At the launch party for the publication of my first book, "A Cook's Tour of Sonoma" (Addison-Wesley, 1990), chef John Ash offered a piece of advice.

"Every human should spend one day a month not getting out of bed," he told me sweetly, suggesting that my life was about to get really busy. For years, I took his advice to heart, not necessarily monthly but now and then. And I clung to his words as a hedge against the guilt I would have otherwise felt about not doing anything productive for a full turn of the planet.

Years passed and one day I mentioned this to John, thanking him for the suggestion and telling him how many times I had relied upon it.

He looked at me like I was a Martian.

"What?" he said.

He had no memory of either saying it or intentionally doing it himself. I guess it doesn't matter. His words, dreamed, imagined or real, launched a restorative tradition that I treasure and have passed on to others.

My grandson Lucas, who is now 12, understands this. When he's had a difficult time, I've often tucked him into my bed and presented him with breakfast on a pretty tray, complete with a fragrant flower, sweet milk tea, bacon, a simple omelette, toast and whatever fruit happens to be in season. He is always the better for it and a few times has even suggested it was time to do it again. He's got a lot of wisdom in his young bones.

I think of this now, as trees shed their leaves and we all seem to be shedding too many tears for too many tragedies. Sometimes we need to simply stop, take a break, a time out, not because we are sick, depressed or injured, but for the simple pleasure of shrinking the world, briefly, to the small circumference of a comfy bed, a good book and a few favorite comforting foods and drinks.

Sometimes I suspect that this is the primary function of the cold and flu viruses that send us to bed out of necessity. If we don't do it for ourselves, they do it for us. Obviously, they overshoot the goal and we're often miserable for days or weeks. Best to choose our own time and make it as pleasurable as possible, don't you think?

One of the benefits of choosing to take a time out is that you can plan it. You can make a favorite soup, quiche or salad, have your favorite tea on hand and secure your favorite chocolate, if that is your pleasure. A can't-put-it-down book and a few issues of "The New Yorker" or other magazines are essential, too, as are fresh sheets, crisp and tight against the mattress. A good thermos is good, too, so that you'll have plenty of hot tea right next to your bed.

When I take such a time out, I like light fare, not comfort foods as we usually think of them, but comforting foods. If the weather is cold or stormy, I'll make crock-pot polenta and have simple toppings — olive oil, teleme cheese and maybe some toasted walnuts — on hand. But if the weather is mild, I'll make a citrus salad the night before. I also like to have bone broth in a small crock pot, as it is one of the most restorative foods I know and I like to sip espresso cups of it throughout my day of seclusion. By the time night falls, I'm ready for something a bit more substantial, French-style scrambled eggs, perhaps, or homemade soup, but nothing too hefty or filling. I end the day with a glass of wine and drift into sleep, all the more delicious for the restorative rest that came before it.


This voluptuous egg dish requires the very best butter and very best eggs you can find. Both should be local. The butter should come from grassfed cows and the eggs from happy pastured chickens.

<strong>French-style Scrambled Eggs</strong>

<em> Makes 1 serving</em>

4 teaspoons unsalted butter

2 large backyard or farm market eggs

— Kosher salt

— Black pepper in a mill

2 teaspoons fresh minced chives or chopped fresh Italian parsley

— Hot buttered toast

Pour two inches of water into the bottom of a double boiler and bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to very low so that the water just barely simmers. Set the top of the double boiler over the water and add half the butter.

Break the eggs into a medium bowl, whisk until the eggs are loosely but evenly mixed. Cut the remaining butter into small pieces, fold it into the eggs, and season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the top of the double boiler.

Cook, stirring continuously with a wood spoon, until the eggs form soft, thick curds, about 12 to 15 minutes. Just before the eggs are cooked, sprinkle the chives over them and stir them in.

Put the eggs onto a favorite plate or one that you have warmed, add the toast alongside the eggs, return to bed and enjoy slowly.


For the most nutritious broth, the lamb and beef must be grassfed. The best place to find bones from grassfed animals is at a local farmers market; if you ask around, you can usually get a great deal. And don't worry too much about exact quantities. Just make sure the bones are covered by water and make sure the broth tastes good to you. The vinegar helps extract nutrients from the bones themselves.

<strong>Simple Slow-Cooker Bone Broth</strong>

<em> Makes about 10 to 12 cups</em>

6 pounds meaty lamb bones, beef bones or a mix of the two

— Kosher salt

— Boiling water

4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 yellow onion or 3 shallots, quartered

3 garlic cloves

— Lemon wedges, optional

— Hot sauce, optional

— Black pepper in a mill, optional

Put the bones into a slow cooker, season generously with salt and cover with water by 1 to 2 inches. Add the vinegar, onion or shallots and garlic and cook on high for 4 hours. Reduce the heat to low, cook for another 4 hours and then set the cooker to "warm" for as long as you want to have the broth at the ready.

During the first hour of cooking, skim off and discard the foam that rises to the surface.

Check the liquid now and then, adding more as needed to keep the bones submerged.

Skim off the fat if you like and then ladle into little cups whenever you wish. Add a squeeze of lemon, a splash of hot sauce or a turn of black pepper or simply enjoy the broth neat.

You can keep this broth going in a slow-cooker for several days by replacing whatever you remove with water. To refrigerate it, simply cool, strain and store in a covered container for 3 to 4 days or freeze for up to 4 months or so.

<em>Michele Anna Jordan hosts "Mouthful" each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 & 91.1 FM. E-mail Jordan at michele@ micheleannajordan.com. You'll find her blog, "Eat This Now," at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.</em>