Strawberries and Cream (Cheese) Pancakes!

IMG_5143.JPGSaturday morning has been like the breath after a storm lately, the only time of the week when I don’t notice how long I am working on something, or how long I have to get up and get ready and go go go. This morning, I googled pancake recipes (I liked mine but didn’t love it, so I recommend just going with your favorite; I do recommend lots of vanilla extract and butterscotch flavoring if you have it!), heated frozen strawberries, and added dots of cream cheese to each warm pancake. I will say, I’ve been really impressed with “white whole wheat flour” (I have King Arthur brand, but I haven’t tried any others yet) – it makes the recipe a little grittier and darker than average whole wheat flour, but still works up with the consistency of white flour. It’s a good compromise, especially for Husband who does not deal with whole wheat well.

These pancakes, let me tell you. It wasn’t fancy, or beautiful (I attached a picture pretty much just to show how non-romantic my photos were) – I was honestly quite grouchy and unpleasant, and Husband did the thing where he went fairly quiet and fairly upbeat just to weather my mood. But man, the combination of sweet and tart fruit, wholesome pancakes, and just a rich morsel of cream cheese will melt even the most stubborn giant.

Pancakes, even when they are a little charred with the first batch as the pan gets going, are a little like love, which has on my mind with Valentine’s coming. It’s our second Valentine’s in marriage, and while I still feel like I’m learning constantly, I’m starting, very slowly, to see that this is what life is: messy, requires adjustment, but is so surprisingly sweet so often. I cannot tell you how lucky I feel to have him around me, to have him weather the days with me. I love that he delves into his food and grins and says “good pancakes, hon” and asks me what I want to do today. Messy, but unbelievably sweet.

The Ritual of Slow Coffee

Coffee starts in fields, in trees, in beans. Coffee arrives, however it is grown, in bags of green beans from Ethiopia, sent to Husband by a roast-your-own-coffee company.

Coffee gets roasted on our back porch, in a used popcorn popper, while Husband pokes at it with a wooden spoon handle and listens for the telltale crack that means it is ready. I sit with him, enjoying the roasting smell and crocheting something, usually a square for a quilt.

Coffee gets stored in a pan while it cools, then in a mason jar, then in the coffee grinder’s reservoir for the day or two before we use it. I stumble into the kitchen, freshly dressed for work, and press the big start button. 30 seconds of loud whirring later, the freshest of coffee is ready.

I wash the french press while the kettle vibrates on the stove. I pour the rush of boiling water over the grounds and wait impatiently for it to steep. Husband gets out of the shower and joins me.

We are not as slow with our coffee on weekdays as we are on weekends, when one french press pot of coffee can turn into two while we read books or clean the house or plan our days together. But those 5 or 10 minutes, lingering over the quality coffee and maybe a bagel or some recent pastry I’ve whipped up, they are what make all the hard work that is poured into this simple bean juice worth it.

I certainly drink coffee for fuel, to power me through long days and to get the live-wire buzz of caffeination to make me feel like my ideas are good ones and that I should keep working working working. But I would do all the steps in the coffee making process at home even if it was decaf. It’s a ritual, but I love it.

A daily staple: Husband’s salad mania

I know that the core of most healthy people’s diet is salad of some form – replacing some of those calorie-dense carbs with a bed of lettuce of some kind or another. I also know that I’ve yet to crave such things – I am the last girl to ever look straight at the salads at a restaurant. Still, Husband has been making them for me for years now, so I am very familiar with his way of doing things:

Husband’s formula for salad:

Start with good greens: Husband doesn’t like iceberg lettuce, though more power to you if that’s how you get in some salad time. He tends toward mildly bitter lettuces, like spring mix from the grocery store, though we’ve recently been getting local butterhead lettuce which is even earthier (i.e. dirt-flavored). 

Add all the veggies in the house: his staples are peppers, carrots, bell peppers, and mushrooms.

Dress with balsamic and oil: Husband has a comically huge jug of balsamic vinegar he got on super-sale one time last year, and we always go through a lot of olive oil, so instead of a dainty bottle of dressing he’s always got these two jumbo containers to contend with. 

Add cheese: Husband will put a generous topping of whatever cheese we have in the house, which I always ask him not to do with my salads. Why would I put one of my favorite foods on top of my least favorite? If I have to eat salad, I want to feel like I’ve won a medal for healthy eating. He, on the other hand, actually enjoys it. 

I really love that he can get excited about salad, especially since it gives us nice tasks; if I’m finishing up a pasta dish, he’ll come in to the kitchen and prepare two salads, usually not giving me a choice, one with all his favorites and mine with no mushrooms and no cheese. It’s a labor of love, I’m sure, to get me to eat my raw veggies, but he’s doing it.