Sourdough Toast and Eggs

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I love scrambled eggs if they’re done right, but oh so often they are not done right. At all.

As a rule, Americans tend to over cook our eggs. We’re so terrified of contracting illness due to salmonella poisoning that we obliterate the wonderful texture of creamy eggs. We eat stiff, rubbery yellow blobs, or cover up the awful texture with huge amounts of cheese. The reality is that we don’t need to cook eggs into oblivion in order to remain safe while eating them, and eggs don’t need cheese in order to be delicious.

Whether you’re like me, living on the wild side and consuming under-cooked eggs, or not, I’m here with good news. Federal health code regulations for food service establishments require that egg products be cooked to 145° F before serving. You will be surprised at how soft eggs cooked to 145° F are.

I learned how to make great scrambled eggs by watching Good Eats with Alton Brown in middle school. His recipe for scrambled eggs rocked my world. Now I have my own version, and I’m here to share it.

For this recipe I cooked 2 eggs and put them both on one piece of toast, but you could easily split them between 2 pieces of toast if you like. I just to try to limit my carb intake at meals because I get hungry so quickly if I eat too many carbs. Speaking of carbs, this entire recipe was adapted from a recipe by I Quit Sugar with Sarah Wilson.

Toast and butter your bread. Besides being delicious, the butter will help stop your creamy eggs from making your toast soggy.

I like sourdough because it’s lower in sugar and has extra flavor. You can use any kind of bread you have.

This toast is great with a quarter of an avocado mashed and spread on it after the butter. I didn’t have ripe avocado today, so I did without. My husband teases me about avocado toast. “Millennials and their avocado toast,” he exclaims in disdain. I have no shame, though. Avocado toast is delicious.

Scramble 2 eggs and 1 tsp. half and half (or milk). Pour into a greased or buttered skillet heated over medium/medium low heat. Scrambled eggs taste better when they’re cooked low and slow.

Cook the eggs, “stirring” with a rubber spatula regularly, but not constantly, over medium low heat. By “stir” I mean scrape the bottom of the skillet with your spatula. Once the eggs just start to visually solidify, back off on the frequency of stirring. If you drag the spatula across the eggs and the liquid doesn’t fill in immediately, you’re well on your way.

Once the eggs have completely solidified, but still look very wet, pull them off the heat and salt and pepper to taste. Feel free at this point to test the temperature and cook the eggs more if needed, until they have reached 145° F. I’m comfortable eyeballing it.

Place your lovely, creamy eggs on top of your toast, and squeeze a little bit of fresh lemon juice on top. Did you know if you hold the lemon rind-side down, it’s a lot easier to avoid getting seeds in your food?

If you don’t have fresh lemons, don’t worry, I usually don’t. Work with what you’ve got. You can use the bottled stuff. I do recommend ReaLemon if you’re going to use bottled juice. It’s real juice and doesn’t have the acrid taste that a lot of bottled juices have. Plus it doesn’t get moldy in my fridge if I forget about it like lemons do.

Sprinkle just a tiny amount of smoked paprika, and about 2 tsp. crumbled feta on top. If you don’t have smoked paprika, just skip it. We’re going for smoky here, and sweet paprika won’t provide that. If you don’t have feta, you can use freshly grated parmesan.

That’s it. I can’t put into words how delicious this simple breakfast is, and it takes about 10 minutes to make. There are lots and lots of variations for eggs on toast, but this is one of my favorites. The combination of creamy eggs, a little bit of tart from the bread and the lemon, smokiness from the paprika and umami from the feta is nothing short of magical. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

Sourdough Toast and Eggs
1 or 2 pieces of sourdough bread
2 eggs
1 tsp. half and half or milk
salt and pepper to taste
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, or 1/4 tsp. lemon juice
a sprinkle of smoked paprika
2 tsp. crumbled feta or grated parmesan

Toast and butter the bread. Scramble 2 eggs with 1 tsp. half and half or milk.

Cook the eggs in a small greased or buttered skillet, “stirring” with a rubber spatula regularly, but not constantly, over medium low heat. By “stir” I mean scrape the bottom of the skillet with your spatula.

