Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

The air is still and there is no sound to be heard anywhere. The dead silence, that of which would normally instill fear, is actually quite comforting. It is a different kind of silence. One that is alluring and peaceful. The sun has yet to make its presence this Sunday autumn morning. Bluish-gray shadows are cast throughout the sleeping house. The hour is far too early for anyone. Yet I awaken and get dressed. I wrap myself up in warm clothing. A heavy coat and scarf. I step outside into the chilly morning air. It hits me like a razor cutting my face, and it takes me a minute to register how cold it actually is. For a split second I rethink my idea. The warmth of my bed and the prospect of more sleep calls back to me. That second passes and I leave my home, a destination in mind, my family still sleeping. Still dreaming. I walk at a brisk pace, mostly because I have long legs therefore I naturally take long strides, but mainly because I am freezing and I figure walking fast will fix this problem. There is no doubt in my mind that fall has arrived. The leaves have changed their colors to those of an orange, yellow, red and brown hue. They have begun to fall, swirling through the air and gliding as with a purpose. A purpose to die. I marvel at how autumn makes everything look so beautiful. In my head I tell myself, “Jonathan, autumn makes everything look so beautiful.” Even small ordinary things that I would never have noticed before seem to stand out during this season. I glance around taking in my surroundings. The houses lining the streets seem so peaceful and festive with their pumpkin littered porches. Halloween decorations appear every now and then and I get excited. An excitement that appears during this time of year. Halloween is almost here, one of many holidays to come.

I walk through a park, a path of trees with nothing but nature on both sides and an empty playground. The leaves crunch under my feet as I continue towards my destination. The light begins to warm up and I stare up off into the distance and there like a beacon of hope, the sun has begun its decent. Through the mountains and the clouds, the trees and the leaves, the bushes and the grass, rays of sunlight creep through each crevice and hit the ground. The shapes and shadows that the light creates onto the fallen leaves brings back memories of elementary school. The days when life was so carefree and I knew nothing about worries and work. As a child, I’d throw myself on the ground, onto the grass and the leaves. I’d roll around and play without disturbance or burden. Life was so simple then and I am reminded of how one must cherish every moment in life, for it does not always last. I snap out of my trance and I remember of my goal this morning. I start up again, exiting the park and back to civilization.

I approach a small local mom and pop convenience store. Nice to see that they too are not immune to autumn and halloween. The glowing fluorescent light through the glass doors and windows invite and entice me. I walk up the steps onto the porch and I reach for the door. I enter—bell ringing—repeating the same words in my head, “Eggs, milk, potatoes, orange juice and cream cheese. Eggs, milk, potatoes, orange juice and cream cheese. Eggs, milk, potatoes, orange juice and cream cheese.” I repeat it over and over so as not to forget. I could have just written it down but I was far too lazy this morning. After all it was early. I gather my groceries and check out, bidding a thank you and good day  to the “I-would-rather-be-sleeping” clerk. Mom and pop decided to sleep in apparently. I exit, the bell jingling once more. I make my way back home, groceries in hand. I hold on to them tightly hoping that I do not have a Home Alone moment where the bags rip causing my groceries to fall on the floor. Luckily I make it home without such a travesty. I walk in and remove my scarf and coat. I hang them on the wall, taking off my shoes and schlepp the groceries to the kitchen. My domain. I put away my recent purchases and begin to rattle around through the cabinets. I take out a few skillets, turn on some music on low, and I begin to cook. As I put breakfast together, the house begins to awaken. I hear movement upstairs, the girls starting their routines. I’m greeted with one sister who has now entered the kitchen and begins to set the table. We hear a car pull up and it can only mean one thing, our sister has come for Sunday breakfast. Sure enough a familiar “hello,” echos through the house. My older sister holding her coffee—she has to bring her own as none of us drink coffee in our house—and the Sunday Times. It would not be sunday breakfast without the reading of the horoscopes.

Mom comes down just in time, at the precise moment when the bagels hit the table. Warm and aromatic, cinnamon raisin bagels that I made the day before. The girls stare at them with anticipation, for they know all too well what I was making yesterday. The long process had forced them to wait until this morning to eat one. However they are a perfect addition to the morning menu. Bagels are not as complicated as one might think. They do have various steps that need to be completed throughout an entire day or a two day process but for the most part, they are fairly simple. I often tell people that if I can do it, anyone can do it. We sit around the table, music still on, catching up on the weeks’ occurrences and the news that needs to be shared. I look around at the delicious food, and my beautiful family and I am filled with a joy that cannot be described or explained. Autumn is all about sitting around a table and catching up with family and friends. The fall seems to bring people together and it forces us to appreciate and thank those in our lives who make a difference. I am thankful for these women who have made my life so incredible and for all that they have taught me. The youngest in a family full of women is not always easy but it sure is fun.

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Red Velvet Cupcakes

There are days when I feel like baking something fancy and complicated. The kinds of recipes that feature ingredients you normally wouldn’t think to put together, yet they work fantastically perfect in the end. Those intense recipes, are what makes cooking fun, and exciting. They turn the doldrum days into something enjoyable and fascinating. Usually, those are the days, when I feel ideas are spilling out of my mind and I have to cook to keep up. But then of course there are days when simple, and classic is everything. The days when I’m feeling lazy and just want to make something sweet, fast and simple. After all, less is more. I thought I would feature a classic cupcake that everyone loves. A red velvet.

The fact that these cupcakes have become so popular in the last couple years, has made it an instant classic. All the more reason why I decided to feature it in a post. All those of you who love these particular cupcakes, and have been searching far and wide, long and hard, for a moist red velvet cake recipe, look no further because this one is for you. Whether we are foodies, cooks, chefs, beginners, experienced or not, it is always important for us to take a day, step back, and go revert to the basics in the kitchen, to touch up on our skills and appreciate the simple joys in life. These cupcakes were definitely enjoyed.

Lets get started:

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New York Cheesecake

I was making my usual rounds on my favorite food sites and blogs. Scouring for new recipes to try out. Hoping to come across something tasty and yummy to make. I found myself on the Smitten Kitchen site, much like I often do, and came across this cheesecake recipe. I immediately knew I wanted to try it. The idea of making a decadent cheesecake excited me, as it was just the kind of project I needed to dive into. Why? I have no idea. Knowing that the 3 women in my life would go bananas for it. As I was looking down the ingredient list, I stopped at the “5 packages of cream cheese” line. I knew that was all I needed to read. I was sold. I yelled out loud, to no one in particular, “5 packages of cream cheese? Sign me up!”  And then everyone turned around and looked at me like I was crazy. But I’m not crazy, just passionate about cream cheese I guess, especially when it’s disguised as a New York cheesecake.

Once It was all finished, I had to keep the sharks at bay, just long enough so that I could finish taking pictures. All three of them were ready with their forks about to dive-in. I almost didn’t get a picture of the finished cheesecake. They tried their first piece and that was it. They were lost in all of its magic and decadence. Soon, they started to divide the cake into each of their portions stating “Don’t eat my piece.” ” I’m hiding mine.” And “Don’t come crying to me, when you eat yours too fast.” Need I say more? I didn’t know what I got myself into, or the power I’d unleash by making this cheesecake.

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