I’m Guest-Hosting Rachel & Miles X-Plain the X-Men!

Yesssss! That’s right: the very week I posted about my favorite podcast, Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men (one of Entertainment Weekly‘s 20 Podcasts You Need to Hear in 2015), they asked if I would be interested in guest-hosting episode #47!

Um. YES. Even better: Miles and I will be talking X-Men and Alpha Flight, the Canadian superhero team created by John Byrne, an artist and writer who is near and dear to my heart and who got me interested in superhero comics in the first place.

We won’t be talking about Byrne’s Alpha Flight comics specifically, but you know I’ll talk at length about him anyway. Unless producer Bobby Roberts cuts it out.

Anyway! Super excited, super nervous, super flattered that Rachel and Miles thought of me–thanks so much, guys!

The episode will debut March 8! You can catch up before then right here–hope you survive the experience!

Brunch: Eggs and Eggs in Crisp Potato Skins

Here’s one of the recipes I referenced in my epic brunch post: crisp potato skins with scrambled eggs! A friend on Facebook asked for the recipe, so I thought I might as well type it up for the blog.

This is from Cooking for the Weekend, an excellent cookbook by Michael McLaughlin. I’ve had it for years and it’s out of print, but lots of fun–the entire book is made up of “Saturday Lunches,” “Company on Saturday Night,” and “Sunday Breakfasts and Brunches,” categorized by Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring. Incidentally, I did a little research online to see if McLaughlin had a website so I could attribute this to him, and discovered he died in 2002 at the age of 53. He helped put together the classic Silver Palate Cookbook, another favorite of mine: RIP to a talented writer and gifted cook.

This dish is one of my most popular brunch recipes! I let people build their own potato skins and set out the scrambled eggs, cheese, chives, crumbled bacon, and whatever other toppings come to mind. Unfortunately, I’ve never been rich enough to offer the caviar included in the original recipe (the second “eggs” of the title), but maybe I’ll do that just for myself.

Potatoes

Eggs and Eggs in Crisp Potato Skins
Serves 8 (I multiply the recipe according to my guest list; allowing 1 1/2 skins per guest is usually spot on)

You need:

8 russet baking potatoes (about 6 ounces each), well scrubbed
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
Rich Scrambled Eggs (recipe follows)
6 ounces creme fraiche, homemade or purchased, or sour cream, well chilled
1 ounce black caviar, such as osetra
1/2 ounce salmon roe caviar
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

The night before: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Pierce each potato several times with a fork. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until tender, about 50 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes.

Halve the potatoes lengthwise and scoop out the insides of the potatoes (keep them for mashed potatoes, or make some gnocchi), leaving a shell about 1/4 inch thick. If making ahead of time, wrap well and refrigerate.

The morning of your brunch: Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Lightly brush the potato shells inside and out with melted butter. Arrange them cut side down, on a baking sheet and bake 12 minutes. Turn the shells upright and bake until the edges are crisp and golden brown, about 12 minutes more.

For brunch, I stack the potato skins in two sections of my three-compartment warming tray, with the eggs in the third section and my toppings in small dishes nearby. Guests can build their own–and eat them with their hands!

Rich Scrambled Eggs
Serves 8

You need:

16 eggs
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, cream, salt, and pepper. Melt the butter in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over low heat. Stir in the eggs and cook, stirring often, until softly set, about 7 minutes. NOTE: Even when I’m doing multiple batches for a brunch, I only cook one batch at a time–a huge, deep pan of eggs tends to cook unevenly and brown on the bottom, which I can’t stand!

I’ll end with a quote from McLaughlin at the end of the recipe: “Leftover caviar is an oxymoron: Not only is it expensive, it’s perishable. Eat up.” I couldn’t agree more!

Happy Monday: Links to Make Your Day Brighter

Happy Monday! Ugh. Even though I’m home with Sarah now, I still get that dreaded “it’s almost Monday” feeling in the pit of my stomach on Sunday. Here’s a cute picture of her to make your transition to the work week a little easier.

Cute Baby

Plus: links! I am a weirdo of varied interests.

New Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men podcast: Lifedeath! – Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men is such a good podcast, but don’t take it from me–they were named by Entertainment Weekly as one of 20 Podcasts You Need to Hear in 2015! This week they’re covering Lifedeath, the powerful two-part epic of the aftermath of Storm losing her powers, drawn by the incredible Barry Windsor-Smith!

Listen to it if you love the X-Men. Listen to it if you hate the X-Men–heck, listen to it if you know nothing about the X-Men–you’ll receive an entertaining and engrossing education. The joy of this podcast is Rachel and Miles’ clear love of everything X-Men–even the crappy stuff–but what I enjoy is how tight everything is: there’s no aimless rambling, all of the rambling has been thought out ahead of time! Major props to Bobby Roberts for his expert production skills.

Welcome back, Tyler Durden! See artwork from Chuck Palahniuk’s comic-book sequel Fight Club 2 at Rolling Stone.

Hellboy Turns 21 and Rogue Ales Gets Him His First Beer at ComicBook.com.

