Monthly Archives: August 2011

Sometimes the Classics are Best


What kind of muffin do you crave when I see stacks of them in bakery windows? For me, it’s blueberry. As much as I love to experiment with different flavors and ingredients, sometimes I have to go with the classics. When there are two over-ripe bananas on the counter and a bag of fresh from the farmers market blueberries in the fridge, what could I make but blueberry banana muffins?

Also, I was hungry and had muffins on the brain. These came together quickly and made a perfect mid-morning snack. I ate my muffin hot, with gooey, scaling blueberries popping in my mouth. It was pure muffin heaven! If you want a moist, sweet, fruity, whole-grain muffin, these hit all those high-points and then some.

I changed the recipe I started with enough to make this one my own. There is no added oil and very little sugar. I doubted that 1/3 cup brown sugar would make these sweet enough but I went with it anyway. Turns out 1/3 cup was plenty of sugar! I guess my bananas were plenty sweet.


Blueberry Banana Muffins

1 1/2 cup flour, your choice (I used 1 cup graham flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large or 3 regular-sized bananas, mashed
1 egg
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Stir together all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, add egg, sugar, an yogurt to mashed bananas, beating until mostly smooth (might be little banana chunks in there)
Stir vanilla into wet ingredients.
Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring until just combined.
Fold blueberries into batter.
Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

Eat HOT from the oven…but don’t burn yourself on a blueberry!


Filed under muffins

Peachy Keen

Do you know anyone who uses that phrase? My dad used to. I haven’t heard him say it for a long time but he use to throw this retro gem out there every once and a while to make my brother and I laugh. What is peachy keen? Playing outside with your friends on a warm summer night, the cool new bike you got for your birthday…


This Peach Vanilla Bean jam is peachy keen. I say jam, but I didn’t quite chop the peaches finely enough so I ended up with more of a compote. Hey, it’s still good and who doesn’t love chunks of sweet, vanilla-y peach on just about anything? Lee tried some jam on pancakes and gave it a good report. I glopped it on bread for lunch yesterday and declared my sandwich a dessert-worthy treat.

I knew I had to make this jam as soon as I saw it on Smells-Like-Home. Peaches are delicious on their own, but add the deep, earthy flavor of vanilla beans and they reach an out-of-this-world level of yum. I could barely keep my fingers out of the pot while the peaches cooked. They smelled so good! When I finally got to taste the product of more than an hour of simmering, I was not disappointed. The chunky jam is perfect with cheese or nut butters on a sandwich, dreamy on toast, pancakes or waffles, and I’m willing to bet it would make a great ice cream topping as well.

You don’t need a ridiculous amount of peaches for this canning project. I bought a flat at COSTCO and only need 5 out of maybe 9 or 10 large peaches. A scale make measuring for this recipe much easier. My 5 peaches weighed 3 pounds but that will vary with the size of your fruit.

One reason I was excited to make this recipe was the package of vanilla beans haunting my pantry. Amazon was a great source for vanilla beans. A huge package came at a great value and now I don’t have to hoard them – I can feel free to experiment with vanilla beans in different recipes.

Head on over to Smells-Like-Home for the recipe! The ingredient list is short and simple so this is a great first-time canning project! I ended up with 5 pint jars that I can’t wait to share!



Filed under condiments

Old-fashioned Nut Loaf


Here it is, the bread with graham cracker crumbs in it! I considered everyone’s advice about the confusion between graham flour and graham cracker crumbs. I waffled back and forth about which ingredient I would try but finally settled on graham cracker crumbs. It was too unusual an addition (at least for me) to a quick bread not to try.

Once I remembered to get graham crackers at the store (it took a few visits) I was ready to go. The rest of the ingredient list is short an simple. In fact, I almost didn’t notice something rather odd about this recipe: there are no eggs or oil. The only liquid and fat comes from milk. I’d say that makes this an easily veganized treat!

I’ll admit, I was skeptical of the graham cracker crumbs. They looked so insignificant blended into the flour. Could they really add any flavor? I was wrong to doubt, as Joanne pointed out, graham crackers make everything better!

This bread has a unique sweet, nutty flavor that I can only attribute to the crumbs. They probably also contribute to the beautiful golden brown color of this loaf. It borders on too sweet for me but the flavor is lovely and unique. The nuts are almost secondary to the bread in which they’re suspended.

I felt like I’d entered a time warp eating my half-muffin bread tasting, like I was eating something people made during the depression when they were trying to come up with creative ways to use the ingredients they had on hand. That could very well be the era this recipe comes from. Helen’s file seems to include recipes from almost an entire century and from all over the country.

Break out that food processor (or a plastic bag and hands for smashing) and make some graham cracker crumbs for a old-fashioned nut loaf. Then sit down for breakfast or with a cup of tea in the afternoon to enjoy a little time travel.


I made 2 mini loaves and 3 large muffins…and had a bit of an overflow in the oven.

Nut Loaf
from Helen’s recipe file

2 cups flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 pinch salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda stirred in to…
2 cups sour milk (I used buttermilk)
i cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, salt, and sugar, stirring with a whisk to blend completely.
Add baking soda to buttermilk in a separate bowl, stirring until there are no lumps of soda left. (Different method for baking soda. I’ve never seen this before but it works!)
Pour buttermilk into flour mixture. Stir gently until combined.
Fold in nuts.
Pour batter into a greased loaf pan or mini loaf pans/muffin cups.

Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes (mini loaves/muffins) to an hour (large loaf).
Remove when the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool, slice, sit, eat, and wonder if food is the best time machine we have.


Filed under Bread, muffins

“Graham” as in Graham Crackers?

I have a recipe all picked out for my next installation of the Recipe File Project but there’s a bit of a problem: ingredient confusion! This was bound to happen with recipes penciled on scrap paper from at least half a century ago. This one is written on the back of a guarantee for coal from the North Western Fuel Company. Anybody up for Nut Loaf from a coal-fired oven? I know my great-grandmother used to bake pies in the wood stove at the family fishing cabin.


So here’s the question: In a recipe for Nut Loaf, what does “1 cup graham” mean? Is that graham flour or graham cracker crumbs? First I was leaning towards flour but there’s already 3 cups of flour called for. Graham cracker crumbs kind of make sense and would certainly be a novel addition to a quick bread.

I think I’m going to go with graham cracker crumbs (once I remember to buy graham crackers) unless anyone tells me otherwise. But really, I’m looking for your input!


Filed under Bread, inspiration and musings