BreakFast for 16

Arnold & Damon with the Breakfast Arnold Made

Arnold & Damon with the Breakfast Arnold Made

My Partner manages a Bed and Breakfast of TreeHouses in the Pacific NorthWest.

Tree House Point

It happened that last month, both BreakFast Chefs were to be away at the same time.
I obtained my Food Safety License, and off I went.

The Kitchen there is Run by a Magical Kitchen Sorceress named JANET.

The BreakFast Buffet

The BreakFast Buffet

JANET creates HomeMade Scones better than any I’ve ever had,
as well as an Experience of BreakFast just as you might dream it when you wake up in a TreeHouse, climb down and run into the house to see what Mother has waiting…
SUSAN is the Other Magical Kitchen Sorceress there and she brings her own unique sense of Humour and Warmth to Delicious Savory Bread Puddings and Treats…
MAGIC MURIEL whips up the Signature Granola, Tasty HomeMade Lemon Curd, Sparkling Mixed Berry Jams, and Homemade Cookies…

In short, this was not just about Making Breakfast for 16 People a Day for Two and a Half Weeks — This was a Whole New World I was entering, and there were Big Shoes to Fill…
The first Day, JANET taught me her Delicious Scones recipe.
“It is not really true when people say that Baking is a science,” she told me.
“So Much of it is by Feel.”
I began to measure out the Flour the way I always have, patting it down into the One-Cup Measure.

Cutting the Flour

Cutting the Flour

JANET immediately, gently and lovingly, but firmly corrected me,
showing me that thing like on the Cooking Shows my MOM watches
where they level it off with a knife without patting it down.
“And it Really Does Make a Difference!” she affirmed to me.
I could see right away why these were the Most Delicious Scones in the world;
It’s the same Flour and Butter and Baking Powder that are in every Scones Recipe…
The Magic was in the part that couldn’t be written down.

Then, I trained with SUSAN who had her own Enchanted Ways and Distinctive and Secret Means of Assembling those Savory Bread Puddings.
“I always add some Half ‘N Half to the beaten Eggs,” she told me, “regardless of whether or not the recipe says to…”

And then I was on my own.
I bounced around in cyberspace, exploring ideas.

SAVORY ENTREES…

BreakFast for Eight...for Sixteen

BreakFast for Eight…for Sixteen

DAMON’s MOM always made something called “BreakFast for Eight”
and over the years we adapted it for our Christmas Eve Brunches,
removing the ham and adding sautéed Spinach and Grilled Portabello Mushrooms instead.
I couldn’t find that recipe anywhere online, but I found this:

BreakFast for Eight

And the advantage of the sautéed shredded potatoes and onions as the base,
instead of bread,
is that you don’t have to make something separate for the Gluten Free folks…
Of course, in keeping with the Spirit of this Kitchen,
as well as being My Mother’s Son,
I took some Creative License,
adding Spinach and Portabello Mushrooms,
seasoning the Sausage Liberally,
mixing the Eggs with A generous amount of Half N Half, as SUSAN told me,

Caramelizing Onions,
chopping up and adding in some Roasted Red Peppers…

MUFFINS…

Muffins

Muffins

I found this Chocolate Yoghurt Muffin recipe online — They sounded Delicious and they Were!
(and the Yoghurt made it seem like a Healthy Take on a Breakfast Treat!):

Chocolate Yoghurt Muffins

Then I remembered my Favorite Breakfast from my Summers in Provincetown in My Twenties: Farmer Cakes from CONNIE’s Bakery at the LOBSTER POT —
They were basically a Giant Cream Cheese dollop baked into the center of a Chocolate Muffin.
I found this recipe:

Black Bottom CupCakes

Since I was already making the Chocolate Yoghurt Muffin Batter above, I wondered what would happen if I made the Cream Cheese Filling from this recipe to add to it.
I expected that the result would be too Soft and Runny
I was right.
So “Farmer Cakes” were quickly relabeled “Lava Cakes.”
Guests seemed to enjoy the Ooey Gooey Chocolatey-ness.

