Author Archives: charlesprogers
Post by: Alison Hein
Wonderful earthy undertones with hints of walnut make buckwheat an ideal substance for creating delicious little brown discs – Baby Buckwheat Cakes. Buckwheat was first cultivated in America sometime during the 1700s, and quickly became a popular ingredient for making pancakes. Sometimes these cakes were made with yeasted batter or sourdough starter. Oftentimes cornmeal was incorporated into the mix. Later, the cooking process became easier with the addition of saleratus, the predecessor of baking soda and baking powder. Buckwheat Cakes were a common choice on frontier menus, and back in the mid-1800s at the What Cheer Restaurant in San Francisco, you could get a whole plate of them, piled high and doused in sweet honey, for a mere nickel.
I’ve been thinking about babies a lot (as a result of welcoming my first-ever grandchild, Phoebe Rose, into the world on December 16th!). I’ve also been thinking about buckwheat a lot (we have caviar on Buckwheat Blinis every New Year’s Eve and I still have half a bag of flour left sitting on my counter.) Add to all of this that I have been helping my son and daughter-in-law with their grocery shopping during this busy time. My son’s list includes “those little frozen pancakes from Trader Joe’s”. So, I combined my jumbled thoughts into one cohesive baby pancake concept.
Since buckwheat is more closely related to sorrel and rhubarb than wheat, it is gluten free. Dough without gluten can be a little fussy – keeping the pancakes small helps. And, since there is absolutely no butter in the batter, its nice to serve your babies with a generous clump, with real maple syrup or honey for the topping.
With a new baby around, I’m pretty sure my son and daughter-in-law won’t be enjoying a leisurely breakfast in bed anytime soon. But with their freezer stocked with these buckwheat babies, at least they will be enjoying breakfast. 🙂
1¼ cups buckwheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon butter or vegetable oil, for cooking
Combine buckwheat flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside. In a separate large bowl (or stand mixer), add the milk, eggs and honey. Beat milk mixture on low for about two minutes, until thick and smooth. While beating (or with mixture on low), add buckwheat flour mixture to batter. Mix for another minute or so, until batter is well-mixed and somewhat heavy.
Place pan or griddle on burner over medium heat. Melt a small amount of butter (or heat vegetable oil) in the pan for the first pancake. Use a tablespoon to spoon batter into pan and cook until small bubbles appear throughout pancakes. Flip once with thin spatula and continue cooking less than one minute until golden brown. Serve hot with butter and real maple syrup.
Makes about 40 2-inch diameter pancakes.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.
Oh look guys, it’s another young adult fantasy trilogy! That’s pretty much my first thought every time I see a new young adult trilogy. In case you haven’t noticed, there are TONS of them. To be fair, some of them are five or six books long so I guess I can’t count those as trilogies but you get the point.
Picking out the kernels of good reading from the mountains of chaff can be an overwhelming task, a task I generally leave to the professional book-readers. One of the books I recently picked up was Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I have seen her book around but hadn’t bothered to open them, even Six of Crows which has crows on it! I can say I’m glad I read it and that I will finish the trilogy.
The story in the land of Ravka, which is a lot like Tsarist Russia. Except this land is plagued by a place called The Shadow Fold, an impenetrable darkness that divides that land and is teeming with monsters. This darkness was created long ago by one called the Darkling, who can call in darkness. There are people with special magical skills; they are the Grisha. Some can create fire, some can heal and others beautify. Only the Darkling can call darkness. But what they need is a Sun Summoner, whose power to call the light of the sun can destroy the Shadow Fold. Could it be the savior of the land doesn’t even know what power is contained within?
A unique and exciting start to a trilogy as well as a start to a debut author’s career, Shadow and Bone will keep you up past your bedtime.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Making your bed might seem insignificant, but actually, this simple task can start things off on the right foot and positively affect the rest of your day. Not sure how to properly dress a bed? Head over to this previous blog post I wrote for a little help. For now, though, read on for five reasons why your bed should never go unmade.
You’ll get motivated.
Starting your day with a positive action will put you in the mood to work and accomplish other tasks. Getting motivated in the a.m. is a surefire way to have a successful workday.
One good habit leads to another.
Daily bed-making is an excellent habit to get into, and will undoubtedly lead to other good habits, such as eating a healthy breakfast, keeping to a schedule, and staying focused throughout the day.
Your bedroom will feel less cluttered.
Who would have thought? Taking five or ten minutes each morning to make your bed will leave your room with a more organized feel. That’s a pretty simple fix, if you ask me.
You can have visitors at any time.
Surprise visitor? If you’ve made the bed, you won’t feel embarrassed when your best friend pops in unannounced. You’ll look like you have everything under control (even if you don’t).
