I am home. Our vacation that took us over 3500 miles and to five different states ended earlier in the week and I’m just now starting to settle back into daily routine. Our trip was nothing short of amazing. We both have always wanted to visit all the National Parks and I think we are now off to a good start; checking off Crater Lake, Yosemite, Zion, and the Grand Canyon.
We enjoyed long hikes on most days and lots of time away from computers and fast-paced life. It was good just to sit and ponder life’s questions and have nature surround us. The only obstacle we encountered seemed to be the food situation. Early in the trip meals were easy. I had packed homemade granola bars, lots of beans, dried grains, oatmeal, pancake mix, even a fresh batch of graham crackers for late night s’mores with local Theochocolate in vanilla, hazelnut and cocao nib. We ate stew, chili and grilled corn on the cob. It was easy to buy produce and other perishable items along the way. Towards the end is when things became difficult.
It was hot. Too hot to keep ice frozen in our cooler for even a day. Too hot to think about food, except for maybe cold watermelon or smoothies. Even the water we carried was hardly ever cold. I was craving vegetables like mad by the time we got home and the first thing I made was a large raw kale salad with avocado, cherry tomatoes, cabbage and a lemon oil dressing. I ate it all over the coarse of 3 days. But other than vegetables, the other item I seemed to crave was eggs. I remember one morning, towards the end of our trip, saying to Scott, “I could really go for a fried egg sandwich right now. You know, the kind with melted cheese on a toasted English muffin with tomato.” He agreed.
There were very few towns nearby most of the parks for us to go and get a meal. We were lucky if there was even a grocery store or a gas station. Honestly though, I knew that even if we did find a place to eat, there would be a slim chance of anything on the menu that was vegetarian. All that said, we made it out alive and my craving for that exact egg sandwich never went away.
Fried egg sandwiches were one of the first things I learned to make as a kid. Right after pb&j’s and grilled cheese. I remember making them for my sister and I on weekend mornings and we’d sit around the table in our pajamas happily eating. Now I wonder if I was really craving the eggs or if I was craving the comforts of home.
Fried Egg Sandwich / serves 2
This was my first attempt at making English muffins. They turned out better than I had expected. Soft on the inside and a perfect crisp cornmeal outside. Toasted, they are perfect with homemade blackberry jam or warm honey butter. What makes these sandwiches special and gives them a little zing, is the chili oil. Make it a day or two ahead if possible, that way the flavors have time to release.
chili oil, recipe below
2 English muffins, recipe below
Heat the chili oil in a skillet over low to medium low heat. Once the oil has warmed but is not smoking add an egg (if your pan as large enough, you can do both eggs at the same time). Keeping the heat at a lower setting helps to heat the egg gently, so it doesn’t become rubbery). When one side of the egg has cooked enough for the whites to be set, flip and gently cook the other side.
While the eggs are cooking toast the English muffins. Slice a few pieces of cheddar cheese and arrange on top of the toasted English muffins, the cheese will start to melt slightly from the warmth of the muffin. Place an egg on top of each, drizzle with more chili oil if desired and top with fresh tomato slices. Serve immediately.
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Heat the oil in a small saucepan until its hot but not smoking. Turn off the heat and stir in the crushed red pepper flakes. Set aside until cool. Place in a sealed jar or container until ready to use.
Whole Wheat English Muffins / makes 18
Adapted from Golden Door
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast or 1 package
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup warm water
1-2/3 cups almond milk (or cows milk), at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal, or as needed
Olive oil spray
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the yeast, sugar, and water. Stir to combine and let stand until the yeast has dissolved and is foamy, about 5 minutes.
Add the milk, olive oil, vinegar, and egg to the yeast mixture and mix on low speed until well blended. With the mixer running, add the salt along with 2-1/2 cups of the whole wheat flour. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 4 minutes. Turn the mixer to low and add the remaining 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour and the all-purpose flour. Increase the speed to medium and mix until well blended, about 2 minutes. The mixture will be sticky. Cover and let stand in a warm area for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Pour the cornmeal onto a small plate. With a 1/4-cup measuring cup, scoop out 1/4 cup of the dough. This is gonna get messy. Using your hands, form the dough into a ball and flatten it into a 3-inch round. Press each side into the cornmeal and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Heat a griddle or large cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. If needed, spray the pan with olive oil, my cast iron skillet worked great without needing to be sprayed. Place the muffins about 1/2 inch apart on the hot griddle or skillet. Cook until browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn the muffins over and brown on the other side, about 5 minutes. Repeat with all of the muffins; between batches wipe the griddle with a paper towel and spray again with oil.
Return the muffins to the baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a cooling rack to cool completely. To serve, use a fork or knofe to split a muffin in half through the middle to make two rounds, and toast.
Store in a resealable plastic bag at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. For longer storage, freeze for up to 2 months. When ready to use, thaw at room temperature, then split and toast as directed above.