A Dutch Baby... and an Idaho Baby

So it turns out everything they tell you in health class as a kid is true. Boy meets girl, girl thinks, "This guy, huh?". Boy graduates and moves away, girl moves to Kentucky. They both move to Idaho and BAM—a baby on the way. 

Isn't that how the story goes? Well, it seems to be for us. 

Shortly after making this Dutch Baby for my in-laws this past summer we found out we were having an Idaho Baby—who we've been lovingly calling Spud—expected to arrive this Spring. With an estimated due date of April 1, I hope this kid is half the joker his expected birth date dictates he should be.

For those of you who are already parents, you may or may not have had the same reaction to your newfound title that I did. Something like, "Holy S#!&." Mixed with thoughts of happiness and fear and bring on the extra cake.

I took the test and saw that bright, bold plus sign while my mom was in town visiting—and my husband was off climbing something. It was so hard waiting to tell him, but the look of happiness and fear and bring on the extra beer were priceless once I finally got to break the news.

And like any self-respecting mama-to-be in 2016, I created a Pinterest board and signed up for pregnancy apps, so I could get weekly updates on our growing tater.

Real talk? This pregnancy has been a little rough. I felt like I was in a row boat on the high seas for the first 18 weeks and have been constantly comparing my "bump" (or gut, as I like to call it) to other women who don't look like they're having sextuplets.

Pregnancy so often seems to be described in precious terms, like glowing (read: sweating like a hog) and preggo. And the apps, while helpful, compare the growth of your kid to some cutesy piece of fruit. It must look like a damn produce section in there.

Why don't they ever compare my baby's size to something I can relate to—like the TV remote, or a chicken finger? Currently, at 22 weeks, this baby is the size of a mango—AWWWWWW.

Now, don't get me wrong, in between the bouts of crying and nightmares of having to give birth in a filthy public bathroom (thank you, hormones), I get unbelievably excited that I am going to get to help shape the life of this little boy. Maybe baby registries should let you register for future therapy funds... because as one of my friends said to me, half-jokingly, when I expressed my fear about being bad at parenting, "You will be."

There it was. The honesty I craved. He told me everyone is bad at first... not in the way where you leave your new baby with a hatchet and tell him to get to chopping that wood if he wants to keep warm; but in the way that no one really knows what they're doing and with love and patience, and a good sense of humor, we'll eventually figure it out.

Well, here's to our Spud, our growing family, and years of future birthday cakes and lazy weekend breakfasts like this fluffy Dutch baby— hopefully this kid likes pancakes.

TO MAKE THIS RECIPE YOU WILL NEED:

3 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup 2% or whole milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

BLUEBERRY SAUCE
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
juice from one lemon

Preheat your oven to 425.  Place eggs, flour, milk, sugar, and cinnamon in a blender and blend until smooth. Place butter in a 10-inch skillet (I used cast iron) and place in the oven to melt. Watch carefully, and remove the skillet from the oven just as the butter has finished melting. Pour batter in return hot pan to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, until the pancake is puffed up. Reduce your oven temperature to 300 and continue baking for five additional minutes.

To make the blueberry sauce, combine blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir gently and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about five minutes, or until the sauce has begun to thicken.

Biscuits (and Buzz Cuts)

I'm betting if you're here it's because you care about food on some level. You may not consider yourself a foodie—whatever that means—but on some level you have a connection with what you're consuming. You want to know where your ingredients come from, you have strong memories of the recipes you used to eat as a kid, or of your family eating together at the holidays—OR—my mom convinced you to read this thing—which is fine too; I could use the readers. Thanks, Ma. 

When I moved to Colorado in 2006 I was never more unsure of myself. I had been accepted to grad school and decided to take that route because school was the only thing I had ever been good at. I had no clue what I wanted to be when I grew up—and quite honestly, I still have no idea—so it seemed like the natural next step. I remember moving day; standing in a parking lot—my dad squeezing me tight, both of us crying (he's more of a Jewish mother than my own)—and him whispering in my ear, "You can do this." Uh, I wasn't so sure. 

