It certainly wasn’t the best week of my life, but I’m happy to report that by Friday, I was almost back to normal. And yesterday, after four days of near-constant nausea and pain, I felt great! I’m all better and ready to rock and roll.
An unfortunate side effect of being sick is that I can’t quite bring myself to resume the diet I was following while I was sick. It’s sad, really, because I was just eating what I normally eat, but being forced to lay on the couch to ward off any intestinal episodes has a way of shaping one’s appetite. I could barely finish my morning bowls of oatmeal; those last few bites taunted and tortured me. I probably should have just scraped the last bits into the garbage, but I’m a proud member of the Clean Plate Club, so I had to finish my breakfast, even if it meant laying on the couch between bites.
Fear not, dear reader: I tell you all of this not to gross you out but as a prelude to some exciting kitchen news. It’s time for us to talk about the art of mixing.
Mixing is not exactly cooking. Or maybe it is cooking, in a way. Both art forms ask you to balance flavors, to combine ingredients in order to exceed the sum of the parts. As you can see above, I employ my mixing skills when pouring a bowl of cereal, which is actually two cereals plus three different toppings. It’s rather elaborate for a bowl of cereal on Saturday morning, but I don’t mind the extra few minutes of puttering in the kitchen, especially now that my morning hunger makes breakfast sound wonderfully appealing. In that bowl, we have roughly equal parts Shredded Wheat and Cracklin’ Oat Bran cereals into which I’ve mixed a few spoonfuls of crunchy peanut butter. A bit of ground flax was sprinkled over the sticky cereal. The final, crowning touch was a dab of homemade strawberry jam. With a big splash of milk to moisten the whole thing, this breakfast had me scraping the last bits and slurping the milk out of the bottom of the bowl.
The mixing doesn’t stop there, though. Oh no. My mugs of coffee have become equally ridiculous, but I’m blaming Matt for this one. When he’s visiting, we often go out for coffee in the late morning or after lunch. It’s a comforting little ritual for us, and we like to sit around a tiny table and talk about everything under the sun. That’s pretty much what we do, all the time: eat, drink, and talk. I like it.
Anyway, when we get coffee, Matt almost always fills his cup with two or three different brewed coffees. Then he goes to work at the condiment station, adding cream, sugar, and whatnot. I like to steal sips of his coffee, just to know what he’s tasting, and it always tastes amazing. Maybe it’s that effect where drinking out of someone else’s cup makes things taste better, but I think there’s more to it than that. One of his favorite combinations is a French roast mixed with vanilla-flavored coffee. It’s pretty delightful: the deep, dark toasty notes of the French roast get lightened and brightened by the vanilla coffee, while the French roast adds depth and interest to the vanilla. The two coffees balance each other without masking the flavors. I was so inspired by this lesson that I went out and bought a bag each of French roast and vanilla-flavored coffee beans. Since then, I’ve been making my morning coffee using a 2:1 ratio of vanilla coffee to French roast. I mix one tablespoon of vanilla with half a tablespoon of French roast, then I add 1 1/3 cups of water to my little coffee-maker and hit the green button. While the coffee brews, I add a big splash of milk, a tiny splash of heavy cream, and a teaspoon of vanilla sugar to my big orange mug. I pour the brewed coffee into my mug and that, my friends, is my new morning coffee ritual.
I just love breakfast so much that I can’t help letting it become this elaborate morning ritual. I rarely do much “cooking” in the morning—no eggs or pancakes for me at home, thanks—but a well-made bowl of cereal and a good cup of coffee start my day on the right note. And my method is the perfect excuse to have breakfast for dinner, which I’ll happily do, just about any day of the week.