I’m a big believer in a decent breakfast. If I don’t eat one, I’m climbing the walls and eating whatever I’ve packed for lunch at 10 am. The Nuni gets to eat at preschool, but their idea of a proper breakfast (waffles, mini bagels, cold cereal) is not my idea of a proper breakfast. There should be protein! Fiber! Preferably a little fruit! A breakfast that can get you through to elevenses, at least. Eggs and toast are lovely, or a bowl of oatmeal with lots of milk, but they don’t really help the morning chaos. These oatmeal breakfast bars are the answer to that. [...]
Springtime is strawberry season! And even though the strawberries aren’t quite there yet (the heavy rains we’ve had in California have really impacted the flavor), that hasn’t stopped me from buying and eating pounds of them — I’ve loved them since I was a baby. For your reading pleasure, below are 10 things you may not know about my favorite fruit. [...]
One of the things that Ken and I were most excited about when we bought our house was the prospects of a garden. We had managed to make do for years with the tiny terraces in our apartments — we have a dwarf Meyer Lemon tree, a Bearss Lime, and a thriving herb garden. But the possibilities of growing things for ourselves was intoxicating. We were overjoyed to discover the delights already in the offing — ornamental plums (too sour to eat, but good for jam), peach trees, a pomegranate tree, and my favorite, the pineapple guava, which I recognized because it’s identical to the spreading one growing in my grandparents’ back yard. A garden, it turns out, is a work in progress. We put in blueberry bushes and raspberry canes, planted a second pomegranate tree, and ordered greengage plum, quince and persimmon to plant this winter. Of course, the plants we added will take a few years to bear fruit. We moved in too late for the plums, the peaches dropped all their fruit before it was ripe, and the pomegranate turned out to be non-bearing. But we’ll still have a bumper crop of Meyer lemons this winter, and the pineapple guava did not disappoint. [...]
I’m not much of a muffin girl. Despite my rather extreme sweet tooth, I don’t tend to like sweets for breakfast, and most muffins are just cupcakes without frosting. And the times I actually want something sweet — elevenses or tea time — a muffin doesn’t quite cut it. I might as well have the frosting. Or a cookie. Or a bacon salted caramel brownie. And it doesn’t much help that most muffins are not worth the paper they’re baked in. Take the blueberry muffin — what really should be the king of the genre. Most are cakelike, too sweet, with an indifferent texture that has neither the chew of bread nor the tenderness of a good cupcake. The exterior tends to dry at best, sticky at worse, and they always seem to insist on serving ice cold gluey blueberry muffins on airplanes. The thought makes me shudder. But then I encountered these muffins. [...]
I know what you’re thinking. Fruitcake? Really? And yes, I am well aware of fruitcake’s reputation as the bane of the holidays. But fruitcake doesn’t have to be a joke. Yes, it is dense, but it should be sliced thinly — it’s really a confection, not a cake, and it’s impolite to go into “doorstop” territory. And yes, it does last a very long time, but that’s because it’s impregnated with alcohol, and don’t try to convince me that’s a bad thing. Plus, you really should at least taste it before you save it to be regifted next Christmas. And yes, it does contain candied fruit, but my recipe is a relatively restrained mix of candied orange peel, raisins and currants, with nary a scary green cherry in sight.
The simple fact of it is that you can’t have a properly Dickensian Christmas without fruitcake (although even Charles Dickens himself made fun of the thing). It’s called Christmas cake in England and is a tradition which dates back to the middle ages, when preserving fruit through candying, drying, and soaking in alcohol was necessary to get through the long dark winter months. Fruitcake reached its zenith of popularity in the Victorian era, and is still a ubiquitous Christmas treat in England today. As the butt of all jokes today, recipes abound for all sorts of nontraditional cakes that even “fruitcake haters will love”, but they fail to connect to the truth. A cake with fruit is not necessarily a Fruitcake. If it’s light and fluffy, it’s not a Fruitcake. If there’s no alcohol involved, it may be delicious, but it’s not a Fruitcake. Properly made Fruitcake has a haunting complexity and a richness of flavor that’s perfect for the holiday season. And if you don’t finish it, you can keep “feeding” it with brandy and snitching slices until next Christmas. [...]