Island Dinner

Roasted vegetables crisp from the oven with fresh herbs, sea salt and olive oil.

IMG_20140629_203151

Bread dipped in lavender rich Island vinegar—thick as syrup. Buttery Chardonnay, sipped. Just an evening meal, near the water as the sun is preparing to set. The vibrant colors, textures, layers, warmth around us, are reflected in the food and wine, suggesting the complexity of emotions. Food savored, words unnecessary. Thoughts of the day pondered.

Can I find this peace everywhere please? Can I quiet my spirit in the midst of interruptions…….can I carry home with me the gentle lull of a mood created by my surroundings far north from the city?

It takes time to appreciate the goodness in simple, honest things like vegetables, herbs, oil and vinegar. “A good honest meal,” my mom would say about her mother’s slip-downs and dumplings made from flour she had ground, broth rich from the marrow of bone, served with vegetables she had canned, cream she had drawn from the cow into the bucket herself, and meat butchered from a steer they had raised.

For a long time, I knew as little about the ingredients in the food I ate as what was inside the people I was drawn to.

Food, like people, calls for a sensitivity to its subtleties. An understanding of each ingredient’s unique character, delicacy, power. A respect for all that it took to make its way to the table. From seed to plant, grain to loaf. Birth. Growth. Life.

It’s the sound of the wind off the water that transfixes my thoughts on what matters to me.

A meal prepared for someone you love is a wonderful thing. Tonight I will make Dad pork chops. Yellow squash the way Mom made it—sauteed until golden brown then flipped one slice at a time and sprinkled with lemon pepper. Mashed potatoes. Butter.

IMG_20140701_193222

The wind changed direction off the lake and I suddenly have goose bumps, even in my new hoodie. It’s time to go inside for a glass of wine and cook.

20140701_175533_resized

 

 

 

 

How to Eat a Morning Bun

It’s Sunday and we didn’t go to church today. Dad came down with pneumonia but he’s pushing through. He said, “I told the Lord He could take me but I’d really appreciate a little more time because I have more stories to tell!”

I stayed home too and don’t assume it’s because the Packers are playing. I don’t watch games unless there is a party or they make it to the playoffs. I woke up a little under the weather but my husband knows one way to perk me up–Morning Buns!

I still remember the day I had my first Morning Bun. I was working after school at Gimbel’s Department Store downtown. I was always ravenous at the end of the school day and it was there, in the Gimbel’s Bakery, that I met my first Bun.

I had never tasted anything so good. Morning Buns have the most incredible mixture of moist chewiness and crunch. You know how a bakery smells? It can stop me in my tracks. These Buns taste even better than they smell and involve all of your senses as you devour one.

So, after I made my purchase all those years ago, that’s exactly what I did. Devoured it and I still remember the experience. I couldn’t eat it fast enough. Since that time, I’ve learned about self control. I have outgrown the days of eating ice cream directly from the container–excluding the pints. Gone also is spooning Toll House batter into my mouth instead of onto the cookie sheet–a dab will do. I no longer leave an inch of wine at the bottom of the bottle just to say I didn’t drink the entire thing. Self-control. With God’s grace, a little goes a long way.

Morning Buns are to be eaten one layer at a time—like wine, savored one sip at a time—paying attention to the flavors, identifying them, and appreciating what it took to get from the wheat kernel or the grape into your mouth.

Food, like people, should be the real thing. Nothing artificial—and you’ll be satisfied without excess.

These buns are kind of messy—they flake. A lot. You get the sugary cinnamon coating all over your hands so you need a napkin to eat one. Examine the bun carefully to find the best starting point. I’ve never made any myself but they look like they are rolled into shape–I like to find that seam where the roll of dough ends and is nudged securely into place. I start there, pulling it back until it cracks off. This is my first bite. Crunch. From there, the layers are limitless.

Inspection

Inspection

If you can succeed in peeling off a single layer, it will lie on your tongue like a fresh sheet against your skin. It hovers there, melting. I never knew dough could melt until I ate a Morning Bun. The inside is the opposite of the exterior—soft and dewy. It’s like the pearl in an oyster—the prize of the pastry. Take your time getting there.

20131006_093255

Mm Mmmm

Sip your coffee, read the paper. Just be sure to fully enjoy each bite–it’s special, set apart from other pastries and donuts like Sundays are set apart from other days of the week. So enjoy your Bun along with your day of rest and worship!

Honey, can you please get me a napkin?

Red, can you please put down that camera and get me a napkin?

 

Morning Buns

It was the last Sunday in October and Mom woke with an inspiration. She had watched the colors of the leaves changing from the window that year—taking in the brilliance one moment at a time. She craved a walk outside.

“Wake up,” she whispered into Dad’s ear. “I’ve had an inspiration. I want you to walk to the store with me. I want to get Morning Buns for breakfast.”

