Weekend breakfast = “ME” time

Weekend breakfast: cheese pancakes
I’m writing this as I’m enjoying that stack of cheese pancakes I whipped up for brunch this Sunday.  I save the big breakfasts for the weekends when I have the time to actually cook one, and because I like to eat lightly during the week when I’m watching what I’m eating.  Breakfast then would be my regular iced coffee and a quarter cup of high fiber oat bran, mixed in with a third cup of warm skim milk and a dash of sweetener.  I let it sit for a few minutes to thicken and I end up with almost a half cup of my version of an oat meal breakfast.  Or I would occasionally pick up a bread pudding muffin from my favorite stop on my way up to work these days: Eli Zabar’s over at Grand Central Market.

Weekends, though, are different.  I wake up when I want to (unless my thirteen year old wakes up before me and requests for a special breakfast which is rare!  — waking up earlier and asking for a special breakfast, that is!). I would know what I was having the Friday before when I would make a “bread run” through my favorite bakeries in the city — say when I feel like whipping up some French toast (give me some real challah bread!) .. this time, I only picked up some tomatoes (craving my tomato scrambled eggs), and I knew I would have pancakes for Sunday.

Weekend breakfast: tomato scrambled eggs and iced coffee

And there are the weekends when I’m on my own, and I get to structure the whole weekend around me.  (Laundry time included.)

I love the complete pancake mixes.  (I don’t know what I would do without dear Aunt Jemima!) While I don’t mind having them as is, slathered in syrup and heavy cream, I make a fancier version by adding something along the way.  I grew up on Maya hotcake mixes, and I remember happily making pancakes for merienda (afternoon snack) for the entire family.  Of course back then, I used a carajay (our Filipino version of a wok) and had to mix the egg and water in and cook the pancakes using a touch of oil or butter.  Fast forward to now in New York where I’m a mom and after I actually discovered I could cook!  We have Aunt Jemima and our old reliable non stick pans for those gorgeous pancakes..

My favorite version is a decadent caramel pancake where I sandwiched sliced bits of caramel squares in between, or put a good layer on top and microwave to melt..  I had tried mixing in the caramel as slivers in the batter, but the caramel would melt and stick to my turner. Messy.  When you are simply adding the caramel, there is no adjustment to the recipe.  I follow the 1cup mix: 3/4cup water as prescribed by Aunt Jemima.  

It gets a little trickier when you are adding dry ingredients like shredded cheese or mashed bananas, because the consistency of the batter changes.  How much you add of your extra flavoring ingredient depends largely on how much you want to have that flavor present in your pancakes.  I go by the simple rule of thumb that if I’m adding something to flavor up my pancakes, I don’t want a hint of it, I want it present and adding oomph.

For cheese, I usually end up putting in a quarter cup to each cup of mix, and then I up the water to a full cup.  I use shredded cheese that comes in those packets and when I’m out of that, I would usually do two tablespoons of the grated Parmesan which is stronger in flavor.  Just a heads up that the cheese can add pungency to the pancakes, so sensitive noses beware!  Personally, I prefer cheese pancakes with corn syrup, and I do them with a generous bath of heavy cream.

Weekend. Real fast: cheese pancakes
Another nice addition to pancakes is bananas which will give you a banana bread-like flavor.  I mash up half a ripe banana to each cup of mix and again, up the water from 3/4 cup to 1 cup.  You want your pancakes to flow and settle on the pan and not be chunky and all clumpy.  Mashing the bananas will give you clumps, but you also need those to incorporate into the pancake mix seamlessly.  I try not to mash my bananas to too smooth a consistency because I like biting into my bananas as I eat my pancakes.  If you want only the flavor without the banana bits, then mash away to a smooth paste and watch it disappear into your batter.
Weekend breakfast: Banana pancakes
Finally, how about some red velvet pancakes?  There was a time I had left over red velvet cake which I needed to disappear quick before it started showing in my middle portion. Again, rule of thumb to add around a quarter cup of crumbled cake bits to every cup of mix, but with this one, no adjustment necessary for the water.  The cake comes moist and literally extends the batter without adding more dry ingredients that would stretch the liquid portion of the recipe. At least that’s how it worked for me.

There are so many ways to make breakfast for one a special treat to celebrate you.  We often get caught up making special meals for others that we forget we deserve the special treatment, too.  On weekends when all is quiet and I only have me to worry about, I give it the extra effort to create a special treat and take care of me.

Breakfast, etc.

Breakfast etcI had intended to take a picture of today’s breakfast treat to accompany this post, but it disappeared before I could.  I cooked up some Spanish chocolate and dunked ssome slices of Edam cheese.  Yum!  Not quite the quezo de bola that would have made for the perfect pairing, but when in New York, you make do.  I simmered the chocolate “coins” and stirred in a teaspoon of butter (to keep it from boiling over) and let it stay on the lowest setting to make sure it was all cooked through.  This is yet another one of my weird eating habits because most people wouldn’t combine the two in a cup.  I get the chocolate to near-boiling, and then I drop the slices of cheese into a cup of this sinful beverage.  I let it sit long enough for the cheese to soften (or melt, as was the case with this very soft Edam), and I scoop the cheese out with a spoon to eat with my bread of choice.  Today, it was just simple potato bread dinner rolls.

