Bring on the breakfasts

I’m under an eight-hour food and drink fast before the wisdom teeth come out. Unfortunately, that means missing favorite meal of the day.

As a kid (and extremely picky eater), I detested breakfast: Cereal always got soggy in the milk; eggs were icky; oatmeal was boring; yogurt was weird; and pancakes held little appeal. The breakfasts of my formative years were cheese toast, Pillsbury Toaster Strudels, and Pillsbury cinnamon rolls on the weekend. It was hardly the diet of champions, but thankfully my tastes have matured considerably since then.

I may miss out on this great start-of-the-day, but that doesn’t mean I won’t drool over my favorites. I imagine there will be much drooling for other reasons anyway.

Ooey gooey Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal— recipe courtesy of Fannetastic Food

Ooey gooey Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal— recipe courtesy of Fannetastic Food

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Another Fannetastic Food find: I like topping these protein-packed pancakes with sliced apples and Greek yogurt

These flour-less pancakes are equally tasty topped with slivered almonds and raspberries

These flour-less pancakes are equally tasty topped with slivered almonds and raspberries

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Multigrain bread with almond butter and flax seeds and Greek yogurt with chopped pineapple, coconut flakes, and more flax seeds

Over-easy egg atop multigrain toast and garlic-sautéed spinach

Over-easy egg atop multigrain toast and garlic-sautéed spinach

A menu of mush

There comes a time in a teen’s life when her real-world experience and years of learning leads to a certain wisdom. Or in most cases, wisdom teeth.

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I’ll subsist on smoothies like this Carrot-Pineapple rendition but without the straw

Enter me. I got my 12-year molars at 15 and now I’m getting my wisdom teeth ten years later than the average person. The two teeth (I only have two) should be relatively easy to remove, and I’m relieved to know that my sore mouth and locked jaw were not some chronic TMJ pain. For two days, I could barely manage to open my mouth: Chewing anything larger (or denser) than a raspberry presented a real problem.

This pre-antibiotic spell gave me a preview into what eating will be like immediately following the extraction. And let me tell you (you being readers under the age of 17), it puts a damper on one’s gastronomic gusto. Here’s my post-surgery meal plan, based on recent experience with lock jaw and suggestions on Internet forums. I will try to stick with my gluten-free detox, but if push comes to shove, some exceptions may be made. The cardinal rule: No straws whatsoever.

  • Applesauce
  • Smoothies
  • Yogurt (get the good bacteria back in action)
  • Savory or sweet millet/quinoa porridge
  • Small berries
  • Hummus by the spoonful
  • Almond butter by the spoonful
  • Soups and broths
  • Scrambled or over-easy eggs
  • Polenta or grits
  • Super-tender fish fillets
  • Jell-O (exactly when else does one eat Jell-O?)
  • Frozen banana “ice cream”
  • Whole Foods’s vegan chocolate pudding

Any other recommendations? I’ve got to stock up the pantry stat.

Friday flyby of links

It’s been a rough week for many in light of the tragedies in Boston and Waco, Texas. Besides bringing people closer, these events also make us stop and appreciate all the good thing in our life. This week, I got to see a good friend who was visiting from Austin, explore new restaurants in Durham (more to come on those) and start running again after sustaining a minor injury two weeks ago. I hope that the clouds will soon part for those who have not been as fortunate as I have.

Time for an HBO documentary [Policy Mic]

The  next HBO documentary [Policy Mic]

Without further ado, some reading to brighten (or lighten) your day:

  • The Cupcake Crash of 2013 [Grub Street]: Here’s a tongue-in-cheek rundown of why the iconic sweet’s reign of sugar is coming to an end. Hint: Mitt Romney and Two Broke Girls may be implicated.
  • Great Balls of Goodness [My Whole Food Life]: I may have finally found a recipe to replicate Laura’s Wholesome Junk Food. Oh, happy day!
  • Earth, pans and fire [NY Times]: Michael Pollan’s latest book Cooked will hit shelves Tuesday, and his new mandate — Eat whatever you want as long as you cook it — is already stirring the pot.
  • Beantown establishments give back [Eater]: In case you’re in the Boston area, here’s a list of restaurants that are pooling their resources to help the local community and visitors, as well.