Once the eggs just start to visually solidify, back off on the frequency of stirring. If you drag the spatula across the eggs and the liquid doesn’t fill in immediately, you’re well on your way.

Once the eggs have completely solidified, but still look very wet, pull them off the heat and salt and pepper to taste. If you like, at this point, test the temperature and cook the eggs, if needed, until they have reached 145° F.

Scoop the eggs on the toast, top with lemon juice, smoked paprika and cheese.

Grapefruit, Applefruit, Orangefruit – A Mocktail Recipe

Photo by Aliona Gumeniuk.

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I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love the flavor and scent of grapefruit. Well, really, I love the flavor and scent of almost all fruits…. but grapefruit especially lifts my spirits and makes me happy. I think it’s so lovely, bright and delicious.

But, I can’t handle how sour fresh grapefruit is. I’ve all but given up eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice, but I jump at the chance to eat or drink anything grapefruit flavored and even love using grapefruit scented body wash or grapefruit essential oils. If you’ve never tried them, I definitely recommend trying grapefruit flavored Hi-Chew. Yum.

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By the way, have you ever heard Aziz Ansari talk about his encounter with 50 Cent and grapefruit soda? It has me in stitches every time (warning: there’s strong language)! Click here to see it.

I digress.

I was browsing Pinterest a few months ago and saw a grapefruit cocktail that I had never heard of, which isn’t saying much. I chose to drink a Shirley Temple on my 21st birthday because it’s what I wanted. Anyway, this cocktail is called a Paloma, and it looked delicious. After doing some more research, I discovered there are other cocktails called Greyhounds and Salty Dogs that also star grapefruit juice.

Since I don’t drink much I decided to come up with a mocktail. I’m sure if you wanted this to be boozy, you could add vodka, gin, tequila or bourbon and it would be just as tasty.

I sent my husband to the store with grapefruit juice on the list (I hate going grocery shopping, and he’s kind enough to go for me), and eagerly awaited my experiment.

Oh man. This is my new favorite thing. Here’s how I made it.

This is all you need:

Agave nectar, unsweetened grapefruit juice and the seltzer water or sparkling water of your choice. I just happened to have cranberry lime on hand, but I can imagine grapefruit (or Pamplemousse if you fancy) would work really well!

Add about 1 Tbsp. agave nectar to a glass. Adjust based on your taste. Highball glasses would probably work really well for this, but I don’t have any. Work with what you’ve got.

Add grapefruit juice to fill the glass about half way.

Top the glass off with sparkling water. Leave room for ice if you like. That’s it.

Optionally add just a pinch of salt and/or some lime juice. Stir. Finish with ice. I add the ice in last because the agave becomes more difficult to mix in with the ice.

Enjoy your lovely, refreshing beverage! I’m going to go make another one.

Grapefruit Mocktail

1 Tbsp. agave nectar
6 oz unsweetened grapefruit juice
6 oz sparkling water or seltzer water

Add nectar, juice and water to a 14 or 16 oz glass. Stir. Add ice.

Gramma Marilyn’s Brownies

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There are these “little old lady” stereotypes surrounding grandmothers. They’re supposed to wear cardigans, have mild personalities, silver hair, a penchant for baking cookies and say “dear” a lot. Gramma has always been loving, kind, and fun but definitely never gave off a “little old lady” vibe until the last few years. When I was young, she liked her dyed blonde hair and lots of eyeshadow, didn’t cook or bake, and had (still has) a quick wit and lots of opinions. She never called me dear, but we did have an arrangement that when she called me by my aunt’s name she owed me a candy bar.

I love my grandparents dearly, and always enjoyed spending the night at their home, or going on trips with them. Gramma and I were close friends when I was a kid, we would tease each other, talk on the phone regularly, and play games. She was my hero, and she always gave me mints out of her purse after church on Sundays.

