best granola and my morning routine- dedicated to ada

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Mornings are my favorite time of the day. Partially because it is a new day, and I have a chance for something very exciting to happen. But before I start my invigorating day I do my ordinary, boring things to make me feel safe, and grounded.

I love to ask people about their morning routines. It’s a source of endless fascination for me.  I’ve been asked that question so many times: what’s your morning routine? They seem to be expecting an inspiring answer. I hate to disappoint.  

My morning routine is pretty boring. Every day the same, getting up, exercising, shower, quick walk with my dog and bike ride to work. I break that boring routine once in a while with a short visit at a local coffee shop, usually combine with a friendly chat with neighbors, yes even New Yorkers have a sense of community and they are friendly sometimes, half sleeping, waiting for their first sip of coffee. Oftentimes the first thing I do in the morning is checking my email on my phone before I even sit up. I do this to calm my anxiety. Or to create enough anxiety that I’m not sleepy anymore. I’m not sure which. It’s a terrible habit.  I don’t have time to eat at home, I hit the ground running & get straight to work with my hair in a messy bun because I chose exercising over hairdo and makeup.

One of my routines is the choice of menu…. Fruit with yogurt and home made granola… Night owls rejoice! Now you can add some bee pollen, goji berries, seeds, coconut flakes, and superfood-, add some yogurt and have a legitimate, protein rich breakfast without doing anything more than waking up. This is particularly handy for not just night owls but for:

a) people who want to eat well in the morning (everyone, yes?)

b) people with children who even if they’re far better than I at mornings get pounced on with more needs than one woman can juggle 

c) people on the go that need something they can take with them.

So here’s to mornings, whether your idea of morning is burying a head under your pillow because you were up in the ambient glow of a screen as your brain buzzed all evening or if you’re a veritable bird from a Disney movie in the morning.

My best granola

 1 bag rolled oat

1/2 cup of coconut oil

·  5 tablespoons of honey or date paste (just mashed up dates)

· 1 teaspoon of flaky salt

· 1 cup of xylitol

·  FOR GARNISH

·  bee pollen

·  fresh fruit

·  honey

·  toasted coconut flakes

  goji berries

·  hemp seeds (or other seeds & nuts)

Mix all the ingredients together, spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour in 275 F turn it occasionally so the oats don’t burn.

 

 

Mother's Day

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My mom is an amazing mother who dedicated her life to her two kids. She is selfless yet strong - and the most beautiful woman I know. She survived the death of her son and although she has never gotten rid of the pain, she learned how to show me her unconditional love and devotion and never made me feel -even for a second- that I am less important or less loved or appreciated because I am still alive and he is not.

Although my parents never made differences between us kids, it was always unspoken knowledge that my little brother was mama’s boy and I was daddy's little girl. Regardless of our alliances, I remember as a child walking 2 miles each way to the forest to collect Lilies of the Valley for my mom’s special bouquet. This was our thing. A small bunch of beautiful, to-die-for smelling white, tiny bells. I have kept this tradition to this day, sending my mom at least one dried stem in her Mother’s day card.

This year during my morning run – every day the same path - exactly on Mother’s Day I came across a patch of my favorite Mother’s Day flowers. They were peeking at me asking to be seen. Coincidence? A sign the universe is trying to tell me something? I ran the same path the day before and I did not see them. Pretty damn amazing.

Last Sunday although I wasn’t celebrating Mother’s Day (in my country we celebrate it on May 26th), I was thinking about all the mothers everywhere. The crazy religious mothers, who protect a purified piece of emotional land that they feed to their children at the detriment of their lives. The lost mothers, who follow their children’s paths, becoming whatever their children are, who look younger than their daughters, who will never be able to be a beacon of aging, of mothering, of acceptance. The mothers who cook and clean and make their own peach mush for infants, the mothers who never cook and never clean and leave their infants alone with pedophile relatives. All mothers everywhere, who have grown babies or adopted them, especially adopted, for they are the ones who waited in vain, who were not ‘chosen’ and still insisted on their right to the job of motherhood. They watch their children with a melancholy fear, what will it be? Did I buy a killer? Can I teach my child well on the right to the job of motherhood?

