Breakfast in Bed – Spätzle mit Eier

Post by Alison Hein.

Spätzle, or “little sparrow,” is a hand-cut egg noodle from the region of Southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I love spätzle fried in butter, liberally salted and peppered, and browned to a crisp perfection. Topping that with a gooey poached egg and specks of fresh parsley nearly sends me into a dreamy food delirium.

Making these eggy little pasta bites is easy – no need for fancy contraptions. My Austrian grandma taught me to make them with nothing more than a knife and spoon. Be careful as you gently push your thin globs of dough into the boiling water – wear gloved potholders, if you like, to be safe.

Fry them with bacon or onions, bake them with Swiss or Gruyere, spice them, sauce them, herb them but definitely serve them – for lunch, for dinner, or for a joyfully delirious breakfast in bed.

Ingredients

Spätzle
½ cup unbleached white flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 to 2 tablespoons water

Spätzle mit Eier
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh curly parsley, chopped

Preparation

To make spätzle, mix flour and salt together in small bowl. Whisk in eggs until smooth, thick batter forms. Gradually add water until you achieve the desired consistency. The batter should be somewhat thick, but thin enough to slide slowly off the edge of a spoon.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Scoop up a tablespoon of batter with one hand and hold over the boiling water. In the other hand, hold a butter knife parallel to the spoon, and gently (and carefully) push the strip of dough into the water. Repeat the process. As the spätzle cook they will rise to the surface. Skim them off and place in a separate bowl. When all the dough is gone and all the spätzle are cooked, rinse them in cold water and allow them to drain.

Makes about 2 cups of spätzle.

When ready to eat Spätzle mit Eier, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the spätzle and cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. To poach eggs, fill a heavy saucepan with enough water to cover eggs (3 to 4 inches) and heat until very hot and simmering, but not boiling. Break eggs into individual small dishes. Or you can use an egg poacher. Carefully pour the first egg into the simmering water. Immediately use a wooden spoon to wrap the cooking white around the egg yolk to prevent the white from feathering. Repeat the process with the second egg, and cook for about four minutes, until the white is firm but the yolk is still soft. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain. Trim edges if necessary.

Divide the spätzle into two equal portions. Top each portion with a poached egg. Add salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings.

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Bedtime Stories: Almost Everything

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Almost Everything by Joëlle Jolivet.

What are you into? What does your kid like? Maybe it’s suits of armor. Or trains. Or maybe you are working on learning different kinds of fruit. Heck, maybe boat-shaped Batak houses are what’s cool with kids these days. Regardless, the aptly-titled book Almost Everything probably covers it.

Almost Everything is a huge (12×18”) picture book which features big, bold, bright, colorful images of, well, almost everything. Two giant pages featuring trees and flowers from around the world; two pages dedicated to the human body. Flip the page to find a huge spread of period costumes from across the globe. It goes on and on. It’s really quite impressive. There are other books in the series, including one all about animals and another about costumes/clothing from the world around.

I only have two warnings: this book is so big (two feet across when open) that kids want to sit right on it. We have torn a few pages this way. Second: if you are going to read this book in bed, you better have a very big bed. Happy reading!

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Movies in Bed: Ponyo

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Today is Friday! All the visiting family have dissipated and the missus is going out so it’s going to be a nice, quiet father-son evening in the Locker household tonight. I’m looking forward to lounging on a large pile of couch cushions on the floor, maybe enjoying some homemade pizza, and watching Ponyo with the kiddo. Technically, this is a Disney film, but only technically. Ponyo is another offering from the only anime creator I love, Hayao Miyazaki, also known for Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke and may others. Like all his movies, it’s a little bit magical, a little bit weird. Like many, it deals with the collision of the spiritual/natural world and that of humans.

Ponyo is a little fish girl who lives with her father and siblings deep in the ocean. Driven by a desire to explore, she finds herself trapped in a bottle by the shore. A little boy named Sōsuke discovers her and names her Ponyo. Little does he know this little fish is a magical girl. When her dad has Ponyo returned, she refuses to stay and goes back to Sōsuke, only in human form. There is so much more that happens and my meager summary would not do it justice. Just go watch it. Try not to get pizza crumbs on the couch cushions.

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Things We Like: Eliminating Electronics For Better Sleep

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

This week I’ll introduce you to a sleep tip that many of you are probably aware of, but do not practice: keeping the phone (and other electronics) away from the bed.

