Archive for the ‘Breakfast & Brunch’ Category

What I Took From the Woods: Pepper, Fennel and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Fennel, pepper and sausage breakfast casserole (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Once upon a time, I used to lead backpacking trips. Strange to think about now, after having found my affinity for cities – and big ones at that – that at one time, I gladly trekked through green forests with a pack damping sweat on my back, feet sheathed in sturdy boots, and plastic bags of trail mix stashed inside my pack. We called it gorp, short for “good old raisins and peanuts,” and individuals were severely reprimanded for what was called “strip-mining the gorp” – eating only the colorful M&Ms and leaving behind a pile of nut-dusted raisins.

Round Knob hike (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Each trip lasted about a week and was divided three ways. Three days were spent hiking along the Tennessee-Carolina Appalachian Trail. As we wound our way up steep and rocky paths, we’d stop to pick small wild blueberries studding the bushes or to watch a Monarch rest its wings on a cluster of flowers. The woods were full of squirrels and chattering birds, honeybees, butterflies, and more dangerous animals too – rattlesnakes, bears, and pesky mosquitoes. We made camp near shelters, setting up blue tarps for tents, purifying water from nearby streams to drink, peeling sweaty socks from our tired feet.

There were two separate routes, but both led down to the Appalachian town of Hot Springs, where dirty groups would meet at the Smoky Mountain Diner for giant glasses of tooth-shattering sweet tea, deep-fried sweet corn and okra, cornbread and warm blackberry pie with ice cream.

Butterflies on the AT (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Peppers (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Peppers, onion and fennel (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

One day of the trip was spent doing a service project in the Asheville area. Some days, we’d clear forest trail of overgrown weeds, fallen stumps and stones. Others, we’d plant gardens for schools or sort cans at the food bank.

Two days of the trip were spent on the river, the French Broad, fondly referred to as “The Dirty Broad.” It was a very dirty river. » Continue reading this post...

Biscuits & Blogging: Sweet Corn & Pepper Biscuits

homemade biscuits (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

When Ellie and I get together, we talk. About lots of things. Like work and men and crazy people we know. We do things like make cocktails and Instagram photos of them, then drink them and make another round, which we do not Instagram. But really, when we get together, what we do is bake.

The baking, of course, might just be an excuse for the gossiping and the cocktails, but then again, it might be because there’s something really rewarding about sitting around chatting and drinking and ending up with yeasty donuts covered in pink gloss, or red velvet cupcakes topped with an icing that involves very. specific. instructions. and slightly strange ingredients.

Because of all the baking and the eating, I think Ellie has made more appearances in this blog than anyone else. There was Thanksgiving (we’re already getting ready to order the turkey for this year…), the plätzchen-baking extravaganza, an ancient Easter, and of course that time we decided to eat in the dark. And probably because of all the appearances she’s made here, she’s spent a lot of time listening to me talk about the blog – why I’m even still writing it and where I’d like for it to go. Or maybe that’s because of the cocktails.

toppings for biscuits (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

We talk about the big plans I have. I want to redesign the site so that it’s easier to navigate. I want an index of recipes and photos. I want to write a book…

And then sometimes I want to pretend that there’s not a place where I have been, more – or less – regularly, recording my edible thoughts for over three years. What a long time to throw words into the sometimes uncommunicative interwebs. There are times when I don’t know why I’m still writing it, but there you go – I’m still writing it. » Continue reading this post...

Beautiful, Beautiful Bacon

bacon, once upon a time in America (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I miss bacon.

There is no bacon in Germany.

There is speck. There is pork belly.

But there is no bacon.

Bacon is what love is made of. Bacon is salt and fat, gnawed-upon muscle with crunch. Lips licked of grease and an old-timey taste of applewood or hickory. Bacon is hot Christmas morning and hungover brunch. It is the marriage of egg and potato hash, the slash of red on a diner’s cream plate. Bacon is being fed in bed and being too small to reach the stove. Bacon is getting your hand smacked for stealing strips still hot and popping. Bacon is burning your tongue. Bacon is burning your tongue again. Bacon converts vegetarians or is what vegetarians dream of even when they don’t dream. The scent of it sinks into clothes like the damp whiskey smell of campfire seep.

Like a hazy summer morning on the East coast. Without bacon there is no baked beans, there is no avocado sandwich, there are no dates wrapped in bacon blankets set on a plate in a restaurant in Seville, next to tiny octopi in oil, olives, and chopitos. Bacon is the what I make for you because I like you and the what you make for me because you like me. It’s also the what I make for myself when no one’s looking. Germany, oh land of beers and brats, oh land of cheeses and sausages, spätzle and baked breads – what I wouldn’t give for bacon. » Continue reading this post...

Breakfast is Beautiful

Egg-in-pita with avocado (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I have been trying to write this post for a while. I’m not really sure why it’s so hard for me to articulate what I want to say, because really, it comes down to this: breakfast is great. And sub-points: breakfast is great because of the epic struggle for supremacy between variety and ritual.

Sub-point A: Variety

Today, for breakfast I am eating a pita fried with two over easy eggs and topped with cilantro, avocado slices, and hot sauce.

But it could just as easily have been oatmeal.

