Around this time last year was when Rachel and I started brainstorming about starting this blog. I had recently finished my masters thesis and was rich with free time for the first time in three years. I was energized by this new creative outlet and poured over my favorite food photography trying to find a style of my own. And then one Wednesday night in December we learned our lives were about to change in a major way.
The holiday season for me, which is usually fueled by old fashioneds, stinky cheeses and cured meats, came with more exhaustion than I ever knew was possible (um, until said baby was born) and aversions to my favorite foods. As soon as our blog was launched I found it hard to do much of anything, especially get excited about food. So I struggled through the 40 weeks, posting when I had the energy, and holding on to the hope that after the baby is born I won’t be working for a while and will again find inspiration in the kitchen.
I’m a little disappointed to report that it’s not as easy as strapping on the baby and going about my day as if nothing has changed. Yes, I’m tired, but refuse to complain about that. Slowly I have returned to cooking. It started with simple meals, scrambled eggs and sautéed kale was a staple during those first few weeks. We ate pasta out of (gasp!) a box. But I think we have started to find a routine and it gets a little easier each day to spend more time doing the things we loved pre-baby.
The day before Weston was born I cooked and photographed food all day. My plan was to write the blog post the next day, instead I woke up to contractions which really through a wrench in my day. The post never happened, but it was the perfect way to spend my last day without a kid. We were blessed with a little man who hates to sleep unless you’re holding him, so at times it is a struggle to even put on a pot of water to boil. As a result, I probably won’t be able to crank out a meal, take photographs and write a few interesting paragraphs as often as I’d like, but I don’t think I’d have it any other way.
Deb Perelman of one of my favorite blogs, SmittenKitchen, wrote after her son was born about constantly feeling like she had just woken up and thus craved breakfast food and a cup of coffee around the clock. She nailed it on the head. I made this custard three times in the last month so that we at least had breakfast covered. It was perfect reheated and fueled two sleep deprived first time parents no matter the time of day (or middle of the night for this hungry breast-feeding mom).
Note: The original recipe called for Huckleberries (impossible to find in Wisconsin). The first time I made the custard I used blueberries that I had frozen this summer. Seeing as it is fall, I substituted apples with great success. Feel free to use any fruit, adjusting the seasonings accordingly.
Cinnamon Apple Cornmeal Custard, adapted from Whole Grain Mornings
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
3/4 cup / 75 g oat flour (all-purpose will work too)
1 cup / 160g medium-ground cornmeal
1 Teaspoon baking powder
1 Teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup / 45 g sugar
1 Teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla (I used bourbon because I was out of vanilla, oops)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 cups apples, chopped into small bite size chunks (I was to lazy to peel them, it worked out fine)
3/4 cup heavy cream
Maple syrup, for serving
Creme fraiche, for serving
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, butter a deep-dish 10-inch pie pan and place in the oven to warm while mixing the batter.
2. Melt the 3 tablespoons butter and pour into a large bowl. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
3. In a small bowl whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
4. Add the eggs to the butter and whisk to blend well. Add the sugar, salt, milk, buttermilk, vinegar, and vanilla (or bourbon if you're so inclined). Whisking constantly, add the flour mixture and continue mixing until the batter is smooth.
5. Remove the heated pan from the oven and set on a baking sheet to catch spill-overs. Dump the apples in an even layer into the bottom of the pan. Pour the batter on top of the apples. Very slowly pour the heavy cream into the center of the batter. Do not stir. Carefully slide the pan into the oven and bake until golden brown on top, about 60 minutes in my oven. Cool for 10-15 minutes to allow the custard to set up.
6. Serve with a dollup of creme fraiche (greek yogurt would be delicious too), and maple syrup to taste. Cover and refrigerate the leftovers, but make sure you reheat it before serving.