-the-morning person. But, when you (and most of the people you know) have small kids, mid-morning is the most packed part of your social calendar; thus, solutions must be found. My favorite solution, of late, is this quiche.