We don’t talk politics at brunch

With November 8 right around the corner, I think a lot of us are wondering if this country is going in the right direction.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to step onto a political soap box. I am, however, going to talk about something that is very near and dear to my heart. Something that makes me proud to be a citizen of this country. Something we call “brunch.”

In case this is your first time visiting my blog or you’ve somehow forgotten, I had the privilege of spending the first half of 2016 living in Europe. As magical as that experience was, I spent most of those five months disturbingly deprived of brunch. This is in small part due to the fact that I was very wallet-conscious, and in large part due to the lack of availability of really outstanding brunch food.

In the past few years, America has become obsessed with trendy brunch places. Just a couple weeks ago I went around town with a friend hopping from restaurant to restaurant in Columbia searching for one that wouldn’t involve a two-hour wait. (We settled at Room 38. They have six variations of biscuits and gravy. ‘Nuff said.)

howBrunch is crafty little beast. It someone managed to convince us that it was fair to cobble together two separate meals into a super-spread, nearly giving it a monopoly on the meal scene. I’m surprised the Dems haven’t tried to regulate that.*

One of the key reasons that I’m so enamored with brunch is that it allows me to be a total potato in the morning and still enjoy breakfast-themed food when I wake up at noon, like I did today.

When I did finally extract myself from the covers, I decided to make a classic: sweet potato hash. It’s one of those things that starts with a relatively healthy, simple base that can be altered based on what you have on hand. Since I didn’t even have the potatoes themselves, I ran to the store to stock up on all the things I want on a dirty, sexy pile of hash.

The defining quality of hash that separates the men from the boys, as they say, is the egg. If you’re capable of topping your hash with a sunny, runny yolk, I salute you. Today, I attempted a truly risky feat: the poached egg.

Ever heard the phrase “Walk in on surgery halfway through and it looks like murder”? That’s how I would describe poaching eggs. Just watch this video and you’ll see what I mean.

I would probably guess that the human surgery survival rate is actually higher than the poached egg survival rate, though, especially after my experience today. Don’t even ask how many eggs took the plunge into my simmering cauldron before I succeeded.

After a solid hour of prepping, panfrying, and poaching, I did create the dirty, sexy hash of my dreams. Here’s the rundown:

-3/4 cup sweet potato

-1/4 cup red bell pepper

-1/4 cup sweet onion

-1 clove garlic

-3 slices Canadian bacon

-1/2 avocado

-1/3 cup pico de gallo

-1/2 cup baby kale

-1 egg

-1/2 tbsp Sriracha

Step one: Dice the potato, bell pepper, onion, bacon, and garlic so it’s all ready to go right when you need it. Dicing can be very labor intensive so I get this step done in one swoop before I start any cooking.

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Step two: Fry up the bacon until it’s got a golden color. Remove from the pan.

Step three: caramelize red bell pepper and onion until soft and lightly browned. Add garlic and sauté for a couple minutes.

Step four: Add sweet potato and cover with lid, stirring every five minutes or so until the potato is soft.

Step five: While the potato softens, bring a small pot of water, vinegar, and a pinch of salt to a simmer. Make a little whirl pool with a spoon and then add a fresh, cold egg. Take the pot of the heat and cover undisturbed for five minutes. After five minutes take the egg out with a slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel.

Step six: Add the bacon back to the hash and mix in some seasoning salt. Optional: I like to get a little texture on my potatoes so I press down on the potatoes with a spatula and crack up the heat for a couple minutes so they get a little crusty.

Step seven: Assemble your hash. I like to lay the greens down first and top them with the hash so that they wilt a little from the residual heat. Top the potatoes with the rest of the fixins: pico, avocado, and (VERY carefully so you don’t prematurely break the yolk) the poached egg. Top with more pepper and Sriracha.

Boom. You’ve got brunch.

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*I would just like to be clear that this is purely a feeble attempt at making a political joke, not an actual statement on my party affiliation

 

Challenging the cosmos with cupcakes

According to my sister, Mercury is in retrograde, so “everything is eff’d up.”

You may think that horoscopes are a load of baloney, and most days I would think you’re right. For example, today my Cosmopolitan horoscope said that “a love connection with someone unique and quirky” could “light up” my weekend and quite frankly that weirds me out.

Yet I still know every word to Beyoncé’s “Signs” and check my horoscope at least three times a week because you never know…

Last night I found myself in a terrible mood. Some yucky cocktail of post-game day blues, Sunday sadness, a few personal conflicts, and presumably our buddy Mercury, made me feel like this:

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I’m not a very confrontational person, so instead of facing my problems head on, I decided to make cupcakes.

I admit that baking is not my forte. My kitchen demeanor is just a bit too undisciplined (read: sloppy). Because of this, I am a slave to cake mix. But the options are so endless, how do you possibly pick just one?

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I knocked out white and yellow right off the bat because those are colors not flavors and I didn’t want to reward the lack of creativity by Betty Crocker’s marketing department. Also I’d like to start a petition to remove the word “moist” from literally everywhere.

Next out were carrot, spice, and gingerbread because I knew they would just remind me that the holidays are still a ways away (104 days until Christmas, yes I’m already counting down).

The remaining contenders were an array of chocolates and of course, Funfetti. I got the chocoholic gene from my dad, so I couldn’t go wrong there. At the same time, Funfetti is the most deliciously whimsical cake flavor out there. So I bought a box of both (Devil’s food as my chocolate choice, you know why *wink* ).

In the interest of restraint, I decided to make the Funfetti box first and leave the Devils Food box for a later bad mood.

Staring into a bowl of confetti-filled batter, my icy attitude began to thaw. I think I may have found a prescription for grumpiness.

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I’m really terrible at A) waiting for cupcakes to cool before icing them and B) actually icing them, but their final appearance didn’t matter since 10/12 of them were gone within 20 minutes after my roommates smelled the sugar and swarmed the kitchen.

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While I’m not going to assert that cupcakes can fix everything, they sure don’t hurt. I’m raising a cupcake to what’s sure to be another crazy week.

Mercury will be in retrograde until September 22nd, so whether you subscribe to horoscope mumbo-jumbo or not, keep calm and eat refined sugars.

Happy Monday!

Shouting from the stovetops…

The first time I splurged on a black pepper grinder, I told myself: “Because you’re worth it.” Audibly. In the Walmart spice aisle.

When it comes to what’s on my plate, I’m not your average millennial.

Being a foodie hasn’t always been easy. On top of the financial burden of buying fresh instead of canned produce or quinoa instead of ramen, I’ve always felt that there’s a stigma about people my age who enjoy things like roasting a whole chicken once a week.

During my sophomore year of high school, I brought a bagged lunch because I was getting tired of the soggy cafeteria corn dogs. As I ate my chicken salad sandwich and minded my own business, a friend sat down beside me.

“That sandwich looks like barf.”

Word to the wise: Never insult my food. I will spork you.

I cook like a middle-aged housewife. You can find me dirtying all kinds of dishes at least five nights a week. I’m proud of my talent, but every time my roommate comes in the front door and says something like “Ooh so fancy!” it makes me want to crawl into my pasta pot and become one with the penne.

I’m 20 years old and I would rather buy a big ole pack of prosciutto than a ticket to a football game. I tear up a little when I have to throw out a container of ricotta because cooking for one means that I don’t have time to give it the attention that it needs.

I’ve hidden my culinary talent from my peers because I thought it was weird. Not anymore.

I’m shouting it from the stovetop. I’m a kookie millennial.

Step one: Acceptance
Step one: Acceptance