Category Archives: breakfast

Maple Weekend 2014

I don’t know about you, but I grew up believing that “pancake” syrup was all there was to drown my pancakes in. Based upon my middle son’s recent query about “Why is the number one ingredient in maple syrup water?,” I have to think that more must be done to educate children about the difference between pancake syrup and genuine maple syrup. Maple Weekend 2014 provided the ideal opportunity for a little lesson on the genuine article vs. that water-based, artificially colored and flavored bastardization known as “pancake syrup.”

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Last weekend, on a damp and cold morning, Quinn and I headed out to Berne to see the trees from which our syrup comes. The drive was full of sights for us to observe – cows and horses, heaps of lingering snow, raging creeks, and to discuss and, in case you were wondering, that boy has no interest in living in the country. Definitely a city kid.

We arrived at Mountain Winds Maple Farm in the late morning. While we weren’t the only folks visiting, Randy made time to take us on a little tour. Our footwear choice (rubber boots) was validated by the squishy earth and we confidently headed towards the little pumping station. This was where the tubing, working with a vacuum pump, initially collected the surprisingly clear and remarkably not sweet sap.

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Randy explained that the yield has thus far this season been very low since we have not yet had a true thaw to encourage a free flow of sap. Fingers crossed, a few days later that he and the other syrup producers are seeing a more impressive run as the temperatures have somewhat moderated.

From this first collection point the sap is sent to be boiled down, changing the percentage of sugar from approximately 2% to a more familiar 60+%. The rich amber color also develops as the syrup is concentrated and caramelized.

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We were lucky enough to nab his last gallon of syrup and have stashed it away in the basement as back up for the gallon we’re currently enjoying. In the DelSo, I use 100% pure maple syrup, preferably extra dark. I buy this delicious liquid, 2-3 times a year, by the gallon. It’s an investment at approximately $55, but buying in bulk definitely makes sense for my household where we eat pancakes or waffles or French toast at least weekly. In addition to this standard use of maple syrup, I frequently find myself reaching for the syrup dispenser to add flavor to root vegetables and other savory items. Delicious!

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When it is time for some more amber sweetness, we have options other than hauling out to Berne. Randy vends at the Bethlehem Farmers’ Market and also distributes through Farmie Market. In addition to syrup and syrup related products (cotton candy, syrup straws, hard candies, etc), he also sells farm eggs and fresh chicken.

See you at Maple Weekend 2015!  Don’t forget your boots.

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Filed under Boys, breakfast, Events, Local, road trips, Spring, upstate New York

What I missed

IMG_2475After being back and settled in the DelSo for a week, I thought I’d share what I missed this summer while away. Some of the items on the list, I may take for granted when I’m home, while others are always appreciated. The list is not in any order, although alphabetical would naturally be my first impulse. I’m a librarian, remember?

  • My pillows. I wish I could bring them along on the vacation, but there just isn’t enough room in the car – and there are only two.
  • My coffee bean grinder. What do you mean not everyone grinds their beans freshly each morning?
  • My griddle pan. Traditionally, I bring my waffle iron along on the trip, but next year I may need to find some space for my go-to pancake/grilled cheese making surface. Making either of these items individually makes no sense when you can make three at a time.
  • Our sweet old lab, Cassidy Bono Lilly, especially when I read stories like this gem from Paul Grondahl.
  • Him. Because I like having him around.

What do you find yourself missing the most when away from home?

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Filed under Albany, breakfast, Cape Cod, Cooking, DelSo, family, favorites, friends, Martha's Vineyard, Summer, travel, vacation

Smooth operator

A recipe for you, courtesy of Quinn Lilly, for a fast breakfast treat for the whole family.  Here’s the “list*” of ingredients:

Lacking punctuation - it's ice, milk not ice milk

Lacking punctuation – it’s ice, milk not ice milk

Place together in blender and push the button.  Simple!

The chocolate mustache tells the tale.

The chocolate mustache tells the tale.

Seeing as how we’re (finally) done with foil-wrapped chocolate Easter eggs, I imagine we’ll be modifying this recipe.  What will remain consistent is the absolute joy this boy gives to me.

*Some may call it a recipe, but Q prefers list.

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Filed under Boys, breakfast, favorites, ideas, Recipes

Frühstück

DSC_0013We’ve all heard of, and perhaps even experienced, the “Continental Breakfast.” On occasion, I’ve encountered it in hotels and it has generally left me unimpressed with its often dried out bread items and unimaginative accompaniments. If I were from “the Continent” and was presented with one of those bastardized versions of what should be the most simple and satisfying meal of the day, I suspect I would be inclined to drop the uber-American phrase “Have a nice day!” liberally, and with increasing sarcasm, throughout the day.  You see, bad food makes me cranky.

During our visit with family last month we were spoiled by a version of the Continental breakfast.  It began with a trip to the bakery in town where we pointed, with increasingly difficult to maintain restraint, at the array of baked goods in the glass case.  Our chosen items were placed in a large, low-sided wicker basket to make keeping track of our selections easier. Personal favorites were the pumpkin seed topped rolls and the pretzel bread.  It ain’t all pumpernickel and rye, my friend.