When we have kids we know better. We know that the living child matters more than anything in the world. That is why it is nature’s prime directive. Reproduce, like a rose through the cement, like grass breaking apart rocks.

 

Apologies to all my friends who sent me Mother’s Day wishes. Although I am not really sure why – I am not their mother – I never reply or send anything back. Please don’t take this personally, it’s not you, it’s me. Weirdo, who doesn’t like meaningless words and gestures. Who has her own strong opinions about things and goes a bit against the grain.

I will be thinking of my mom on May 26th, the day when we celebrate Mother’s Day back home, the same way I think of her every single day of the year. A day doesn’t go by without some kind of a connection, sometimes we don’t say anything for a moment both hoping and wondering if next year will see us both alive. That day I might even make her favorite pancakes and serve them to my child to celebrate motherhood the way I understand it.

Recipe 

Scant 1 ¼ cup mashed bananas (about 3 small bananas)

2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter, melted

1 tablespoon lemon juice (about 1 small lemon, juiced)

1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup

2 eggs

1 cup quick oats

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

blueberries

In a small mixing bowl, stir together the mashed bananas, coconut oil (or butter), lemon juice and honey (or maple syrup).

Beat in the eggs. (If your coconut oil goes back to its solid state like mine did at this point, just warm the mixture for short 20 second bursts in the microwave, stirring between each, until it is melted again.)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the quick oats., salt and spices.

Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. With a big spoon, stir just until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened. Do not overmix! Add blueberries.

Let the batter sit for 10 minutes. You may want to thin out the batter a bit with a touch of milk or water.

Heat a heavy cast iron skillet/non-stick pan over medium-low heat, or heat an electric griddle to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil the surface with coconut oil, butter or cooking spray. (If you’re using a non-stick electric griddle, you might not need any oil at all.)

Once the surface of the pan is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles on it, pour ¼ cup of batter onto the pan. Let the pancake cook for about 3 minutes, until bubbles begin to form around the edges of the cake.

Once the underside of the pancake is lightly golden, flip it with a spatula and cook for another 90 seconds or so, until golden brown on both sides. You may need to adjust the heat up or down at this point.

Serve the pancakes immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree Fahrenheit oven.

 

 

Bloody guilt trip

Definition of guilt  by some online dictionary - "a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined". Guilt will never make the grade as an A-list emotion. No one has ever written a song or a poem about how they haven’t called their mother in over a week and their expensive-bought online exercise machine is being used to dry their underwear. Yet somehow, this crabby little C-lister manages to punch way below the belt.

Guilt is such a powerful feeling we do almost anything to avoid it, I know I do. It is our driver of internal system of actions and balances. The annoying little voice stopping us from eating the whole chocolate bar at once or telling our friend that the story about her daughter new project wasn’t interesting the first time.

We need guilt that runs the engine of morality, in order for society to function. Without its ghostly appearance, we would turn into sociopaths, or politicians. My guilt is my inner police force, but given it too much power I am turning into a police state. Mine is a sturdy guilt drawn from two totally different but yet very powerful religions.  On my mom’s side I am born with original catholic guilt (thanks Adam and Eve), which brings me to another guilt of a higher power watching every step I take and listening to all my inappropriate conversations and actions. On my paternal side I got the complaining, overthinking, neurotic Jewish variety. Ask my two best friends, they are tired of me analyzing every move I take and scrutinize for weeks and months if anything goes wrong, , (it usually does). The once mild mannered voice of my conscience is turning nasty with passing years. Like many women, I have the capacity to feel guilty about pretty much everything. Here is the basic glossy magazine guilt – the easy looking skin care regimens, and complicated man-pleasing instructions, the ideal bodies, and never to be cooked recipes.  These make a great background for failure.

