_  Heat oven to 300 degrees

2 cups of rolled grain -half old fashioned, not quick cooking oats -  then a mix of rye, barley and quinoa - your choice - just make sure you use all rolled grain

1/2 cup nuts and seeds - your choice, pumpkin seeds, pecans, sliced almonds, sesame seeds etc.

2/3 cup maple syrup - less if you want it less sweet

4 tabs of butter  - melted

dash of salt if you want

Mix together and spread in a 9x13 or a 13x17 pan

Roast @ 30 minutes stirring it every 5 to 10 minutes.

Roast more or less depending on how dark you want it

When it is getting close to done  add 1/2 to 3/4 cup dried fruit - a mix of raisins, light and dark, cranberries, currents etc. - what ever kind of fruit you want.

If your fruit is really dry you may soak it in some of the maple syrup before adding it.

Add the fruit during the last 5 to 10 minutes of roasting.

Cool in the pan - stirring occasionally.

Store in a glass jar -

Feel free to play with this until you find a version you like.

Try Coconut, different fruits and nuts and seeds and grains.

Add spices like Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger etc.

Roast it longer and darker and crunchier  - or less - you decide.

You can use oils instead of butter etc. etc.

Try making up a bowl of yogurt with granola on top in the evening and put it in the refrigerator overnight and the grains will be soft and sweet in the morning for an instant breakfast.

Good Luck

Dawn

 
 

Serves 3 to 4 (about 8 3-inch pancakes). 

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS:When it comes to pancake recipes, we are definite fans of buttermilk, which adds flavor depth and its characteristic tang. After exhaustive testing with chemical leaveners, we opted for a combination of baking powder and baking soda to leaven our pancake recipe. The small amount of baking soda gave the pancakes a coarser crumb and made them light and tender. The baking powder helped with the rise.

This batter serves four perfectly for a light weekday breakfast. You may want to double the recipe for weekend pancake making, when appetites are larger. If you happen to be using salted butter or buttermilk, you may want to cut back a bit on the salt. If you don’t have any buttermilk, mix three-quarters cup of room temperature milk with one tablespoon of lemon juice and let it stand for five minutes. Substitute this “clabbered milk” for the three-quarters cup of buttermilk and one-quarter cup of milk in this recipe. Since this milk mixture is not as thick as buttermilk, the batter and resulting pancakes will not be as thick.

(Dawn's Note - This recipe also works very well for waffles.

INGREDIENTS
   1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour -
   2 teaspoons granulated sugar
   1/2 teaspoon table salt
   1/2 teaspoon baking powder
   1/4 teaspoon baking soda
   3/4 cup buttermilk
   1/4  cup milk (plus an extra tablespoon or so if batter is too thick)(Dawn's note - I would suggest @1/2 cup 
            milk or they are too thick)  
   1 large egg , separated2 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted -Vegetable oil (for brushing griddle)

INSTRUCTIONS
  • 1. Mix dry ingredients in medium bowl. Pour buttermilk and milk into 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Whisk in egg white; mix yolk with melted butter, then stir into milk mixture. Dump wet ingredients into dry ingredients all at once; whisk until just mixed. 
  • 2. Meanwhile, heat griddle or large skillet over strong medium-high heat. Brush griddle generously with oil. When water splashed on surface confidently sizzles, pour batter, about 1/4 cup at a time, onto griddle, making sure not to overcrowd. When pancake bottoms are brown and top surface starts to bubble, 2 to 3 minutes, flip cakes and cook until remaining side has browned, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Re-oil the skillet and repeat for the next batch of pancakes.
 
 
For the Brine
CLEAN bucket large enough to submerge whole chicken
1 whole Free-Range St. Brigid's Meadows Chicken (4-6 lbs)
1 cup kosher salt per 1 gallon water
4 cloves garlic (crushed)

For the Bird
2 large lemons, halved
5 large garlic cloves
1 large onion, halved
8 carrots, thick sliced
1 stalk celery, thick sliced
3 tbsp butter (softened)
2 tsp chopped rosemary
2 tsp chopped thyme
1 tsp kosher salt
3 cups dry, slightly sweet white wine (pinot gris or sweeter Zin)

Directions
At least 14 hours before serving and up to 24 hours, dissolve 1 cup salt in roughly 1 gallon water.  Submerge chicken with a weighted plate (a cooking oil jug works well).  If chicken is not under brine, add more at the 1/1 ratio.  Cover and place in a cool place (basement or fridge).

