Breakfast in Bed: Hush Puppies

Post by Alison Hein.

Nearly 20 years ago, I took a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. I was quite taken by the stately, historic homes, tucked sideways to the street and blanketed by lush, secret gardens. The marketplace was a plethora of sights, scents and sounds – local artisans weaving sweet grass baskets, aromas of intricate spice blends, and faint lingering chords of street musicians. But most of all, I was entranced by the deep-fried mini-cornmeal cakes playfully called hush puppies. And at every restaurant we visited, I was rewarded with a steaming basket of these little babies before even seeing a menu.

Last month, I returned to Charleston, and was disappointed with the evident lack of hush puppies. When I inquired where they had gone, I was reminded that Charleston is now THE food destination in the US, and weren’t hush puppies just a tad passé?

Upon returning home, I decided to make my house THE food destination for breakfast in bed, starting with a basketful of hot, crisped hush puppies and a side of homemade honey butter. Yumm.

Hush Puppies
Oil for frying (4 to 6 cups)
2 cups corn meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 large egg

Equipment
Deep-fry or candy thermometer

Preparation
Pour oil at least 2 inches deep into a small, heavy pan. Heat over medium heat to approximately 360°.
In a large bowl, combine corn meal, baking powder, sugar and salt, stirring to mix. Add milk, cider vinegar and egg and mix well. Batter should be slightly thicker than pancake batter.

Use a teaspoon to measure batter. Carefully drop a teaspoon of batter into the hot oil for each hush puppy. Dip spoon into clean water after each hush puppy. This helps the batter to drop off the spoon easily. Cook about eight to ten hush puppies at a time, allowing oil to retain its temperature.

Fry the hush puppies until they have reached a deep golden brown color, about 2 to 3 minutes. They tend to flip over on their own, but give them a little push with a spoon if they don’t so they cook evenly. Remove hush puppies from pan and drain on paper towels. Serve hot with honey butter.

Honey Butter
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons honey

Preparation
Add softened butter to small bowl. Stir in honey and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

NOTE: Monitor oil with candy thermometer to maintain stable temperature.

Makes about 4 dozen.

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Bedtime Stories: The Adventures of Awesome Man!

The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man by Michael Chabon.

It is pretty awesome being a superhero. You get to shoot positronic lasers out of your eyes, and wear an awersom red cape and black mask. You get to have special Awesome powers and save the world! But it can be pretty exhausting work too. When you’re so busy shooting lasers and fighting Flaming Eyeball, you can forget to slow down and remember to eat. But who is Awesome Man? What could be his secret identity?

The clever writing of this book gives you clues. Like when he says “All this evil-fighting can make a superhero really tired. Pooped. (I love saying ‘pooped.’)” and, “I’m going to tell my mo—I mean, I’m going to use my beams to make a positronic force shield!”

I’ve never known Michael Chabon to write children’s books before. But his skills in writing come through nicely in a picture-book format. It’s funny, it’s got lots of big bright colors. Definitely worth a look, and more suited to little kids than The Yiddish Policeman’s Union.

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Movies in Bed: Oz the Great and Powerful

Post by Mark T. Locker.

So, this isn’t out on DVD or streaming yet, but according to the Internet, it will be on June 11, so just consider this something to plan ahead for. IN TEN DAYSTIME…get out the pillows, pull the cushions off the couch and bust out the spare sheets. It’s time to build a fort, watch a movie, and fall asleep right there on the floor!

We went and saw Oz the Great and Powerful at one of those second-run pizza and beer theaters that are so prevalent here in Portland. I was at best not terribly interested in the movie and went for the sake of my kid. But I gotta tell you, this is actually a pretty good, entertaining movie! Now, I don’t know if this has any relation to any of the L. Frank Baum books or is entirely unique, but it fits so perfectly into the back story of the Wizard of Oz. How did Oz get there? How did an admitted charlatan attain Wizard status? Although bits of it are kind of intense, and some parts are scary, I think Felix is more frightened be the mean trees in the original than the flying baboons in this installation. Me too.

The main criticisms I’ve heard are ones that try to compare it to The Wizard of Oz. It will never be a classic in that sense, but for a Disney movie with appeal to both kids and adults, you could definitely do worse. A fun way to spend a lazy evening together.

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Things We Like: “Brick’d-Out” Bedroom Design

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

In the past, exposed interior brick was traditionally associated with more masculine spaces; reserved for offices, bachelor pads, and “man-caves.” Today, however, designers and homeowners are finding that brick is a great touch for any room, including spaces with a more feminine feel. Combined with the popularity of loft condos and other repurposed living spaces, exposed brick has quickly cemented its place among a short-list of “must-have” design features for many homeowners.