But it gets deeper. I feel guilt for hurting my friend on the phone the other day for telling her “that thing”. I feel guilt for taking too long to respond to my best friend’s supportive email, writing this post during my work hours. I feel guilty for taking a drink invitation from men I have no desire to go to bed with, and also that my son’s first few words were “mommy’s wine”. And most of all, I feel guilty that I am wasting my time worrying about any of this nonsense, when right now there are children starving in Africa.

My guilt muscle can be very flexible. It could be trigger by exactly the same situation in two opposite directions. I can spend the whole weekend interacting with my son, watching movies, cooking meals, filling guilt that I have not taken a single picture for my blog, that I am not working to perfect my skills and I wasted a couple of grand on equipment and props.  And yet when I spend a whole day cooking and taking pictures,, my guilt bubbles up for the fact that I didn’t see my child all day and I am missing the opportunity to spend with him the last, preciouses moments before he tells me he prefers to spend them with his friends or his girlfriend.

But my main overwhelming guilt comes from the fact that a few years ago I have moved overseas, taking my baby boy with me, meaning I have ripped the only grandchild from his grandma to chase my selfish dreams thousands miles away.

When you live far away, no matter how often you call or come to visit, it’s never often enough. My mom never said a word to make me feel this way, she doesn’t need to. She doesn’t need to do anything to make me feel guilty about my life choices. My mom would probably hate the idea that talking to her makes me feel this way. This feeling bonds us together sometimes more than a family dinner table. My mom makes me feel guilty because her mother made her feel guilty. And as much as I would like to spare my son the burden in theory, I would be laying if I said that I don’t want to throw a little guilt his way, at least enough to making him choose a nice nursing home for me, the one with bar and games rather than the one with urine smell and bible studies.

Guilt is usually pretty ineffective over all. Instead of making a conscious choice and standing by the consequences, I behave as I am please and then cash in my moral credits by feeling bad about it afterward. As long as I have guilt as a comfortable fallback position, I fail to take full responsibility for my choices and actions. My friend once told me that she takes no responsibility for her life choices, in her opinion guilt is reserved for true wrongdoing and she wastes no time dwelling over her lifestyle or failure to live up to impossible ideas. I would love to get to that level of emotional sanity one day. Amen.

Today’s recipe is a total guilt trip between being lazy, having time for myself, and doing something creative and not wasting time binging on “ Mr. Robot”. Simple –no time at all- toast with goat feta and baked blood oranges. Still very tasty and guilt free.                                                                                   

Recipe                                                                                                                                                      Few slices of nice rustic bread

2 blood oranges

goat feta

coconut nectar

toasted pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 400F, slice oranges, and place them on a baking sheet spray with olive oil and bake until they get a little brown.  Toast the bread, smear with goat feta, top with slices of oranges, and coat with coconut nectar, sprinkle with roasted pumpkin seeds. 

Aussie food

I will start by saying that I feel like I am waking up from the deepest, longest dream. But I am back and ready to start over.  Long overdue, the story about my trip Down Under is finally ready to be told. Australia deeply touched me, from its endless and incredible landscapes, extreme activities, dangerous animals, crazy people and, of course, the food.  I wasn’t expecting Australian food to be any different from American.  I actually didn’t know what kind of cuisine to expect, but that it would probably very much like what I eat in NYC.  To my surprise, I discovered completely new distinctive flavors and food combinations.

Aussie people are very proud of their country and culture as well as their food. Most places serve locally grown vegetables, farm raised animals, wild caught seafood as well as overpopulated kangaroos. Some of the dishes I can’t even describe; with so many different ingredients I have never tried and combinations I would have never thought of. 