Zero Waste Chef: This is one of my new favorite blogs. You think I love to cook? This lady cultivates her own sourdough starter and makes her own sour cream. Oh yes, new worlds to conquer! I might even finish reading Michael Pollan’s Cooked now.

Murder, She Blogged: My other favorite blog. Hilarious recaps of Murder, She Wrote. The screencaps of Angela Lansbury’s priceless expressions and the writer’s total and absolute hatred of Grady, Jessica Fletcher’s hapless nephew, are extremely funny. Read it.

Got any awesome blogs to share–even your own? Post ’em below!

Zero Waste Home

11 Changes I Made After Reading Zero Waste Home

No one is more surprised in my growing interest in “zero waste” than me. Since my husband and I moved in together, it’s been a running joke that I barely know how to recycle–and I’m the one who grew up in eco-conscious Portland, Oregon. In fact, the only reason I stumbled on Bea Johnson’s book, Zero Waste Home, is because I was planning to create a lot more waste (in the form of disposable diapers), and garbage is only picked up every other week in our fair city.

While surfing the Internet for ways to reduce our household garbage, I suddenly remembered reading about Johnson in Martha Stewart Living. She and her family went from a 3,000-square-foot home–and the gallons of weekly waste the typical American family generates–to a 1,475-square-foot house, jettisoning 80% of their belongings in the process. Their yearly garbage, for a family of four (two adults and two young sons), is now just one quart. To put this in context, Duke University’s Center for Sustainability and Commerce has determined that the average person generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day, 1.6 pounds more than in 1960.

So, in a fit of virtuous mania, I walked to Powell’s Books for Home and Garden (while six months pregnant) and picked up a copy of Zero Waste Home. As part of this noble impulse, I also picked up a reusable glass water bottle, which I promptly lost the first time I used it. Whoops.

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Zero Waste Gift

Zero Waste: Valentine’s Gifts

Just a quick post to show you the zero waste gifts I made for my husband and son for Valentine’s Day. They were easy to put together, cute, well-received, and–what I thought was cool–generated no garbage.

It’s no secret that holidays, and gifts in general, can create a lot of trash: plastic packaging, wrapping paper, bows, etc. I try to recycle gift bags and bows, but I’m just not the type to carefully remove wrapping paper and fold it for another use–I’m a feverish ripper to the end. So we had a huge bag of garbage after Christmas morning, so much so that I’m seriously considering making cloth gift bags for next year (it helps that there is so much cute holiday fabric and I know how to sew).

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Make Brunch for 50 for About $110

Since I moved back to Portland, Oregon in 2005, I’ve thrown about 40 brunches. I started this for two reasons: one, when I first moved back, I lived in a tiny apartment and wanted to see as many old friends as possible. Brunch = eating standing up, if done correctly. And two, I had spent a stint working as a cook at the Point Way Inn, a bed and breakfast on Martha’s Vineyard, under the tutelage of Jaclyn Bettencourt.

The reason I kept doing brunches all these years? I discovered it was damn cheap. For example, I had about 52 people at my most recent brunch. The cost? About $110. Think about it: if you cook from scratch, brunch is made out of some very reasonably priced ingredients. Flour. Eggs. Cheese. Bacon.

Here’s the menu for this week’s Valentine’s Day brunch:

  • Heart-Shaped Donuts (both yeast-raised and chocolate cake varieties)
  • Tuscan Frittata Affrogata (baked in two heart-shaped cake pans, one without cheese)
  • This Breakfast Casserole (added to the menu at the last minute, made from leftover bread from the Heart-Shaped Toasts and a can of Ro-Tel, drained, in place of the tomatoes and mushrooms)
  • Heart-Shaped Toasts (rye and white bread, cut with cookie cutters) with cream cheese
  • Bacon (made in the oven, much easier to make alot on a large scale)
  • Strawberries
  • Coffee
  • Mimosas
Donuts

Donuts from my most recent brunch–not for the faint of heart. Ha ha.

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I Made a Romantic Meal for My Husband, and What He Did Next SHOCKED Me!

Heh heh heh. My title is cracking me up. I can’t help it, those click-baity titles have quickly become parodies of themselves. But! I really do have a romantic Valentine’s Day meal to share: one that is perfect for last-minute planners, one that will fit most any budget or dietary restriction, and one that is sure to please your “special someone” (say that to yourself in your best Mrs. Roper voice), because it is easy to customize!

MrsRoper1

As with many people who used to work in the food service industry, I avoid going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day. Let’s face it: it’s a pain. Everyone’s busy and stressed, it’s expensive, it’s super crowded, it’s pretty much the opposite of romantic. Plus, I obviously cook. Ha.

So I was wracking my brain for what to cook for Scott that would be special, and would also fit into our super-busy, we-have-two-children schedule, when it hit me . . . I’m not going to cook. I’m going to put together one of our favorite meals when it’s hot outside, or when I don’t feel like cooking, or when I want to eat all of our very favorite foods: an antipasto platter!

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