Tag Archives: inspiration

Back to Baking

…not that I ever stopped.


It’s summer in California and I am enjoying every foggy morning turned sunny afternoon! Running up and down the Napa hills is giving me great morning workouts. I have a bike and a car to get around and there is so, so much to see and do here!

The first priority is finding an apartment. Lee and I are looking at our favorite candidate this evening so I have my fingers crossed that we get this place and don’t have to keep playing the San Francisco housing game. All I want is a good-sized (as in not tiny) kitchen, preferably with a gas stove, and a place to sleep.

Once we have a place to live, I’ll pick up the job search again. Does anyone know of a bay area museum that’s hiring for entry-level anything? Until I find employment, I’ll find a place to volunteer in the area and do as much blogging as I can! That doesn’t sound like a bad way to spend a few months!

I dove right back into cooking as soon as I got back to the mainland. After a short stint in a hotel on St. Kitts while Lee and I put the boat away I was ready for some home cooking in a real kitchen. My first stop was my mom’s house in Seattle, where I wanted to pick up my car and spend a little quality time with my mother. We had a great week cooking together, visiting her favorite Seattle restaurants, and taking in some culture.

My aunt was visiting as well and the three of us drove to nearby home of some long-time family friends for one night. The baker in that family was generous enough to share his sourdough starter with my mom and me! We brought home a generous portion, which we grew and then divided in half when I left for California. This 10+ year old starter is a treasure that I hope to craft into delicious bread in my own kitchen.

Not only did our friend share his starter with us, he also made us his famous Swedish Pancakes for breakfast! My parents used to make this recipe when I was growing up but I haven’t cut into a gooey, sweet Swedish pancake for years. They were better than I remembered them and I watched closely to pick up the proper cooking technique. These delicious breakfast treats will definitely be appearing on this blog soon!

At my mom’s house, our baking endeavors included a hearty polenta bake (for which I will have to find the recipe), rosemary walnut bread with fresh rosemary from the garden, and a yogurt cake that starred as dessert with strawberries and vanilla sugar.


Unfortunately I didn’t use a recipe when I made the rosemary walnut bread. I loosely followed this one and added some chopped fresh rosemary and chopped walnuts before the final rise. The result was quite good considering I’ve never experimented with adding ingredients like that to bread before. The rosemary flavor was wonderful with the chewy wheat bread and it was a great accompaniment to dinner at our friends’ house.

For dessert, this yogurt cake was too tempting for even our full bellies to resist. I couldn’t resist a cake recipe that called for plain yogurt, one of my favorite staples that I always have in the fridge. I added lemon zest to the original recipe because I thought a summery flavor would be nice. My mom, my aunt, and I picked up a few boxes of fresh strawberries at a local stand to serve with the cake. Nothing says summer like cake and berries!

I didn’t have my camera with me on this adventure so I wasn’t able to photograph the cake and berries. I did snap a few pictures of both the cake and the bread when they came out of the oven!


Simple Yogurt Cake
From Whole Foods Market

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 cup cane sugar 3 large eggs
1/3 cup expeller-pressed canola oil, plus more for oiling the pan
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups fresh berries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Oil a 9-inch cake pan, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Oil the paper, too; set the pan aside. (I used a square cake pan, as you can see)
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together yogurt, sugar, eggs, oil, almond extract and vanilla extract.
Gently whisk flour mixture into yogurt mixture just until blended and smooth.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and top has formed a thin crust.
The cake should be just firm in the center when done. (I think I slightly overcooked my cake so check it after 35-40 minutes)
Cool cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove cake from pan and peel off parchment paper. Continue cooling on a rack.
Slice and serve with berries.


Filed under desserts, inspiration and musings

Hunting and gathering

This is the beginning of a blog about two very specific food items. I’ve been a food blog reader for several years now and I like to think I’ve learned a few things about writing one. Reading cooking blogs tends to snowball into reading more and more of them, scanning recipe websites obsessively, finding new favorites, and of course going back to good old fashioned cookbooks. There is nothing I love more than curling up with a good cookbook. Well, maybe that’s not true. But anyway, I love to read about cooking and I love to cook myself. I may still be an amateur but I like to push my boundaries, experiment, and try new things.

Why muffins and eggs? Well, as you can read on the about page, muffins are my chosen baked good. I love making them because I love eating them so much. I figure that as long as I can bake a healthy muffin I don’t have to feel guilty about eating them. This policy goes for all baked goods, muffins are just particularly well suited to health-ifying. In fact, I believe muffins must be truly healthful to be called be called such (more on that later). In short, muffins are relatively easy to make, easy to eat, satisfy those sweet carbohydrate cravings we all have, and can be made in an endless variety of ingredient and flavor combinations.

Eggs? Well, my fiance loves egg sandwiches. I remember discovering this shortly after we moved in together. I asked him what he wanted for breakfast and he said “egg sandwiches” (he’s a multiple sandwich kind of guy). At that point, I don’t think I had ever made an egg sandwich before in my life. I’d made plenty of one-eyed bandits, something my parents always served my brother and I on weekends when we were kids.

My egg sandwiches started simple: a friend egg, sometimes two, on an English muffin or bun. Sometimes I added cheese and/or salsa. Canadian bacon made an occasional appearance. The simple egg, toasted muffin, and green Tabasco sauce combination became my standard.

Why not branch out a little?  There are endless possibilities for creative customization with an egg sandwich. They are a good combination of protein and carbohydrates, ideal for breakfast. Still, they can vary from extremely healthful to very extravagant (I’m thinking lots of cheese, hollandaise sauce, sausage…).

What ties these two together? Well, they’re both round, portable, tasty breakfast foods. In a way, they are the yin and yang of breakfast: sweet and savory dishes that coexist harmoniously at my table. Oh, and a good cup of coffee fits in well too. I figure, some day, a little cafe could come out of this. It would serve only egg sandwiches, muffins, and beverages of course. That’s my dream anyway.

Now, for the hunting and gathering part. I’ve been hoarding muffin recipes for a while but I’m going to start collecting and testing them in earnest. I’ll see what works and what doesn’t, try my own variations of recipes I like, and hopefully come up with some of my own. New egg sandwich varieties will appear on my fiance’s plate on a regular basis. I’ve already written out a few combinations I’d like to try. I also think it’s appropriate to try making my own English muffins. After all, they are a variety of muffin as well as a perfect egg sandwich bread.

I’ll give a few recipes a try, take some pictures, and hopefully post them here.


Filed under inspiration and musings