oysters and arugula



Happy Mothers’ Day

At 7:45 this morning, I was awoken to a chorus of “Happy Mothers’ Day, Mommy!” and the sight of two beaming girls holding a breakfast tray.  For the past several days, 9-year old Greta had been saying that she wanted to make scrambled eggs for me for Mothers’ Day, and while telling her what a lovely thought that was, I had tried to encourage something that wouldn’t involved the stove top, since the thought of the girls in the kitchen with an open flame, while I slept, was a bit unnerving.

“We used Julia’s recipe, Mommy!”


“Yes, Julia Child!”

How fantastic is that?!!  My daughters had turned to Mastering the Art of French Cooking for their first solo cooking endeavor.  Could I be more proud?

Considering how well that had all gone, I reasoned that it would be ok to ask Anna to put a kettle on, for my coffee, while I read their cards.

A few minutes later, after I had opened a gift of homemade vanilla-scented sugar and olive oil scrub, I realized I had been hearing a periodic clicking sort-of sound and asked Anna to take a peek in the kitchen to be sure everything was ok on the stove.  “Oh, no! Oh, no!” is what Greta and I heard seconds later.  I ran to the kitchen half expecting to find the room ablaze, to discover the milk bottle we have been using as a water carafe, sitting on the stove top, directly beside the gas burner, still standing but cracked into three pieces.  Though the girls were fond of the bottle, fortunately this was no catastrophe.  In fact, it provided a “teaching” moment, as well as an opportunity to practice my nursing skills.

Because as soon as I picked up the bottle, it fell to pieces and at least one tiny shard ended up on the floor, and soon after, in Anna’s foot.  Thus I found myself, seated by the window, sipping my coffee, tweezers in hand, extracting a sliver of glass from Anna’s tender foot. What’s a Mothers’ Day without a little mothering!

Baked Apples

On a chilly morning one month ago, my beau and I awoke to the smell of coffee, bacon, and warm apples, the perfect recipe for luring us from our quilt-covered bed and down to the dining room of the King’s Cottage Inn for breakfast.

We had just taken a few sips of our coffee, and wished a Happy Anniversary to each of the two other couples in the room (one a 2nd, the other a 13th, while we kept mum about our 2-Month), when our hostess set before us the source of that lovely apple scent that had drifted up to our room – a baked apple.   Its center was filled with a mixture of oats, almonds, and cinnamon, and we both agreed that it was a perfectly cozy way to begin the day.   Never before this day had I been served a baked apple, and I now had to wonder why.  It seemed a relatively simple and fuss-free sort of thing, and yet there was a not-everyday-ness to it that I knew my daughter Greta would love.  I made a mental note to introduce this to our breakfast menu one day soon.

New Year’s Day turned out to be that day.   I devised my own recipe that morning, with what I found in my pantry, but having taken a look at the suggestions in The Joy of Cooking, it’s clear that one can go many ways with a baked apple – from basic with just brown sugar and cinnamon to a richer version involving almonds, figs, breadcrumbs and ginger to a savory sausage number.  But below you’ll find my version of the apple we ate in Lancaster, and proving that old saw, “Mother knows best,” Greta was delighted with the result.

Baked Apple Chez K

2 apples (I used Gala)

a little heavy cream (though milk will certainly do)

a little milk

1 Tbs. butter

1 pkg. instant oatmeal  (I used apples and spice flavor)

raisins, if you are so inclined


Ideally, one would use plain oats, and flavor them with a bit of cinnamon, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt, all moistened with milk.  Being out of oats on New Year’s Day, I resorted to a packet of instant oatmeal, apple and spice flavor.  I added a bit more cinnamon to the packet, moistened it with a bit of cream, and tossed in a few raisins.

I then halved the apples and cut out the core.  Into the resulting cavity, I rounded a tablespoon or so of the oatmeal mixture.  I dotted each apple with a bit of butter and then put them into a small casserole dish.

I poured a bit of boiling water into the dish (about 1/4″ or so) and covered the dish with foil.  I set the casserole in a preheated 375° oven for about 30 minutes, until the apples were tender, and then served them with a little warmed cream.

Greta’s Pancake (fka David Eyre’s Pancake)

Amanda Hesser wrote a column about this pancake in the March 25, 2007, edition of The New York Times Magazine.  I gave it try one day soon thereafter and have been making it ever since.  Well, perhaps I got us started, but in the past year or so, my nine-year old daughter has taken command.

This pancake is nothing more than eggs, flour, milk, and a little nutmeg, baked in the oven in a pan full of butter.  It is then topped with powdered sugar and lemon juice.  It’s a cinch to make, and the original recipe takes well to tweaking.  By the time I first showed Greta how to make it, I had already decreased the amount of butter called for and determined that a pinch of salt is a welcome addition.  Greta has increased the amount of nutmeg and to the recipe she adds her special stirring method.  I can’t tell you what she does, but her pancakes come out more billowy than mine every single time.  I’ve watched her, trying to uncover the secret of her technique,  but it evades me still.

Today being New Year’s Day, Greta and I decided that it was an excellent day for her pancake.  I had also decided to prepare a batch of baked apples, something I’d been wanting to do ever since I’d been served one for breakfast at King’s Cottage during that Lancaster weekend.  Greta set to work beating a couple of eggs, and then added 1/2 c. flour, 1/2 c. milk, and a pinch of salt.

Next the fresh nutmeg -her favorite part.  Greta will tell you to “just grate it until you think you’ve put in enough.”

After the nutmeg, blend until only combined.  The batter should still be a little lumpy.  (This is where Greta excels.)  Next, melt 2 Tbs. of butter (or twice as much, if you’re so inclined) in an oven-proof skillet.

Pour the batter into the hot pan,

and set it in a 425° oven.  Bake approximately 12- 15 minutes.  The pancake should puff up, in billowy mounds, and should have a lovely golden color, even toasty on the edges.

Remove pan from the oven and sprinkle to your heart’s content with confectioners’ sugar.

Next, we would normally sprinkle with the juice of half a lemon, but having discovered our fruit drawer remarkably bare of lemons, we decided to use an orange – and we loved it!

Cut the pancake in wedges and serve with berries, if you have them.  Jam or fruit butter might also be considered.

Next time:  the baked apples!

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