I really should pay a visit to the Filipino store in Woodside to check if they have the Marca Pina queso de bola available already.

The weekend has been quiet and uneventful, and I’m hoping to get more done today.  I’m just staying put at home.  I had offered Peter brunch in the city, but he begged off.  Perhaps it’s all for the best just so I can get more tidying up done.  One cabinet at a time.

I found the cake decor on Angelo’s first birthday cake when we did a Sesame Street theme, and while I had Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Elmo originally, one of my guests took Elmo and I was powerless to take it back.  (A special child of the ex sister-in-law… I do have a heart and decided not to ask for it at the end of the party.). That, along with some invitations (baby shower, baptism, and yes, my wedding) went into the memory box holding those tidbits of his younger years in my closet.  I just love how his eyes glimmer when we go through the contents of that box occasionally.  Soon, I will have to get a bigger repository of memories!  Keeping mementos has always been a weakness of mine — so much so that I have collected bits and pieces which are now totally useless and meaningless.  It’s uncanny how things change meanings for us through the years, and what once was so precious can suddenly be indispensable after a period of time.  So those that have lost meaning have found their way into the trash bag.

Not too long ago, I vowed to destash and find a home for the things I had hoped to get rid of.  I am collecting my Artist trading cards (ATCs) to send to my friend, Raine.  I don’t have the time to sort through the postcards just yet, so I am putting the unsorted ones in a box to be dealt with later.  Although I feel like I have barely done anything, I think I’m making good progress.  No procrastinating and that’s an accomplishment by itself.

I am seriously trying and working on getting things done, inch by inch, box by box.  I’m not going as fast I had hoped, but thinking about not being able to do it at the pace I was hoping to do it was just stressing me more and stalling my productivity, so I’ve learned to let that go.  Sometimes, overthinking things can slow us down more than help us as we try to move forward.  The point is to just do it.

I am trying to shake off the shackles that are keeping me from moving on.  It hasn’t been easy.  Sometimes I feel as though I’m making strides, but in truth, I am moving and not accomplishing anything.  Too many questions are racing through my mind, and the occasional unpleasant memory that pokes at my mind and heart don’t help.  I keep telling people I’m okay — and for the most part, it’s true — but there’s a part of me that is stalled and feels like a car struggling to get out of the pothole it’s gotten stuck in.  The important thing is that I’m aware of where I am, and I am trying my hardest to work my way out of it.

Sometimes it’s as simple as changing the photo in a picture frame.  I found one hidden behind a couple of frames above a tall shelf and saw a dust-covered photograph, a memory more than a decade old.  I wiped the frame clean and found something more relevant to my “now”.  I put that photo in my bedroom where I will be able to see it and be reminded of what’s important to me at the present time.  It’s a simple yet powerful reminder that I have to move on..  The wooden frame was etched with the word “FAMILY” and some emotional words that define it.  Even that has changed meaning for me and the new picture — one of Angelo and I — embodies what that means to me now.

I have started reading again.  That’s another blog post, though, so let me hit “publish” now before this starts languishing in my “draft” folder yet again.  Here’s to a wonderful week ahead for all of us..

Dreaming of French Toast and other breakfast bits

For the last three months or so, I’ve been having a staple breakfast of egg whites (and the occasional whole egg on the weekends) and turkey sausages.  That meant giving up my weekend pancake treat, or any other breakfast other than that.  The good news is that I have lost more than 15 lbs which I can’t be happier about.  Luckily, I’m the type of person who can have the same thing day in and day out, like I used to have tapa everyday, or tilapia stuffed with veggies from the Jollyjeeps in Makati way back when.  There are times, though, when I crave something different.  A friend is boasting of making a mean french toast, and it’s been ages since I had that for breakfast.  I must say I make a good crunchy french toast which I picked up from one of our stays at a Marriott more than a decade ago, but it would  be nice to be treated to someone else making breakfast, though.  (One reason I love hotel stays, because I get to eat something I didn’t prepare!)

My mornings are a concert date with the Jesuit Music Ministry via JMM Covers on Youtube which is like my morning prayer ritual now.  (That’s something that has stuck with me after the brief stint with the Jesuits in law school ages ago..)  I used to stick to just three songs and a solemn recital of the Serenity Prayer, but my early morning wake up calls now give me room to play an actual playlist I put together on my GothamChick Youtube account aptly titled ‘Prayers‘.  They’re songs that are easy on the ears, and light on the heart.

Below is one of the gems I discovered, a jazzy and more soulful version of “Sa ‘Yo Lamang” which you won’t hear at mass but would love listening to on a beautiful Saturday morning like today.

I’m going to try and do an Art Journal Every Day update in the other blog if only I could get my blurring app to work (!).. that means a few minutes to actually continue a layout, and maybe paint more towards the end.  I’m trying to be more concise with my entries, but brevity has never been one of my stronger suits. (This blog being proof of that… Ha!)