Preheat oven to 500.  Stuff lemons, garlic and onion in cavity and place on bed of carrots and celery in a large roasting pan.  Pour wine in bottom of pan.  Rub bird with butter, rosemary, thyme and salt.  Place in oven for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, reduce oven to 425 and cook until bird has an internal temperature of 160 degrees (around 45 minutes for a smaller bird and up to an hour for a larger).  Remove from oven and use a turkey baster to remove juice into a separate saucepan.  Cover the bird with aluminum foil and let rest.

Whisk cornstarch equalling approximately 1/3 the amount of juice into a few tablespoons COLD water (just enough to make a thick cream).  Using a whisk pour the mixture slowly into the hot (but not boiling) juice until it thickens to the desired consistency.  If sauce over thickens add cream or milk.

Remove foil from bird, place on serving platter (you may choose to remove the aromatics from the cavity) and surround with roasted veggies.  Serve with gravy and mashed potatoes.
 
 
This time of year, try to get your hands on some local, fresh cream. If you aren't able to purchase directly from a dairy you trust, look for Organic Valley or another local certified organic milk source. In the Midwest, I know that Castle Rock and Kalona Supernatural are other great alternatives. I suggest organic milk because their dairymen are MUCH more likely to have cows on pasture than conventional dairies and the whole reason we're making butter in May and June is because of the pasture-fed cows producing the best quality milk of the whole season. On top of that, organic dairy herds tend to be smaller (don't look for Horizon Organic in that line-up; they are notorious for certifying CAFO dairies as organic). The smaller the herd, the more likely it is that these animals spend MOST or ALL of their time outdoors on fresh grass.

And that is exactly what we want. You see, a little known fact in our modern world is that fresh spring grass contains a vitamin not found at any other time of the year.

Each spring, we at St. Brigid's Meadows notice a more grassy flavor to our milk and the milkfat becomes much more yellow as the cows ingest a high amount of beta-carotine and vitamins E and D. In the mountains of Switzerland, the cream from freshly pastured cattle is highly prized and given only to the town’s best athletes and expectant mothers. The butter made from this once-a-year milk is even more special.

The butter made from grassfed cows in June contains “Activator X.” Besides being loaded with Vitamin E which is essential to cell health, spring grassfed butter is unique: “...A factor in young grass is apparently the same one as described by Dr. Weston A. Price, in the second edition of his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, which he called “Activator X” and was found only in butter from cows fed spring grass. “Activator X” seemed very susceptible to oxidation, being lost in the butter within a few months after its production. “Activator X” was shown to promote calcification and health of bones and teeth in human patients. It inhibited the growth of the [bacteria responsible for cavities] completely, one test showing 680,000 salivary bacterial count before the use of “Activator X” and none after.”*
 *taken from an article from the Weston A. Price Foundation website.

Websites like Dr. Mercola's and other health food sites sell just the Activator X in tablet form. You can do that, to be sure. But wouldn't it be more fun to make your own butter? I mean, it's butter; what's not to love? And then to know that it's gonna help your teeth and bones while making you healthier from the inside out? Let's go for it! Be a homesteader today...with a food processor.