DSC_0012Once back at home, the breads were placed on the table along with a dazzling array of meats and cheeses.  The meat selection included a smoky Black Forest cured bacon, ham, pâté, pimento studded bologna, and liverwurst.  Basically, more German cold cuts than can be found in any single Capital Region locale other than Rolf’s.  Also on the table were some cheeses, although these were primarily French except for a semi-firm Black Forest cheese which was pleasantly mild with a thick thread of smoke in the center.  I need to talk to the Cheese Traveler about that one.  The other cheeses were a St. Andre triple cream, a bleu and a camembert, each beautifully spreadable and delicious.DSC_0011

To round things out (my stomach, more specifically), there was some fantastic yogurt with way less sugar than its American counterpart, cereal, fruit and some sweet cherry tomatoes from Spain.  This type of breakfast is leisurely – one has a small plate and fills it maybe a couple of times.  The coffee is strong, with a nice crema layer on top, and each cup is brewed to order.  It all has a very Continental feel to it and I think it buries the French petite de jeuner.  Frühstück – it’s breakfast.

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Filed under breakfast, Eating, family, Food, Germany, travel, vacation

12 days of Christmas ~ Dining DelSo

DSC_0004On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…a kick ass bialy from All Good Bakers.  Ok, people, you must know about our DelSo Farm to Bakery restaurant, right?  Britin does a great job promoting their efforts and if there is a discussion about locally sourced produce or dairy, you can be sure she’ll chime in.  She and Nick happily brought their business to the neighborhood where they also reside and have  inspired others to follow them, be it literally, as in the case of their former Farmer’s Market neighbors who have taken the space to their right, or more philosophically, as evidenced by some thoughtful changes to the menu at their neighbors on the other side.  Make no mistake about AGB being exclusively a spot for baked goods – their menu is much more comprehensive than mere carbs!  So, go for breakfast or lunch and take some of Nick’s baked goods home for later.  And seriously, if one of Nick’s bialys inspires words of love, wouldn’t a holiday gift of a share of All Good Baker’s Community Supported Bakery Program prompt something along the lines of flat out adoration?  Yep, that’s what I’m talking about.

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Filed under Albany, baking, breakfast, Brunch, Christmas, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Eating, favorites, ideas, Local, Recommendations, soup

(As American as) Apple Pie!

There’s something about a frosty morning that inspires me to turn my oven on and get busy roasting and baking.  An apple pie seems the perfect quick project to accomplish three tasks – warm up a cool kitchen, fragrance a cozy home and use up the last of those damn apples now that my box of citrus is filling my fruit crisper.

I really am not much of a baker because I have a tendency to wing it, something that can result in disaster when it comes to baking.  Pie, though?  Please! Pie is a crust or two and some filling – easy, peasy as the phrase goes.  I peeled 7 apples and  sliced them and then tossed them in a bowl with maybe 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, a couple of tablespoons of flour (this helps the juices tighten up) and a bit of cinnamon and ground ginger.  (Confession: I use pre-made pie crusts.  Sorry, but I’m just not into making pie crust and my family isn’t discerning enough to complain.)  I unrolled a crust into my favorite deep pie dish, loaded it with my apple mixture and topped it with a second crust.  My crimping skills leave much to be desired, but here’s how it looked before hitting the oven for 50 minutes at 375 degrees:

I intended to take a picture of the finished product, but when you live with teenagers it is a challenge to photograph baked goods before they’ve been compromised by ravenous boys.  The photo below is the best I could do.

It’s fruit and milk, right?

I’d like to publicly thank Griffin for indulging me by making that serving of pie a la mode the second course of his Sunday morning breakfast all for the sake of my Delso readers.  What a guy!

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Filed under baking, Boys, breakfast, Food, Recipes

Savory Bread Pudding

I’m not a vegetarian, but every once in a while I have a dish that tells me I could be without missing meat at all.  Like this fabulous mushroom dish prepared by Jason Baker, the chef at the Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark – where I am lucky enough to work a couple of nights a week. Damn, that was tasty!
King Oyster Mushroom small plate – by Jason Baker
Thanks to another guy, Jonathan, at the bistro, I experienced my first savory bread pudding recently.  It isn’t often that I request a recipe from someone, but this bread pudding was unlike anything I’ve ever eaten – earthy, cheesy, and a touch squashy sweet – delicious comfort food perfect for a potluck, brunch or Super Bowl party.  I made mine with a molasses sweetened multi-grain bread, which I think added a nice dark richness to the finished product.  Next time I make it (and there most certainly will be a next time), I will be a bit less enthusiastic about the amount of bread I use.  It was a tad drier than I would have liked.  Nonetheless, the kale released a bit of juice which prevented things from being too dry and the 5th period lunch crew really seemed to enjoy my Monday offering.
Bubbly, hot veggies, cheese and bread – oh, my!
There were some leftovers to contend with and, in my opinion, this dish screamed for a fried egg or two to take it to a whole ‘nother time of the day – breakfast.  I’m a big fan of getting some fruit and/or veggies servings in early in the day and this recipe does the trick.  Don’t be shy – add some ham or smoked salmon, maybe mix things up with spinach or a variety of squashes.  Remember – it’s your meal!  Or meals, as the case may be.
The breakfast version.  You know I like me a fried egg.  Or two.

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Filed under breakfast, Brunch, Cooking, Food., Recipes, Recommendations, Restaurants