Getting up at 6:30 every Morning had its challenges.
Still, there was something invigorating about being up at Sunrise and Preparing the Day for Others.

There was the California BodyBuilder who stopped in after Breakfast to see what he could take — maybe some Muffins or Some Hard Boiled Eggs.
“What have you got for me?”
He was Handsome and Fit and that was how his Life worked.
There was the Quirky Eccentric Delightful Woman whose husband had been ill for years, who stopped in after Breakfast to tip Everyone — to see what she could Give.
“Is there anything else I can do for you?”
She was juggling. She was a CareTaker. And that was how her Life worked.

Mixing Up Some Magic

Mixing Up Some Magic

A Yogi explained to me that there are actually Eight Pillars of YOGA,
very similar to the Buddhist EightFold Path —
while Most Westerners think of YOGA as the Twisting Poses to improve the Body,
that is in fact only one of the Eight Pillars.
One of the other ones involves Preparing Food, Nurturing Others with Cooking…
It is a part of the Spiritual Path.

I have another Friend who has been a Five-Star Chef and Loves to Cook.
I asked her Recipes — What shall I make? — and she replied,
“You know what I’m going to say! Get it done as Fast as Possible and Get Outside and Enjoy this Beautiful Pacific NorthWest Weather we’re having! Why are you in the Kitchen all Day? That’s Crazy! We only have two Good Months of Weather like this a Year! Get Out and Enjoy It!”

Ultimately, knowing I was not going to do that,
she emailed me about 80 Recipes,
and even came and Cooked with me One Morning… A True Yogi at Heart.
My Favorite of the Recipes she sent:

FRENCH TOAST…

Baked French Toast with Pecan Crumble

But Remember to Spray the Pan with PAM first — otherwise the Bread can stick.
It was Easy! And Quite Popular with the Guests!
Of Course, I also made Uncle Arnie’s Famous French Toast which was even More Popular with the Guests,
But, although the recipe is quite similar to the one above,
that has to be done piece by piece in a pan or a griddle on top of the stove,
so it’s a bit more labor intensive

It dawned on me that since SUSAN would be gone for a few weeks,
when I returned to New York, JANET would be on her own,
every day for several weeks in a row.
So I began to work on stocking the Freezer.

MAKE AHEAD…

Scones...and Bread Puddings...and Muffins...OH, MY!

Scones…and Bread Puddings…and Muffins…OH, MY!

I made her Scones Recipe, varying the Fillings and Giving Everything its own Name
(These could be used with any Scones Recipe, of course.):
“TAJ MAHALs”: Scones with Chopped Dates, Pecans and Cardamom.
“CHERCHOCNUTs”: Scones with Dried Cherries, Chocolate Chips and Flaked Coconut.
“ABUNDANT BERRY”: Lots of Fresh Blueberries and chopped Strawberries with a touch of Lemon Zest.

I began to Roll Puff Pastry Sheets with Fillings and Slice them into Pinwheels:
“THE FRENCH POPEYE”: Spinach with Goat Cheese, Sautéed Onions and Diced Roasted Red Pepper.
“THE AMERICAN”: Chopped Ham and Cheddar Cheese.

IMG_3150 IMG_3151 IMG_3152

The French Popeyes

The French Popeyes

And I folded Puff Pastry Pockets (Some Triangles; Some Rectangles):
“PIG, COW and CHICKEN”: Ham, Cheddar and Scrambled Egg.
“POUR L’AMORE De L’ALSACE”: Brie with Carmelized Onions, Gorgonzola, and a hint of Tarragon, inspired by the Fabulous Alsacean Tarts I had travelling there.
“VERUCA VANILLAS”: Vanilla Sweetened Cream Cheese with Giant BlueBerries
“THE ITALIAN POPEYE”: Sauteed Spinach with Sautéed Onions, Mozzarella, Provolone, and Diced Roasted Red Peppers

