Category Archives: Breakfast

Coconut Brown Rice Breakfast Bowl

Coconut Brown Rice

Coconut Brown Rice for Breakfast

A few weeks ago, on practically the only in day in February when one or all of us didn’t have a horrible cold, Sorin and I played hooky and went on a day date.  Dropped the kid off at preschool,  went out for a late breakfast and saw a matinee.

If you haven’t gone on a date day, they’re pretty great.  After you have kids, playing hooky from work and your parental duties for a few hours in the middle of the afternoon on a random Wednesday feels incredibly indulgent and downright rebellious. Unlike real night dates, you don’t have to find a babysitter or dig into your retirement account to pay the sitter $60 for the evening and you’re not so exhausted that you kind of wish you could just put on your pajamas and go to bed.  I’m not saying that day dates should completely replace evening outings, but I’m all in favor of making the day date a semi-regular thing.

We ate at a sweet little restaurant I’ve wanted to go to for about a year. It’s tucked into one of the many random and rather ugly LA streets that at first glance doesn’t reveal anything special. But then you notice the little restaurant with a few small tables out front and a really stylish little home decor shop next door and another shop next to that and suddenly you realize you’ve stumbled onto a little strip of lovely amid all the ugly.

SQIRL started out as a girl making jam and eventually turned into a cafe. The place is so perfectly California that it’s a little embarrasing, but the food is so fresh and tasty you end up loving it instead of making fun of it. We all have someone in our life we could never take to this restaurant, a person who would look at a menu with choices like the “Kokuho Rose brown rice bowl with sorrel pesto, preserved Meyer lemon and lacto fermented hot sauce” or the “open face brioche toast with kale and tomatillo puree” and think, you’ve got to be kidding me.

I, on the other hand, could happily eat at SQIRL every week.

I was inspired to make my own super simple version of one of their brown rice bowls at home a few days later. Although I couldn’t eat brown rice for breakfast every day, it’s a welcome change from the usual breakfast grains and cereals. Simmered in coconut milk and topped with fresh berries and maple syrup it’s really quite delicious.

You could also make a regular batch of short grain brown rice using this perfect cooking method, and have it in the fridge all week to top with savory things like a poached egg or shaved parmigiano cheese or arugula and olive oil and prosciutto.

Coconut Brown Rice

1 cup soaked short grain brown rice (see below)
1 can full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup water (double this if you haven’t soaked your rice overnight)
A pinch of salt (less than 1/4 tsp.)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Is presoaking brown rice really necessary? I have no idea. But I can’t lose any more of my life to time spent reading about it, so I figure  why not presoak it? It can’t hurt anything and it might help.

If you’d like to presoak your rice overnight, then cover it with water and add a spoonful of plain yogurt (optional). Let it sit out on the counter overnight.

Whether or not you presoak your rice, rinse it well before cooking.

Put all the ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Cook, covered, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender but don’t expect it to be soft and mushy like white rice. Brown rice has a chewy texture. The rice will absorb most of the coconut milk while it cooks.

Presoaked rice will take about 30 minutes to cook. I haven’t tried this recipe with un-soaked rice but I’d guess you might have to double the cooking time.

This rice can be made ahead of time and reheated for the next few days. I add some extra milk and warm it in the microwave, then top with berries and a little maple syrup.

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Things We Do On Vacation, Part II

priest_lake

1. Feel lucky that rush hour on the lake is so much different than rush hour in LA. Feel extra lucky that during rush hour on the lake I can drink a glass of wine on the boat while we drive.

dock

2. Embrace a lazier style of parenting. Exhibit A: If you tie a rope to your child’s floaty toy, they can swim and you can stay on the dock and read. Everyone is happy.

autumn

3. Watch the seasons change. When we arrived last week in August, it was summer. Yesterday while I was swimming, these two leaves dropped into the lake next to me. Right on schedule, autumn has arrived.

lake_clouds

4. Listen to thunder at night and wake up to clouds and rain. Take a walk in the rain. Wear rain boots and jump in puddles with O. Come home and make O her first mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows.

