Friday, December 30, 2005

Six Steps to Opening Champagne...

...courtesy of Food Network. Cheers, and be sure you point the bottle away from you!

I drink it when I am happy, and when I am sad.
Sometimes I drink it when I am alone.
When I have company, I consider it obligatory.
I trifle with it if I am not hungry, and drink it when I am.
Otherwise I never touch it--unless I am thirsty.

-Madame Lilly Bollinger [attrib.], via Schott's Food and Drink Miscellany

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmastide Recap

As expected, the Christmastide journey to the homeland was filled with fantastic food and good cheer. My elders continue to uphold their reputation as awe-inspiring hosts, and their Christmas Eve hors d'oeuvres (which comprise my favorite meal of the year) did not disappoint: a delightful spread of warm Brie topped with French orange marmalade and toasted almonds, a vegetable antipasto bowl (recipe available on request), shrimp cocktail, a hot-and-spicy snack mix, and warm spinach-artichoke dip. My companion and I also enjoyed picking up our custom-made gingerbread people, a 30-year family tradition. I attempted to make my own gingerbread people this year with a moderate amount of success, but I still appreciated the work of a veteran.

Peppermintinis flowed freely on Christmas Day, drinks, I admit, that I enjoy the idea of far more than I enjoy the actual consumption of, the peppermintini mix being a bit too sweet for my liking. However, the experience of drinking a beverage out of a crushed-candy-cane rimmed glass is just far too festive to pass up.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Holiday Hours

Second Breakfast is currently closed in order to allow our staff to celebrate the holiday season with their families. Second Breakfast will reopen for business at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, December 28. Merry Christmas! Eat, drink and be merry!

The Second Breakfast Team

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Keep an eye out...

Christ moves among the pots and pans.

~St. Teresa of Avila (16th c.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A little tip for spicing up your morning java... simply sprinkling a little cinnamon on top of the grounds before you brew. It will make even the Maxwell House/Folgers stuff taste like a treat!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Comfort Food

My companion has been under the weather for the past few days, so comfort foods have been in high demand around here. (Think oatmeal and fudgsicles.) I firmly believe that good food can heal body and soul, so I thought that some homemade macaroni and cheese might do the trick. I'm still waiting for it to work its magic, but I highly recommend whipping up a batch of the stuff on these cold winter days.

There are lots of great mac and cheese recipes online, of course. I selected the four-cheese macaroni from Cooking Light and it was great. My only complaint: The recipe called for a little bit of Velveeta, which I'm against purchasing on principle, (look at the ingredient list on the package--it's disgusting) but I did go ahead and buy a block of the stuff because I didn't have time to hunt for other recipes.

If anyone has a little jar of those magic get-well-by-Christmas pills in their cupboard, please send them my way. I know someone who sure could use them. (I can't seem to locate them on

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Iowa Cuisine

I had a delightful speaking engagement over the weekend at small liberal arts college in Iowa, and my companion decided to come with me. With the help of overnight delays both coming and going (Thanks, American Airlines!) the trip turned into a nice little weekend getaway. Some memorable food sightings and culinary experiences:
  • In Iowa City, a woman walking down the street, licking an ice cream cone. (Not a particularly interesting sighting in and of itself, but keep in mind the local radio d.j. had recently said, "Folks, good news--it's going to warm up into the 'teens today." Now, that was a woman who loves her ice cream.
  • We had a nice lunch at a Vietnamese-Thai restaurant with our friends Kent and Laura. I'll have to remember for future reference that hot, sweet-spicy Thai food really hits the spot on a cold day. (December weather in the Midwest just doesn't make you think, "Hmm, I really feel like a cold turkey sub today. ")
  • The motto of the college where I spoke is "Be orange." (As in be unique, be different, stand out, etc. It's a reference to their school color, which appears absolutely everywhere on campus--even all of the campus Christmas trees were decorated in orange lights and all-orange decorations.) In keeping with the whole "be orange" theme, at the end-of-semester dinner where I spoke, they handed out these fantastic orange-chocolate truffles with the name of the college stamped on them.
  • Lesson learned: If, in the case of inclement weather, you are stranded at the HoJo's near the St. Louis Airport, do not, I repeat, DO NOT order the patty melt from the hotel restaurant. Ever. 'Nuff said.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Warm Apples and Pears with Caramel Sauce

Last night I created my own version of this recipe from Chocolate and Zucchini. It was a perfect comfort food (and a not-too-unhealthy dessert) for a cold winter night. The way the juices from the fruits combine with the melted caramel to make a light sauce is wonderful!

Here's what to do:
1)Peel and chop two apples and two pears.
2)Bake at 350 for ~25 minutes.
3)Unwrap a handful of caramels and scatter them over the fruit.
4)Allow caramels to melt over fruit in oven for 5 minutes.
5)Remove fruit from oven and mix up the melted caramels and fruit together.
6)Spoon into individual bowls and enjoy the treat under the Christmas tree!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

What's really going on at the table...

We cannot love God unless we love each other,
and to love each other we must know each other
in the breaking of the bread and we are not alone anymore...
heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even
with a crust, where there is companionship.
Love comes with community.

-Dorothy Day (1897-1980)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Holiday Ice Creams!

I think we ALL get excited about our first peppermint ice cream sighting in grocery stores each holiday season, (kind of like the Starbucks red cups) but I was especially intrigued by Jeni's 2005 holiday ice cream flavors. Here's a sampling:
  • Dark Cocoa Peppermint with Brownies ("Deep dark chocolate, cool mint. Triple chocolate brownies...")
  • Dark Cocoa Bourbon ("Dark cocoa and bourbon-steeped chocolate cookie crumbs...with Kentucky bourbon)
  • White Chocolate Peppermint ("White chocolate flecks and coarsely ground peppermints...")
  • Egg Nog with Rum and More Rum ("Try it on brownies, you'll dig it.")
  • Star Anise with Candied Fennel Seeds
  • Butternut Squash with Ohio Maple

If you don't live in Columbus or can't get to Jeni's store in the North Market, Jeni's will ship the pints to your door!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

If St. Nicholas forgot to leave treats in your shoes during the night, perhaps you could still celebrate the day with some Chateau St. Nicholas Chardonnay.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A drink to keep you warm

My newly-married friends Emily and Brian recently introduced me to Stash Licorice Spice Tea, a sweet, warm-ya-from-the-inside-out kind of tea. It's delicious, and great for sipping on cold winter nights. (And I don't even like black licorice!) You can order tea bags online, or, here's a list of retail locations that carry Stash Tea.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A successful Christmas soirée

Our Christmas soirée was a huge success, with ~35 people passing through our door throughout the night. Here are some menu highlights: (Click for the recipes!)

Peppermintinis made with icy cold Stoli and this peppermintini mix we bought at Whole Foods. We rimmed the martini glasses with crushed candy canes. Cheers!

Cheese Christmas trees tasted great with beer and wine. (According to my colleague, Nick, they tasted just like a giant goldfish cracker.)

Smoked salmon crostini made for an elegant (and healthy) appetizer.

Friday, December 02, 2005

If you love donuts...

...but want to stay healthy, perhaps you should give these donuts a try. (They wouldn't make good dunkers, however. Keep them away from the coffee and milk.)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

when coffee and poor punctuation collide...

I saw this problematic punctuation on the wall at an otherwise lovely little coffee shop in downtown Colorado Springs. I pointed it out to the barista, who, without missing a beat, responded:

"What would Lynne Truss think?"

(She then proceeded to cover the offending apostrophes with two tiny white stickers.)