Last month Fast Company published a great short piece entitled The Hidden Link Between Breakfast and Productivity. But it's not about filling your stomach or nutrition, though those factors are also important. Rather, it was about how having at least one thing completely figured out in the morning leaves you more mental energy for the rest of your day.
Or, as writer Drake Baer put it, "if you don't decide on how to make decisions, you'll be exhausted by the time you finish that bowl of cereal."
I'm one of those people for whom decision-making is usually pretty exhaustive. (A maximizer, according to The Paradox of Choice.) I research every purchase carefully, from important ones like jobs and apartments to minor ones like brands of environmentally-friendly dish soap. And as a food writer, well, friends often leave it up to me to decide where to go for dinner, for occasions big and small. Let's just say I (needlessly) feel the pressure and can spend way too much time cross-referencing 80 restaurant reviews before coming up with some place for a quick bite on a Tuesday night.
Ever since I bought a blender a few months ago, I haven't gone a day without using it. There were weeks when I bought so many bags of frozen blueberries that my favorite grocery store would run out. When I'm working from home, I'd make 2 or 3 smoothies a day. But, I guess, there are worse things to be addicted to.
Now that fresh berries are in season, the smoothie making has gone into overdrive. There is no time that's inappropriate. Sometimes I'd even make one at 11pm, to sip on the couch while reading a book or catching up on Mad Men. (Sorry, neighbors, for the extra-loudness of my blender.)
I mean, with fresh strawberries that look like these, how can you not?
I'm a creature of habit when it comes to some things. Like how I like my eggs to be cooked. (Sunny-side up with a runny yolk.) Or chocolate chip cookies. (This recipe is my go-to.) But not when it comes to my morning caffeine.
Some mornings I'll feel like black coffee, plain and simple. Other days, a single shot of expresso. Or a cappuccino. Aromatic single origin coffee from some new raved-about coffee shop can feel nice and decadent. Bodega coffee is perfectly fine too. From time to time, I'll just scrap the coffee thing altogether and do a green tea smoothie.
This week, my go-to morning beverage has been a homemade frappuccino. I don't know where this craving came from, actually. Maybe it was all those grocery shopping trips in the hot sun, which required me to lug home heavy bags while passing by a Starbucks and see all those people relaxing on the bench outside with their big frothy frappuccinos. And thinking, hey, I need one of those, but maybe I could make it better at home.
If you've been reading this blog or Appetite for China for a while, you may remember that I'm a little obsessed with ramps, the wild leeks that are only available on the East Coast for a few weeks in the spring. I've used them when making pasta, stir-fries, dumplings, eggs, and cold sesame noodles. And I've gotten quite a few of the students in my cooking classes addicted to them as well.
I had thought ramps were officially gone for the year, until I spotted a few bunches at the Greenmarket this past Friday. (The stand was also selling just ramp bulbs.) And they looked pretty good for being end-of-the-season picks. So I brought a bunch home and made ramp tacos for three straight meals.
Every year around this time I go a little nuts making strawberry desserts. Witness last year's strawberry sweets frenzy: Mini Strawberry and Rum Pies, Strawberry Rhubarb Buckle, Strawberry Basil Sorbet. And those are just the ones that made the cut to become blog posts.
Over Memorial Day weekend I went my friend Karol's new apartment in Williamsburg for her housewarming BBQ potluck, which promised lots of food and merriment on a big beautiful deck. Her potlucks usually draw a big crowd, so I decided to make not one but two strawberry rhubarb tarts.
I picked up a large container of first-of-the-season Jersey strawberries and rhubarb stalks from the Greenmarket. And had ambitious plans of getting up early on Sunday morning to make the tarts without rushing. The waking up early part, um, never happened. Fortunately, I found out, you can really make these tarts in just two hours from start to finish, including the galette dough.
I am on a green tea kick this week. In addition to my usual cold brew coffee in the morning, I've been sipping plenty of iced matcha lattes in the afternoon as a refresher. (My apartment has been getting really warm and stuffy this past week, even with the windows wide open.) Yesterday, I decided to deviate from the routine and make a green tea smoothie instead.
Or rather, a coconut green tea smoothie. I've started keeping a steady supply of coconut water in the fridge in addition to almond milk for blended drinks, and it's great on days when I'm in the mood for a lighter-than-usual smoothie.
Breakfast, Entrees, Recipes, Vegetarian
We're nearing the end of the all-too-brief ramp season here on the East Coast.
So far, I've been trying to get the most out of ramp availability this spring. In April I taught two classes on Asian cooking using seasonal ingredients and managed to get a bunch of students addicted to these delicious wild leeks. We stuffed them into dumplings, used them in a lamb stir-fry, and even garnished cold sesame noodles with them.
At home, I've also tried to cook with ramps every chance I got, wherever and whenever I'd normally use scallions, garlic, onions, or shallots. But the quickest, easiest, and by far most comforting dish is fried eggs.
Breakfast, Drinks, Recipes
I've been making smoothies non-stop these past few weeks. Maybe it's in anticipation of all the ripe late spring and summer fruits that will soon be in the markets. But lately my breakfasts have been looking more like the smoothie above instead of this or this. And that's a very good thing.
Until blueberries are in season, I'm making do with the the frozen kind. Frozen berries can often be too bland, so I was pretty happy to come across these, from Stahlbush Island Farms in Oregon. They're incredibly plump and tasty for frozen berries, plus the packaging is biodegradable to boot. Win win.