Mason Jar and Ferret Boy

The best cinnamon role. Ever. Thanks to Wild Flour Bakery in Freestone, California.

The best cinnamon role. Ever. Thanks to Wild Flour Bakery in Freestone, California.

My husband and I took our kids to the beach today. Mind you, this is northern California so we dress in Patagonia, down vests, and socks to explore northern Sonoma County beaches. On the way, we stopped at our most favorite coastal bakery. A real foodie-haunt on Bohemian Highway in Freestone. Wild Flour Bakery is a truly unique, hands-on, artisan bakery. With no pretensions.  Incredible gardens. All brawn and yeast and gorgeous flour. Just pure love of food and product, cheerful bakers and salespeople, and beyond Great coffee.

So at 8:55am, after driving 45 minutes for our monthly Sunday treat, we happily greet Dezzy behind the till. She is a serious baking fiend in the biscotti market and a 100% lovely human being.  She patiently lets our wee hellions ask about bread and then about coffee-stirrers (aka Popsicle sticks that in their mind should forever lodge frozen bananas.) Dezzy graciously takes our order of hot coffee (him), Earl Grey tea (me) wt extra Bergamot, and an assortment of the best of the North Bay’s finest sourdough loaf (for the week), Meyer lemon scone, and literally the most bomb-ass-level-One Sweet Cinnamon Bun you’ve ever, ever had. Ever.

Then the guy next to us orders a latte. And it’s served to him in a Mason Jar. He has the 2-piece lid in his right hand. We both take note appreciatively. My Dean asks him and Dezzy “is that the new way to have coffee?” Hipster-beard-flannel-dude answers quickly and says,”um, No.” At this point, perhaps we should have taken cues from our acquaintance behind the counter to shut the hell up. Alas, I chime in “what a great idea!” And Flannel Dude emphasizes, looking at my hot tea receptacle, “well I wouldn’t want to waste… Just on my coffee.” And walks away.

One of those moments, dear reader, where you look at some asshat — before 9am mind you on a SUNDAY — who is totally attempting to make a very good point but with very foolish delivery skills — and with both of us AND the lovely Wild Flour ladies kind of mentally chiming in together “he is soooo Not worth it!” — to zenfully proceeded on with our morning. To only really come back to it late tonight because I can’t sleep.  And because this idiot pissed me off. And insulted my husband. My mulching, composting, cutting-lotion bottles in half for the last drop, ‘don’t waste water!’, take our 50 acres Sonoma farm and Annadel Estate Winery organic ‘if it kills us’ husband.

Because what could I have said?  That this über sheen bozo has a good idea? That I have a good 20 now-empty Mason Jars waiting at home to be refilled this canning season with blackberries, carrots, apricots, onions, pestos, cherries cured in bourbon? That Wild Flour Bakery wonderfully accepts Mason mugs/jars? Or That I’ve spent my entire decade of my 20s not being a kid but rather working for nonprofits and Eco-assertive politicos? That I later left NASA to mulch, make wine, garden and cook from the land? At 30 embraced my “midlife crisis” to ditch all pretensions, live authentically, and put my sweat where my dollar has always been?  And that my husband — who only asked a kindly meant question about your glassware? Spends hours each week after work prepping our soils for spring planting because I have two torn discs. And that you, Flannel Boy, with your oddly trimmed beard, now seems like a mustached ferret with your Mason Jar coffee and lame smug ego.

But I will nonetheless go home and bring one clean Mason Jar and 2 piece lid with me to Scooteria tomorrow.  Not that I would ever tell you that. Flannel Boy.

Eggs & Birdies

Few things bring me back to my grandmother’s table than eggs and toast.

My amazing grandmother in mid-2000s

My amazing grandmother in mid-2000s

Mima wore her 1970s vibrantly swirly, totally rayon, neck-to-floor dressing gowns to make breakfast.  She called them “Eggs & Birdies” — slightly morbid now that I think about it as a grown up (arguably) — but she and Dida soft boiled the eggs and timed the toasting of bread to perfection. Every time.  Seventy plus years of marriage will do that to you….  Then: They lightly cracked the eggs open in an upright position and spooned the goodness over toasted slices of Orowheat.  Egg yolks running smoothly over toasted exteriors.  Cracked pepper and iodized salt.  Served with piping hot mugs of Folgers Crystals instant coffee and breakfast was served.

 

Eggs & Toast

Eggs & Toast

Dean made me and the kids this amazingly simple, old school goodness this morning for breakfast.  We’ve made it a regular weekly staple — this fried eggs over toast — but somehow this morning was different.  Eaten by hand, my first bite transported me back to Linda Ridge Road, to my grandmother’s table.  I almost cried.  I was 11 years old again in faded acid wash jeans, a hot pink t-shirt, and rubbing sleep from my eyes.

Somehow these fried eggs had the perfect flavor of a soft boiled and our 2-day old toasted slices Ciabatta from Costeaux Bakery in Healdsburg did the trick.  Today in our kitchen, we use local eggs, fancy rustic sea salts and fresh cracked rainbow peppercorns… But you get the drift.