Oatmeal and coffee (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

There are so many breakfast options. Toast, pancakes, waffles, cold pizza, bagels with cream cheese, herring and crackers, biscuits, bacon, homefries, hashbrowns, cereal, müsli, grits. Let’s not even get into eggs.

Breakfast burrito on crepe (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

With all those delightful choices, how could you limit yourself to the same thing every day?

Sub-point B: Ritual

Most people breakfast alone. The unspoken rule is that plus one makes brunch. This could be because brunch is festive (this, in turn, could be because it’s still faux pas to have bloody marys with breakfast). Or it could be because we each have morning rituals, performed in solitude, to gather energy and sanity for the rest of the day.

When and how I make breakfast is a part of my silent, calm morning time – the actions themselves rituals. I’ve been waking up early recently to do writing in the morning when my brain is fittest (post-college, I realize that I’m a morning person). So I wake at 8:30, crawl down from my loft, brush my teeth, sit at my desk and try to form my first coherent thought, pick the clothes up off the floor from where I threw them the night before, and go make breakfast. Then, I sit here looking out at the freshly fallen snow (Editor’s note: see how long I’ve been trying to write this?! » Continue reading this post...

On the Insides of Eggs (a poem!?)

Eggs in a row (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

The perfection of four egg halves, which had previously been

two whole eggs, broken open on whole grain toast, hummus,

cilantro, the sting of salt, pepper, hidden red chiles.  The morning,

expansive, deceptive winter sunlight warming inside the windows.

I’ll clean them soon, I think, and return to my book – a cataclysmic look

at the apocalypse and a world of rats.  I eat my eggs.  The three men

with whom I share this space are somewhere behind their closed doors,

and I am alone with the contested floral carpet, the drum set,

the hookah still set up with last night’s coal.  I remember the eggs

before I broke them, mysterious and round, one brown, stolen

from my roommate, the other white, the last of my own eggs.

One egg cracked the second it hit boiling water, a filament of space

furrowing inside the shell.  But broken open, on the whole grain toast

with the hummus, the cilantro, the salt, I can’t tell which egg is which,

and each bright yolk reveals itself the same. » Continue reading this post...

Eat Late, Even Great

Diner fare (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Carlisle, Pennsylvania, nestled in that sweep of country where the chain gang of American cuisine settled, is not what could be called a diner’s paradise. Like roadside crosses in the Bible Belt, Applebee’s, Chili’s, Red Robin, Olive Garden, Panera, and every iteration of the Chinese Buffet dot the landscape with neon signs and trademarked logos. If it sponsors a commercial with glistening stacks of ribs, steaming bread, oozing chocolate, delightful-seeming, hunger-inducing, mouth-watering, wallet-trimming images on late night TV, you can find it in Carlisle.

Every now and then a gem tumbles through town. A quaint café, an Indian restaurant cum hookah lounge (!), a sushi place. But these wonders come and go, ephemeral delights squashed under the heavy-handed thumb of reliability and seven dollar margaritas. Many of my friends have done their time waitressing at Chili’s or Red Robin, and we’ve been known to indulge in a stack of short ribs from Texas Roadhouse without feeling bad at all, but when I think about where I want to eat when I make the journey back to PA, my first thought is always for the diner.

I did a lot of theater in high school (and I was in band – ok you can make fun of me now). After every performance, the whole cast would go to the Diner for scrambled eggs, buttery toast, French fries, fried mushrooms, bacon, pie piled with whipped cream, omelets, and hash browns. The Diner was for special occasions like that and conversations which just itched to be held late at night – crises of prom dates and friend fights, gossip mongering, life debriefs. Of course, after we left high school, we learned to appreciate a beer or two, and after you’ve had a few beers, any occasion is a special occasion. So now, when we see each other on holidays or opportunely timed visits home, the diner is where we often end up after a round or two at the G-man. » Continue reading this post...

Leftovers Regifted (a post by Josh): Biscuits

A Christmas scene (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

It all started with leftovers. Not those things that sit in Tupperware containers in the back of your refrigerator for too long, growing mold because you didn’t want to eat the same thing on Monday as you did on Saturday. Maybe that’s just me. But it did all start with leftovers. The type that isn’t prepared. That one ingredient that you buy for one recipe but the recipe only calls for about a quarter of the container, so now you’re stuck with a lot of buttermilk. That’s what happened to me, at least. And during the holidays, of all times. What joy!

If you caught it in my last post, the one about half moon cookies, the recipe called for buttermilk. I don’t really know much about the stuff, and neither does my family, it seems. “I think it’s the healthiest milk there is,” “It’s all naturally fat free,” “I don’t know if anyone just drinks it,” “Doesn’t it make all yogurt?” I don’t know if any of that is true, but I do know that I had too much buttermilk to try out a big, tall, brimming glass of the stuff. So I decided to reduce (my quantity of buttermilk), reuse (it in another recipe), and recycle (again, reuse it).

The cookie culprit (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

It was Christmas morning and the scene was set. The tree was outfitted with lights, blinking, and presents stuffed underneath. Coffee was brewing. My brother was headed in from Charleston. My sister, her husband, and my nephew were on their way out to our house. My moms were reading on the couch. I was in charge of food.

I walked down the stairs, opened the fridge to find some inspiration and what did I find? Buttermilk. I moved it out of the way, in search of the eggs, but then, with all clichés in mind, it hit me. » Continue reading this post...