Jumping off the veggie wagon

At the end of July 2011, I decided to become a vegetarian pescetarian. Ever since I’d returned from Argentina where a diet of beef, beef and more beef was the norm, I rarely craved red meat and had begun eschewing poultry, too. Quitting meat just felt right, but I still wanted my sushi and scallops.

Flash-forward a year and a half later when I find myself hungry too often and sick of anything related to soy. Then, a few weeks ago, a head cold had me down for the count, and all the homeopathic sites plus some more reliable sources (thank you, MayoClinic and NIH) suggested chicken noodle soup.

Chicken-rice soup is just what the doctor ordered

Chicken-rice soup is just what the doctor ordered

I caved and enjoyed a hot bowl of chicken-rice soup from Chix in the U Street corridor. Four years ago when I was interning in DC, Chix became one of my favorite go-to places for its cheap, tasty fare. Now the menu goes beyond the standard chicken halves and quarters to include wraps and chop bowls.

Since this tasty transgression, I’ve had turkey, pork and, yes, beef. I’m trying to keep my consumption of animal product in check (once a day at most), since in case you haven’t heard for the umpteenth time, vegetarians are healthier.

I have nothing but respect and admiration for true-blue vegetarians, but for me, it’s nice to feel full again without having to consume ridiculous amounts of beans or soy. Going out to eat is a whole different world now — not to say I’ll stop ordering those housemade veggie burgers. They’re just too good to pass up.

Enough reading for a desert island getaway

Last weekend, Stone Ridge High School in Bethesda, Md., held its annual used book sale. I’d seen a small ad in the paper about it, but it wasn’t until a coworker said that he was selling his beer fest tickets to attend the sale instead that I called up my friend Shawny and we made plans to meet Saturday morning.

One of three gymnasiums chockfull of books

Manned by high school students, teachers, and other volunteers, the event had a decent (but not overwhelming) crowd  as we all took turns browsing the stacks and filling our complementary box tops with books. Two hours and three gymnasiums full of  general fiction, history, science, travel, cooking, and probably every book Barbara Kingsolver ever wrote*, we emerged with what can only be called a glutinous loot. The grand total? A little over $30 for 13 books in good, if not excellent, condition. We happened to run into my coworker there, and he said it was the best year yet.

Shawny browses the fiction section

Obviously, I now have to ban myself from stepping into a Barnes & Noble or any other bookstore until 2013.

Here’s a breakdown of what I snagged:

Nonfiction/Adventure

  • Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer — Firsthand account of a failed Everest expedition by the prolific writer who also wrote an exposé on Greg Mortenson with the report “Three Cups of Deceit.”
  • Into the Wild, also by Krakauer — I never saw the movie, but apparently it tells the true story of a young man who gives up his inheritance to live simply… and then dies. Yeah, bummer.
  • In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson — I enjoyed taking A Walk in the Woods with Bryson and thought this travel memoir would be the perfect way to prep for my (hopefully happening) trip to the Land Down Under next year.
  • Under the Black Flag by David Cordingly — I blame growing up in the Carolinas and vacationing in Black Beard’s old stomping ground, but every summer I have this urge to read a book about pirates. Now I just need a beach and some rum.
  • The Amazon: Past, Present, and Future by Alain Gheerbrant — Visiting the northeastern part of Argentina and reading The Lost City of Z last year have left me greatly intrigued by the entire Amazon: its strange flora and fauna, its history, its peoples, and even the bizarre theories of  its lost civilizations.
  • The Year 1000 by Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger — Medieval brain surgery and details on the average height of the original Millennials — need I say more?