INGREDIENTS
Room Temperature Fresh Cream (amount will vary)
Salt (to taste)
Food Processor (we found that blenders and stand mixers don't work nearly as well)

Pour cream into your food processor. Blend on a medium setting for several minutes or until butter forms (really, it’s that simple).
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Here is the freshly beaten butter. It's sitting in the remaining liquid which is pure, white buttermilk. The photos taken in this sequence are from cream from a dairy in April. Notice the lack of yellow in the butter. These cows weren't on grass yet.
Turn off mixer and pour off buttermilk. You can save this for any baking purposes or drink it as is.
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Lovely homemade buttermilk!
You can see above that we put a tight netting metal collander over a bowl. This works well to capture any rogue butter chunks that hop out when you are draining off the buttermilk. Or you can safely dump the whole batch into the collander without losing any butter. Once drained, return butter to processor and add some very cold water. Blend again. Pour off water into your sink. This is not worth keeping as it is only watered down buttermilk. Repeat at least two more times or until water runs clear. You are rinsing the butter to get the last of the buttermilk out and help the longevity of the finished product. Once water runs clear, pour it off the final time and place the butter on a wooden cutting board (or any flat surface that you can tilt up a little bit). Use a spatula to sweep every last bit out of your processor and processor lid. It's worth it!

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On the cutting board, start squeezing and squishing the butter with the spatula or a wooden spoon to remove any excess water. Tilt the board at an angle to allow the water to run off. Also, add your rock or sea salt and massage it in. Add to taste. It will be different each time you make butter. A little bit goes a long way, so start with just a pinch.

Once the water is out and the salt is in, you have ready-to-spread butter. Marvel at how much yellower it is than store bought. Refrigerate when not in use. Lasts for about one week or you can freeze it for up to a year.

 
 
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Freshly washed ramps await further processing
Ramps are a seasonal wild delicacy found in forests from the Carolinas to Canada in early spring. Popping up in clumps in the cold damp of April, they thrive like any plant in the leek/onion family this time of year. Preceding the warm months but offering some fresh veggie relief after a long winter, ramps are a wonderful harvest and only take a little digging and washing to enjoy. Below I de-mystify these roots that even two months ago, I had never heard of! And we've got them, by the way, if you want to step outside the onion box!

Ramps can be used just like green onions.  Simply peel the outer layer off and cut the bottom of the bulb off with the roots. You will be left with a 3 to 5 inch piece ready to use.
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Ramps, because of their complex onion and garlic flavor are a great addition to almost any dish. Thin slice and use raw in salads or as a garnish. Slice "on the bias" (turn the ramp 45 degrees and cut thin, oblong slices) and add to dishes for an asian flair. The greens can be used fresh on sandwiches or in salads as well as being sautéed or added to egg dishes.

Here are some great ways to use ramps as a focal point in a meal.

"First of the Season" Soup, with Wild Ramps
This is a great soup that celebrates all of the early greens that are coming out at early markets or at the Co-ops. It also uses some leftovers from the root cellar.

4 large potatoes (peeled)
1 lb Wild Ramps (stem sliced into medallions, greens julienned cross the leaf in 1-2" strips)
1/2 lb Fresh Sorrel (julienned like ramp greens)
1/2 lb Swiss Chard (Julienned) or Spinach (left whole)
1 cup high quality chicken or vegetable stock (use veggie if doing optional "fish soup")
1 cup cheap white wine
1 cup whole milk
1 cup Heavy Cream
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp chopped fresh (if available) tarragon
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 lb of your favorite local fish (frozen is fine, but thaw it for the soup) (optional)

Cut the potatoes into chunks and boil until tender. Drain and coarsely mash. Add all ingredients but milk, cream, sorrel and spinach (if you're using it) and cook for about 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook for 2 more minutes. Serve with hearty bread.

Rustic Ramp Pesto
Leaves from 1 lb Wild Ramps (for a bolder flavor, retain the stems)
2/3 cup roasted nut (pine nuts are traditional, but I like using walnuts or pecans)
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup (up to a full cup) shredded or sliced parmesan, coarsely chopped

Chop or crush nuts until finely coarse (does that make sense? You want them very small but uneven). Pulse ramps, olive oil, sugar and salt in a food processor until mostly smooth (you want a bit of texture, looking a bit like green stone-ground mustard). Pour into a mixing bowl and fold in nuts and 1/2 cup parmesan. Add more parmesan if you need it a bit thicker.

Some great uses for this tasty treat is on crackers or dry bread, mixed into pasta or even on pizza! You can also mix it into scrambled eggs for a unique and flavor dish.

 
 
For the best tasting burgers ever, follow the directions below and be sure to make enough. People will be begging for just one more hamburger from you!

