Breakfast in Bed: Buckwheat Blini

Post by Alison Hein.

Blini are a type of traditional Russian pancake made with yeasted batter. In ancient times, blini were prepared at the end of winter to honor the rebirth of the sun. This tradition still holds today when Russians celebrate Maslenitsa to welcome the spring.

Blini can be made with various flours, but buckwheat blini have an earthy richness that subtly enhance and bend to the myriad of topping alternatives. Serve them hot or cold, sweet or savory. Try them with butter and jam, chopped egg and mushroom, smoked trout and parsley, and most definitely try them warm and buttered with frosty sturgeon caviar and crème fraîche atop.

Freeze the extra. They thaw quickly and impress for last minute brunches, unplanned get-togethers or spontaneous breakfasts in bed.

Buckwheat Blini
3 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 packet yeast
2 cups buckwheat flour
4 eggs
Additional butter for cooking

Preparation
Add milk to small, heavy saucepan and place on stove over medium heat. Allow to heat, without stirring, until tiny ripples begin to form across the surface of the milk (scalded milk). Remove milk from heat and add butter, honey and salt. Pour milk mixture into large bowl. Allow to cool until tepid, then sprinkle yeast lightly and evenly across surface.

Let yeast rest about 10 minutes, until it begins to activate and resembles wet sand. Stir in buckwheat flour, cover with a light tea towel, and allow to rise in a warm, dry place until doubled (at least 2 hours).

Separate eggs into two separate bowls – one for whites and one for yolks. Whisk the yolks until smooth and light, then whisk into batter until evenly mixed. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into blini batter.

Place pan or griddle on burner over medium heat. Melt a small amount of butter in the pan for the first blini. Use a tablespoon to spoon batter into pan and cook until small bubbles appear across surface. Flip once with thin spatula and continue cooking less than one minute until lightly browned and cooked through. Serve warm or cool with a variety of toppings.

Makes approximately 100 2-inch diameter blini.

Buckwheat Blinis with Smoked Trout and Crème Fraîche
10 buckwheat blini
2 tablespoons crème fraîche (or substitute sour cream)
2 to 4 ounces smoked trout
1 tablespoon Italian parsley leaves

Place a dab of crème fraîche on the surface of each blini. Break off a small piece of smoked trout and place on top of crème fraîche. Place another dab of crème fraîche on top of the trout and add a parsley leaf for color. Can be made several hours in advance and served lightly chilled.

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Bedroom Design: A Better Way to Wake Up

Post by Stephanie Noble.

On weekdays, I wake to a squawking beep that is impossible to ignore. That is by design, because it is not easy to get up at 5:00a.m. when my body is saying, “Just another hour or two would be so much better .”

We may not raise corn or cows, but our commute has us keeping farmer’s hours.

“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” My first grade teacher had us memorize this advice from Benjamin Franklin and for most of my life I have followed it, although never quite as early to rise as I currently manage.

On the weekends and holidays, the squawking is turned off. It is replaced by a much more palatable, “Dad? Mamma? DAD? MAMA? DAD?? MAMA??” refrain of our son letting us he’s ready for us to rescue him from his crib and start our day’s adventures.

Sometimes, if Alarm Number Two is really tired and sleeps past 6:30, I wake up to the avian songs of our neighbors who have built a nest next to our window.

Basically, five days of my week I am rushed out of deep sleep in a way that is extra harsh when compared to my weekend wakeup calls.

Thus my quest for a gentler alarm clock, one that breaks through the cozy comfy dream world to get my butt out of bed, but maybe with a little more kindness than the squawking beep that puts me in a bad mood.

The Zen Alarm Clock Company in Boulder, CO has created Zen Clock’s ‘E tone’ chime has been hand-tuned to produce the same tone as the tuning forks used by musical therapists. The 10 minute chime progression sequence follows the “golden ratio progression” to gently move one from sleep to an awake state with music.


I’ve also been looking at Soleil Sun Alarm SA-3 Sunrise and Sunset FM Radio Alarm Clock. It gradually lightens the room to  Set the alarm for your desired time to wake in the morning, choose the Sunrise time (i.e., set sunrise for 15 minutes and for 15 minutes prior to alarm time the light will gradually get brighter and brighter until the intensity awakens you.  Just like natural sunlight. It can also be set to nature sounds like chirping birds, crickets, flowing water or an ocean.

