Tag Archives: Breakfast for Dinner

Not Quite Breakfast for Not Quite Dinner

Painted in Waterlogue

There was a package of smoked salmon in the fridge. I guess that’s not tremendously unusual; it’s the sort of thing we have from time, not quite a staple and not quite a splurge. She bought it, I guess, when her mom came to visit, and they hadn’t eaten it. I didn’t have a lot of time to cook, so a protein I didn’t have to defrost had pretty strong appeal. What did not appeal, however, was serving it for breakfast with bagels and cream cheese. I like the idea of bagels and cream cheese and smoked salmon, but smoked fish is just too fishy for me in the morning.

But it was 4 in the afternoon, I had to leave for rehearsal shortly, and breakfast had been a long time ago.

While I cooked some linguine, I flaked the salmon into a bowl. I chopped a bunch of cilantro and a bunch of dill and added them. I chopped some capers and added them. Thinking I might be on the verge of too-salty, I saw some appealing-looking grape tomatoes on the counter; I halved and added them to the bowl.I very lightly steamed a few spears of asparagus, sliced them into quarter-inch rounds, and added them, too. We had cream cheese, but I left it in the fridge in favor of some mozzarella I roughly cubed.  I made a quick vinaigrette from a teaspoon of dijon mustard, a bit of the caper brine, and a couple tablespoons of olive oil, gave the bowl a generous grind of black pepper, and tossed everything to coat. When the noodles reached al dente, I scooped them into the bowl; some of their starchy cooking water came along, as intended. I tossed the pasta with its fishy-cheesy-herby condiment–too chunky to call it “sauce,” I think.

The heat of the noodles softened the cheese and tomatoes and warmed the salmon and herbs without cooking them. But the dressing wasn’t so cold as to turn the pasta into a salad. It was like a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, but in a bowl. Fresh, bright herbs; sweet tomatoes; soft, creamy cheese; briny, hearty, yet delicate fish; this dish had a little of everything.

I called down to the office. “Dinner is served,” I said. “Or lunch, or whatever this is.”

Whatever it was, we enjoyed it a lot.


Hot Dancing, Cold Cereal


I did not want another sandwich.  I’d had a sandwich for lunch, while driving from a performance to another rehearsal. Immediately following that rehearsal I had to drive back to the site of the performance for an all-evening rehearsal. No time for dinner between.  But not another sandwich, and certainly not another sandwich while driving. Things aren’t so bad as they were once, when at the end of a multi-week stretch of classes and rehearsals I was asked what I wanted for dinner, and I yelled, “I don’t care, but I have to use a fork!”

I packed a cup of oatmeal, some fruit, and some granola, figuring I could use the theatre kitchen’s microwave to heat it during a five-minute break.

I forgot the kitchen would be locked after business hours.

I could have waited until rehearsal ended and I drove home to use my own microwave, but dinner at 11 p.m. seemed like a bad idea. So, during a bit of downtime while the choreographer fixed some dance steps, I had dinner.

The blackberries were refreshingly tart and bursting with juice; the granola was nutty and salty-sweet. And the room-temperature oatmeal? Fortunately, steel-cut oats never get mushy or pasty. This serving had a little more crunch than when it’s been heated, but it wasn’t bad at all. I won’t go for cold oatmeal as a routine breakfast–or even as a routine rehearsal dinner–but it’s nice to know there’s another option that isn’t a sandwich in the car.

Rehearsal went well, by the way. We got a great deal accomplished. For two weeks out from opening, the last night in the rehearsal room before we move into the theatre, we were right where we should be.  The cast did good, solid work. It’s hard to remember to act, and to sing well, when you’re executing complicated dance steps at the same time.

Heck, sometimes it’s hard to remember to pack a spoon.

Late Night Granola


She’s working at an event tonight where young professionals will sleep outdoors in New York City to raise awareness of the plight of homeless children. (They’re also raising funds to support the work of the terrific organization that gives those children a safe home.)

And, of course, it’s going to snow.

I worry about the event staff and supporters who are going to sleep outdoors in the snow, but I worry more about the children who didn’t have a safe place to sleep last night. And might not tomorrow night, either.

I sent her off with a big cup of tea and a bagel this morning. She’ll have a late lunch with her colleagues and the participants as part of the event. For dinner, or breakfast, or whatever she calls it when she finally gets to sit down again, there are hard-boiled eggs, a bowl of fruit–and, at her request, a container of granola.

Country House Granola

Preheat oven to 250F.
Combine in a big bowl all of the following:
4 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking, and certainly not instant)
1/2 cup each:
cashews, pecans, walnuts, shelled sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, flaked coconut
1/4 cup each:
vegetable oil, maple syrup, brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Spread the mixture onto a sheet pan and bake for 75 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Note—omit any nuts, or substitute others, based on preference or dietary restrictions. I’ll mix it up sometimes and use peanuts instead of cashews.

Another Note on Nuts—whole pecans and walnuts are extravagant and pretty, but completely unnecessary. Pecan and walnut halves or pieces taste just as good and are more economical.

Nut-note III: Shells Revenge—all of the nuts should be unsalted, and raw if possible; otherwise, reduce the salt slightly and add the nuts partway through the baking time.

I wish there were more I could do. I wish I could make breakfast (or dinner) for everyone. I wish there was no reason to ask for support of an organization to help homeless children. Mostly, I wish that everyone could have a warm, dry and safe place to sleep tonight.