Whether you’re living in an old warehouse with exposed brick walls, or want to build a brick wall inside a new room (either real brick or a faux finish), the use of brick in your bedroom provides an organic, industrial chic feel to your design that you can’t achieve otherwise.

Perhaps the coolest thing about using brick as an interior design element is that you can use it to compliment any number of looks. Whether you’re going for an industrial, vintage, rustic, modern, contemporary, eclectic, or bohemian look in your bedroom, brick can look right at home in all of the above. With brick, anything is possible; you only need a little bit of creativity.

If you’re considering incorporating brick into your bedroom’s design, below are some helpful tips and considerations to keep in mind so you can brick-your-bedroom with style.

Exposed Brick vs. Finished Brick

The first decision to make when incorporating brick into your bedroom’s design is whether to leave it exposed (as it is) or finish it (usually with paint).

Exposed brick tends to work best in a modern, rustic, or traditional space. The rich earth tones and the rough texture work well with a number of design styles, and can be enhanced with proper accents. Finished brick, on the other hand, is usually used in more refined spaces. Finished brick walls are often painted, either in a solid color of light white wash to allow some of the natural color to still show through. Finished brick may provide better insulation and less maintenance, but comes at the cost of losing out on some of the natural charm inherent with brick.

Ultimately, the choice of whether to go with exposed or finished brick walls is a personal one and depends on the overall design of your space.

Faux Brick vs. Real Brick

While nothing replaces a real brick wall, there are a number of faux finishes that come very close. Many of these real brick alternatives are installed as a sort of veneer, using panels covered with slices of real brick to perfect the look. Even upon close inspection (save drilling into the wall), it can be very hard to tell whether you have an actual brick wall or a faux finish.

The type of building you live in, cost, and the amount of maintenance you’re willing to put up with are also contributing factors to whether you chose to go with real or faux brick finish in your design.

General Considerations

Many buildings have brick walls that were built during the original construction of the building. As such, they may be old and in disrepair. If you’re planning to use old brick, it’s worthwhile to have a professional come out and inspect the brick and recommend whether you should undergo a restoration or whether it’s even worthwhile. Bad brick can be a nightmare to live with, littering your place with dusty crumbles whilst leaking air through gaps in the mortar.

Incorporating brick into the design of your bedroom can be as involved of a decision or as simple of a one, particularly if you live in a space that already has exposed brick walls. If you’re looking for some design inspiration, there are a number of brick bedroom galleries online for your viewing pleasure. Houzz has an excellent brick bedroom gallery, and you can find additional galleries on shelterness, DigsDigs, and Home Design Lover.

Have you lived with brick walls? Do you wish you could? Let us know what you think about incorporating brick walls into your bedroom design in the comments below.

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Breakfast in Bed: Irish Wheaten Bread

Post by Alison Hein.

Irish wheaten bread, or brown bread, is one of the most simple and satisfying loaves you can make. And eat, of course. As a soda bread that requires no yeast (thus no messy kneading or lengthy rising time), this recipe takes little more than the 45 minutes required for baking.

Wheaten bread is one component of the large and complicated traditional Irish breakfast, which also may include bacon, sausage, eggs, black pudding, toast, fried tomato, sautéed mushrooms and baked beans! Maybe we’ll try that someday, but I prefer my wheaten bread all on its own. A thick slice of pure, earthy bread, lightly toasted and smeared with Irish butter, is enough breakfast for me.

The outer crust becomes thick and crusty in the hot oven, leaving the wheaten bread’s innards soft and tender – a lovely contrast and perfect first bite. With so few ingredients, the hearty wheat flavor shines through. Use stoneground organic wheat flour if you can find it. Then, try it out on your fussiest eaters. You may be surprised at how much they enjoy this simple, satisfying non-traditional Irish breakfast in bed.

Ingredients
3 cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup unbleached white flour
½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1½ cups milk (or use buttermilk instead of the milk and vinegar)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Preparation
Preheat oven to 425°. Pour whole wheat flour into a large bowl. Sift in unbleached white flour, salt and baking soda and stir to mix. Pour milk and vinegar into flour mixture and stir to make a soft dough. Mix just enough so that dough holds together – overmixing will cause the bread to become tough. Turn out onto a lightly floured board. Shape dough into one large mounded round and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Cut a thin cross in the top of the loaf, just enough so the loaf opens a little on top while baking.

Place wheaten loaf in oven and bake for about 45 minutes. When done, the bread will have a hollow sound when lightly tapped. Remove bread from oven and cool, wrapped in a light tea towel, for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Makes 1 loaf of bread.

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