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Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

What’s cookin’?

Confession time: I am a hoarder.

Let me be more specific. I am a recipe hoarder.

I rip them out of newspapers. I cut them off of food packaging. I print them from websites and I gather them from friends and family (especially my mom). I buy cookbooks. I have multiple files of recipes on my computers. I usually have a couple sitting in my printer waiting for me. I have a stack sitting on top of my microwave. I have a Longaberger basket (I know, right?) filled with recipe cards. And a few years ago I organized a big binder full of all those clippings and whatnot. Periodically I gather up all the strays littered around the house and add them to the binder.

This might lead you to believe that I cook a lot. Sadly, that is not the case. I’m kind of lazy, and cooking for one doesn’t often seem worth it.  Plus, when it’s just me the yield is such that it better be something that either freezes well or that I like well enough to eat for several days in a row.

However, a few weeks ago I was browsing for cookie recipes for Sunshine’s and my annual Christmas cookie fest, and I decided enough is enough. I need to make some of these things I’ve been clipping. In fact, given the timing of this, perhaps that should be a resolution for the new year. If I were feeling super inspired, I would aim for one new recipe a week, but who am I kidding. Based on how much I actually cook, that wouldn’t leave any room for recipes I already enjoy making (and eating). Howsabout once a month, a new recipe? Dig it, I can get on board with that.

Anyway, this epiphany of  “I should cook more” came when I was reading a page of brunch recipes I had torn out of the newspaper several years ago. And I thought ok, but who makes brunch for one? And then I said to myself, “Self, I’m gonna DO that!” There was a yummy sounding blueberry cream cheese French toast recipe that I determined I was going to make just for me on Christmas morning. Momentarily forgetting, of course, that Klondike was coming up on Christmas. But his arrival time was undetermined and I decided fuck it, I was making it for myself and if he was here, great, and if not, he could have leftovers. (Sorry, babe.)

As it turned out, he was here, and it was great, and it was decent the next day as leftovers, and I sent another big hunk of leftovers home with him. Perhaps next time I will halve the recipe. But hooray for new endeavors in the kitchen!

And since some of my friends asked for the recipe, here it is. (I snipped it from Eileen Goltz’s column in the Journal Gazette, eons ago.)

Blueberry Cream Cheese French Toast
Ingredients:

  •  1 loaf egg bread, cut into cubes (I don’t know what “egg bread” is – feel free to enlighten me. I used one of those bake-and-serve loaves of Italian bread, except I didn’t bake it – it was fully baked, it just wasn’t browned and crispy, it was still a bready bread, and it worked great.)
  •  1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, slightly softened
  •  1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries, tossed lightly with 2 tablespoons flour (The fresh blueberries were ridiculously expensive, so I bought some nice frozen ones and they worked just fine. I didn’t defrost them, since I knew they would have plenty of time for that, just coated them with the flour.)
  •  Cinnamon
  •  8 large eggs
  •  1-1/2 cups milk
  •  ¾ cup maple syrup (Please, for the love of god, use real maple syrup. Not just for this, but for every maple syrup opportunity you run across. You can thank me later if you haven’t already been using it.)
  •  6 tablespoons butter, melted
Midway through the layering - pretty!

Midway through the layering – pretty!

Coat a 13x9x2 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Layer one half of the bread cubes in the baking dish. Cut the cream cheese into cubes and scatter over bread. Layer the coated blueberries over the cream cheese. Cover the blueberries with the remaining bread. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon. In a bowl, combine the milk, maple syrup, eggs and butter. Whisk to combine. Pour the mixture over the bread and press the mixture into the bread with a spatula. This will help the bread soak up the egg mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight (I went the overnight route). Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Serves 8.

Next time I make it, I will use more blueberries – at least 2 cups (total), maybe more. Probably more. I really love blueberries. I also might use a little less bread on top. Like a handful less, maybe.

Hold me to the resolution, k? And if you have something delicious I should be making, please send the recipe – I’ll add it to the pile!

Ciao, babies! Happy New Year!!!

Peace

“The holidays are hard.”

You hear that all the time. Especially for people who are sad or lonely or divorced or widowed or sick or some other life-altering thing. We see it in the movies all the time, so it must be true.

Even so, I was surprised (and felt appallingly like a cliché) when a gloomy cloud settled over me the first Christmas after my divorce. After all, I’m Jewishy – it’s not my holiday. Yet, I felt displaced. I no longer had any holiday traditions (or even ways to fill my time) and absolutely, positively everyone else was beyond booked. Duh, they were with their families, like I used to be, until I gave that up. It wasn’t even that I was missing my ex and his family, and their holiday traditions. It was more that the entire world was wrapped up in festive cheer and special celebrations and family time and I was not. It was lonely. I didn’t belong.

And it persisted in the following years. Today I thought I’d blog about it in some fashion, this unexpected melancholy. Then I realized….I’m not feeling it this year. I was sitting on my comfy couch under Fuzzy Blankie, with my snuggly Ruby Tuesday, in my cozy house, and I felt totally at peace. I could have been content spending the entire holiday weekend just like that, but I have new traditions now. On Christmas Eve my dad, grandma and I go to the movies and out to dinner. My dad goes through an elaborate exercise of mapping out movie times and calling every restaurant in Fort Wayne to see who is open and until when. On Christmas day, it’s round two of the movies, followed by dinner at our friend Rachel’s house, who has graciously welcomed our family into hers, and also makes a kick-ass meal. And a friend who is going through his own “displacement” is joining us.

And it’s complete as far as family traditions go – it has a touch of dysfunction! By the end of the two days, I am MAXED OUT on spending time with my dad and grandma. (Sorry, Dad, I know you’re reading this, no offense. Besides, I know you will be overloaded on your parent, so you can relate. J )

That’s not to say life is perfect and without its challenges and heartaches, because it’s not. But for today, life is good. And I’ll take that.

And on a complete tangent, please note definition 3 for melancholy. Eww. 

Merry Christmas! J