Breakfast in Bed – Iva’s Albanian Breakfast

Iva's Albanian Breakfast 8

Post by: Alison Hein

In Iva’s native Albania, this satisfying, savory breakfast is known simply as “bread and eggs”. Well, give this recipe a whirl and you’ll find out it’s anything but simple. Thick slices of Italian bread or French baguette are cut on a jaunty diagonal, then saturated in pure beaten egg. Iva likes to sometimes add a little zing with some fresh or dried oregano. The egg-soaked bread slices are then fried to a golden crisp in rich extra virgin olive oil, and served with a generous scoop of tangy, brined feta cheese.

Iva advises serving “bread and eggs” with a sweet melon salad. “You must also add grapes,” she says. “The sweet fruit is a wonderful balance to the rich, savory bread and zesty feta.”

Thank you for the wonderful idea, Iva!

Now I’m off to make myself a savory treat and my first ever Albanian breakfast in bed!

Iva's Albanian Breakfast 3

Savory French Toast

4 eggs
Dash of salt
1 teaspoon fresh (or ¼ teaspoon dried) oregano (optional)
8 slices fresh or day old Italian or French bread, cut on the diagonal
2 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ to 1 cup feta cheese

Iva's Albanian Breakfast 5

Preparation

In large, shallow dish, whisk eggs until thick. Add salt and mix well. Stir in oregano, if using. Dip bread slices into the egg mixture, turning once to completely saturate. Don’t over soak or the soft bread will fall apart.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add bread slices and cook over medium to medium-low heat, turning once, until golden and cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add more olive oil as needed. Remove from pan and serve warm with feta cheese and melon salad.

Makes 4 servings.

Iva's Albanian Breakfast 7

Melon Salad

1 cup red seedless grapes
1 cup chopped cantaloupe
1 cup chopped honeydew melon
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
Drizzle of honey

Preparation

Wash and chop all fruit. Use a melon baller, if you like, for a nice presentation. Add all fruit to a large bowl. Toss with mint leaves. Drizzle with a bit of honey, if you like.

Makes 4 servings.

Iva's Albanian Breakfast 10

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Bedtime Stories: Sabriel Day!

sabrielPost by Mark T. Locker.

Happy May 11! Today has been “officially” dubbed as Sabriel Day by Garth Nix, author of the wonderful young adult fantasy series. Twenty years ago today, Sabriel was published. I was wrapping up high school. I didn’t discover Sabriel, and the companion books in the trilogy, Lirael and Abhorsen, for many more years but they have stayed with me ever since. I have read the whole series (including his most recent companion, Clariel at least twice, and I’ve also listened to them all on audio, the first three read by the unparalleled Tim Curry!

The story of Sabriel is wonderfully unique and yet familiar. She is a young woman, still in school, south of the Wall, where magic has no grip. Her father lives north of the Wall, in the Old Kingdom. He is the Abhorsen, a necromancer whose job is to keep the dead dead and to walk them through past the Ninth Gate into death. You know how it goes. So when Sabriel receives a messenger from Death, carrying her father’s sword and necromancer’s bells, she knows there is trouble. Thus begins her journey learning about herself, about who her father is, and about life in the Old Kingdom where magic and monsters are part of everyday life.

This series has topped my list of favorite YA novels since I first picked it up. It’s fantasy that doesn’t feel like fantasy. There are no clearly made up magical names, no elves and goblins, and blessedly, no dragons. I don’t know why, but dragons is where I draw the line. If you’ve never read this series, this, the 20th anniversary, is the perfect time to pick it up. Celebrate Sabriel Day and see what you’ve been missing out on!

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Bedroom Design: Keeping It Natural in a Bedroom

Post by Tracy Kaler.

Natural materials and earth tones create a calming effect in most any space. In bedrooms, we welcome serene elements and colors to encourage relaxation, preparing us for a good night’s sleep or a lazy afternoon nap.

These four bedrooms inspire us to go back to basics with neutral colors, rough-hewn woods, and linens and cottons, while also focusing on what lies beyond the windows as much as what’s in the bedroom itself.

A Big Fork Montana bedroom boasts a lofty tree house feel. Nature surrounds, and the space resembles a screened porch with its wide windows and scenic view. Yellow on the bed seems to be the near-perfect color to contrast the amount of green outside. This room takes on a modern yet rustic aesthetic.