5. Start counting down the hours until we return to reality. Less than 48  to go. Decide to stay in denial about vacation ending, pour another cup of coffee and linger over breakfast even longer than usual.

baked oatmeal

baked oatmeal with local huckleberries

Baked Oatmeal

Baked oatmeal is just like eating a bowl of oatmeal, but the texture isn’t so mushy, which turns it into a whole different thing. Baked oatmeal is soft, but a little crunchy on top, and is like eating dessert instead of gruel. Think of it as a healthy, less-sweet fruit crumble. You can change the flavor by using different types of fruit and milk (coconut, regular, almond, etc), adding nuts, or using more or less amounts of sugar/maple syrup.

Ingredients:

2 cups old fashioned oats
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Scant 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups Silk original coconut milk (or any type of milk you like – see recipe tips below)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups berries or other sliced fruit

Recipe Tips:

There are tons of baked oatmeal recipes out there, most of them similar. What makes this one different is the addition of ground flaxseed, olive oil instead of butter, and less sugar. I used Silk Original coconut milk, which has some added sugar, so I didn’t add any more sugar to the recipe.  Instead, I let people drizzle their own preferred amount of maple syrup over their slice of baked oatmeal when I serve it. You could, however, add a few tablespoons of maple syrup or brown sugar to the recipe before baking, no matter what type of milk you use. You can also use melted butter instead of olive oil.

I added local huckleberries, which are really delicious, but I won’t be able to find them in Los Angeles. Back home, I use other types of berries or sliced peaches or apples.

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375°

Butter or oil an 8-inch square baking dish or a pie plate.

In a bowl, mix together the oats, flaxseed, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk, vanilla, egg and olive oil.

Scatter two-thirds of the berries on the bottom of the dish. Cover the fruit with the oat mixture. Pour the milk mixture on top. Smooth out and press down the oats with a spoon to make sure all the oats are submerged. Sprinkle the remaining berries across the top.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden and a bit crisp. Let cool for a few minutes before slicing. The baked oatmeal can also be refrigerated and warmed up in the microwave for the next day or two.

When serving, drizzle syrup on top and a little bit of milk or cream.

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Why Being a Stay-at-Home Mom Isn’t a Journey of Self-Discovery

Last night during the post bedtime shuffle I do between the kitchen and O’s bedroom before she falls asleep (bringing more milk, changing a diaper, telling her this time I mean it, she better close her eyes and go to sleep) I read “The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In” by Judith Warner. It’s one of those articles that is kind of interesting and kind of irritating, which is how I feel about most working mom vs stay-at-home mom discussions.

Discussions I have with close friends about this topic aren’t irritating at all. They’re cathartic and thoughtful and often enlightening. But public conversations about working or staying at home, especially those waged in the comments section of articles, can be highly irritating.

My feelings about the entire subject of staying at home vs working out of the home can be quickly summed up:  There is no right answer. Every woman and every family situation is different. There are pros and cons to both, and both choices have consequences.

Ms. Warner’s article points out the obvious consequence of staying at home for a decade or more: you will probably not be able to step right back into the workforce exactly where you left off.

While this reminder might be a reason to panic, it can also be a good thing. I know plenty of women who want to work outside of the home again at some point but have no desire to go back to exactly what they were doing pre-baby. An extended leave, whether it’s for a year or ten, can reset your career path in a really positive way.

The challenge is figuring out what that new thing is during one of the most exhausting and emotionally challenging periods of your life.

One of the husbands in the article, who’s wife volunteered for an organization while also staying at home with their 3 kids, commented about what he called his wife’s journey of “self-discovery.”

“Being the kind of person I am, Type A, wound, always going after something, I wonder what I could have done, having 12 years to sort of think about what I want to do. I sometimes think, Wow, I could have been an astronaut in 12 years, or I could have been something different that I’d really enjoy and that I never was afforded the financial opportunity or the time or the resources to enjoy. Maybe call it jealousy. Maybe envy. What could I have been in 12 years of self-discovery? I’ll go out on a limb and say: ‘I’d like to try it. It looks pretty good to me.’

This man is so clueless about what it’s like to stay at home full-time with kids (and no nanny) that it both pains me and makes me laugh. Really? In between changing shitty diapers and catching vomit in our hands and cleaning the house and shuttling kids to and from appointments and activities and making dinner and soothing and teaching and disciplining and everything else that goes into raising human beings there’s also time to become an astronaut?

Being a stay-at-home mom is not like attending a university for an advanced degree or like going to a secluded artists’ colony in the woods. Children undeniably open our hearts and minds and enable parents to tap into a creative and emotional side that is life changing, but on most days, kids take more than they give. The daily tasks involved in childrearing are often mind-numbingly tedious.