1 lb makes 3-4 burgers - recipe can be multiplied
The key is high quality Beef and LOTS of kosher salt.

1 lb SBM ground beef
Kosher Salt
Peanut Oil
1 tsp salt per pound into beef and mix (optional step).

Make sure cooking surface (grill or pan) is as hot as possible. Form a small ball of meat with your hands. You are looking for something just a shade smaller than a baseball. Press the ball relatively flat and make a 2nd ball (you are trying to get out all the air pockets which will make a sturdier burger). With your hand slightly cupped, work the ball from the middle out being careful to keep the burger round and not split. Continue until burger is about 25% LARGER than the buns you will be serving on. Place on a platter until all burgers are formed. 

Brush on layer of peanut oil and sprinkle (generously, I mean it, you want a good sized pinch) of salt. Place burgers on hot, clean cooking surface. Oil and salt other side. After approximately 1 minute give burgers a 1/4 turn (not flip) and move to another super hot, clean part of the grill. Cook for approximately 1 more minute. Flip onto original section of grill (salt cooked side again) and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat, salt a final time (really? Really.) and place on platter. Tent with aluminum foil for 3 minutes for a juicy medium/medium well.
 
 
Makes 8-10 medium sized sandwiches
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 2.5 hours

(1) 2 lb Organically Raised SBM Ham Steak
10 Dinner Roll sized Buns
6 Large Yellow Onions, Sliced (halved and slices in thin strips)
10 Slices Cheese (Swiss, Gorgonzola or Brie are great options)
2 cups apple or orange juice
1 Tbsp Salt

Roasted Mustard Aioli
1/4 cup Yellow Mustard Seed
1/4 cup Brown Mustard Seed
1 Tbsp Mustard Powder
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tsp Kosher Salt
1 cups Real Mayo

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Salt Steak and add high temperature oil to pan. Brown on Med-High heat until steak has nice golden coloring.  Place in sealable pan and add juice.  Cover and put in the oven, turning the steak every 1/2 hour.

Add more oil if necessary.  Add all the onions to the hot pan and sprinkle on 1 Tbsp Salt.  Scrape pan and slowly brown onions.  Keep the heat around Medium being sure that you are not charring the onions.  You want a nice slow "sweat" (check the "recipe" section on the website for more on this technique) so that the onions release their sugars and caramelize.  This should take about 10 to 15 minutes.  When finished they should be reduced by over half and kinda thick and gloopy.

Roasted Mustard Aioli
In a large pan roast mustard seed over medium heat.  Stay moving the pan and scraping for entire time (DO NOT LEAVE IT).  Seeds will start to pop and have a lovely roasted smell. Seeds are finished when they are slightly darker and not popping as much.  Allow to cool in mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients.  Mix to incorporate.

When meat is finished and is crumbling when pressed with a fork, take it out and shred the meat. Spread Aioli on Buns and top with ham and caramelized onions.  Add cheese to top and place in 400 degree oven until cheese is melted.
 
 
Charcoal vs. propane vs. hardwood. This debate is really not as dire as some would have you believe. Only purists would argue that you should only use one. I, however, think that all three have their place for different types of cooking. I'll talk about charcoal fi

Charcoal
Charcoal is great if you have the time. It also affords you some really spectacular flavors that propane can't. There are some very common misconceptions about Charcoal grills; the biggest being the use of lighter fluid and "match light" charcoal. I have seen several taste tests on the subject and I have experienced it countless times myself. They say that lighter fluid doesn't taint the food. It does. Plain and simple. The best thing you can do is get yourself a Chimney Starter. I use this one:

http://www.amazon.com/Char-Broil-2584803-Canister-Charcoal-Starter/dp/B002J9EN7Q/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1300650538&sr=8-3

You can find these at just about any place that sells grilling supplies. You simply fill the top 3/4s up with charcoal and put a little paper in the reservoir in the bottom and light it. After about 20 minutes your coals are white hot and ready to rock.

