Monthly Archives: December 2010

As happy as a kid on Christmas morning!


        I may have had too much going on to blog for the weak leading up to Christmas. Really though, that’s not the case. I could have posted about the cookies my mom and I baked or our fabulous dinner last night. I even made English muffins (my best batch yet) and didn’t snap a single picture. Why?
        Taking pictures of beautiful food I was really proud of got to be too depressing. Our little video camera just doesn’t take good close-up pictures. I was sick of blurry images and dishes so distant you couldn’t tell what I had baked.
        Maybe the holiday frenzy did play a bit of a role in keeping me away from the blog. Lee and I flew to Seattle to visit my mom in her new house for Christmas. We’ve been exploring the city, helping around the house, and running in the Arboretum. My mom and I have been cooking up a storm. Seattle has some fabulous food and it’s so nice to have a Trader Joe’s right down the street!

        Now I’m back and there will be no more blurry food pictures! My parents got me a Nikon D5000 for Christmas! I am so, so, so excited! This might just be the best Christmas present ever. The camera was a little intimidating at first. All I did was fondle it until last night, when I finally managed to take some pictures. They didn’t turn out so great but the ones I took this morning are much better!



Tomorrow I’m going to get baking so there will be more to come soon!


Filed under inspiration and musings

Figgy Whole Grain Gingerbread


        This didn’t start out as gingerbread. The Buckwheat Apricot Cake I adapted slightly for this loaf is a favorite that I’ve been meaning to make. I just couldn’t stand the thought of missing gingerbread season. While it is unfair to relegate this spicy confection to winter holidays, it’s only natural to crave gingerbread this time of year.
        I hesitated to call my bread whole grain for fear of scaring off gingerbread purists. While I don’t think those purists would be disappointed in this recipe, they probably wouldn’t call it gingerbread. It’s no butter and sugar-laden loaf but the flavor is there and the texture is dreamy as far as I’m concerned. Sit down in front of your Christmas tree and try a hunk of this gingerbread with a cold glass of milk or a cup of tea.
        The bulgar provides chewy heft without sacrificing moistness. The sweet, crunchy figs and crystalized ginger go so well with the deep molasses flavor. I only substituted molasses for half the honey from the original recipe but feel free to play around with that proportion depending on how sweet you like things. Don’t be afraid of the prune baby food. I know it may seem weird at first but prune puree (aka. baby food!) is a great substitute for oil. That’s right, there’s no oil in this recipe and I dare anyone to notice!


Even from this far away, you can see the chewy bulgar grains.

Figgy Whole Grain Gingerbread
Adapted from The Mayo Clinic Williams-Sonoma Cookbook: Simple Solutions for Eating Well

1/3 cup bulgar wheat
1/3 cup water
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
2 tablespoons agave syrup or honey
1 egg
1/4 cup prune baby food
1/2 cup (or more) dried figs, chopped
1/4 cup crystalized ginger, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Stir bulgar, water, and figs together in a large bowl and let stand for 15 minutes.
Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
Add buttermilk, molasses, agave, egg, and crystalized ginger to the bulgar concoction.
Stir dry ingredients into wet.
Pour into lightly greased 8×4 inch loaf pan.
Bake for 35 minutes at 375 F.
Cool in the pan for a few minutes before serving, then turn out of pan and cool on wire rack.


Filed under desserts, other goodies

Chocolate Chip Muesli Cookies


        I needed a treat yesterday. I needed something quick and sweet that also packed a powerful punch of nutrition. Bob’s Red Mill came to the rescue. I am completely in love with many of their products and frequently find excellent recipes on their bags. Bob’s Red Mill has never contacted me or anything and has nothing to do with this post.
When I first bought supplies for the boat I accidentally ordered two cases of Bob’s Old Country Style Muesli. I meant to order one but must have added it to my Amazon list twice or something. Each case has 4 18oz bags. That’s a lot of cereal! It’s a good thing I like it! Really, using up all this muesli is no problem. My favorite cold breakfast mix is muesli soaked in plain yogurt and a little milk overnight, with banana and maybe some flaxseed meal and pumpkin added in the morning.
        Then of course there’s the cookies. The recipe on the back of this particular Bob’s Red Mill package is for Chocolate Chip Muesli Cookies. I made them once as soon as I discovered this and they were quite tasty. Without added butter or oil, they are definitely healthy treats. Of course, I moved on to other cookie recipes. I have kind of a short attention span when it comes to these things.
        A few weeks ago I snagged a bag of peanut flour at Trader Joe’s. I had read about peanut flour in various places and was anxious to give it a try. For some reason, my brain went back to the Chocolate Chip Muesli Cookies and presented them as ideal candidates for a peanut flour experiment. The recipe calls for very little flour so replacing all of it with peanut flour seemed like an excellent idea. I hoped to end up with a peanut buttery cookie with all kinds of muesli goodness. That’s almost exactly what I got and yesterday’s treat craving was totally satisfied.
        I say almost because I didn’t bake the cookies as cookies. For purely practical reasons, I spread the dough on my quarter baking sheet and made bars. That way I didn’t have to scoop and bake 3 or 4 mini-batches of cookies while the oven heated the boat to 90 million degrees. A silly measuring mistake also contributed to the less-than perfect cookie bars. I misread the recipe and added 3/4 cup of applesauce instead of 2/3. It was kind of a heaping 3/4 cup too, since I didn’t want to leave a spoonful of applesauce in the jar! The added liquid made a batter rather than a dough and turned out rather moist bars. They’re still totally edible and delicious. They just kind of fall apart in your hands.
        The peanut flour was perfect. Alongside the texture of the muesli, the peanut flour produces a rich cookie with plenty to chew on. I think these would be great as big breakfast cookies. I cut my sheet into12 bars but next time I think I’ll make 12 big cookies.


