Breakfast in Bed: Strawberry Smoothies

Post by Alison Hein.

When the summer temperatures skyrocket and remain relentlessly above 90 degrees, when the air is so thick with water it’s hard to breathe, when the air conditioner gulps and strains to keep up the good fight against Mother Nature – those are the rare times when I don’t want any breakfast. My solution? An icy, frothy tall drink lush with fresh fruit and thick as a milkshake, tasting of summer and chilling like winter – a Strawberry Smoothie.

While fresh fruit/milk drink combos have been around for a long time, food historians generally believe the smoothie is a 20th century concoction, first appearing in West Coast health food stores during the 1920s, then later becoming popularized in the mid-1960s. Regardless of their history, they are delicious, nutritious, thirst-quenching and easy.

You will need a blender. After that, all you need is some fresh fruit, a handful of ice, and a little imagination. I like to put some low-fat vanilla yogurt in my smoothies – not just for thickness, but for a bit of protein. Experiment with different kinds of fruit, add a drop of honey or some protein powder. You can even use frozen fruit, and omit the ice entirely. Whatever you come up with, I’m sure it will be a recipe for a smooth, chill breakfast in bed.

Ingredients

2 cups fresh strawberries, plus 2 strawberries for garnish
1 cup ice
½ cup low fat vanilla yogurt


Preparation

Rinse strawberries and gently pat dry. Hull strawberries, except for the two garnish strawberries, using a small paring knife. Carefully cut around the green stem of each berry in a conical shape. Discard leaves and white inner part of berries. Make a small slit in the bottom of the two berries to be used for garnish, and slide one over the rim of each glass.

Place ice in blender. Add hulled berries and yogurt. Purée until thick and smooth, about 1 minute. Pour into glasses, add a couple of straws, and enjoy immediately.

Makes 2 smoothies.

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Bedtime Stories: Berlioz the Bear

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Berlioz the Bear by Jan Brett.

I know I have only recently told you faithful readers about a book by Jan Brett. But the truth is I picked out a small pile of her books from the library because I enjoy reading her works and my son enjoys them too. There is always so much happening on a given page that often he is still taking it all in by the time I have finished reading all the text.

Berlioz the Bear is no exception. I don’t know if this a folk tale in its own right or a take on some common folk tale themes, but I wouldn’t put it past Jan Brett to create fresh new folk literature out of thin air.

In this story, we have a group of bear musicians on the way to perform in town when the wagon wheel gets stuck in a hole and the recalcitrant little donkey will not budge. One by one the proud and confident neighboring animals try to pull the wagon, and its stubborn donkey, along the road. But when even the mighty ox cannot budge them, what tiny guy will save the day? The mysterious buzzing in Berlioz the Bear’s bass may provide a clue…

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Movies in Bed: The Avengers


Post by Felix and Mark Locker.

Happy holiday weekend! In honor of big explosions and things overtly American, my son has brought you the following review for an explosion-riddled explosionfest, starring Captain America! Ladies and gentlemen, a brief and meandering recap of the Avengers, now showing on Netflix and Amazon Prime!

The Avengers are Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Captain America. (He totally forgot Captain America.)

The propellor got broken and Iron Man fixed it. I guess so!

Thor and Hulk got in a fight. And Thor took Loki. Loki is a bad guy. He puts people under his control.

Black Widow was with Hulk when Hulk was just a human.

My favorite Avenger is Iron Man because he has an iron suit. But my really favorite is Captain America because he can throw a shield and it comes back to his hand. The same thing with Thor, but with a hammer. (It’s remarkable that Captain America is his “favorite” (he totally isn’t) when he couldn’t even remember him earlier!)

That’s pretty much the movie in a nutshell! I like it because it’s written by Joss Whedon, who could make a phonebook sound funny and ironic.

Go watch it!

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Things We Like: Floor-To-Ceiling Tiled Bedrooms

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

A couple weeks ago my girlfriend was telling me about Italy’s Amalfi Coast, and how we should visit. Okay, I thought, you’re Italian and these sorts of daydream conversations are commonplace with us. As such, my ADD quickly took hold (Did a bird just fly by?), and I soon forgot all about it. However, this weekend, Facebook made me aware that my favorite neighbor from undergrad had just eloped on the Amalfi Coast; the universe was telling me it was time I learned more.