You’ll feel happier as you get into bed at the end of a long day.
Looking at a perfectly made bed is satisfying at any time, but particularly when it’s time for bed. Pull down your comforter and sheets, fluff your pillows, and crawl into your nest until tomorrow. Sweet dreams!
by: Alison Hein
Several years ago I purchased a set of six mini-tart pans. Since then, whenever I make a pie, I’ve gotten into the habit of rolling out any extra dough, plopping it into one of these mini-pans, and storing it in the freezer until I’m ready to use it. This process enables me to impress people with On the Fly Mini Quiches. The frozen shells take mere minutes to thaw, and the small number of ingredients required can usually be found in your cupboards and fridge.
It’s this simple – use the “mother” recipe as a guide – then fool around with fillings, cheeses and spices as you desire. This is a wonderful way to utilize small amounts of extra vegetables or meats.
Earlier this week I received an “on the fly” invitation to visit my daughter-in-law who is home with our brand new granddaughter! She’s tired and busy, so I decided to whip up a few mini quiches that she could use or freeze. I settled on Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato, and Mushroom Swiss (see ingredients below).
To further simplify, purchase pre-made pie dough, or try this easy recipe for pie crust. You can even make crustless mini quiche – just be sure to grease the pan well before baking.
They are so cute! You might want to admire them before tucking into your on the fly breakfast in bed!
On the Fly Mini Quiche
1 4-inch pie crust in pan, unbaked
¼ cup main filling
2 tablespoons cheese
1 tablespoon fresh chopped herb (or ½ teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon cream or half & half
Preheat oven to 350°. (Thaw mini-pie crusts if frozen.) Place mini-pie crust on baking tray. Spread filling evenly across the bottom of the dough. Cover with cheese and herbs.
Whisk egg and cream together in a small bowl. Pour egg mixture over pie filling until covered and egg mixture reaches just below the rim of pie dough. Do not pour egg mixture above the pie dough rim – extra can be used for the next mini-quiche.
Bake quiche for around 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, and quiche is puffed up and golden.
Makes 1 serving.
Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Mini Quiche
¼ cup cherry tomatoes, sliced thin
2 tablespoons fresh mozzarella, shredded or sliced thin
1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley or basil
Mushroom and Swiss Mini Quiche
¼ cup sliced mushrooms, sautéed in butter with salt and pepper
2 tablespoons shredded Swiss cheese
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Breakfast in Bed – Vasilopita
by Alison Hein.
In Greek, the word “pita” can mean pie, cake or scone, in addition to the popular flatbread we know and love. In this case let’s go with “cake”. When you add the term “Vasil” to its front, our cake becomes St. Basil’s Cake, traditionally served at the Greek New Year. There’s a story that goes along with the cake:
The city of Caesarea was under siege. St. Basil, the archbishop, called upon the townspeople to contribute their valuables to stop the siege. The people freely gave all their gold, silver, jewelry and coins, and when the enemy learned of this, he was so embarrassed he called off the siege. St. Basil wanted to return the unpaid ransom, but with no way of knowing the rightful owners, he baked everything into loaves of bread and distributed these evenly around the city. Miraculously, each resident was returned exactly what he or she had contributed.
The story changes with the region, as does the cake. Sometimes it is sweeter, or made with yeast. It may incorporate lemons, oranges, or apples. Usually it calls for “makhlepi”, crushed sour cherry pits that are difficult to find in these parts. The numeric year may be written on the top of the cake with nuts, cloves or icing. Almost always, a coin is wrapped in foil and inserted in the batter before baking – an extra blessing in the new year for the lucky recipient.
On New Year’s Day, the cake is cut and servings distributed, starting with the eldest member of the family down to the youngest. A slice may be cut for St. Basil, the church, the poor, etc. Or, a slice may be cut for a Greek New Year’s breakfast in bed.
Ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος!
½ cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butte
½ cup sugar
1 orange (zested and juiced)
1 lemon (zested and juiced)
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup sesame seeds
Coin wrapped in foil
Preheat oven to 350°. Generously grease a large spring-form pan with the tablespoon of butter and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together remaining stick of butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in two eggs, one at a time, until mixture is thick and glossy. Stir in the rind and juice of the orange and lemon.
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into cake batter, a little at a time, until batter is thick and smooth. Pour cake batter into prepared pan. Insert coin wrapped in foil, if using. Use a spatula to smooth top. Lightly beat the remaining egg with one tablespoon of water and brush on top of cake. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of cake.
Place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, until cake is golden brown and cooked through when tested with a toothpick.
Allow cake to cool completely before removing from pan and slicing.
Makes 1 small cake, about 8 to 10 slices