I moved to a tiny town—a blip on a map. I hated it. I lived with my friend and her toddler—who's going to be 14 later this year—yikes. I was lonely, had starting dating a schmuck, and was in an art program where I felt like I didn't fit in. 

And then two things happened that would change my life forever: I met the man with a buzz cut who would later become my husband (and who was actually my employee at the time—ay-oh!); and I bought a cookbook, called With a Measure of Grace, at the local bookstore.

This cookbook, from Hell's Backbone Grill, a restaurant run by two women in Boulder, UT—a blip on a map—is one of the most thoughtfully written books I've ever read. It made me think about cooking, and ingredients, and farms, and people, and the ways we gather together around food unlike ever before.

Sometimes it can feel silly to wax poetic about breakfast—but it's the meals we share with friends, the cookies we bake with our grandmothers, the local restaurants we grow to love—that shape our memories. 

I read the book cover to cover, engrossing myself in the stories of the Buddhist monks who visit the restaurant, the staff who've become family, and the farmers dedicated to growing and raising food. And then I got to cooking—and by this time I had brand new boy to cook and bake for.

This biscuit recipe is from their cookbook and it's one of my favorites. I've made some slight changes to theirs, but the gist is still the same buttery, flaky deliciousness you'd want in a biscuit.

Now get off your own biscuit and go make these.

TO MAKE THIS RECIPE YOU WILL NEED:

2 tablespoons cornmeal
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
8 tablespoons butter, really cols and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup of cold buttermilk

Cold meets hot. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. You want to keep your other ingredients really cold. It's the best way to get nice, flaky biscuits. Let your oven get really hot, at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile line a 9 x 11-inch baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the cornmeal.

Prepare your dries. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, salt, soda, powder, and sugar until well combined.

Add the buttah. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixer resembles coarse crumbs.

Now the buttahmilk. Pour the buttermilk over the top of the mixture and using a rubber spatula, fold in the milk, rotating the bowl with each fold. The mixture should be moist and sticky with very few dry patches.

Turn out for what. Turn the dough out on to a floured counter and lightly flour your hands. Lightly press the dough into a rectangle about an inch thick. Then fold it in on itself in thirds, like a letter. Add a little flour to the stack and light roll or press the stack back down to an inch-thick rectangle. Turn the rectangle and repeat the folding process two more times, being gentle with the stack. End with a 1-inch high rectangle of dough. 

Slice 'n bake. Place the rectangle of biscuit dough on the prepared pan with the cornmeal. Using a knife, and hopefully better measuring skills than I have, cut biscuits into two-inch squares and leave attached to each other on the pan. Sprinkle with the other tablespoon of cornmeal.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool for more than the 10 seconds I wait, to avoid scalding your fingers and tongue, then top with your favorite jam.

Asparagus, Eggs + Parmesan

Every season is my favorite season.

I guess this happens when you grow up with two seasons: summer and summerer.

I lived in southern California until about age 11 and then lived in the Phoenix area until 22. I didn't experience snowfall until 23 when I moved to Colorado for graduate school. I remember hearing for about a week that it was going to snow—the anticipation was killing me. I was sitting in my office, looking out the window, when it happened.

I ran outside like a child, face up to the sky, mouth open—ready for someone to have men in white coats take me away. But I didn't care. It seemed so magical to me. It covered every dirty, unattractive blemish. It still seems that way to me—almost ten years later.

Since that first snow I've seen how harsh the seasons can be. I've experienced destructive lightning, rain, flooding, ice, and snow. And I'm never more amazed than when—each March—the soil gives way to new growth, the trees sport their new buds, and we see just how forgiving the earth can be—just like people.

When asparagus makes its first appearance at our local market, we know that warmer weather and longer days are around the corner—the earth forgives yet again. 

