Friday, January 16, 2009

The persistence of oatmeal

When I was a child, breakfast was pretty predictable: On weekdays, Cheerios or cornflakes with fruit ands skim milk (summer) and oatmeal, cream of wheat, or grits with butter (winter). Saturdays it was eggs, bacon, and toast. Sundays it was blueberry pancakes with maple syrup (at my father's request).

When I went off to college, of course, this all changed. Dining hall scrambled eggs were so tasteless that often leftover Chinese food was the better choice. When I lived in New York and then in Italy, breakfast was usually a croissant or brioche. There was a long phase of bagels with cream cheese when I worked at newspapers. When I moved to Seattle, cinnamon rolls were the big thing. Along the way I encountered people who ate donuts and sugary cereals (ugh) for breakfast. And spent one year in a household where we often had firm tofu, topped with shaved bonito and soy sauce.

Now I notice that I have defaulted to the breakfast routine of my childhood, with cold cereal/hot cereal most days, and eggs or maybe even pancakes if I go out to breakfast with friends on the weekends.

I wonder if, when they teach us what to eat for breakfast, our parents realize that decades years later, we'll find ourselves reverting to that menu. No matter what weird stuff we've eaten for 20 or 30 years in between.

Of course, by that time many of our parents will be long gone and never know that their teachings eventually took hold. My mother, however, is still around and able to see (and comment on) what I eat for breakfast when I go to visit her.

She's 90; I wonder if oatmeal is the reason why?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Avant garde Jazz — the apple

At the renowned Berkeley Bowl whole foods grocery store last week I encountered the Jazz apple. A cross between the Gale and the Braeburn that has out-scored both in tastings, it's a rich, crispy apple bursting with flavor. It was grown Washington state, but I had to go to California to find it. Go figure.

According got the website, (yes, this is an apple with it's own website) it's available in Washington state November through April and New Zealand (where it was developed) June through August.

In good health

It's been my custom for the past several years to write on the holiday cards I send out "Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year." Why the addition of "healthy" to the usual holiday greeting? Not sure. Perhaps it's because I had a mysterious, debilitating illness that trashed my life for five years in my 30s. (It turned out to be interstitial cystitis, and treatable, once diagnosed.) Or perhaps because on the East Coast I sometimes bought coats from Jewish manufacturers with labels that said "Wear in good health."

Anyway, I don't make New Year's resolutions, but I do write down a few priorities. This year, the whiteboard outside my office says:

1. Eat healthy food.
2. Exercise three times a week.
3. Earn $$$.
4. Do creative things.
5. Have fun with people.

They're in that order for a reason. It's hard for me to work long hours, sustain creative projects, or truly enjoy myself, if I'm not healthy. I know people who manage it, but I'm not one of them.

And, yes, I know that simply eating healthy food and exercising won't guarantee good health; it'll just tip the odds in my favor. Genetics, and fate, are also important factors.

Those if you who know me can guess why I'm thinking and writing about health this week, can't you?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The no-potato baked potato

I discovered that if you steam cauliflower (with some sliced leeks, if you like) you can then treat it like a baked potato, sprinkling it with grated cheddar, chopped scallions, and bacon bits. Yum!

Friday, January 9, 2009

"Serious Eats" is serious fun

While researching duck-fat fries, I came across the website Serious Eats. They have, among other things, recipes for Girl Scout Cookies.