How’ve you been these past few months? Has your life drastically transformed? Did you move across the country, win an award, fall in love? Did you get a puppy? Hire a life coach? Go back to school? Start a new job?
Maybe your time has been occupied with less dramatic pursuits: have you listened to an absurd number of podcasts on an obscure topic? Perfected your method for cooking rice without a rice cooker? Discovered that leggings can and should be worn as pants with no shame or regret?
For me, the transition from summer to autumn has been a heavy mix of significant life events, murder podcasts, and some stuff in between.
Leo and I got a very grown-up, horrible thing called a mortgage, which is slightly terrifying, but we also used that mortgage to buy a sweet little flat in south London. We move in December and I get all tingly and excited when I think about it. (Major shoutout to my extremely handsome husband Leo for being a Responsible Adult and doing mortgage things.)
I’ve been working, cooking, running, spending a little too much time on Instagram, going to the market on Sundays, cooking some more, basking in the chill of autumn, and cursing the 5pm sunsets that have suddenly ambushed us. I’ve been planning a much-anticipated trip to New York and Ohio in November. I’ve been reading (Ready Player One, of course).
I didn’t grow up in a particularly crunchy household. Legend has it that my dad tried feeding me Oreos when I was three months old (guess that’s what happens when you give a 23-year-old dude a baby. Love you, Jay). The first thing I remember cooking for myself as a kid was one of those ramen blocks resembling Justin Timberlake’s hair from the ‘90s (sometimes I would get REAL gourmet and ditch the seasoning packets for butter and grated parmesan from the green plastic tub).
Now I’m not saying that my parents weren’t good cooks, or that they didn’t feed me veggies on the daily. But as two recent college grads trying to make a living in Atlanta, they had priorities other than making their own nut butters or raiding the bulk bins at the local co-op. My dad was working nonstop. My mom was in grad school studying her days away. Plus, they had a kid who would smear Vicks Vapo-Rub all over her body when left unsupervised (yep, I can confirm that it burns just as much as you would expect).
One of my favorite parts of our holiday in Australia was our road trip up the coast to Byron Bay, mostly because of all the amazing beachside cafés we stopped at along the way. Every town we drove through had its own version of an effortlessly cool, laidback, brunch-y coffee shop, and I couldn’t get enough of them. I loved the rustic, fresh-from-the-kiln tableware. I loved the kitschy collectible antique spoons. I loved the meticulously poured flat whites (seriously, can you get a bad coffee in Australia? I think not).
But what struck me most was the simplicity of the menus at these cafés. They all relied on the same healthy-ish breakfast staples: yogurt and granola bowls, poached eggs and sourdough, avocado toast—but they each managed to add original twists to their dishes. One café added avocado slices to a bountiful bowl of yogurt, passionfruit, and granola, a combination that satisfied my sweet tooth and my craving for healthy fats in an unexpected way. Another plopped a generous scoop of coconut ice cream on top of a stack of pancakes and fruit (I REPEAT: ice cream on pancakes!!!). I was in paradise.
French toast is, for me, the ultimate weekend breakfast. There are two reasons for this:
- The intense nostalgia that French toast makes me feel, since my mom would only make it on weekends, and
- The intense food coma that I experience after eating it (usually some recovery time is involved).
Both of these facts make it certain that French toast is a dish that is not meant for weekday consumption. It’s supposed to be eaten on a lazy Sunday morning, with the promise of a mid-morning nap on the horizon.
When I was little, French toast was my all-time favorite breakfast food, and my mom (whom I affectionately refer to as Betsy) was the ONLY person who knew how to make it right. With coffee brewing and Meet the Press on in the background, Betsy would whip up an eggy batter, soak some bread in it, and fry away. This part sounds standard—it’s what comes next that always blew my mind.
It took me about a decade and a half of my life to realize that smoothies were something I could consume outside of a mall. What do you mean, there are smoothies better than the ones from Jamba Juice? And you don’t even have to crawl through a crowd of Ugg-clad teenagers armed with Hollister shopping bags to get them? What is this madness?!
After my realization, things got tastier. I’m pretty sure in my early smoothie-making days I didn’t venture much beyond frozen berries and milk, but hey, we’ve all got to start somewhere.
To be honest, I don’t usually follow recipes when making smoothies (duh). The contents of the blender often depend on whatever I have on hand—usually a banana, some milk, some greens, and far too much peanut butter. But some days, I want to make a pretty smoothie, and this calls for a little extra attention.
For one thing, combining berries and greens is a no-no when making a smoothie that’s aesthetically pleasing. Color is key, and a brown-green liquid isn’t the most appetizing. So what do you do when you want a pretty smoothie with both greens AND fruity goodness? These are the important questions in life, and I’m here to answer them, people.