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Posts Tagged ‘breakfast’

Featuring my favourite spaces and places in my beloved neighbourhood – Vancouver’s beautiful, wacky, wonderful West End.

Our local greasy spoon diner Joe’s Grill is like our Cheers – where everybody knows our name (well, actually, they call Josh and I “The Happy Couple”) and they’re always glad we came. We’ve been regulars there for about four years now, I think (it’s so hard to keep track!), and over that time Joe’s has taken up a very special place in our hearts. It’s like our church, or our community centre, our sacred weekly ritual (and on a good week, more than once!). They even have Keaton’s birth announcement taped to the wall above the kitchen service counter, for heaven’s sakes.

At Joe’s, the food is great (Avocado & Tomato Benny, anyone? And Josh swears by the Egg Burrito), the coffee is good and plentiful, the hot sauce is the best, the cooks are smiley and nice, and the servers? Gad, they are the best. The absolute best in town. We exchange Christmas cards and candies, and they all chipped in to buy us a baby present when Keaton was born. We went there on Keaton’s first birthday (how could we not?), and they served him a special bowl of birthday blueberries. When we went on Halloween (again, how could we not?), they had a pair of Halloween socks, ready to give Keaton.

We have seriously never had a bad experience there, which is unusual in the world of cafes and diners. We’ve never had to wait an inordinately long time for a table, even during busy times, never had a snippy server, and never had a food order go wrong.

It’s the Joe’s Grill magic, I tell you.

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From How to Eat Like a Child: And Other Lessons in Not Being a Grown-Up by Delia Ephron:

Peas: Mash and flatten into thin sheet on plate. Press the back of the fork into the peas. Hold fork vertically, prongs up, and lick off peas.

Animal crackers: Eat each in this order – legs, head, body.

Sandwich: Leave the crusts. If your mother says you have to eat them because that’s the best part, stuff the crusts into your pants pocket or between the cushions of the couch.

French Fries: Wave one French fry in air for emphasis while you talk. Pretend to conduct orchestra. then place fries in your mouth at once and chew. Turn to your sister, open your mouth, and stick out your tongue coated with potatoes. Close your mouth and swallow. Smile.

The other day, as Keaton and I were sitting at the table and enjoying breakfast together, I was thinking about the differences in how grown-ups and children eat. Not just what they eat, but more specifically how. As I sat there chowing down on my Red River cereal (with a splash of milk and maple syrup) with a boring old tablespoon, I remembered how my sisters and I used to eat our oatmeal with big wooden spoons, just like Goldilocks. We were huge fans of the Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre*, and we loved how Tatum O’Neal, as a spectacularly ringlet-ed Goldilocks, ate the three bears’ oatmeal with, yes indeed, a big wooden spoon. I loved the soft clunk of the raw wood against my teeth, and how the oatmeal stuck to it. So much better than a boring old metal spoon. My sisters and I were also fans of eating with other less conventional dishes and cutlery, such as drinking iced tea out of measuring cups, orange pop out of brandy snifters (we didn’t ask our dad first), and eating our Zoodles right out of the pot with teeny tiny baby spoon. (We also sometimes ate gummy worms and Coke as cereal, but that’s a whole other story.)

When we’re kids, our imaginations rule our lives, rather than social norms. When we grow up (I’m totally generalizing here; I am very fortunate to be friends with many self-actualized people who wonderfully thumb their noses at social norms!), we tend more and more to do what’s “proper” – drink coffee out of mugs, water out of glasses, eat food off plates with forks and knives, and a napkin on our lap. For the most part, kids want to do what’s “improper.” And that’s so much more fun, isn’t it?

So, that morning as I sat eating my Red River cereal with Keaton, I put aside my boring old metal spoon, and grabbed a wooden spoon. I loved the soft clunk of the raw wood against my teeth, and how the cereal stuck to it.

Keaton, at nine months old, still has all this to discover. How cool. I can’t wait to drink chocolate milk out of wine glasses with him.

*Note on Faerie Tale Theatre: Any other children of the 80’s remember these? They were totally low-budget re-enactments of fairy tales, produced by Shelley Duvall and featuring stars of the day such as Robin Williams as the Frog Prince, Jeff Bridges as the prince in Rapunzel, Mick Jagger as the Emperor in The Nightingale, and our favourite, Tom Conti and Liza Minelli in The Princess and the Pea. Brilliant. To this day, my sisters and I still quote that one. We watched and re-watched the Faerie Tale Theatres hundreds and hundreds of times. We wore out the Beta tapes from Hammond Video, I’m sure. At one point my mum actually took them and hid them because we were so obsessed – also, she didn’t feel that they featured very good female role models. For my 30th birthday a few years ago my sisters bought me the complete DVD collection of the FTTs – a gift that I will cherish forever. And The Princess and the Pea is still my favourite. Tom Conti’s eyebrows, seriously.

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[Okay, so I know it’s not actually Thursday, but I started writing this post yesterday  – does that count?]

Whenever I eat coconut, I think of my sister Chay. It could have something to do with the fact that in her partying years she favoured that sweet, fabulously trashy, coconut liquer-type stuff in the white glass bottle with the blue 80s font, aptly named Malibu. Goes well with Coke.

So, inspired by my gorgeous, hilarious, wondrous sister Chay, I concocted what I have dubbed my Malibu Granola. Like Chay, this granola is sweet, smart, sassy, earthy and beautiful. Eating this granola for me evokes images of warm summer days, wearing sundresses and flip-flops and listening to Sublime (remember them?). Try it with some plain yogurt and banana slices on top.

Malibu Granola*

7 cups rolled oats
2 1/2 cups total of any combination of chopped Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts, sesame seeds and/or hemp seeds
1/2 cup coconut
3/4 cup of dried fruits, such as cranberries, finely chopped mangoes, apples, apricots and/or pineapples
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 250F. Put all ingredients except for the coconut and fruits in a very large bowl (or divide between two large bowls – I certainly didn’t have a bowl that was honkin’ enough to hold it all!). Mix well. Spread the mixture out on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake for about an hour, flipping the granola over a couple of times. Add the coconut after 1/2 an hour (otherwise it can burn!). Add the fruit when it’s all done bakin’, and store in airtight containers.

*Of course, the great thing about granola is there are about a thousand different combinations of oats, nuts, seeds and fruits you can put together. It’s so easy to make, and so much cheaper than the store-bought stuff. The general rule of thumb is 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup liquid sweetener (ie. honey or maple syrup) to every 10 cups of dry stuff.

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