Chocolate Chip Muesli Cookies
(From Bob’s Red Mill)

1 cup muesli
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (or try peanut flour!)
2/4 cup applesauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
6 oz package chocolate chips (I threw in a handful of carob chips instead)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a separate bowl, blend applesauce, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in egg.
Add flour mixture to bowl.
Stir in muesli and chocolate chips.
Drop by tablespoonfuls (or more for larger cookies) onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.


Filed under desserts

Buckwheat Coffeecake Muffins


        First: as muffins go, these are way up there on my list of favorites. They’re easy to make, contain some unique ingredients, and are a healthier alternative to rich coffeecake. Before I get to the muffins, though, I’ll share a long overdue egg-related item.
        This town’s little bare-shelved market with brown lettuce and dusty cans was a sad stand-in for a grocery store. That’s where I scrounged minimal supplies for dinner yesterday: frozen spinach, a red pepper, bread, and eggs. With those ingredients, a new egg sandwich was born! It was way, way too dark for pictures so I have no evidence. There will be future incarnations of the baked egg sandwich, though. It was just what I’d been craving: heaps of sauteed greens topped with eggs and sandwiched between pieces of rye bread. The whole thing went in the oven in sandwich form and the eggs cooked under their bread tops.

        Now, on to the sweets. Before I started on dinner, I went to work on a recipe I’ve had in my ‘to make’ pile for a while. When I spotted this Buckwheat Coffeecake recipe on my bag of buckwheat flour it seemed too unusual and potentially scrumptious to ignore. Buckwheat is great in pancakes but coffeecake was a new one to me. I was also intrigued by the graham cracker crumb topping for this cake. Graham crackers, butter, and brown sugar are undeniably good. Crisped in the oven on top of a cake they’re dreamy.
        I turned the original Buckwheat Coffeecake recipe into muffins for two reasons: practicality and my obsession with muffins. Handing Lee a muffin when he’s at the helm of the boat on one of the recent 30 degree mornings is much easier than serving cake. I reduced the crumbly topping by a lot, making my version a bit healthier than the original. The graham cracker crumbs are still buttery, sweet, and messy.
        I realize that plain, brown muffins aren’t particularly Christmasy. They don’t sparkle, include candy canes or ginger, and there’s nothing red or green about these muffins. I did add a subtle Christmas hint with a sprinkle of nutmeg. In fact, buckwheat and nutmeg produce a deep, rich flavor that makes me think of warm fires and pine-scented living rooms. With cup of Trader Joe’s Vanilla & Cinnamon Black Tea (my current favorite), any frigid morning on the boat feels cozy.
        I am including the original recipe as well as my muffin version. This is one of those cases where I should have probably made the original first so I would know what I had changed. Maybe Christmas morning at my mom’s new house would be a good opportunity to try the unaltered coffeecake.


I still haven’t figured out how to get my (hopefully temporary) camera to take pictures that aren’t blurry!

Buckwheat Coffeecake
From Bouchard Family Farm Buckwheat Flour package (a Maine product)

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat eggs, sugar, and baking powder in a bowl.
Add oil and flours and mix till well blended.
Pour batter into greased 8x8x2 pan.
Mix ingredients for topping and sprinkled over batter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

Buckwheat Coffeecake Muffins (makes 10 muffins)
Adapted from the recipe above

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3 graham cracker sheets (6 squares) made into crumbs
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat egg, sugar, applesauce and baking powder in a bowl.
Combine flours and nutmeg in a small bowl.
Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and stir till just blended.
Pour batter into 10 muffin cups, lightly oiled or with silicone liners.
Mix ingredients for topping and sprinkled over muffins. There should be enough to cover the tops of all 10 muffins.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.


Filed under muffins