Summer Weekend

The progression of my mood over the weekend has started to pique great interest from my friends, my boyfriend, and my cat. Lately I have rushed home on Friday night, still fully entrenched in work week mania: over-caffeinated, detail-obsessed, and plan-crazy, like the multitasker I am required to be in my work life. Routinely on Fridays I have indulged in pizza and a large ( seemingly ever-larger) glass of wine, and collapsed in bed before the clock strikes twelve. I dream about timely task completion, effective crisis response, customer satisfaction and, occasionally, world domination.

Saturdays the mania ensues, as I drag Kyle out of bed for coffee, breakfast, and an early AM trip to the farmers’ market. And then as I peruse the stalls, smelling local fruits, chuckling at oddly shaped vegetables, and chatting about social plans for the week ahead, I calm down and begin to enter weekend mode. By the time I toss my market loot in the back of my car, I am a little less concerned about sales reports and delayed shipments. I am more focused on preparing fresh tomato sandwiches, locating the recipe for homemade pesto that I had tucked into a binder or notebook at home, and popping ripe raspberries into my mouth as I enjoy a glass of chilled Prosecco on the balcony.

By Sunday morning I appear to be a different person than I am on Fridays. I make fresh coffee, cook a delicious breakfast, and make lists. On Sundays I do cleaning, errands, and cooking, but not with the fervor with which I approach my job Monday through Friday (or anything I tackle on Thursday or Friday evenings). I am much more relaxed because on Sundays I have countless moments to myself, and the feeling that I can do whatever I choose all day long, free of meetings, phone calls, or deadlines, except the self-imposed ones.

This morning I saw the bottom of the bag of this Virginia roasted coffee from Dark Hollow Roasters, purchased at Ellwood Thompson, my local grocery store. I guess it’s time to buy some new coffee.

Pardon the poor quality of this photo, taken with my Blackberry. I never claimed to be an excellent food photographer, just an excellent food enjoyer! I didn’t even take a picture of my breakfast this morning because it looked so good that I couldn’t wait to eat it. But I’m still going to talk about it because you can make this breakfast in 15 minutes or less and get a restaurant-quality brunch for minimal effort (and cash).

Fried Eggs Over Creamy Polenta, Melted Provolone and Fresh Heirloom Tomatoes

Ingredients

3 ounces prepared polenta

2 tablespoons milk (you could use cream for creamier polenta, but I went with 1%)

1 tablespoon butter

2 large brown eggs

1 ounce of provolone cheese (about 1 thick deli slice or 1.5 thin slices)

1 thick slice of heirloom tomato

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

1. Mix the milk into the polenta on a microwaveable plate and cook in the microwave for 1-2 minutes on high, until just heated through. Let sit in microwave one minute and then remove to counter to set up a bit.

2. Heat the butter in a pan over low-medium heat. When the butter is melted, crack two eggs, one at a time, into the pan.

3. Add salt and pepper to the polenta. Put the provolone on top of the polenta and let it get melty. Top with a slice of tomato.

4. Flip the eggs and cook to desired doneness. I like mine not hard but not runny (I know, I’m picky) so I break the yolk before flipping and then cook an additional minute or two until the yolk is set but not cooked through.

5. Put the eggs on top of the tomato and add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Dig in before you even get a chance to snap a photo for your food blog.

I’m off to recipe plan for this evening. Kyle works on Sundays and I always make a big dinner on Sunday night that we enjoy together before my hectic work week begins. It’s one of the highlights of my week!

Local Favorite: Iced Coffee

Lately I have been shamelessly addicted to iced coffee from Black Hand Coffee Co in Richmond’s Museum District. It started out as a convenient place to stop for coffee or a sandwich when I didn’t want to venture too far from my neighborhood. Then as the weather warmed up, it became a usual stop on Sunday afternoons when I needed an ice cold pick-me-up to get me through cleaning, laundry, or errands. Before I knew it, I was strategically planning my lunch breaks from work so that I had enough time for a Black Hand run. Obviously this coffee is super delicious. On my weekend runs to the coffee shop, I love to bring it home to enjoy on my balcony with a good book and some relaxing music.

Recently when I was sitting in Black Hand, I asked them how they brewed their iced coffee to get it so dark, smooth, and delicious. It turns out that they use the best iced coffee brewing method ever (in my opinion): the cold water brew. In high school I worked at a local coffee shop and I learned a great amount about coffee. We brewed our iced coffee using a toddy, a cold water brewing method.

The method consists of immersing coarse ground coffee in cold water in a large container and allowing the mixture to sit overnight (or for at least twelve hours). The toddy has a filter in the bottom that lies on top of a draining hole with a rubber plug. When the coffee has finished steeping, the toddy is placed over a pitcher and unplugged, which lets the coffee drain through the filter and into the pitcher, leaving the wet grounds behind. This produces a coffee concentrate which is very strong and must be diluted with fresh cold water before drinking. Soaking the grounds in cold or room temperature water yields a different flavor profile than traditional hot brewing methods. Cold brewed coffee is less acidic and is the least bitter coffee I have ever tested. The results are smooth and mellow, which is why many people use a dark roasted bean to punch up the flavor.

As I wrote earlier, Kyle and I were recently on vacation in Harrisonburg, VA, where we visited and fell in love with a locally owned cafe/bar called The Artful Dodger. We had a tasty and filling breakfast along with a pair of coffees for a bargain price. What surprised us the most was the quality of the coffee. On our first visit, we asked where they got their beans. It turns out that they are sourced from a local roaster, Lucas Roasting, in Broadway, VA. I had a Nicaraguan brew with my veggie scramble, and Kyle had the Nicaraguan, iced, with his veggie breakfast quesadilla.

On our second visit to the Artful Dodger, we had the Mocha Java and the Zimbabwe. Both were excellent. This time around, we asked about their brewing method for iced coffee. The guy behind the counter explained to us that they had just started using “this cold brew method where they soak the grounds in cold water overnight and then get a really strong concentrate that you have to add water to, which sounds kind of complicated, but it’s totally worth it because the iced coffee just turns out awesome.” Agreed. I found out that the folks at the Artful Dodger had just started using this method a day before our second visit. It seems like more coffee shops are picking up on this brewing method (which has been around since the 1960’s) to make deliciously smooth iced coffee, and I am glad to see it because it truly is my favorite way to make an iced coffee.

Now when it comes to hot coffee, I prefer my French press, but that is a story for another time. Check out the yummy pre-hike meal that I made for us before our trek to Rose River Falls and Dark Hollow Falls last week. I used Lucas Roasting coffee purchased at the Artful Dodger, coarse ground, and brewed in my French press.

Excellent!!!