On a hot August day when I was 14, I sat amongst hundreds of other soon-to-be 9th graders at our high school orientation. A teacher stood in front of us on the field behind the pool, shouting out instructions and things we’d need to know when we arrived on our first day. My cell phone buzzed in my pocket. When I answered, my mom asked when I was coming out. I didn’t understand why she was rushing me until we were on the freeway – I still remember the exact spot – towards the hospital where my grandfather had been admitted not long before, when she told me he had passed. I cried. Our family threw a huge life celebration in his honor soon after, with a cardboard cutout of my grandfather sitting in the driveway in an old car he’d loved. There were martini toasts, speeches, people I’d never met before, and people I’d known my entire life.
Shortly after, my grandma moved to Oregon. We helped pack the contents of her home into a moving truck, staring in disbelief that everything would fit. It felt weird for her to leave the house that held so many memories – family parties with jazz and blues music playing loudly, my grandpa saying “Let’s give ’em a round of applause!” whenever anyone arrived, refrigerated boxes of restaurant leftovers that my grandma happily accepted each time we ate out, the wooden Native American statue we kids always stared up at in the living room, the framed Blues Brothers and old car posters on the walls, my grandma’s artwork, my grandpa’s whistling. It felt weird for her to soon be living so far away.
The first time we visited her in Portland, she showed us a wild rhubarb bush growing on the side of her house. She spoke animatedly about this bush, so excited about the treasures it would soon reveal. I had no idea what rhubarb was.
Almost ten years later, I think of my grandma and her rhubarb plant whenever I see those bright red stalks. While I love them in strawberry rhubarb pie – the combination of the sweet strawberries and tart rhubarb makes my mouth water – this gluten-free breakfast cornbread is a new favorite! I loved baking it in the cast iron skillet and was amazed at how flawlessly it slipped out of the pan after baking. It was also my first time grinding and using quinoa flower, and I love the dense, chewy texture it created when mixed with almond meal and masa harina. I’ve been slathering it with peanut butter and serving it with a big side of fruit for a quick weekday breakfast.
i’ve always thought of french toast as an indulgent ‘sometimes’ breakfast. i remember my mom using day-old bread to make french toast on a weekend morning; i remember the excitement that would take hold when i’d order it at a diner and impatiently await a piping hot plate of soft bread hiding beneath a blanket of velvety powdered sugar and fake maple syrup, a plump pillow of butter melting away on top.
it wasn’t until i made it myself that i realized french toast is a blank canvas. some days i like it with yogurt and fruit on top, other times syrup and sugar. suddenly, french toast has gone from that indulgent ‘sometimes’ breakfast to an everyday healthy breakfast treat.
//R E C I P E (F O R . T W O)//
/i n g r e d i e n t s/
\\f r e n c h . t o a s t\\
4 slices challa (or other) bread
heavy sprinkle cinnamon
\\t o p p i n g\\
1 cup frozen raspberries
zest of one lemon, plus juice to taste
powdered sugar (optional)
maple syrup or other syrup (optional)
/p r o c e s s/
heat a nonstick pan and a small splash of oil (olive, coconut) over medium heat
in a small bowl (preferably a flatter bowl), whisk together eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon
lay challa slices, one at a time, into the egg mixture until completely coated on both sides
place challa on the pan and cook until lightly browned. flip and repeat
while the toast is cooking, heat a small saucepan over medium heat; add oil to coat
add frozen raspberries and stir quickly to prevent sticking
stir in lemon zest and juice. cook until berries are soft and hot, and juices have begun to release (it should look more watery than jam, but still chunky)
place two slices of challa on each plate. pour syrup, dust with powdered sugar, and top with berry mixture
my favorite kinds of dishes are the ones that taste amazing but take almost zero effort. i was really digging this quinoa cranberry pilaf side dish i brought to a friendsgiving celebration last month – the quinoa was smooth, the apples and onions were perfectly soft, and the cranberries offered a tart bite against the sweetness of the cinnamon and five-spice.
//r e c i p e//
/i n g r e d i e n t s/
1 cup quinoa
2 1/4 cups water
1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1 pink lady apple, chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chinese five-spice
raw or toasted pecans for topping
/p r o c e s s/
bring quinoa and water to a boil.
add onion, cranberries, apple, and spices and reduce heat to simmer. cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, until quinoa is done and water is absorbed.
place in a 9×9 baking dish or other small serving dish and top with pecans. serve warm.
thanks to these tasty treats, my tiny little home smells like butter, sugar, and vanilla.
i used this recipe with extra vanilla, zest of one lemon (and a small squeeze of juice), and 1 cup very finely chopped fresh persimmon (not peeled) as my add-in. since the dough was rather wet, i skipped brushing the tops with milk and just went straight to dusting with cake lair‘s orange sugar.
WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU
scones: because it’s good to indulge once in a while!