My expectations as a child were simple and high when staying with my grandparents–I’m going to get copious amounts of candy and chips, and no one will stop me from eating them ALL. Then, I will play games and watch cartoons all night, and go home in the morning satisfied, thinking at least I really got to live it up at Gramma and Grampa’s, where no one made me eat green beans.

Reality would hit me like a Sock ’em Bopper.

Playing with my new model train at Gramma & Grampa’s.

My memories of “treats” from childhood trips to Gramma and Grampa’s mobile home consist of cranberry juice, rice cakes (caramel if we were lucky), yogurt, and Kraft singles. Gramma had us do chores, made me sit still so she could cut my bangs in the kitchen, and enforced a bedtime.

The audacity.

Gramma has pulled through as stereotypical in one way, though. She passed down her, apparently unused, recipe for brownies. I have been making these brownies for as long as I can remember, and this is the only recipe I know in my bones. They are the best brownies I have ever eaten, and they are some of the easiest baked goods I’ve ever made. We sell them at the coffee shop and they have a fan following. Even if Gramma never made them for me, they make me think of her every time I make them, and I will teach my future children how to make them. Isn’t that what really matters?

I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly over the years, but it’s basically the same. You just need butter, sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla, flour, and cocoa.

They’re fudgy and chocolatey without being overly sweet or cakey, and they take just a couple of minutes to make.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a medium-size mixing bowl, by hand, cream 1 stick room temperature butter with 1 cup white sugar and 2 eggs. I learned the hard way that if you use a mixer for this it aerates the batter too much and you end up with a mediocre cake.

Add 1/4 tsp. salt (honestly, I just eyeball a pinch-ish) and 1 tsp. vanilla extract (I also added just a tiny bit of instant coffee to boost the chocolate flavor. This is 100% optional.) and stir until just combined.

Add 3/4 c. all purpose flour and a heaping 1/4 c. cocoa powder. I use dark chocolate cocoa, but any baking cocoa will work.

Stir until just barely combined, its ok if you see a few small streaks of butter in the dark batter. We don’t want to aerate the mix or activate too much gluten. We just want stuff to be integrated.

The batter will be very thick, don’t panic. I had a friend try this recipe once, and she added milk because the batter seemed too thick. Then, she was confused when she ended up with a cake. Just follow the recipe, and everything will be fine.

Pour into a greased 8×8 brownie pan/dish and even it out as much as possible.

Now is where you can add any extras if you would like. They are not necessary. My mom never added anything when she made them, so I didn’t either for a long time. They still taste amazing.
At the shop, we sprinkle about 1/3 c. chocolate chips on top. They would also taste great with the nut of your choice, I am partial to pecans.

Raw eggs can carry salmonella and uncooked flour can carry e coli. so definitely do not lick the spoon. Nope. Don’t do it.

Pop the pan in the oven and go watch Netflix with your cat, or dog, or toddler.

Betty the Tuxedo

Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven. If you’re using a convection oven, check them after 18 minutes. A conventional oven should take at least 27 minutes. They are done when a toothpick, cake tester or paring knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

I know it’s really, really hard, but if you want them to look pretty, don’t cut into them until they’ve had a couple hours to cool off. If you don’t care about how they look, dig in whenever. This time, I added some chocolate chips to the top while the brownies were still hot, then used a butter knife to spread them once they’d melted. Voila.

Excuse me while I pour myself a glass of milk

Gramma Marilyn’s Brownies

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee (optional)
3/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. cocoa powder (heaping)
1/3 c. chocolate chips or nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray square brownie pan with cooking spray, then flour with a mixture of 1 teaspoon flour & 1 teaspoon cocoa powder.
2. With a spoon in a mixing bowl, mix butter, sugar, and eggs until well combined and creamy.
3. Add salt, vanilla, and instant coffee if you’re using it. Stir until just combined.
4. Mix in flour and cocoa and stir until just combined. Do not over mix. It will be a very thick batter.
4. Scrape into the greased/floured brownie pan. Optional: Sprinkle chocolate chips/nuts on top.
5. Bake for ~30 minutes until solid on top and a toothpick, paring knife or cake tester inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean.
6. Cool the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes before turning out onto the rack and cooling completely.
7. Cut and serve alone or with milk, coffee or ice cream.