Much better than the rude squawker!

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Bedtime Stories: June 29, 1999 by David Wiesner

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Holly Evans amazes her classmates with the most ambitious science project imaginable. She planted vegetable seeds and then floated them on giant weather balloons out into space, as an experiment to see what the effects of space would be on them.

Several weeks later, enormous vegetable begin to fall from the sky. Giant red peppers the size of hot air balloons, green beans fifty feet long! Holly is beside herself. Who would have guessed that her vegetables would grow to such a gargantuan size? Over the next weeks, more and more vegetables descend. Asparagus, radishes, lettuce. But…those weren’t vegetables she had sent into space! If these didn’t come from her, where did they come from?

For a short picture book, David Wiesner manages to tell a very exciting and mysterious story. His illustrations are, as always, beautiful and detailed. Even if there isn’t a literate soul in sight, the story is easily told through the images.

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Movies–er– T.V. in Bed: Grimm

Post by Mark T. Locker.

I’m going to be honest with you: I am a sucker for anything fairy tale-related. Especially things which highlight the inherent darkness present in so many of their tales. (And really most folklore.) Mind you, I’m not going to consume something based only on that one criterion. That show “Once”, for example, simply irritates me. Too many pretty people, perhaps, I don’t know.

“Grimm” is not without its flaws: holes in the plot; unbearable characters; loosening interpretation of Grimm as the show progresses. But for some reason, it is the only show on television that I find myself keeping current on. It’s also fun that it is shot right here in Portland. Basically every summer the city is filled with equipment and actors as “Grimm” and “Portlandia” shoot their seasons.

Nevertheless, I enjoy tuning in to this good-but-not-great show (especially since Burn Notice is on cable) on the rare nights of the week that I don’t fall asleep at the same time as my kid. If you like to watch people turn into weird monsters, like fly-headed people or beaver-faced folk, or if you like watching people open trunks of ancient weapons like morning stars and crossbows (thank you, David Greenwalt for bringing a bit of Buffy to the show!) then this is definitely for you. Enjoy!

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Things We Like: Debunking The Eight-Hour Sleep

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

Perhaps the most universal sleep instruction prescribed to all is to get eight hours of sleep, give or take an hour or so depending on the person. On its surface, this sleep regime seems to make perfect sense and I’ve never had any reason to question it before. However, I recently came across some references to a professor who discovered some historical references to the idea of segmented sleep and I decided to do some digging.

Roger Ekirch (don’t ask me how to pronounce that), a professor of history at Virginia Tech, published a book back in 2006 titled, At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, which explores how society “dealt with” the nighttime throughout history. As the stories go, while Ekrich was researching this book he discovered over 500 references to the idea of segmented sleeping patterns, i.e., sleeping for a few hours after dusk, followed by a waking period of a couple hours, and followed again by a second sleep.

Ekrich’s findings, corroborated with an experiment conducted by Thomas Wehr, a psychiatrist, suggests that a condition called sleep maintenance insomnia, where restless people wake in the middle of the night and have trouble falling back to sleep, may actually be explained by our history.

Basically, the late night restlessness many of us try to overcome is the way we may have actually been intended to sleep before the advent of cheap electricity and plentiful street lighting used to illuminate our previously dark and frightful nights. Now brightened with light bulbs (oil lamps in the past), spending time after sundown has become a more legitimate, if not fashionable, way to spend your time. Today, many of us with sleep problems may simply be two-sleep people living in a one-sleep world.

I highly recommend Ekrich’s book, especially if you’re on the hunt for some late night reading (no pun intended). BBC News has an excellent article discussing Ekrich’s findings if you need some more convincing. Jessa Gamble also did a 6 minute or less talk for TED about the myth of the eight-hour sleep.

In the mean time, if you’re having trouble waking up and falling back to sleep at night, do not despair; use this time to reflect on your dreams, read a book, or chat with your wife (if she’s likewise awake). Waking between sleeps may not be as bad as you thought it to be.

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