Driftwood attached to the wall, suspended oyster shells, and linen on the bed complete this shabby-chic bedroom. The earthy combination of materials takes us back to nature in the best way possible in this beachy yet primitive room. What an innovative design!

Natural materials are the basis for this eclectic Montreal bedroom. From the pine bed to the metal tableside lamp to the Africa headdress as artwork, this room is not only earthy but also interesting. With so much to look at, this space proves that neutral colors never need be boring.

Zen-like with a mid-century, Japanese design, this bedroom sports an unusually low bed with an asymmetrical bed wall. Somehow, all of the components work well together, including the garden stool as an accent piece. This home is located in Orange County, CA, which is no surprise to me. I feel relaxed just looking at the photo.

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Breakfast in Bed – Irish Whiskey Cake

Irish Whiskey Cake 12

Post by Alison Hein.

Ever since I perused my mother’s old cookbooks and cooked up a thick, savory Wicklow Pancake last week, I’ve had Irish food on my mind: thoughts of Irish food + Irish whiskey = Irish Whiskey Cake! Anything but savory, this boozy cake is a real palate pleaser.

Use a high quality, unsalted Irish butter, and a generous hand when pouring out the whiskey. This is no cake for the faint-hearted – the deep, smooth feel of Jameson (or other Irish whiskey) lingers on the tongue, and the finished texture has the quality of flowing amber.

Irish Whiskey Cake 1

You will need to use a bit of sugar, and a significant citrus flavor for balance. Here I’ve used a whole lemon, but an orange would be just as nice, leading the palate in a slightly different direction. If you like candied rind or fruit, feel free to toss some in the batter before baking. Or, decorate your cake with some thin-sliced lemon or orange.

Let the finished cake rest a bit before removing from the pan. When ready, invert it onto a pretty serving plate and dust it with powdered sugar. Then, brew some strong Irish tea, and please your palate with this sweet and boozy breakfast in bed.

Irish Whiskey Cake 2

Ingredients

1 stick butter, softened
1½ cups sugar
3 eggs
¼ cup milk
¼ cup Irish whiskey
1½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
Juice and rind of 1 lemon (approximately 1 teaspoon grated rind, 3 tablespoons juice)
1 teaspoon lemon oil (optional)
Powdered sugar, to sprinkle on top of cake

Irish Whiskey Cake 4

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325°.  Generously grease a tube pan and set aside.

Add butter and sugar to a large bowl, and cream together until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, until batter is light and smooth. Pour milk into small bowl and stir in Irish whiskey. Mix flour and baking soda together. Alternately add whiskey mixture and flour mixture into batter, stirring thoroughly after each addition. Stir in lemon juice, grated rind, and lemon oil if using.

Spoon batter into tube pan, smoothing surface with spatula. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool on rack for 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan and invert onto serving plate. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar.

Makes 1 cake, 16 to 20 slices.

Irish Whiskey Cake 10

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Bedtime Stories: One for the grown-ups

Lexicon-Max-BarryPost by Mark T. Locker.

Lexicon by Max Barry

If you’re into non-stop action and sci-fi-y stories, but also appreciate a well-written novel, you ought to check out Lexicon by Max Barry. Two stories, set at two different points in time, dance around each other before slowly converging.

One plot line is about an Australian carpenter named Wil Park who has found himself caught up in some very unbelievable circumstances. A bunch of people are after him and he doesn’t know who they are or what they want. The ones who are trying to protect him seem as unpleasant as those trying to intercept him. A woman, barely alive, utters a series of strange words and instructs one of the men to kill himself. And he does. That’s when Wil realizes something serious is happening. And it all points back to a secret locked inside Wil’s brain.

Emily is a clever street kid in San Francisco. Her knack for persuasion has caught the interest of an unusual organization. After proving herself worthy, if just barely, she is taken to an academy to learn a secret science of persuasion. She learns there are certain words that drop peoples’ defenses and open them up to obeying the commands of others. Those who have mastered this skill are called Poets (because of their mastery of language) and take on a poet’s name.

While this method of storytelling can fall flat (I always get irritated when I have to shift gears like that) Barry pulls it off with ease. It’s a difficult story to summarize but a fun and interesting book to read. It’s interesting, constantly moving, and totally unique.

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