Morning Bun

A heavenly bun

Dad watched her as she rose slowly and walked carefully into her dressing area.

“It’s daylight savings time, darling. Let’s change the clocks first,” he whispered back. “Are you sure you’re up for a walk…?” He wondered where this sudden burst of energy had come from.

Mom was already layering on her fleece pants and hoodie. “Are you sure it’s this Sunday?” she asked.

“Oh yes,” he said more to himself than to her as he was fidgeting with the clock.

So together they went through the house, room by room, setting the clocks forward an hour.

This will mean the store is open by now, she thinks to herself as she sits down on the bench by the door to put on her shoes. She knows it will take her husband a while to get ready so she puts the tea kettle on and opens the door to get the Sunday paper. In the upper corner she reads the words: DON’T FORGET TO TURN YOUR CLOCKS FORWARD NEXT SUNDAY!

She considers leaving all the clocks as they are, so they won’t forget next Sunday, but instead sets to work changing them back, all the while chuckling to herself. It’s the little things that entertain me these days, she thinks, the funny quirks of growing old together.

Her balance is off and her breath labored as she reaches, once again, to open the door of the grandfather clock—a wedding gift from her mother over 60 years ago—to gently move the hands back an hour.

“I’m ready.” Dad says, zipping up his jacket.

“No you’re not. There are still clocks in my office and in the bedroom that need changing.”

“I did those.”

“You did those incorrectly. We were one week early.”

“Really. Huh.”

She made a small list of the things she wanted to buy at the store then, slipped it in her pocket, zipped her coat all the way up so it covered her chin, put on her cap, and they were out the door.

The fall morning air was crisp and the hill to the store, steep but she hustled up the sidewalk. Again, Dad was amazed at her energy. They were the only shoppers in the store and it felt as though they had entered a castle. The bright colors of the fruits and vegetables surrounded her. The smells from the bakery made her hungry—something she hadn’t felt in a long while. She savored each moment as she experienced it.

Dad went to the counter where the Morning Buns were usually displayed and found that there weren’t any..

“Honey, they don’t have any today.”  He was disappointed.

“That’s your problem,” she says in response. “You don’t know how to shop. You don’t read labels and you have to learn to ask questions.”

He had spent hours at the store just the day before, trying to find the items on her list to make chili. He had come home with the wrong beans and sizes of cans. She had been thankful for the extras she found stored in the cupboard.

“Do you have any Morning Buns?” she asks the baker with her contagious smile.

“Yes, I just don’t have them out yet.”  She turns to Dad and says, “See?”

They leave the store with two Morning Buns, a cruller, a jelly-filled donut along with the other things on her list.

The morning was magical—the movement, the air, the splendor of the food on display, as if it all were for them alone to enjoy. She marveled at God’s beauty.

“How amazing God’s earth,” she says as they walk home.

How amazing her energy this morning, Bill thinks as he walks closely beside Dee, carrying the groceries in one arm and holding her right hand with the other.

They sit at the kitchen table eating the fresh fruit and delicately layered, cinnamon crusted  pastry.

“Food has never tasted so good”, she says as the sun streams in through the window. It warms their shoulders and creates a rainbow pattern on the hardwood floor beneath their feet. It’s their first meal of the day and it will prove to be their last together.

Eggplant is Elegant

I’m home for lunch today and I actually took time to stop writing and eat. Where do the hours in a day go?

I buy an eggplant every so often with full intention of slicing it up and frying it with melted cheese and fresh tomato–Mom’s favorite. It doesn’t happen. By the time I pull the pudgy purple thing out from the bottom drawer of the fridge, it doesn’t look so purple and it’s grown big brown polka dots. With guilt, I toss it.

Today, it made it to the frying pan.

Debbie's eggplant

Voila! Lunch is served.

It was so delicious I had to write it down:

Make 3/4 inch slices with one medium eggplant (about 8)

Whip 1 egg, a little salt and pepper with a fork

Sprinkle crunchy panko crumbs on a plate

Dip then flip each slice in the crumbs (adding more as needed) and place in heated skillet with coconut oil spray or whatever you prefer until they are crispy golden brown. They should turn over easily

Slice fresh mozzarella and top each eggplant round

Put a dollop of pesto in the center of each

Slice some little tomatoes and set them cut side down in the middle of the pan making it look like the center of a flower

Cover and heat over medium until the eggplant is soft with a fork’s prick and the cheese is gooey, then carefully spoon some of the tomatoes onto the center of each slice

Place as many as you want on a plate with a leaf of fresh basil under each. Or, once they have cooled a little, you could serve them as an hors d’oeuvre.  Add a salad, a little pasta, a glass of chilled rose′ and you’ve got dinner!

Then, when you’re done eating lunch, be really decadent and take a little nap.

Naptime

Nap-time….

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Cor 10:31