As far as charcoal, you can use regular formed briquettes but anything worth doing is worth doing right. I prefer hardwood, lump charcoal (most decent places will have this alternative. I like "Cowboy" brand). Traditional briquettes are just pressed sawdust and don't add much more to the food than heat. Lump charcoal however is made up of irregular hunks of actual hardwood charcoal. It is made by taking a large batch of wood pieces, lighting them and then closing off the air supply to the chamber. The wood then slowly carbonizes and becomes charcoal. The end result is a fuel that imparts a nice wood flavor and burns at a higher temperature.

As far as cooking with charcoal, there really isn't much it can't do. A high heat application will give you wonderfully smokey steaks and burgers, indirect heating allows for baking, poaching, roasting and braising and the inclusion of hardwoods allows for some of the best barbecue you can imagine.

There are two main downsides to charcoal grilling. The first is time. It can take up to a half an hour to get the old girl up to temp. Now this is only a downside if you do not have a tasty local microbrew in your hand to pass the time, so plan ahead. The other is there's a large amount of super high temperature material at the bottom. Unattended, it is VERY easy to have a flair up and ruin the flavor (or straight up burn) whatever you are cooking. Checkout "On Grilling" for more info on Flair Ups.

The upside to charcoal is definitely the flavor. Nothing is able to replicate that classic grilling taste like high quality charcoal. The ability to do light smoking on the grill is a plus as well. You can either add soaked wood directly to the coal or placed in a packet of aluminum foil with holes punched in the top.

Next time we'll talk about propane grills and cooking with hardwoods.
 
 
Yeah baby, grilling season is officially here (though it of course never really stopped for the truly committed, but it's certainly easier this time of year). For those of you getting ready to dust off the ol' smokebox, I wanted to give you a crash course on this wonderful seasonal cooker.

First and foremost I have to say something. Cooking over an open flame has been shown to increase the carcinagenic levels in food. Every time you have fat and juices dripping onto the heat source, the vapor causes cancerous qualities. Always be aware when you grill to not drip directly onto the heat. Move the coals or put down a fireproof pan.

In this two part series, I will attempt to give a well rounded view of factors that play into this delicate and delectable dance of food and flame. The first section will outline the basic and the second will focus more on food specific concerns.

Cleanliness
This is one of the easiest things to overlook when you are getting ready to cook but the fact remains, if you keep your grill clean and seasoned, it will produce better food. Period. Here are some things to remember.

It is easier to scrape your grill when everything on it is crusted. You can do this when you are finished or just before you put new food on. Any gunk that is left on will not "add flavor," it adds stank. Oils and fats will become rancid and lend an off-flavor to anything left on. If you like a little more "grill-y" flavor to your food, clean it off with your scraper, just don't use the wire brush as much. Also, check any additional grills or surfaces that might be dirty as these will increase in temp and add an unsavory smokey flavor.

Flair-Ups
Flair-ups generally happen when an overly fatty or marinated item is put on the grill. The fat drains too quickly and is ignited by the heat source. Common culprits are ground pork and very fatty, well-marbled cuts like ribeye. Not only does the burned fat have a very distinct flavor that it adds to the meat (so much so that any somewhat knowledgable grill chef will know your error should you try to hide it) but if the flame reaches high enough, it can light the source and then you have a full scale emergency on your hands. A grease fire can spread very quickly. It is a good practice to have a large amount of baking soda or rock salt on hand to douse the flame, should they get out of control.

Heat Zones
All grills have heat zones. On a propane grill, even with all burners at 100%, will have places where it is much hotter or cooler than other spots. In charcoal or wood cooking, directly under the heat source is your hot zone.