Australians love their avocados – especially with their eggs and breakfast dishes. They develop so many variations of avocado toast that for 3 weeks I never tried the same dish twice. Aussies also have a fondness for avocado and Vegemite on toast. I am not a big fan of it, but I loved “Smashed Avo” - avocado on toasted sourdough, feta, lime, cashew and basil pesto with chili jam and poached eggs.  

Breakfast also means a variety of fresh squeezed juices and fresh made shakes. Options are overwhelming from beetroot /apple /ginger/ lemon/ oranges to The Nutty- peanut butter/ Nutella/banana and yogurt, to Bananarama- banana/spinach/mango/yogurt/Chia and almond milk and my favorite Cadolada- avocado/pineapple, banana, mint and coconut milk. All equally healthy and refreshing.  I was surprised by the muesli that are often served for breakfast, a mix of Chia seeds, oats, wheat germ, sunflower, pumpkin seeds, dried fruit, local yoghurt, poached seasonal fruit and local honeycomb, it was a wildly delicious thing.  

The best coffee I have ever had was in Thailand but the Australian latte takes second place; smooth and creamy, simply addictive. 

I never imagined combining beetroot hummus, poached eggs and pistachio yoghurt on a toast before but it works incredibly well. The sweetness of pistachio yogurt works really well with a touch of sourness of hummus and combined with the crunchiness of sourdough toast to make a tasty sandwich.     

The national product, world famous Vegemite, is just disgusting and no matter how many people tell you how awful it is, have to try it for yourself. Vegemite is a dark brown food paste made from yeast extract and spice additives. The most popular way to eat it is to spread it on bread or toast with butter. I have tried it and it not only looks and smells disgusting it also tastes disgusting. (Yuck!)

Crocodile and kangaroo meat are essential meats in Australian kitchen. Both are very lean and tasty.  Kangaroo, which is red and tastes more or less like steak, goes really well with a pepper strawberry sauce.  Crocodile is a white meat and tastes like chicken, often served with French fries and salad.Barramundi is the most popular fish in Australia.  It gets its name from Aboriginal language and it means “large-scaled river fish”.  The best one I had was grilled like a steak and served with herbed oil.  The Australian ‘lobster’- Balmain bugs or Moreton Bay Bugs has no claws and only its tail contains edible meat. I have tried them steamed, deep fried, grilled, barbequed and cold as part of a seafood platter. They all taste good.

During a river safari, watching salt water crocs in their natural habitat, I was offered one of Australia’s iconic cheap foods – Damper – soda bread make with wheat flour, water, and a pinch of salt and baked on the coals of a campfire.  Mine was served with traditional Billy Tea. On the fancier side, the popular dessert is Pavlova; supposedly invented in honor if Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova while she was visiting Australia. New Zealand claims the same thing and both countries fight forthe title of inventor of Pavlova – a meringue based dessert toped with whipped cream and fruit.  Regardless of its origin this cake is absolutely delicious.

 

Anywhere you go in the world you should always try the local food.  You might hate it or you might be positively surprised and discover new flavors and favorite dishes.  There is so much complexity and variety to Australian food that I cannot wait to go back to this magical country to explore and eat, once again. 

 

 

jar of eggs

This year’s spring cleaning means something completely different to me. I think I finally understand what Lent, and Easter stand for. For the first time I didn’t clean my house from top to bottom (although I should have, it would have made me feel good). Instead I cleansed my body and my soul.  I gave up alcohol, sugar, coffee, meat, fish, gluten etc (I should just say that I only ate fruit and vegetables so the list will be much shorter).  I spent my energy reading books about having a healthy mind, meditating, listening to recollections, and cleaning up my address book.  I wiped out my Facebook account from “friends” I never met or cared about; got rid of all the toxic people around me. God it feels good to be free of the drama they created, trying to manipulate or control my life; always jealous and envious, critical of other people, gossipy and bitter. They know exactly what buttons to push and when. They bring you up and then try to break you. How many times have I heard what needs to be fixed in myself before owning their own flaws and working on themselves rather than change who or what I was. They made me feel small and unimportant, even if I have given myself unconditionally.  I know exactly the mechanism behind this behavior. They feel badly about themselves, so they make other people around them feel badly too. 