I often think, as do a lot of people I meet, that sleeping with the cell phone, tablet, or other electronic device by the bed is bad for sleep. Why? Because, with your phone at an arm’s length away, we are constantly tempted to check our email or read an excessive amount of news before bed—electronics enable the insomniac in all of us. To help reduce the negative consequences of sleeping in an ever-connected, 24/7 world, I’ve put together three steps to help you get the good night’s sleep you’ve been craving.

Step One: Turn The Screen Off

The first way that electronics affect sleep is by exposing us to unnaturally bright light after. Light inhibits the body’s release of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. This is a natural reaction, and is what helps our bodies stay awake during the daytime; however, when you introduce artificial light after the sun has gone down, your body is tricked into thinking it should still be awake. We all have different light sensitivities, and I didn’t notice the effect until I started reading under a full-spectrum light. While it helped with Seasonal Affective Disorder (the winter blues), it kept me wide-awake and alert far past my bedtime—more than any amount of coffee ever could.

I touched on this idea a while back in an article about color shifting your computer screen for better sleep. This little trick not only helps alleviate eyestrain, but it also helps your body prepare for sleep.

To further resolve this problem, try setting an electronics curfew for yourself. All you need to do is have the discipline to cut out your use of electronics 60 to 90 minutes before you go to sleep. Easier said than done, I know.

Step Two: Eliminate Distractions

Even if our bodies didn’t respond to bright lights, electronics affect us psychologically with the media they display. Have you ever found yourself unable to sleep after a scary movie? It’s likely due to the adrenaline your body produces in its natural fight-or-flight reaction.

Eliminating stress and anxiety triggers before sleep should help your mind stay calm and collected—an essential ingredient for a good night’s rest. So even if you can’t pry yourself away from watching another episode of your favorite show or reading that last-minute email, save the stressful stuff for the morning.

Step Three: Move Your Electronics Away From The Bed

If you’ve been unable to get that restorative sleep you’ve been aiming for, the problem might be sitting right next to you. And even if you aren’t actively using electronics before bed, they can still disrupt your sleep. Anything electronic produces electromagnetic radiation (EMR), which affects your body’s production of melatonin and serotonin. EMR is also thought to make us more sensitive to the fight-or-flight state, which is otherwise caused by psychological triggers like a scary movie or an upsetting email. This is known as the “wired-and-tired” effect, and is one of the reasons we find ourselves awakening from a long sleep, but still feeling exhausted.

To reduce your exposure to EMR, try moving your electronics as far away from the bed as possible.  While it may take a few weeks, or even months to see results, the long-term benefits will be well worth it. After all, there is nothing natural about sleeping next to a cell phone.

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Breakfast in Bed: Maple Morning Cake

Post by Alison Hein.

Kevin and I took an old-fashioned vacation this summer. We unplugged our electronics, stocked up on books and movies, and hopped in our car for the five-hour drive to Vermont. Our “private camp” (otherwise known as a cozy little house) was nestled up tight against the banks of the bountiful Lake Champlain.

We had envisioned lazy days sunning on our tiny shale beach, punctuated only by cooling dips in the lake or sunscreen breaks. Instead, we arrived to a mighty, swelling lake, soon to reach its 100-foot flood mark level, and rainy, rainy days.

So I scouted out the best spots for farm fresh produce, local dairy products and my all-time favorite Vermont comestible – maple syrup. Then I moved my activities indoors to the small kitchen. Perhaps slightly decadent for daily breakfast, this Maple Morning Cake seemed fitting for our sleepy vacation. Lightly sweet, the rich, mellow maple flavor shines through. Skip the buttercream frosting, if you like, and sprinkle the top with some maple or cinnamon sugar.

Cool lake breezes, pattering rain, and blessed silence had us sleeping soundly, dreaming only of the morning ahead and our Vermont maple-y breakfast in bed.

Ingredients

Cake
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 eggs
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup sour cream

Frosting
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon milk

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the brown sugar and butter. Beat in eggs one at a time. In a separate small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Mix the milk and maple syrup together in another small bowl. Add alternately with flour mixture to the egg batter, until well mixed. Fold in sour cream.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool for at least one hour before frosting.

To make frosting, mix softened butter and confectioner’s sugar together until well blended. Stir in maple syrup and milk, mixing until smooth. Apply a thin layer of frosting to cake using a butter knife or spatula. Refrigerate cake until ready to eat.

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