I had a hectic week, but there's not really any scintillating material to write about out of it. As for recreation, I saw one movie. Monsieur Ibrahim was a fairly interesting French movie about a Moslem (Turkish Sufi) shopkeeper who befriends (and later adopts) a Jewish teenager. It's gotten some attention because the shopkeeper is played by Omar Shariff. I wouldn't completely recommend it, but there's some incredible scenery of Turkey. Seeing Cappadocia is already on my life list, but if it wasn't, this movie would have made me add it.
So, in lieu of exciting events, I thought I'd discuss breakfast. If you read until the end, you'll find an actual recipe
My colleague, Alex, and I have a morning ritual associated with his breakfast habits. He gets into the office just a little later than I do and, as soon as he arrives, he turns to me and says, "Doctor Evil, do you know what time it is?". I pretend ignorance. He used to sing the first few notes of the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey" as part of this, but now he just turns to me and chants, "It's pop tart time!" Then we go to the kitchen, where I make my tea and he heats his daily two chocolate fudge pop tarts. He also prepares his morning coffee. This involves checking the optical density of what's in the coffee pot by holding up the pot and seeing whether or not he can see his shoes through it. Then he pours about an inch of sugar into a mug, adds a scoop of ice cream and pours in the coffee. He claims he does this because ice cream is cheaper than coffee cream.
Lately, there's been a variant in the ritual. I'd bought some Celestial Seasonings Tuscan Orange Spice tea, so the trip to the kitchen is now a visit to the sun-kissed slopes of Tuscany. On days when I drink Celestial Seasonings Bali Black Raspberry tea, it's a visit to the lava-kissed slopes of Bali. And the Twinings vanilla tea is a visit to the vanilla-scented slopes of Madagascar. So now Pop Tart time has evolved into a trip to the sun-kissed slopes of Battle Creek, Michigan.
The reason I'm drinking tea in all of this is that I'm way too much of a coffee snob to drink the stuff they make at work. I do drink coffee, but it's one cup at home. My preference is Indonesian coffees (ideally Celebes, but I'll drink Sumatra coffees - either Boenge or Mandheling, too) and I usually use a simple paper filter drip. I prefer the Santos coffee pot, but it's too much effort first thing in the morning. I normally drink my coffee black, but I do also like the Vietnamese coffee with a bit of sweetened condensed milk in it.
The most common accompaniment to the coffee is a bowl of cold cereal. Most of the time, I buy Kashi (either the Puffed Kashi or Kashi Heart to Heart) because it's reasonably healthy, tastes okay, and is half the price of anything else around. Sometimes I buy granola (Trader Joe's makes a tasty ginger granola). When it's on sale and/or has a good toy in the box, I buy Honey Nut Cheerios. Good toys include little cars and plastc dinosaurs.
When I was growing up, toys were a big part of cereal choices. We were always saving box tops and sending off for something or other. I know I got some dolls from Kellogg's and Post, but I can't remember anything about them. There might have been small stuffed animals involved, too. I do remember that my brother was particularly fond of Sugar Smacks, while I favored Honeycomb and Alpha Bits and Cocoa Krispies. I also liked Quisp, but only without milk.
But there were times when I wouldn't eat cereal. In high school, I had a thing for cheese. I think I'd read that this was very European. Mom bought these little packets of mixed slices of cheese and my favorite was the sort with pimientos. I can't imagine eating that at all today, though I do sometimes end up eating cheese for breakfast when I'm on vacation. And I have been known to eat cold pizza for breakfast.
When we were really little, Mom got up and made us scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast every morning. I think the cold cereal thing really peaked when we were in high school and had to get up too early for her tastes. Sometimes, we had frozen waffles or french toast, which my brother and I cut into a three by three grid and played tic tac toe with. On the weekends, we had bagels and cream cheese and smoked whitefish. Even better than the normal bagels was the big onion and poppy seed covered pletzel. We sometimes called this an onion board or a bialy, but it's completely different from the other sort of bialy, which is sort of like a bagel, but softer and with the hole only on one part and the other half of the hole filled in with onions. Those are good, too, but I miss the onion boards. I haven't seen one in years and doubt that anybody still makes them. I've tried, but never managed to get it quite right.
On business trips, I end up at hotels with breakfast buffets much of the time. Usually that means I eat fruit, yogurt, and a bagel. But going out to eat a hot breakfast is a real treat. Spanish omelets are a favorite, but there's something to be said for pancakes, too. It's much rarer for me to have a hot breakfast at home. Once in a while, I buy frozen waffles. Somewhat more often, I bake something. For a while, I did Scottish oatcakes on the weekends a bunch. The catch is, you have to prepare the dough the night before. It's basically ground oats, water and butter, and you pat it out very thin and bake it until it's crisp. Tasty, but a lot of work.
For a while, I was experimenting with various sorts of muffins. They're quick and easy. But, lately, I've been into the even quicker and easier variant of popovers. You preheat the oven to 450 Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, beat one egg, pour in 1/2 cup milk and add 1/2 cup flour. Mix until just blended and spoon about a tablespoon into each cup of a muffin pan. (This should make a dozen.) Bake about 12 minutes, until they're browned and puffy. They collapse as they cool, but still taste okay. Accompanied by a good cup of coffee, it's the perfect start to the day. At least it gets me through the first couple of hours until pop tart time.
Copyright 2004 Miriam H. Nadel