I was always exhausted and angry when I was with them. I felt badly and ashamed of myself, getting down to their level of pity. I was stuck in a cycle of trying to fix or care for them. I always felt like “I was walking on eggshells“ interacting with them.  I finally got it.  It was pointless to try to change them, I had to change my approach to them instead.  I made a list of people who I felt a sense of dread when I would see their number appear on my phone or I felt frustrated after I talked to them.  I slowly started to drop them from my life.  I blocked their numbers, and sent some of them a message that I didn’t wish to be friends with them anymore.  Some of them were not even worth a personal touch, I just stopped talking to them, or responding to their messages.  It wasn’t easy to end those relationships. Some of them were painful, particularly the ones that share a long history.  But once I made that big step. I knew I had created space for much healthier and far more nourishing relationships in my life.  And that’s what Easter and Awakening is about to me this year. 

To end on a bit lighter note, here is another Easter recipe. This one has waited almost a year to be published. I took these pictures at the begging of my “photography career” and although they are not the best, I didn’t want to dispose of them.  Photography is a learning process like everything else and we start from nothing and slowly build our way up.  Sometimes never getting anywhere but hey, you can't have results without trying. I am proud of my mistakes and that’s why I decided to present them here along with this easy but impressive recipe for Easter brunch. inspired by Sunday Suppers. Baked eggs with shiitake mushrooms in a jar. Instead of mushrooms you can use anything else. Ham, spinach, onion, bell pepper, whatever you like in your omelet ( the same concept) 

Ingredients :
serves 4:
8 eggs
3/4 lb shiitake mushrooms
2 scallions minced
1 tbs chives minced
1 cup of cream or yogurt
1 cup grated parmesan
3 tbs of olive oil
salt, pepper
Preparation: 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
In a skillet placed over a medium heat add half of olive oil and sliced mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes. 
Prepare 4 glass jars  and rub some olive oil on the bottom and inside edges. Distribute mushrooms evenly in each jar, break 2 eggs on top. Add cream or yogurt, sprinkle with scallions salt and pepper and top with parmesan fricco ( spread a layer of grated parmesan on a flat heated surface (non stick) and carefully flip when crispy.) Place the jars on the baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or if you like them more done longer. Carefully take them out of the oven, remove the lid, sprinkle with chives and serve. 
 

Skladniki: 
8 jajek
400g grzybow ( shiitake, kurki albo pieczarki) 
szczypiorek posiekany
1 szklanka slodkiej smietany lub jogurtu
1 szklanka sera parmesan
3 lyzki oliwy
sol pieprz
Przygotowanie:
piekarnik nagrzac do 180 C
grzyby pokroic w plastry
na patelni rozgrzac olej dodac grzyby i smazyc prze 3 - 5 min. 
sloiki wysmarowac pozostala oliwa. dodac grzyby, wbic po 2 jajka , dodac smietane lub jogurt, posypac polowa szczypiorku, dodac sol i pieprz a na wierz przykryc waflem z parmesanu. ( na plaskiej rogrzanej patelni usypac 4 placki z sera, kiedy sie zarumienia ostroznie przerzucic na druga strone) ulozyc sloiki na blaszce do pieczenia i piec przez 15-20 min lub dluzej  jezeli lubisz bardziej sciete jajka. wyjac ostroznie z piekarnika, otworzyc wieczka ( szklane) i posypac resztka szczypiorku. 
 

Tortilla eggs with kale and cheese

Easter is coming up very early this year and I am not sure I like it. Easter is a special holiday for me and I always associate it with spring and nice weather. This year it falls  in March and as we all know, March weather can be either or…  April definitely works better for me.  I will also have more time for spring-cleaning and holiday planning. 