Fiction

  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel — I’ve been meaning to read this since about 2002. It’s going to happen. Really.
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kinsolver* — Being on Oprah’s book club list can be a green light (Eat, Pray, Love) or a flashing caution sign (The Tale of Edgar Sawtelle), but since a friend raved about this one, I thought it was worth a shot.
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon — Shawny also bought this one and is already enjoying it. Someone else remarked that it was the “best explanation of life, ever.” High expectations for this one.
Food (of course)
  • My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’Homme — I loved Julie and Julia, and this sounds equally delightful.
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver* — The author and her family set out to only eat food that they raise and produce themselves for a year. Sounds like the healthy antithesis to Morgan Spurlock’s Supersize Me.
  • Skinny Bitch in the Kitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Bornouin — I haven’t read their original book and am not sure I agree with the take-no-prisoners platform, but the recipes looked pretty good. And at $1 (my cheapest buy), I could afford to risk it.
  • The Moosewood Cookbook by Molly Katzen — Lifelong vegetarian friends have recommended the Moosewood books as a staple for veggie cooking, so I swiped this one quickly even though it had a smudge on the cover and no pictures inside (shallow, I know). At $4, it was my most expensive purchase.

My bundle -- technically box-top -- of books

Happy reading and happy weekend! Keep your eyes peeled for GP; rumor has it she’s in town.

*Aside from the two I picked up, we counted four more Kingsolver and therefore gave her the unofficial title of MPP, most prolific player.

I’ve got sticky fingers

Monday night I went to a vegan baking class at LivingSocial’s new 918 F Street  multipurpose space. It was the first time I had been since they were “beta testing” with employees in February and the first time I had purchased an event deal. The two-and-a-half-hour class was led by local celeb/vegan baker/owner of Sticky Fingers, Doron Petersan.

Within one of the swanky kitchens of 918F

While I had not seen Doron during her three turns on Cupcake Wars (she won twice), I know that it must take some pretty amazing sweets to beat the other contestants who could use eggs and dairy. Still, as a novice, if not avid baker, I expected the recipes to be good, not great.

It was a deliciously wrong assumption.

Pudding-like brownie batter

Even more surprising was how few weird (re: not usually in my pantry) ingredients were used. The first recipe for S’mores Brownies called vegan margarin and marshmallows, but the other items like cocoa, vanilla, chocolate chips, and brewed coffee were common. Paired with a double-chocolate stout beer, these ooey-gooey treats reminded me of a luscious pudding turned brownie.

Doron lights the vegan marshmallows with a pastry torch

The second recipe was Doron’s Cupcake Wars conquerer: Rolling Stones Brown Sugar Cupcake with Spiced Rum Frosting. While this recipe required a few more vegan specialty items (margarin, shortening, and egg replacer), the list of ingredients was by no means obscure. As a chocolate lover (nay, worshipper), I didn’t expect to love the cupcakes as much as I did, but the light, rum-spiked icing atop the spicy, fluffy cake was mouthwatering and melt-in-your-mouth all at once.  Accompanying Dark and Stormy made it all the more delicious.

Like a Rolling Stone — yummy brown sugar cupcakes

I almost bought Doron’s book right on the spot but decided to hold off. Having 100 recipes like the two I made Monday just sitting in my kitchen might be too tempting.

Piping out the rum-infused icing

But then again, maybe not.

Happiness is a cupcake

Too many things I love in one bund(t)le

Happy Friday!

To celebrate the birthday of a coworker (who also happens to be a foodie/baking lover), I made this Chocolate-Cinnamon Bundt Cake. Unlike some Bon Appetit recipes, this one was straightforward and didn’t call for any oddball ingredients I wouldn’t normally have. Not only does it combine three of my favorite things — coffee, chocolate, and cinnamon — but it was the perfect excuse to try out my new blossom-shaped pan from Williams-Sonoma.

Since we’re waiting to surprise her with the cake and goodies after lunch, I haven’t sampled anything besides a few spoon licks of leftover batter (probably a smart move considering I’m super-sensitive to caffeine). The smell was divine in my kitchen, and since the recipe called for instant espresso/coffee, it immediately reminded me of Argentina where instant coffee was my in-house fix.

Tonight I fly home to North Carolina for a short visit and a friend’s bridal shower. My return flight is 6 a.m. Monday, so chances are I will be AWOL until Tuesday.

Happy Easter and Passover all, and remember: It’s a bundT.

My handy handmixer managed to break up pebble-like brown sugar

Blossoming pan could totally work as a poinsettia during the holidays

Upside down, it looks like a giant, impaled cupcake

Mixing up the mocha icing, or should I say butter with a hint of mocha

The final product, voila!