HEALTHIER THINGS…

I had planned a Morning Glory Muffin with Shredded Carrots and Zucchini,
But then I found A Cacao-Carrot-White Chocolate Chip Recipe
(I called them “NIGHT BUNNIES”):

Night Bunnies

Night Bunnies

CACAO CARROT CUPCAKES

And a Healthy Muffin with Shredded Zucchini, Ground Flax Seed, Oats and Honey
(And I did add the Dried CranBerries and White Chocolate Chips, just to be a Little Bit Naughty!)
(I called them “ZUCCHINI BIKINIS”):

Zucchini Bikinis

Zucchini Bikinis

which I found in a trail from

Zucchini Bikinis

Zucchini Bikinis

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins

Yum!
Oh, and we only had Whole Flax Seeds — and it is my Understanding that you do not get the Full Nutritional Benefit of Flax Seeds unless they are Ground.
So, look what I found by doing an Online Search for “How to Grind Flax Seeds”:

[UPDATE: Please Note: The above used to link to a really fun video of a Gorgeous Hunky BareChested guy showing the best way to grind flax seeds — by using a simple coffee grinder. But the video has apparently been removed! Spoil Sport! :/  ]

Who would have thought it?
A simple Coffee Grinder!
MURIEL happened to glance over my shoulder while I watched this video.
“What are you Watching?”
“I’m doing Kitchen Work!” I told her, “This is How to Grind Flax Seeds.”

BISCUITS…

Butter Dip Biscuits

Butter Dip Biscuits

From my Friend MIKEY, came these Unbelievably Delicious, Light, Flakey and Easy Make-it-All-In-One-Pan-And-Bake-It Biscuits:

Butter Dip Biscuits

Unquestionably the Best Biscuits I have ever tasted!
(though I did double the recipe, and when one does that, one must remember to allow for extra Cooking Time)
So many Delicious Recipes to Explore!
And Such a Fun Culinary Adventure!

The First Week, a Woman asked what I did regularly in New York,
and I replied, “I’m a Casting Director for Broadway Shows.”
Her incredulity made me realize that I was shattering the Warm Motherly Image of the Kitchen in which I was working.
So by the Second Week, I modified my response to, “Oh, I’ve Catered Lots of Parties over the Years… Event Planning, Benefits, and of course, I grew up learning to Cook from my Mom.”
That answer, also True, seemed more in Keeping
with the General Gestalt of the place.

I embraced the Task Before Me.
Just for the Love of Doing it!
Isn’t that the Best Way to Live!?
It is So Valuable to simply Be Fully Present and to do the Task that is Before us…
To Embrace the Creativity and Adventure of That which is At Hand to be Done.
And to Enjoy It!

Warm Breakfast Scones, Made with JANET by my Side

Warm Breakfast Scones, Made with JANET by my Side

I tried out some Delicious New Recipes.
I met some Full-of-Wonder New People.
And Exercised one of the Eight Pillars of Yoga…

What Opportunity awaits us Today?
How can we commit to Being There more in what the Task is before us?
Can we do it for the Love and Privilege of Doing it,
even knowing that it may turn out not to be necessary?
Is there something that seems at first appearance like it could be grueling or            common work that we can choose to relish and make Delightful Today?
Can we Embrace for Today the Concept that the Work is its own Reward?
In what Ways can we make the Tasks before us more Fun Today?
Can we give our Little Achievements Delightful Names that Amuse us?
Can we browse around and find a New Recipe to try for some treat we are thinking of Baking Up?
Can we throw ourselves just a bit more into what we’re doing Today
and see what New Things we can Discover about it?

# # #

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1 Comment

  1. Susan MacPherson

     /  August 12, 2014

    You Craz-eeee! I love it, thanks for gracing our kitchen with all your you. The aforementioned SUSAN.

    Reply

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