a fried egg on toast

Monday morning, I fried an egg and put it on toast.

i like eggs

I like eggs. Eggs are simple.

toast

I also like toast. Toast is simple, too.

I know many people who read food blogs do so in order to find inspiration, motivation, new ingredients or new recipes, but I’m afraid that isn’t what I’ve got for you today. Instead, I have a fried egg. I have toast. I have the comfort that comes from what is familiar and routine, particularly when that something is being slowly enjoyed and savored.

fried egg on toast

It’s true this post is nothing earth-shattering, but it is important. It is worth some attention here. Because listen, this very basic, very everyday, very beautifully simple breakfast is also a reminder: it’s a reminder that anytime you find yourself in the midst of things decidedly un-simple—be they budgeting, taxes, packing, moving, or finding a new place to live—you still have basic kitchen routines, like frying eggs, to return to.

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Chocolate Truffle Cookies

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately planning a move. It’s not a tragedy, I know. It’s just one of those things that requires work, much like finding a job or learning a new skill—you have to deal with some discomfort, things aren’t exactly easy, there are costs and, in the end, you hope you emerge a little different, a little wiser, having gone through it.

side of chocolate truffle cookie

Last week, my brother and I were talking about logistics—you know, the obvious things of furniture, moving trucks, long drives across several states—and I kept trying to find a way to solve things better. He’d say, Why don’t you buy a bed when you get there? And I’d say, I don’t want to spend the money! He’d say, It’s not that much money. And I’d say, I am going to be broke!

It was kind of funny, actually. Or at least it is now.

From a removed standpoint, I see the problem. What I want is not just to relocate. I want to relocate without spending any money, losing any sleep, causing anyone any difficulty. I want to relocate without relocating. Or at least, I want relocating in a perfect world.

fudgy insides of chocolate truffle cookie

It’s such a silly thing to get stressed out about. It’s just moving. But you know, I’ve been thinking about it, and whether you’re talking about moving or the way two dozen white hairs emerge on your 20-something head, the fact is that this world really isn’t a perfect place. We’re reminded of imperfections every day, in the big things of murder and suffering as well as the small things of long lines and angry strangers. We all taste difficulty. We all experience frustration. In different ways and at different times, but still. I mean, I don’t even watch the news, and I can tell you from experience that there is pain and hardship in this life.

But the thing I am thankful for, even more than that in this life there is also joy, is that the imperfections of this world remind me of life beyond it.

Like Elisabeth Elliot wrote:

Heaven is not here, it’s There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next.

Oh, that’s so good.

chocolate truffle cookies

I am also thankful—very thankful—for the good gifts we taste now.

Like blue skies.
Like eyes to see them.
Like a sun that rises every morning, as faithfully as the God who made it.

And I am thankful for my particular gifts, like love, like self-employment, like the way these things are moving me towards a move. I am thankful, this week, for some time in the kitchen to bake cookies—the best chocolate chocolate cookies I’ve made really, little nibbles that are more than just cookies but actually like the lovechild of cookies and truffles combined, soft and rich, covered in chopped walnuts.

I’m thankful to sit cross-legged in the kitchen on a Tuesday afternoon, with a giant white bowl and a big spoon, licking chocolate batter in contentment, grateful for what I have, even more grateful for what will come.

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an ALT sandwich (with sprouts and cheddar)

Yesterday, I made a sandwich for lunch.

(I also threw away two dozen old magazines. And made a donation pile for Goodwill. And listed things to sell on Amazon and eBay.)

Here is how the sandwich part went.

1. I took two pieces of bread, covered one with sliced raw cheddar and stuck them in the 350-degree oven for a little while (maybe five to ten minutes).

bread and cheddar

2. I sliced an avocado in half, removed the pit, sliced the flesh while it was still inside the skin.

add avocado

3. When the bread was good and toasted and the cheese all melty, I put avocado slices on the plain piece.

building the sandwich

4. I sliced a big, fat, juicy red tomato into slices.

add tomato

5. Lettuce (aka mixed greens) goes on top of the avocado, then tomato, then salt and pepper—they’re key.

add lettuce and tomatoes

6. I wanted to add sprouts, but all I could find at Trader Joe’s were microgreens. They’re fun.

add sprouts or microgreens

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Anise Biscotti

I realized this morning that I was starting to forget what it felt like to post a blog entry. And that that was probably not a good sign.

anise biscotti

I don’t really know what to say about it. I mean, it’s the strangest thing. Over the last few weeks, I’ve made homemade chicken stock, chicken and rice soup, homemade puff pastry (adapted from this great version at Not Without Salt), goat cheese tarts, pistachio biscotti, roasted vegetables, pizza. In almost all cases, I’ve taken no photos, I’ve planned no blog posts, I’ve just made and eaten and moved on.

Who am I?

Maybe it was finishing Project 365: marathon runners get to rest for a while, right? Maybe it was starting a new year. Maybe it was being busy and feeling like simplifying my to-do list meant cutting time here.

Whatever the case, hello again. I’ve missed you.

biscotti on a baking sheet

So let’s catch up a little. I spent the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011 out of town, in Nashville—a place that just may become my new home if I can work out a living arrangement sometime soon—and on the first of the year, we drizzled chocolate onto anise biscotti that looked just like these (but were not, actually, these, as I didn’t even bring my camera on the trip).

I just read that last parenthesis and shook my head.

You know that law about how objects in motion tend to stay in motion? I guess objects not in motion, well, let’s just say it’s easy to not blog when you haven’t been blogging—kind of like it’s easy to not clean the bathroom when you haven’t for a while, or easy to not pick up the phone when you’ve forgotten for a few weeks, or easy to stay in your pajamas on a Monday morning at 2:30 PM because you’ve gotten caught up with work on your computer and you’re in the flow of things and time just flies by.

anise biscotti

Reading this post is starting to feel like a giant sigh.

But the good news is, just because it’s easy for things to stay a certain way doesn’t mean they have to. I mean, look, here I am writing a post! There you are, back at work in January! So it’s possible to do something different—to work out this afternoon instead of staying in your pajamas for example, or to go bake biscotti like you’ve always thought you should.

I’ll even help you with that last part.

This version, which I ended up making all over again last week, a few days after ringing in the new year, because seriously I enjoyed them that much, are packed with that unmistakably licorice flavor of anise, an ingredient I don’t get enough of. We made all kinds of modifications to the original recipe, halving it and swapping brandy with yogurt and adding spices and extra anise seed, and the result is really incredible: crunchy, sturdy enough for dunking in a hot drink, slightly sweet, and virtually irresistible every time you walk into the kitchen and see them on the counter.

Of course, you could resist them if you really wanted to—just like I’m forcing myself to get out of bed once I click publish. But you know what I mean.

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