Serves 9

Crying Over Spilled Coffee

Photo by Nathan Dumlao

I started 2020 with hope and excitement. I was looking forward to a new life. Literally. 

Late in January, I moved into a new place in anticipation of getting married in February, and I had lots of big plans for my business–a coffee shop that I own with my parents. I love developing both staff and recipes, and those are the tasks that I had on my agenda for the upcoming year. I was training people for new positions, training new hires, and working on new recipes to put on our menu.

I moved across town in January. Erin, my roomie, and I had lived together for nearly 4 years, and while I looked forward to living by myself (for a whopping 3 weeks before the wedding) for the first time in my life, it was definitely bittersweet to say bye to my friend and her sweet kitty, Rory.

Tim, my husband, and I had a lovely, relaxed winter wedding, complete with breakfast foods and board games. We headed out the next day for a week-long honeymoon just outside of the charming Charleston, SC, where we enjoyed a beautiful hotel and lots of delicious food. We came home and had a week to get him moved and settled in our new place.

GIB Photography

I had left my coffee shop with a bare-bones staff, but I was confident it would be enough to get them through 3 weeks while I enjoyed my wedding and honeymoon. After 8 years+ at this incarnation of the shop, and nearly 15 total, burnout was real. I deserved (needed) 3 weeks off and to be totally disconnected before I started throwing coffee at people.

I came to work on March 1st to find that a nearly full-time barista had quit with less than 2 weeks notice the day after my wedding, leaving my mom, who hadn’t been heavily involved at the shop for over a year, to deal with the fallout until I got back and could take over. My optimism for 2020 began to crumble.

As I scrambled to find coverage, working overtime and by myself a lot for 2+ weeks, and to find a new barista to hire and train now, suddenly the entire world went topsy-turvy…

I kept hearing things about a virus named after a beer, and at first, I legitimately thought it was a joke. I don’t watch or read the news unless someone gives me a reason to, so I rely on people around me to fill me in. All of a sudden everyone seemed scared and suspicious, my business dropped off rapidly, and I had all of these new safety regulations to contend with. I chose to reduce our operating hours and eventually close temporarily. That was over a month ago.

I went from being optimistic about my busy year to crisis management to being bored and trapped at home. It was like a record scratched and everything was different. Talk about a roller coaster.

Separated from everyone but Tim and our cat, for the first time in my life I was neither working nor in school and had absolutely nothing to do. My coffee shop, a catalyst for community connection in the neighborhood, sits dark and empty.

As a veteran business owner, operator, and manager, I am a planner to my core. I like to see what’s ahead of me and to know how to handle it. Right now, I can’t plan even a week ahead for most things.

My emotions are complicated, to say the least. I don’t think I’ve ever used the word ennui so much in my life. Disbelief, fear, grief, anger, sadness, hope, loneliness, gratitude, amusement, and who knows what others, make an intense emotional cocktail that I haven’t experienced before, and don’t know how to navigate. I don’t think anyone does.

Feeling the negative emotions is healthy. Wallowing in them is not. Instead of crying over spilled coffee, so to speak, I am trying to accept that I can’t control or plan almost anything right now. I’m living life one predictably-unpredictable day at a time, and I’m doing my best to feel the emotions as they surface. I’m aiming for no numbing, and no catastrophizing.

To curb my ennui, I’m planning in small ways where I can. I plan our meals at least a week in advance, and I’ve become the Dungeon Master Mistress for a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. I’m trying new recipes, watching new shows, reading new books, listening to new music, trying new hobbies, doing a safe amount of introspection, and resting. And, I’ve started this blog.

Early in 2019 I decided to start a blog about my management style, but could never find time to get it going. Time is definitely one thing I have in spades right now. Staying at home is allowing me to get the ball rolling on a blog. My adventures in battling boredom will be chronicled here, as well as some bits and pieces about business, theology, charity work, and whatever else pops into my head. Welcome to my life!

Until next time.