Snap, Crackle, Mom

Driving home from the first rehearsal for a new show, I wanted a snack.  I’d had a light supper on the way there, but it had been a long and tiring night. Something crunchy was in order, and maybe salty. Or possibly sweet.

I avoided several McDonald’s drive-throughs and a Wendy’s or two, though the idea of fries was sorely tempting. I thought about the peanut-butter filled pretzels and Cool Ranch Doritos in our pantry, but neither of those seemed right either. If I didn’t figure it out by the time I got home, I could easily enough just go to bed. I wasn’t starving; I was probably more tired than hungry.

Coming into the house from the garage, I noticed a canister of Rice Krispies we’d bought to make Kind-of Bars. (I should do that again sometime.) The canister was too tall for the kitchen cupboard, so we stored the rest of the cereal on the garage shelves along with the extra waxed paper, plastic bags, and Vitamin Water.

Mom worked late a few nights a week when she managed the credit department for a local department store. Dad might have taken her out for a bite when he picked her up after work, but more often I remember her having cereal at the kitchen table. Sometimes I sat with her and told her about school; probably, I had a cup of cocoa or a cookie, too. I never understood the coffee Mom drank with her bedtime snack, but I absolutely got the appeal of the cereal. Crunchy, a little sweet, a little salty, relatively healthful, and quick to prepare.

It was just what I wanted–and I had a bowlful of memory, too.

Okay, so I sliced a little fruit and sprinkled some homemade granola on top. It's still healthier than fries or chips.

Okay, so I sliced a little fruit and sprinkled some homemade granola on top.
It’s still healthier than fries or chips.

Acquired Tastes

Thursday is choir night, and we still haven’t worked out that load-the-slow-cooker-at-noon thing such that dinner is ready when she gets home. She picked up something called “chicken fries” when she stopped at the market for the milk we needed for breakfast. I’m not sure if “chicken fries” are as closely related to McNuggets as they sound, but I’m not going to worry about it now.

I had the same choir-night dinner I’ve had for ages: after the choir room is set up and the night’s music has been practiced, I have a half-cup of yogurt, whatever fruit is handy, and some of our Really Good Granola sprinkled on top. It’s easy to fix, it’s light, and since there’s as much fruit as yogurt, the combination isn’t too gloppy on the vocal cords.

The thing is, although this has been my Thursday quick-supper for a long while, I can remember when I didn’t even know what yogurt was.  And then I knew, but I hated it.  (My first taste of yogurt was in the college cafeteria.  I thought it was pudding.  I nearly did a spit-take. I did not try it again for years.)

Apparently it was an acquired taste. I don’t remember when I acquired it, but I did.  Along with lots of others.

Steel-cut oatmeal. (Hated oatmeal growing up.)

Fish tacos. (What on earth is a fish taco?)

Cheese (the kind that isn’t pre-sliced and covered in plastic).

Beets.  Tomatoes. Coffee.

These things aren’t just acquired tastes, they’re positively comforting to me now. (Well, maybe coffee isn’t so much comforting as a requirement for consciousness some mornings. And afternoons. And the occasional evening.)

I wouldn’t combine them all in one meal, but if I had to plan a month’s worth of meals, they’d all be listed. Chicken fries might not make the short list, but if choir rehearsal runs a little long and there are leftovers when I get home, who knows?

Manhattan Pancakes

She’d had a rough morning, I’d had a rough afternoon, and breakfast-for-dinner seemed the only way to go.  She replied to my iMessage asking what she’d like:

Ooh! Pancakes? Plain, topped with peanut butter and butter?

I agreed.  It was, in fact, what I was hoping she’d choose.

Meanwhile, knowing that comfort food was on the horizon, I posted jokingly to Facebook that I was having pancakes, and wondered

…what’s an appropriate wine to pair with them. Or perhaps the best hard spirits. Or both.

My friends enthusiastically rose to the challenge.  Suggestions included hard cider (apple or pear), moonshine, beer, various German wines and a couple of sparkling wines, blueberry schnapps, and “honey-infused rye whiskey.” This bunch clearly takes their pancakes-and-drinking seriously.  Or maybe they were just ready to help a friend in need.

The comment stream amused her as much as it had done for me, but that “infused” comment made her sit up and take notice: “We could just pour bourbon over the pancakes.”

All of a sudden I was in the act, too.  “Wait–what if we made some simple syrup…”

“…and added bourbon!”

Now, neither of us is really a drinker. I can mix a Manhattan, split it into two glasses, and there’ll be some left in each glass at the end of the evening. But, as with the one-spoon-sundae that has become a favorite dessert, sometimes just a little taste is enough.

There was no bourbon in the cupboard after all, so she flavored the syrup with rye and a splash of scotch. I mixed batter and heated the griddle. One pancake got the last of a batch of homemade maraschino cherries (the kind where real cherries have been infused with maraschino liqueur, not the candied-and-dyed fakes). We cooked some sausage, deglazed its pan with a little more rye and thickened it with a bit of butter, and drizzled that sauce over the sausage. All the while, she sang Don McLean’s “American Pie.”

“…drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry,
and good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye…”

Nobody got over-served.  We each had just a bit of the sort-of-cocktail syrup over very fluffy pancakes. Even so, neither of us was driving anywhere. The miserable parts of our days faded away in the giddiness of doing something silly in the kitchen, and in its unusual and tasty result.

“Who needs ‘American Pie,'” she asked, “when you’ve got cake!”

There’s quite a lot of the syrup left, but we’ll probably save it until we’ve both had a really good day at work.

Breakfast for Dinner for Grownups

Breakfast-for-Dinner for Grownups