Morning Glory

Sunday, August 24, 2014
I've written before about our 25 year friendship with the Jay family. Garth and Andrew started working together at Heinz Canada in 1989. His wife Colleen and I soon met, and hit it off immediately.

We have a long shared history. Garth was master of ceremonies at our wedding. We travelled to New York with them in March, 1994, when I was pregnant with our oldest daughter. Our family travelled to China to visit them in 2008, when Colleen was posted there for three years. Within Canada, we've travelled back and forth to each others' houses and cottages.

But we've never had a visit like we did on Monday.

The Jays have lived in Cincinnati, China and Switzerland over the past fourteen years, but they come back to Canada for the summer and at Christmas, and they always generously invite us to their cottage. But this summer, it just wasn't going to work. Our girls were working at camp from mid-June until the end of August, and the Jays were fitting the cottage in between trips to Halifax, Cincinnati, Brazil, and Panama. Garth and I did our best to match up our calendars, with no luck.

Then in the final email, Garth said, "Well, it looks like the only way we can work in a visit is if I swing by after I drop Colleen off at the airport on the 18th. Ha! Just kidding - I'm dropping her off at 5 a.m."

To which I responded, "We'll host you, as long as I can blog about it."

Given that you're reading this, you can probably guess his answer. His girls were good sports, and they all decided to come along, as long as they could go swimming.

And in the interests of complete disclosure, I have to tell you that it's the first time I've invited guests for 5:30 a.m, and had them show up early. (5:28, if you're counting.)

We swam, we ate, we talked. We played pool games, we laughed. We did all of this super-quietly, because presumably our neighbours were still asleep.

Garth's favourite sentences start with, "Do you want to have a contest…?" which is how pictures like this happen:

(Garth was a willing participant in this photo, and was conscious both before and after it was taken.)

We had a wonderful time, and the only disappointment was the absence of three family members - Colleen, who was en route to a meeting, and our girls. I've promised everyone that the next time we get together before the sun is up, no one will have a silly excuse like "I'm working."

So what do you serve your guests for a really early meal? Anything you can prepare in advance. I tried two new recipes: granola, which I made the afternoon before; and a breakfast casserole, which I assembled the night before and put in the oven as soon as I got up on Monday. I loved them both, and will definitely make them again.

Just not at 5:28 a.m.

Homemade Granola
(from Ina Garten; I halved her recipe and still got a huge batch, but if you're serving a crowd, see her original recipe.)

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup sliced almonds
3/8 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup good honey
3/4 cup small diced dried apricots
1/2 cup small-diced dried figs
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted cashews

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toss oats, coconut, and almonds together in a large bowl. Whisk together the oil and honey in a small bowl. Pour liquids over the oat mixture and stir until all the oats and nuts are coated. Pour onto a 13” x 18” sheet pan. Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even golden brown, 25 - 30 minutes.

Remove the granola from the oven and let cool, stirring occasionally. Add the apricots, figs, cherries, raisins and cashews. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container.

Asparagus and Gouda Bread Pudding
(from Canadian Living)

1 Tbsp butter
1 bunch asparagus (approximately 1 pound), cut in 1" pieces
3 shallots, thinly sliced
10 cups cubed day-old bread
2 cups shredded Gouda cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
10 eggs
4 cups milk
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

In skillet, melt butter over medium heat; cook asparagus and shallots, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is tender-crisp, about 6 minutes.

In lightly greased 13" x 9" baking dish, toss together asparagus mixture, bread, half of the cheese and the parsley.

Whisk together eggs, milk, mustard, salt and pepper; pour over bread mixture, pressing to submerge. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or up to 24 hours.

Uncover and bake in 350 degrees oven until puffed, golden and set enough that centre does not jiggle when gently shaken, about 1 hour. Let cook for 10 minutes before cutting into squares.


Angie's Recipes said...

It sounds like a fun get together with old friends! And at 530am...those homemade granola is definitely the best treat!

Julie said...

How fun and nothing is better than old friends! Even if it is 5:30 am!

grace said...

i definitely encourage making your own granola, and your recipe looks great. what a fun morning adventure!

Valerie Gamine said...

Impromptu gatherings are usually the best kind (especially when they start early...I imagine!). :D

Scrumptious recipes! Quite the fabulous host, Beth.

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

I love friends like that!!! You have fun no matter where or what time you meet up. I've made Ina's yummy granola before, but now want to try the bread pudding! Both perfect for early morning guests!

Lisa Ho said...

Its the company that matters, right? no matter what time of the day.
Granola looks great :D

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

What wonderful friends you have! And I love this 5:28 AM meetup - how fabulous! And the granola looks absolutely wonderful. =) Too fun!

Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said...

Your friends are absolutely gorgeous :D
Forget if its super early! But your granola makes it even better!

Choc Chip Uru

Anonymous said...

This post made me so happy. I can tell that you guys have such a fun relationship with their family!! I was giggling at that pool picture, too! I think it's amazing that you hosted them so early just so you could see them. True friendship right there!

And the granola and bread pudding. YUM!

Cheri Savory Spoon said...

Sounds like a wonderful friendship, love Ina's granola and your breakfast casserole looks delicious!

Anonymous said...

Looks like a great time with good food as well. The pool picture is funny. It must have been an interesting contest.

Kitchen Riffs said...

5:30? Wow, that's early! But necessary when you really, really want to see someone. Fun post, great granola. Thanks.

Catherine said...

What a wonderful morning of good friends, good food and fun. Blessings, Catherine

Zoe said...

Hi Beth,

Great breakfast! And love all your cheerful photos!

Wish that we can jump into pool right now... It is the end of winter here in Australia and the weather seems to be warming up soon :D


Martha@SeasideSimplicity said...

Love the story and the delicious food!! It doesn't get much better than sharing a good meal with good friend no matter what the hour! Thanks so much for stopping by. I've sure missed blogging in my absence. It's great to be back :)

Juliana said...

I enjoy the photos Beth...sop much fun! The granola looks delicious...I year have to make my own...
Hope you are enjoying your week :D

Monet said...

Friends like this mean the world, don't they. What a wonderful time! And the granola looks amazing!

Simones Kitchen said...

O lol.. It's so good to have fun with friends.. No matter what time of day. I think the earliest I once showed up at a friend's house was somewhere at 7 am. Which I thought at the time was quite eaaaaarly... ;)

Sue said...

I'm sure your breakfast made waking up early, worthwhile. :) What a blessing to have such close friends! Love the pool photo:)

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

The granola is so chock full of sweetness with dried fruit I know it would be a favourite. The asparagus bread pudding is one of my favourite Spring recipes. They even loved it at work.

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

So smart of you not to miss out on a visit simply because it was at 5:30 AM--perfect "out of the box" thinking. Hopefully next year everyone gets to attend (whatever time it is).

Heather said...

Oh that savory bread pudding looks incredible!

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