Breakfast with Kepler

There are all sorts of new parent skills that aren't taught in classes or discussed in books. These include how to type with one hand, how to transition from standing to sitting to lying down with the least possible movement, and what breakfasts might be successfully made in advance (and eaten with one hand!). 

The latter point will be addressed here.

There are only so many relatively cool hours in the day in a Los Angeles summer so the walking window is narrow. This has left breakfast by the wayside on occasion (notably coffee takes priority for obvious reasons). Leftovers are always fair game, though they risk a side eye in explaining that one ate Mapo tofu or salad before 9 AM (these leftovers only exist thanks to family support!).

During our first week check up the lactation consultant warned of parsley and mint and extolled virtues of oats. She specifically recommended some instant oatmeal, flaxseed option from Trader Joe's (she also recommended the frozen peas from Trader Joe's for pain relief). At the time, I did not take heed because there was plenty of family around to make sure I was amply fed. Plus, hot oatmeal doesn't seem very appetizing at this time of year.

But oats need not be cooked. Muesli is Swiss (and, according to Wikipedia, consists mostly of apples and includes lemon juice), but the best muesli I've experienced has been in Germany at the Mathematics Institute in Oberwolfach. Breakfasts there are truly stunning (even to someone with morning sickness) with bowls of fruit, carafes of coffee or tea, hard boiled eggs, half a dozen bread options, sliced cheese, ham, butter, and a very large bowl of muesli. I do not know what's in it, but there are enough whole grains to imply that it has benefitted from a thorough soaking.

I came across a nice sounding muesli recipe in the Huckleberry cookbook, but the ingredient list was a bit long and my time browsing grocery stores has been diminished. As  a shortcut, I simply bought the multigrain bulk cereal at the natural grocery store, which is a combination of cracked oats, wheat, rye, corn and several other things. That night I soaked half a cup of this and half a cup of rolled oats in enough milk and water to submerge them with some walnuts and raisins. I'd recommend grating in an apple as well (for deliciousness and authenticity), but pressed for time this did not occur. I also added chia seeds and hemp hearts, the sorts of things that end up in your pantry when you've been living in Los Angeles for two years.

The next morning the mixture had softened to an edible state. This was then topped with a bit of yogurt and much fresh fruit (plums and nectarines these days). It is a homely dish and not worth photographing.

Although I have a hearty appetite in the morning, this is truly enough food for two people. Baby Kepler is too little for such things (though teeth are not required), but his namesake happened to be a worthy breakfast guest.


Johannes Kepler (1671—1630) described three laws of planetary motion, wrote science fiction, studied conic sections, drew many beautiful figures, and defended his mother from charges of witchcraft. In reading about the history of science he pops up all over the place—I have intentions to peruse his work on snowflakes, on pseudo-diagrams, and on continuity and infinity. He is basically impossible to avoid in my line of work, so it's surprising he hasn't joined us earlier.

Kepler enjoyed our breakfast, though, to be honest it took me about two hours to eat it what with the engaging discussion of hyperbolas and conic sections and the lack of free hands. I used to feel somewhat sorry for Kepler given his enthusiastic letters to Galileo that received only lackluster responses. However, this sympathy seems misplaced in someone who dreamed so big and accomplished so much at a time when pursuing new knowledge could be a precarious occupation (like today).

Kepler had many children (with about a 50% survival rate, which may have been pretty good for the time?), but not much to offer by way of advice. Me neither. I guess I would only recommend having some dance mixes prepared, preferably with songs where the beat is strong and you're happy to sing along. This isn't very useful for 17th century audiences, my apologies.

In closing, Kepler's epitaph (the last line seems to apply equally well to the dead and living):

I measured the skies, now the shadows I measure
Skybound was the mind, earthbound the body rests.