This recipe is simpler than simple—calling it a recipe at all feels a little over the top. It does, however, make a beautiful breakfast that celebrates the season. So, grab some eggs and get to crackin'. 

TO MAKE THIS RECIPE YOU WILL NEED:

12 asparagus stalks (thick ones), woody ends removed
6 eggs
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
salt
pepper
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved

Prepare-agus... the asparagus. Using a vegetable peeler, start at the top of the stalk and peel ribbons all the way to the end. You'll be left with a thicker piece, which is ok. Toss asparagus with a tablespoon of olive oil and a little salt and pepper.

Arrange asparagus in the skillet. Create little dams with the asparagus ribbons, building up the walls so that the eggs will stay inside.

Cook your eggs. Heat your pan with the asparagus over low heat for several minutes. Add a small amount of olive oil to each open space. Heat for another minute. Crack an egg, being careful not break the yolks, in each open space and cook until the whites are set and the yolks are runny, about 4-5 minutes. 

Remove from heat. And top with more salt and pepper and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


Pancetta Benedict

September 7, 1983.

Stu lovingly made his very pregnant wife, Amy, a disgusting meal of tomatoes stuffed with hot dogs, bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese. Yeshe did love her. See, his mother was a terrible cook, so he didn't know any better. They had a baby on the way and he was simply trying to help.

Five hours later Amy became violently ill. And while it was really easy to blame the illness on the meal prepared by her husband, it turned out she was actually in labor.

The next morning Erica (hey, that's me!) was born.

This is perhaps my first food story. We all have them. Sometimes they're about the place where we were traveling, the person who prepared it... how it made your eyes roll back in your head. We all have them because food is common to all of us. It's tradition, it's celebratory, hell, at the very least it's habitual. 

I hope this blog is a place to share these food stories—the good, the fun, and the beautiful—along with my photography, which is a work in progress.

I love baking, cooking, working with flowers, and flours. And Flours in my Hair has been swirling around in my head for quite some time so it's nice to finally get something on "paper".

I hope you'll stick around to read and come back for more.

Most mornings breakfast is quick. And honestly, sometimes it's nonexistent. 

But on weekends breakfast reigns supreme. There's time to wake up slowly. There's time to take note of what's in the fridge, poach your eggs, make a really good cup of coffee.

My husband is Mr. Breakfast. It doesn't matter what time of day it is, he's jonesing for eggs. So, few things make him happier than slow weekend breakfasts.

This recipe for Pancetta Benedicts is a twist on the Croque Madame—the baked ham and cheese sandwich topped with a fried egg and Béchamel sauce. God bless the French.

We use a crusty sourdough from our local bakery, but you can use any hearty white bread you like, or even English muffins.

To Make this recipe you will need:

4 slices sourdough bread, toasted
4 eggs
4 ounces sliced pancetta
4 teaspoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
1/2 cup Gruyere, shredded
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
chives for garnish, chopped

Make the sauce: In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine, letting mixture cook for about a minute (don't let it brown). Slowly whisk in the milk and then add the salt and pepper. Using a wooden spoon stir sauce gently until it thickens, about 4-6 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese until melted.

Poach your eggs: I have been terrible at poaching eggs until recently. I now use Alton Brown's method and they come out perfect every time. Bring 2-3 inches of water to a simmer with a one teaspoon of salt in a small sauce pan. Crack one very cold egg into a small bowl or ramekin. Once the water is simmering, use the handle of a wooden spoon to create a whirlpool, spinning the water in the pan. Drop the egg into the center of the whirlpool, turn off the heat, and cover for five minutes. Marvel at the magic. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Crisp the pancetta: In a skillet over medium-high heat, place pancetta slices in a single layer, like you would bacon. Let cook until desired crispness.

Assemble: Spread a teaspoon of mustard onto each slice of toast. Top with pancetta slices and one poached egg. Ladle about 1/2 cup of sauce over the egg and sprinkle with chives.

Let's eat.