Fortunately, there isn’t a ton of homework to worry about, and other than missing a performance at the Lincoln Center I was hoping to take Angelo to tomorrow, my weekend is looking good.  (I had vacillated about buying or not buying the tickets and of course it sold out before I made up my mind..)  I was hoping to take him to his favorite spot in Central Park, but weather permitting, we might actually do that on Tuesday when school’s out for Veteran’s Day.

Here’s to a good weekend with the sun shining brightly today..


 

 

Over breakfast

I slept normal last night which was a first in many days.  I was in bed before midnight and made sure to shut all my electronic devices when the witching hour came.  Instead of lingering and having difficulty sleeping, I drifted off to la-la land almost instantaneously.  I know because I don’t remember anything after closing my eyes.  No stressful dreams of people who haunt me into a stressful awakening.  Bliss.

My raisin walnut loafI woke up earlier than usual, too, which is good.  So instead of immediately getting down to the business of getting myself ready for work, I sat down at our breakfast counter, powered up the laptop, and then proceeded to enjoy a quarter slice of the raisin walnut loaf I picked up from Maison Kayser in the Flat Iron district.  It might not be one of his fancy pastries or desserts, but this bread is a heavenly treat.  I can make do with it and butter for a meal.  (Which I will indulge in later for lunch.)

I checked my messages (the boss is on the other side of the world but thankfully has kept to emailing me at the start of HIS day, end of mine, instead of some ungodly hour — but it still pays to check — just in case.)  I said my morning prayer — something I’ve been good with even if reading the scripture readings via Kerygma’s Daily Readings has not been as easy to do regularly.  And I sat down here, determined to write a morning post.

I can hear the humming of the refrigerator and nothing much else.  The TV is off because I’m the only one in the house — everyone else is asleep or gone off to work.  I’m just savoring this alone time where the only sense of urgency comes from the cadence of the laptop keys as I strike them.

The half dozen or so posts in my head are still in my head.  While I have been writing, it’s been more of the spontaneous account of the “thought of the moment” or major activity of the day.  I still hear the words coming forth in my head as I go about doing my work — or even as I hold the clay in my hands, trying to experiment with this new design I wanted to come up with.

Yesterday, the anger almost crept up on my again.  I don’t want to say it’s getting easier to let it go — I think I’ve just gotten better at it.  I breathe in.  I calmly tell myself to let it go.  Another deep breath.  I pray that God help me to let it go.  And I think that is what does it for me.

Time to get ready for work again.  I’ve indulged enough here and must head back to the real world and do my part for the day.

 

 

 

Friday Bagel Treat

Bagel breakfastSo I thought I’d treat myself to a bagel breakfast this morning.  I’m probably one of the few who nuke their bagels in the microwave (hence the glossy top — that’s butter), and although I didn’t finish the whole bagel, I did have myself a hearty treat.  I used to like my bagels with cream cheese  but cream cheese has fallen out of favor with me, so butter it is.

Friday here was sunny for a change after several muggy days that left you with a blah feeling.  It’s peeking out which is a good start to what the weathermen are saying will be a not-so-good weekend weatherwise.  I’ll take all the sunshine I can get.

Personal Treat

I like weekends because breakfast is not a hurried production.  It’s also the only time of the week when I can whip something special up for myself after preparing breakfast for everyone else.  Today I decided I wanted pancakes.  Slathered with butter and topped with my favorite Harry and David Caramel Sauce — yum!  I would’ve loved to pour on some heavy cream but I’m all out.  Still, that was quite a treat.

I sat by the breakfast counter and had a leisurely breakfast while listening to music via YouTube.  It’s the start of a long weekend here on our side of the world, what with Martin Luther King Day being observed this Monday.  A much needed break, indeed.

It’s been a busy week at work and I am still adjusting back to being back from Manila — not so much jetlag-wise — I think I’ve pretty much recovered from that.  But more like adjusting back to trying to wean myself from pining for those three weeks of rest and relaxation with family and friends.

Work has been very hectic and will get even more hectic.  I can use as much of the weekend as I can get.

So after the espresso and the pancakes, I got another giant mug of coffee.  I sat, browsed the net, uploaded these pictures I took for this blogpost and just enjoyed the morning.

We often end up taking such simple pleasures like sitting down to take it easy forgranted, when it is probably the best remedy to a quick recharge more so after a busy week.  All week long, I’m the first to wake up and I start puttering around the kitchen getting my morning off to a start while it is still dark outside.  I get everyone’s breakfast ready and then I get down to getting myself off to work.  Everything is at a hurried pace that usually leaves me breathless by the time I walk out of the house.

Weekends afford me a chance to slow down, enjoy every bit of the exercise of getting breakfast ready, and actually fixing up a personal treat for myself like today.  At least during weekends — that’s good enough.  I can sip my coffee at leisure instead of doing it at my desk when I get to work.  I can stop and decide how the day will be instead of letting it roll out in rote fashion.