Cooking with Zones.
Once you understand where your heat zones are you can use them to your advantage. Use your cooler zones (or turn the flame on propane grills down by 50%) to finish foods without burning them. These are also great places to melt cheese or cook other items that burn faster (like buns). Your hot zones are used to place those great "grill marks" on your food. This is really very easy and only has to be done on the presentation side of you want. Simply take your steak, burger, zucchini, whatever and glaze it with a thin layer of high temperature oil (read the "Oils" section for more info on what is a good choice) and dust with a layer of rock salt. Get your hot zone up as high as you can (500 to 600 degrees is best, check out "Temping" for how to know how hot your grill is) and use your wire brush to get every particle off (this can be painful work but a little pain is a testament to your tenacity)! Place the meat on the hottest part of the grill and leave it for about a minute and a half. Once that is done, turn the meat a 1/4 turn and place onto another open spot on the hottest part of the grill (that has not had food on it). After another minute and a half you can flip the steak or burger and continue to cook it on the hot part of the grill for rare to medium rare or transfer it to a slightly less hot zone (400ish) and finish to Medium/Medium Well. The ensuing "Ooohs" and "Aaahs" will make it so worth the effort.

Temping
This is a very vital skill. If you have a little money you can buy an infrared thermometer that you just point at the grill and it tells you how hot that spot is. If you're a bit more rustic like me, try this:

The best way to temp your grill is to place your hand about a foot over it. If it is so screaming hot that you instantly have to remove your hand, your grill is pushing in upwards of 600 degrees. If you can have it on there very briefly you're probably around 500. If you can hold it for 1-2 seconds you're around 400, 2-3 at 300 and 5 seconds or so (depending on your tolerance), around 200. If you can keep you hand over it, check your propane or get a new batch of coals going in your chimney starter; your fire is out.

Oils
If you have been following me for any length of time, you know what I'm going to say. Don't cook at high temperatures with Olive Oil of any kind. It denatures, burns and becomes carcinogenic when it hit's is smoke point. You can cook at medium temps (300-400) with butter or lard but if you are grilling you really want a pure coconut oil. Try and avoid mutant "vegetable" oils as they are mostly soy and although Canola is an effective substitute, it is made of rapeseed with up to 80% of the cultivars used being genetically modified.

Seasoning
In my opinion, the only seasoning a good steak or burger or veggie needs is salt. I use Morton's Kosher salt but you can also use more exotic (read, expensive) types. Salt for most people is like wine. Buy the good stuff if you want to impress someone but chances are none of you will actually taste the difference.

Salt liberally. Salt plays several roles during the cooking process. The initial and during applications serve to draw out minerals and sugars and help caramelize and use the food's own juice to flavor. Salting at the end (also known as adding, "Finishing Salt") is what gives you that great salt punch. This does amazing things for your palate and works with the food's own natural flavor. Almost universally people comment with horror over the amount of salt I use and then with euphoric praise when they try the food. Sodium is not bad for you. Processed foods with offensive amounts of sodium are bad for you.

Also, it is a common misconception to use pepper while cooking. Pepper burns easily and can taint the flavor of the food. Only use pepper when pulling food off the grill or plating.

Most spices will burn and not have the effect you want if you add them while you are cooking. Spices will add flavor while marinating but with relatively few exceptions, don't add spices while grilling.

Grill Space
This is a little different than "overcrowding" when sautéing. If you overcrowd a grill, everything will cook eventually. You do however, want to keep some open space so that you can move things in and out of Hot Zones in order to have greater control over your cooking.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I'll overview some great food specific topics.
 
 
Poached Eggs
Eggs (as many as you want)
2 tbsp white distilled vinegar
Ramekin or small bowl

Select a pan that can hold 3-4 inches of water and wide enough so that all of your eggs will fit without touching.  Bring water to about 160-180 degrees - it is IMPERATIVE not to poach eggs in boiling water.  Add vinegar to water (this will keep the egg from dissolving into egg drop soup).

Crack egg into ramekin.  Holding the edge of the ramekin submerge into the hot water being very careful not to disturb it too much as this will keep the egg from holding together.  Slowly release the egg into the water.  Do this for all your eggs.  Once you are done take a spatula and gently slide it under each egg to release it from the bottom of the pan.  Again, care is key here as you don't want to puncture the yolk.

Leave in pan for 2 minutes for very soft yolks, 3-4 for a nice custardy center and 6 for well done.  Serve on toast with bacon or sausage and top with Hollandaise (this is the best recipe I've ever found): Alton Brown!
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A satisfied toddler dives in!
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Up close and personal with your poached egg on toast. Don't forget the sauce!