Second breakfast / late night snacks / movie+book notes

I’m not a straightaway breakfast person, whether I’m up for work before dawn or a bit later on the weekend. Years and years of running first thing in the morning reinforced this behavior, but I also think it’s because I can’t fall asleep with an empty stomach. Which means I wake up with a semi-full stomach, I guess? Or at the very least, no rumbling hunger pangs.

My first breakfast is usually a smoothie with espresso blended in, or if I’m in a really big hurry (or feeling really full), I fill a jam jar with a scoop of chocolate Vega protein powder, a couple ounces of espresso, top it off with almond milk, give it a shake and bam! first breakfast.

banana pudding overnight oatssecond breakfast, in a jar: banana pudding overnight oats // a tester recipe for Kathy Hester’s current cookbook-in-progress

Jump ahead a couple of hours and I’m ready for second breakfast. On work days, it’s fresh fruit + either chia pudding or a jar of overnight oats. On weekends it’s always something broiled on toast.

a classicsecond breakfast, on toast: this classic never lets me down

I could do an entire blog devoted to things on toast, because it’s also what I have every night right before popping in a movie or cracking open a book.

Speaking of which, I cannot help but share a few titles of things I’ve recently devoured.

Film (first time viewing):
We Need to Talk About Kevin: This movie is not for everyone, but if you can handle it, you should watch it. It’s extremely uncomfortable to watch, but handles the subject matter in an entirely new (to me) way. Most reviews don’t do this movie justice; they seem to imply it’s a shock-seeking amalgam of horror and drama, which is true of many films in this newly emerging genre. Yes, the subject matter is horrifying – but the director’s approach to this topic, the editing, cinematography, set and costume design, and acting make it difficult to label as any one type of film. If you read the novel, forget everything from that experience. (But you don’t need me to tell you that, because we all know that cinematography and the written word are two entirely different media, and a director and an author convey their own interpretations of material. Ahem.) If you didn’t read the novel, here’s my attempt at a synopsis: this film is about a family – a mother and son, mostly – and a patchwork of present day events, real flashbacks, and recollections filtered through the mother’s point of view, all swirling around and leading up to a specific event. It’s a study of nature vs. nurture, exposing many questions without offering any definitive answers. I watched this without knowledge of what the event was (although you have a pretty good idea early on), and had read the novel so long ago that by the time I realized it, I was able to ignore anything book-related and immerse myself in the film. Almost no violence is actually shown on screen, but the tension and dread leading up to a few scenes and played out through the actors’ body language and facial expressions revealed more than a thousand audible or visual shocks could.  Oh yes, and it stars Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller and John C. Reilly.

Films (repeat viewings):
Fright Night (2011): Colin Farrell, an actor I’ve grudgingly come to appreciate, gives this remake an equally campy and creepy turn. I first watched this to see David Tennant in leather pants; I rewatch it because Farrell’s vampire scared the shit out of me. In an otherwise campy-in-all-the-right-places movie, he’s quite good.

Super 8: So my personal opinion is that everything in this film after the alien is revealed and starts snatching people up is totally overblown, typical J.J. Abrams Spielberg worship schtick, but up until that point? One of my favorite movies ever. The dialogue and behavior of the kids is straight out of It or Stand by Me – one of the coming-of-age friendship scenes not involving murderous demon clowns or dead bodies near railroad tracks. (The real hallmark of King’s writing.) I really, really wanted to watch this with Nina, but my husband reminded me that not only does she already know enough curse words without seeing a pack of tweens saying ‘shit’ in every other sentence (although their dialogue is pretty fucking funny, and realistic from what I remember of my childhood), but also that the alien might give her a bit of a scare.

Books (first time readings):
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler: I think this novel is better the less you know (sort of like Little Bee). If you really want to read a review, though, the one from the NYT Sunday Book Review is quite good.

Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn: Dark and disturbing (think V.C. Andrews crossed with Jodi Picoult); very predictable but in the most delicious, disaster-rubbernecking sort of way.

spin dip (not) on toastdestined to be a second breakfast on toast

Oh, and I was going to share one of my favorite things to eat on toast. There is a baking dish of this particular spinach artichoke dip in my refrigerator at least once a month. It works as a quesadilla filling, as a stand alone appetizer with chips, and most importantly, broiled atop a slice of sourdough with a healthy dusting of smoked paprika.

spin dip on toastthe ultimate second breakfast, even better as a midnight or movie snack

Spinach artichoke dip

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I tested this dip a couple of years ago for Allyson Kramer’s first cookbook, Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats, and it quickly became the dish I bring to every party. The original has a cashew cream base, which unfortunately a friend of mine can’t eat. Instead of looking for a new recipe, I came up with this.

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2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
1 6-ounce container plain Greek vegan yogurt
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced chives
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt
2 cups of packed chopped spinach leaves
1 can of large artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
additional salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Stir together everything except the spinach and artichoke hearts. Fold these last two ingredients in, and add additional salt if needed. Transfer to a small baking dish (no larger than 9″ square) and bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbly and starting to brown. Allow to set at least five minutes before serving.

Yield: 1 pan

Prep time: 15 minutes | Bake time: 25 minutes

Chock-a-block

There are only so many things a mother can sneak into her daughter’s smoothie before suspicion is aroused. Blackstrap molasses? check. Steel cut oats? check-check. Greens? Not on your life. Not so much as a piece of granny smith apple peel, let alone anything leafy, have made it past Nina’s discerning eye. Fortunately, her voracious appetite for all things pasta lends itself the perfect Plan B: pesto.


I didn’t sell her on pesto right away; Nina has yet to develop a fondness for garlic, something I can hardly conceive of making a pesto without. She does, however, enjoy the subtle garlicky kiss of fresh chives, which make a decent substitution. Couple that with her unbridled delight in seeing all manner of things get stuck in my braces every night at dinnertime, and a pesto lover was born. I quickly upped the ante and managed to come up with a nutritionally dense pesto she loves.

Unlike most foods, this tastes best right away, rather than after the obligatory flavor melding that most recipes benefit from. Despite it’s being raw, the distinct cabbage-y, brassica-ness of the kale emerges after a couple of days. This also happens if you heat it up, for instance when used in a grilled BLT – however: when tempered with vegan mayo, a thick slice of just-picked tomato and your favorite version of bacon, nothing could taste better. (Have I confused you yet?)

Kale pesto: chock full of hippie goodness

2 bunches kale leaves
1 small handful fresh chives
1 large handful basil
Juice of one lemon
2 T white miso
6 T olive oil
1/2 C hemp hearts
Salt to taste

Rinse and pat dry all of your greens. De-rib your kale leaves and cut into thumb-sized pieces. Place half of the kale plus all remaining ingredients into your food processor and pulse until a paste begins to form. Add the remaining kale and additional oil or lemon juice, if needed. Pulse to desired pesto consistency. Keeps for up to one week in the refrigerator, especially if you add a thin layer of oil over the top. Freezes well.

Yield: 2-3 cups

Prep time: 15-30 minutes (depending on your kale de-ribbing abilities), Cook time: n/a