Early days of little me and my Mima

Early days of little me and my Mima

I WORSHIP my grandmother.  Always will.  Peg Palmer was a force to be reckoned with.  Glamorous, loving and willful.  At home in a Marshall’s special as she was in Evening Attire or blue jeans.  Mima was fearless, funny in private circles, suffered ZERO social-climbing, and channeled much loving energy into us.  She had a special spot for us grandchildren.  As well as the color coral (in lipstick!!), water aerobics at the Valley Hunt Club, a mean chopped salad, forever being a size 10, and Asian art.  When life had me briefly down in my early 20s, Mima advised, “You go wash your face and put on fresh lipstick.  You’ll feel better.  Stick your chest out, tuck your rear end under and glide.  Glide.  Glide…” She was right.  Still is…. And I may still do this today whenever I need an inner boost.

I hope this breakfast kicks your day off right…without the need for 1980s coral lipstick!

Ingredients:

  • Farm fresh eggs or at least organic.  *You are looking for golden yolks.
  • Pat of butter (1-2 tablespoons)
  • Kosher or French sea salt
  • Slices of real bread — about to be toasted — 1 slice per egg

Heat a frying pan (or non-stick) up over medium-high heat.  Turn up heat to lower-high and melt butter.  Once butter begins to boil, crack eggs into pan and let cook 1-2 minutes until whites “set”  Remember: Cooking eggs is purely subjective.  Trial and error is the way to go.

Toast bread.  Butter bread and put on plate.

Using a smaller spatula, flip the eggs over and cook for 1 minute in reverse.  I look for a light gold “crust” to form on the edges.  Slide eggs onto each slice of buttered bread.  Dust with salt and pepper.  Serve IMMEDIATELY.

Additions include: flash sauteed kale or spinach, a drizzle of arugula aioli, or thinly sliced tomato works every time.

Happy “Croque Madames” for All Ages — in 25 minutes.

I recently read an article in the Huffington Post from a new Mama of two taking it easy on herself in a constant pursuit to lose the “baby weight.” Her words rang true to this new-ish Mama of two and in the spirit of happy gastronomy, I am back to cooking more than kale salads.  Yay!

This quick, simple little recipe makes my whole household happy and is a fun weekend breakfast treat.  Or lunch.  Or even dinner with a big side salad.

Croque Madames:

Finished deliciousness.

Finished deliciousness.

You will need:

  • 1 loaf pre-sliced bread (your choice)
  • Eggs
  • Shaved Gruyere cheese (amount to taste) or Cheddar if you prefer that
  • Thick ham steak cubed (amount to taste)
  • Butter (1 stick, softened)
  • Kosher salt & fresh cracked Pepper
  • 1 non-stick cupcake tin
  • 1 fat rolling pin (think a broom handle or wider)
Ingredients

Ingredients

I’ve adapted this recipe from a few sources and made it far more healthy without sacrificing flavor.  You can also make this ‘sandwich’ for one, two or 12 people.  Very flexible and DIVINE.  But for four Croque Madames, here goes:

Preheat oven to 350’F.

Cut the crusts off eight slices of bread.  Roll the bread flat with your rolling pin.  Julia Child once waxed poetic on the proper girth of the rolling pin and your pin should be as wide, if not wider, than a sturdy broom stick. The scrawny sticks may save counter space but were clearly not meant to sumptuously roll out savory doughs or in this case, flatten your store bought bread into something more tender.

Anni helps me roll out the bread.

Anni helps roll out the bread.

So.  Take each slice of bread and lather lots of good quality butter onto EACH side (repeat after me: real butter is good for you!)  Then smush it into the cupcake tin slots, two slices per slot.  There is no proper way to do this and it will look sort of awkward. Just be sure each well is covered by buttery bread so the rest of the ingredients stay nicely tucked up inside.

Sprinkle in a few chunks of your nicely cubed ham steak into the bottom of each bread-smushed-cupcake-well.  Then sprinkle in a bit of cheese over the ham (like a large pinch).

Crack one egg into each one.  Eyeball it and if the egg is too big, hold back on some of the egg whites.  It should look like this (below). A side note: You can see that I rather unceremoniously dumped all extra egg whites into one well for one plain baked egg…

Baby croque madames in progress.

Baby croque madames in progress.

Take as much shredded Gruyere as your little Croques can handle and cover the egg yolks.  I like sprinkling some sea salt and fresh pepper over the top of the Cheese.

Ready for the oven. In 15 minutes, breakfast will be very delicious.

Ready for the oven. In 15 minutes, breakfast will be very delicious.

Slide your tray into the upper-middle shelf of your oven and bake untouched for 15 minutes.  If you want to hard cook your eggs (but really why would you want to?) leave the tray in for 17 minutes.  If you like your eggs more on the runny side, opt for 14 minutes exactly and the yolk will then run fabulously down melted Gruyere, ham and buttered toast…

Remove from oven and let sit about one minute before serving.  They go superbly well with Champagne — as does anything salty — but coffee and grapefruit juice works too.

Happy morning friends!