Once I had the location figured out (the Amalfi Coast is a lot more southern that I had thought), I went straight to the real estate pages to see how the locals live. To say the least, the results were impressive.

At the top of the list is a private island just off the coast. With 7 bedrooms and 10 baths, this magnificent €250 million estate offers lots in the way of of design inspiration; even if I’ll never be able to afford such opulence. My favorite room is one of the bedrooms. It’s covered floor-to-ceiling in intricate Italian tile, and I’ve never seen anything like it before. Words cannot begin describe it, so I’ll let the picture do the talking.

Now, I can understand that some people may not appreciate this look; it can look a bit like a steam room. Nonetheless, it makes a statement. You can see the full listing at worldrealestate.it for more photos of this modern marvel. All of the rooms are truly amazing.

With fresh inspiration, I did some searching to find if other people had created a similar look in their homes. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find an example of a similar bedroom. The closest looks I could find use brick in a style that’s more Mexican than Italian, and there are also some interesting bedrooms with rather ornate wood ceilings. Below are some of the highlights from my search. Hopefully it gives you a new perspective on interior design, and how the ceiling can dramatically change the look and feel of a room. Enjoy.

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Breakfast in Bed: Independence Day Aebelskiver (Danish Filled Pancakes)

Post by Alison Hein.

One of my favorite pastimes is browsing the discount shops. I’m not looking for splashy, red-heeled Christian Louboutins, or even a chic Balenciaga bag. Rather, I’m searching for the new and unexpected. The inspirational and one-of-a-kind. Like pepper-shaped grill racks, old-timey cast iron cornbread pans, and even Pacman oven mitts! Imagine my delight when I recently stumbled upon the perfect aebelskiver pan, at a fraction of the retail cost.

Aebelskiver means “apple slices” in Danish. With our usual laissez faire regarding foreign languages, Americans apply this term to all little spherical pancakes, whether filled with sweet and creamy apple middles or not.

Back to the pan. Usually made from cast iron, the heavy pan contains seven small, rounded wells. The pan is heated, batter poured, and the aebelskiver are carefully flipped. Instructions suggest using two skewers, but I asked my Danish friend Helen for the real low-down: “Some use apple pieces, which are added after they are baked a little time on the first side, and a lot like them with prunes .. and I use knitting needles to turn them ;-)which I learned from my mom … we normally eat them at Christmastime, with a little sugar or marmalade alongside.”

My Chinese-American friend Yane weighed in saying she uses chopsticks to flip her aebelskiver. Eureka! We’re a cultural melting pot that allows us to prepare Danish cuisine with Asian cooking utensils, and then serve it up for America’s big birthday breakfast in bed.

Happy Fourth of July!

Ingredients

1 cup unbleached flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 eggs, separated
Cooking spray (or melted butter)
8 ounces (1/2 cup) strawberry jam
Confectioner’s sugar
1 cup mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries and raspberries)

Special Equipment

Aebelskiver pan

Preparation

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl. In separate small bowl, mix together milk, cider vinegar and egg yolks. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form and fold into batter.

Place aebelskiver pan on burner over medium heat. Spray each well of the pan liberally with cooking spray (or brush with melted butter). Spoon about 1½ teaspoons of batter into each well. Then place about ½ teaspoon of strawberry jam in the center of each aebelskiver. Finally, pour another 1½ teaspoons of batter on top, being sure to entirely cover jam.

Cook for about 2 minutes, until bottom of aebelskiver is dark golden brown. Carefully flip using two skewers, or a knife and spoon, or knitting needles as is common in Denmark, or chopsticks. Continue cooking until flipped side is also golden brown, another one to two minutes. Remove from pan and keep warm while making the remainder of pancakes. Adjust heat and regrease pan as necessary while cooking. Sprinkle aebelskiver with confectioner’s sugar, garnish with berries and serve immediately.

Makes 20 to 30 aebelskiver

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