Mr. Mattox is a parent, he should know that. But still, he doesn’t understand why, after 12 years at home taking care of 3 kids, his wife doesn’t have an amazing new career lined up that’s both financially and emotionally rewarding.

Why? Because being a stay-at-home parent is not about you, it’s about your kids. There are precious few moments during the day when a mom can focus on her own self-development.  It’s all about making sure the kids are fed, clothed, safe, healthy and happy. The time spent alone is rarely spent in a meditative state, pondering a personal self-journey.

It was clear in the article that this husband did his share of housework and kid-shuttling and care while his wife was doing volunteer work. If he was so unhappy with his own career then why did he resent those hours spent in the mini-van or in the kitchen? Wasn’t that a perfect time for him to explore his own needs and desires and go on a personal journey of self-discovery?

What’s that you say, Mr. Mattox? You couldn’t think above the din of your kids squabbling or concentrate on anything because they were constantly interrupting you? You didn’t feel especially creative or ambitious while pushing a shopping cart around a grocery store? While sorting laundry, no new career ideas just popped into your head?

I work part-time from home, three days a week. I love being home with my daughter and I also love the days when she’s at preschool for 8 hours and I’m working. It’s an ideal schedule, one I work very hard at to sustain. I feel like I have a foot in both worlds, part stay-at-home mother and part working mother.

Without exception, the days when I feel most creative and mentally alert and ambitious about my career are the days when I’m working. This is because those days are about me. Even though I have tasks to complete and clients to deal with, I also have time alone in my quiet office to think my own thoughts and pursue ideas.

This is not to say that stay-at-home moms aren’t ambitious or career-minded. It is only to say that I think it would be really, really hard to discover and pursue a new career while simultaneously being a full-time stay at home mom.

Being home all day with a child is amazing and fulfilling in many, many ways and I would not trade it for anything. But being with O is all-consuming. On the days when I’m with her, I don’t have the mental space needed for real and focused career development or soul searching. I am not on a journey of personal self-discovery when I’m with my daughter. I’m on a journey of discovery with her, showing her the world and guiding her as she discovers her own interests and talents.

I am also focused on the job of running my household. Stay-at-home moms are busy! On the days when I work and O is at preschool, I’m relieved that the house stays in the same condition all day long. It might not get cleaner while I’m at work, but it doesn’t get dirtier. When you’re at home with kids, the house just keeps getting dirtier all day long, despite your best efforts to keep up with the chaos. When I’m home all day and not working, dinner is no easier to get on the table. I’ve already spent a good part of the day fixing snacks and lunch and now you want another full meal?

Stay-at-home moms are busy with the full-time job of making sure their family’s life doesn’t implode. Who can blame them for not having their next step in life, beyond their kids, all figured out?

But what is the answer for women who have taken time off to be with their kids but also want to, or need to, re-enter the workforce at some point?

A work environment that’s friendlier to parents would be an obvious and much-needed improvement. If Mr. Mattox’s wife could’ve found a job as flexible as her volunteer work, she probably would’ve re-entered the workforce instead of giving her time without pay. I have the schedule I do because I’m a freelancer with no benefits and a very unpredictable yearly salary.

I think it’s also important to find a little time each week away from your kids and out of your house. Volunteer, or take a class or just sit quietly and think at the library. Continue to pursue and cultivate your hobbies and interests instead of abandoning them; these interests can often spark ideas for a new career. Expand your conversations with other stay-at-home moms beyond kid stuff – I am constantly amazed and inspired by the women in my neighborhood moms’ club.

Most importantly, don’t waste the years you have at home with your kids worrying about re-entry into the workforce like this article encourages women to do. Enjoy your kids. Enjoy your time. Be hopeful about the future, not fearful.

And since we’re all so damn busy and don’t have time to cook anyway, today I give you something simple: leftover quinoa turned into a delicious breakfast.

Leftover quinoa warmed with almond milk, cinnamon, maple syrup and fresh berries.

Leftover quinoa warmed with almond milk, cinnamon, maple syrup and fresh berries.

 

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Breakfast Inspiration – Tomato and Avocado Toast with Cilantro

tomato_breakfast
Leftover avocado (hidden under the tomato) and cilantro from my last recipe, sliced tomato from the garden, toasted bread, olive oil, sea salt.

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