When all else fails, make breakfast
The last two weeks were a bit of a departure from my usual I-can-take-on-the-world outlook. They were a bit rough — dotted with the wonderful highs of this season of life with a new baby — but rough. There were several work days that ended with me feeling like a perpetually-behind failure. The only deadlines that got met were the ones that absolutely had to be met. The personal ones I set to challenge myself or, just maybe, get ahead a bit? Not so much.
I don’t know about you but, when these weeks hit, dinnertime suffers. My dreams of preparing elaborate weeknight meals are dashed on the rocks of a long day. I scrape something together, but not enough for lunch leftovers, and then I find myself in the same boat the next night, and the next.
Sometimes, the only thing I do well is breakfast.
I do a lot of breakfast these days. First breakfast. Second breakfast. Breakfast for dinner. Breakfast always wins. Breakfast is a fresh start. It’s full of hope for a productive day. It’s time with my husband before he leaves for work. It’s often eaten over my bright-eyed daughter, who has been well trained not to wake until the coffee is ready (if only). It’s our little family time.
And, lately, it’s been avocado toast. For me at least (my husband’s still stuck on ricotta-and-honey). I am OBSESSED. I take mine on sourdough with a splash of soy sauce (really, try it) and chunks of sea salt. It’s so good with that black, Aeropressed, Americano-style coffee that my dad thinks is so silly (“coffee shouldn’t take this long”) but us yuppies love.
After taking in Bon Appetit’s latest edition on revamping breakfast (which we all need to do from time to time), I’ve taken seriously their challenge to reinvent the morning slice of toast. I’ve experimented. Ricotta-and-honey? Very good. Ricotta-and-pears? Nah. Neufchatel cheese-and-honey? Not bad for glorified cream cheese. Butter? Always good. Peanut butter? Almond butter? Sunflower butter? Even better.
It would be great if I made the time to bake my own bread each week, but I don’t. In fact, the only time I did regularly bake bread was when I had waited 42 weeks for my baby to come and was desperately, frantically nesting. Other people are really good at baking bread, so I let them. (p.s. Have you seen the new Sift magazine just put out by King Arthur Flour Co.? It’s beautiful and all about baking; pick it up at Whole Foods.)
Nothing goes with avocado toast quite like citrus, which makes me love avocado toast even more. Last winter, when I was pregnant, I was obsessed with grapefruit and, the winter before that, with grapefruit and avocado salads. This winter, I reassessed my grapefruit eating technique. What if there was a better way to eat it that I had yet to discover?
My mom always cut grapefruit with a special grapefruit knife, and I swear I never knew there was another way to eat grapefruit until fairly recently. I have my own wood-handled knife and I slice it into perfect segments before sitting down to dig them out with a spoon. When my dad visited, he poo-pooed the knife, choosing instead to go after grapefruit with a regular spoon (with no sharp edge like a grapefruit spoon). He made it look easy, and it did shorten the time between seeing grapefruit and tasting the first segment. I tried it. I splattered juice up to my elbows and all over my morning reading.
I then tried peeling the grapefruit and eating its segments, flesh intact, like an orange. The segments are just the slightest bit too thick and they sort of overtake the fruit. I even tried broiling the halved grapefruit recently, but then struggled to cut it after it had been cooked. I’d say the results were OK, not my favorite. I felt a bit like Goldilocks trying all these different methods (porridge, by the way, is always worthy of experimentation).
After all that effort, I was back to my beloved grapefruit knife and a fresh, halved piece of fruit. It loosens up more of the juices. It guarantees big, beautiful chunks of fruit, with a little patience. It’s worth the wait. May you now benefit from my experimentation and go the way of the grapefruit knife.
I won’t go into my experiments in eggs, which are many, but let’s just say that grapefruit-and-toast is first breakfast, which is followed by second breakfast, and sometimes by a third… Between all the breakfasts, and all the fire-building this winter, let’s just say it’s a miracle if anything is accomplished before noon.
After a long romance with grapefruit this winter, I’m now stuck on cara cara oranges. And so, apparently, is the baby (they’re a bit sweeter than the standard orange). In fact, despite several dinner failings over the past two weeks (Indian takeout — and husband — to the rescue!), we did manage to reach a significant milestone. We fed the kid her first real foods! Well, she sort of sucked on a spear of pear and a segment of orange, but still! It’s as much for our entertainment as her nourishment at five months old.
Oh, and I also gave her a bit of snow, which also ended up in her mouth.
And taught her to cook. No big deal.
I guess the past two weeks weren’t so terribly unproductive after all. We’re all alive; we didn’t skip any meals. A few were served late, simply or by someone else entirely, but no one starved. I fed the baby. I had breakfast. Every day. Usually twice a day. And it was good.
Wishing you the grace to focus on what you’re doing well this week, in the kitchen or otherwise,