Monday, September 3, 2012

A September Monday Brunch

Autumn has begun to show its colors as we firmly settle into September. Certain fruits and vegetables are no longer in season, and more and more vendors at the farmers markets have signs that say, “This is the last week we are selling ___. Buy now for canning and freezing in the winter.”

Never before has my heart clenched over such an announcement. I feel that my first year of blogging was experimenting with how to make food; but as I am a quarter into my second year writing Meals with Morri posts, it has transformed into food activism, health, and gardening. I have more than recipes swirling around my head. I have plans on changing the way we look at food and where it comes from.

Farmers markets have really shifted my priorities on the food budget. Buying local, sustainable, and organic food, both from the weekend markets and stores like Trader Joe’s, are really not that much different in price when I bought solely from international markets and other stores (cheaper, even). Even more disturbing is how the quality differs, how the farmers market’s garlic is crisp and strong while the ones we used to by at the international market trekked from far lands and severely lacked in texture and flavor. You can say the same thing for just about any fruit, vegetable, dairy/meat product: the celery is greener, the mozzarella is soft and stretchy, the apples are beautifully imperfect and significantly more filling, the tomatoes are sweet and wonderfully varied in color and texture, and the herbs taste like they came from the garden that morning (which, coincidentally, they probably had).

I have my compost pile underway, and I have plans for gardening for the following year. I have graduate school to officially apply for, and I have much to study. So what better way to start a Monday morning with all of these plans and adventures in the making than a brunch to celebrate a new month and season?

When my good friend CB and I went to Toledo for the weekend, the drive was starting to get to us. By hour eight, we were tired, hungry, and the highway started to look like it would never end. Then he mentioned having a friend living a Cleveland and asked if we could make a stop to visit. I was determined to get to Toledo, but I did need to get out of the car and nap, so I agreed.

Whatever misconceptions I had about Cleveland were completely turned upside down when we entered the city. Our friend took us on tour to visit the nooks and crannies that left me in awe. Truthfully, had I eaten and slept throughout the trip, I would have been more excited to walk around and take photos. But the fact that I could walk on hour ten of our journey was a miracle in itself. Ah, well. I guess that means another trip to Ohio is in order…

He took us to this plot of land by the projects, where acres of beautiful fruits and vegetables grew in rows of outstanding abundance. I saw hops, hanging high overhead, and Brussels sprout stems bare from harvest. Carrot greens shyly rose above the soil, and kale in its confidence was lush and green.


And then there was The West Side Market and his own little garden (with chickens!), two places I really wished I had been well rested and with a camera to share their marvels with you. He took us back to his cozy apartment where I napped in the guest bedroom while the two men made breakfast for lunch. When I awoke, I came out to see them sitting on the porch with a buffet of delightful foods: fruits and cheeses, banana nut pancakes (alas, the gluteny kind), and omelets.

Now, I must mention that my appetite is wonky on long travels. I prefer to not eat, at least not too much, because I figure my lack of motion would balance it out. We had been on the road since two-thirty that morning, and having eaten at odd times, I wasn’t sure how hungry I was. And though I kept saying I wasn’t hungry, I grabbed cubes of succulent mango he purchased from the West Side Market, as well as various slices of cheese and berries. My new friend wouldn’t take no for an answer: I was eating.

He made me this amazing omelet (did I mention he was a professionally trained cook?): eggs with half and half, rainbow chard, fennel sprigs, and Havarti with dill (my absolute favorite cheese). It tasted amazing, warmed my empty stomach and tired body, and I was a brand new Morri for the remainder of our drive.

When we came back to Virginia, I was determined to recreate that delectable omelet and share it with you. Today was the perfect day to make it for the household. Where it was made for us to ease our travels, I made it for the same reasons: warmth, love, and intentions of well-being wherever my family was going.

Thank you, dear David from Ohio. I dedicate this recipe to people such as yourself and the food movement Cleveland has embraced.  

The Baked Cleveland Omelet

8 Large eggs
340 ml Whole milk*
100 g Rainbow chard, stems removed and sliced into long strips
1 Garlic clove, finely chopped
120 g Havarti with dill, divided in half and thinly sliced or grated
1 – 2 tbsp. Fennel sprigs, finely chopped
Sea salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a medium-sized bowl, thoroughly blend the eggs and milk and set aside.
Grease a deep dish 8 x 8” pan with coconut oil and layer the ingredients in the following order: chard, garlic, 60 g of the Havarti, the egg mixture, the fennel sprigs, and the remaining 60 g of Havarti (or more if you want a cheesier top).
Bake for thirty minutes, until bubbling and firm when pierced in the center with a knife.
Turn off the oven and let it sit there for an additional five minutes.
Slice to the serving sizes of your preference and serve warm over rice.

Makes 4 – 8 servings, depending on meal.

* As I said, you can also use half and half or whatever "milk" you happen to have on hand. The raw milk we purchased from the Amish was starting to sour, so I used it for this recipe. 

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