Before Easter I usually make a list of things I need to prepare.  I plan out each day, leading up to Easter, in advance.  Thursday, I usually roast all the meats and cold cuts which will preserve nicely in the fridge until Sunday.  If I don’t make a list I am lost and start to panic that I won’t be able to finish everything on time. My mom was the same way, but I am trying to fight that feeling. 

When I feel overwhelmed I make a cup of good tea, oolong or roasted popcorn, sit in my favor armchair and listen to the radio thinking that nobody will die from hunger if I don’t make everything I have planned. And besides, I remember that last year we had too much food anyway. And sometimes it actually works.

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This year I will serve some less traditional dishes.  Not everyone in the States is a fan of “Zurek” otherwise known as “white borscht“ which is made out of sour bread flour and served with boiled eggs, bread, a selection of cold cuts and fresh grated horseradish.  I will go with some new egg recipes this year.

As a first, I would like to show you a dish I have seen in a cooking magazine. Tortilla eggs with kale, parmesan, and prosciutto. Ingredients:
6 small flour tortillas
8 eggs
1/2 cup cream
1 cup grated parmesan
1 cup shredded kale
1/2 cup fresh ricotta
6 slices prosciutto
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
basil pesto
Directions
Preheat oven to 350F Lightly grease muffin tins and line each with tortilla. Mix eggs, cream, parmesan, kale, salt and pepper. Divide the eggs mixture between the tortilla cups, add a little ricotta into each cup and top each with slice of prosciutto, place into the oven for 20-22 minutes or until eggs are set. Top the tortilla cups with a little bit of pesto and serve with baked tomatoes. 

Skladniki
6 malych plackow tortilla
8 jajek
1/2 szklanki slodkiej smietany ( moze byc jogurt) 
1 szklanka tartego parmesanu
1 szklanka drobno pokrojonego jarmuzu
1/2 szklanki sera ricotta
6 plastron prosciutto
2 lyzeczki oliwy z oliwek
pesto z bazylii
Nagrzac piekarnik do 180C. Natluscic foremki do maffinow i wylozyc kazdy jednym plackiem tortilla. wymieszac jajka, jarmuz, smietane, parmesan sol i pieprz. Nalozyc nadzienie jajeczne na placki tortilla. na wierzch dodac okolo 1/2 lyzeczki sera ricotta i piece przez okolo 20-22 minut. Poddawac z pesto z bazylii i pieczonymi pomidorkami. 




french toast stuffed with cheese and bananas

Weekdays morning everyone is on its own when it comes to breakfast.  I eat pretty much the same food every day: berries with plain goat yogurt and granola. 

But weekends are different i love to experiment with breakfast and have something new.  I usually get up early and enjoy my morning coffee with my dog snoring next to me in the quite house. Around 9-10am I get bored and start making noise with pots and pans.  This weekend it was time to face a challenge that my friends set upon me after they had the French toast served at the restaurant Extra Virgin. I had to come up with something even richer, tastier, over the top, something much better then what EV serves.

So I did. I decided to stuff the french toast with mascarpone cheese and bananas then soak them for a few hours,a trick a learned from a French chef friend. He told me that as a kid his parents use to soak the brioche, or any other leftover bread overnight. When I make the regular version of this dish, without stuffing, I leave it overnight as well. It makes the bread very soft and moist. 

I have to say, the french toast came out great. Make sure you cut each piece a little thicker to help hold the stuffing so it does not fall apart in the soaking process. They also need to be transferred with extra care onto a rack to let drip the access liquid. They are super rich, scrumptious, and finger licking good, all at the same time. After one each we were too full to eat lunch that day. I think I might have won this battle over the best french toast on the block. 

French toast remains our favorite breakfast choice. Done right, there is an unpretentious beauty to this classic comfort food. There is rarely something as tempting as a plate of crisp, thickly sliced, perfectly prepared french toast piled high on a plate with a sprinkling of powder sugar.