Tag Archives: sailing

Spicy banana bran scones (vegan!)


Just some scones, hangin out on deck.


After my oven difficulties while baking muffins the other day, I had to give baking on the boat another go as soon as possible. This morning, as we pitched and rolled at anchor in choppy Newport harbor, I searched for inspiration in my cookbooks and recipe notes.
What had I been meaning to bake before we left? Oh yeah, scones! Now where was that recipe? Hmmm, kinda boring. How could I spice these up? Some spices, perhaps? I looked to one of my favorite unusual cookie recipes for ideas. I’m sure I’ll be posting about these cookies eventually. They’re vegan oatmeal cookies that use banana and all kinds of yummy spices, making them taste a bit like indian food in oatmeal cookie form.
The recipe I wanted to spice up was for Banana Bran Scones. I love the idea of incorporating banana into a scone and oat bran is a breakfast staple in my kitchen. Without messing with those two ingredients, I played around with the recipe to make it a little more exciting! Unlike my last oven experiment, the result was not disappointing. (To be fair, the Pear Ricotta Muffins were really, really tasty after they’d firmed up a bit and I will be making them again!)
These scones are so much better than I expected them to be. I’m kind of in love with them. They’re just the right amount of sweet for a scone. They’re hearty without being dense and buttery, as scones can be. The banana is incredible. Using a really ripe banana makes the flavor so strong and sweet it almost seems artificial. I love the little flecks of un-mashed fruit here and there. Then there’s the spices! I added most of the repertoire from my favorite oatmeal cookies. I think cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger go really well with banana and raisins. which I threw in at the last minute. This was also an opportunity to give coconut oil another try. I’ve been experimenting with it and I’m really happy with how it worked in this recipe. There is a hint of coconut flavor in the baked scones and they maintain their scone texture without the butter.


Do yourself a favor and make a double batch. They go fast!

Featured on Baking is Hot

Spicy Banana Bran Scones
Adapted from Cooking Light
Makes 8 scones

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oat bran
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon each of nutmeg, ginger, and allspice*
1 tablespoon powdered soy milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter/margarine)
3/4 cup mashed, ripe banana
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon vinegar
A handful of raisins

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (I used the oven timer this time to make sure it heated up!)

Mash banana and sugar together in a small bowl. Let stand while you prepare other ingredients.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, oat bran, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices, and powdered soy milk.
Melt coconut oil in a saucepan over very, very low heat. You can also submerge the jar of oil in hot water to soften it or use whatever softening method you prefer.
Allow the oil to cool slightly, then pour it into the flour mixture, blending with a pastry blender, 2 knives, or a whisk (a whisk worked great for me).
Add vinegar and water to the banana.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
Pour banana into flour mixture and stir vigorously to combine, adding the handful of raisins as you do. Dough will be more like a batter than a biscuit dough.
Place dough, in approximately 1/3 cup scoops, on an oiled or otherwise nonstick cookie sheet. You may want to flatten and shape each scoop into round, biscuit-like shapes.
Bake at 450 for 15 minutes.

*I wanted to use cardamom, since I think it’s actually the star spice in the oatmeal cookies, but I couldn’t find it. I must have hidden it away in the boat somewhere. I subbed allspice but use cardamom if you have it!


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Pear ricotta muffins and a little extreme baking


        I have a confession to make: I engage in extreme baking. What is extreme baking? Well, my definition involves limited tools, only the ingredients I have on hand, confined spaces, and lots of water. When you live on a sailboat, that sort of becomes the routine. It’s a routine I’ve been out of for the past few months since Lee and I have been staying with his parents in Maine while we got our boat ready for the grand voyage South to the Caribbean. Before that though, we lived on the boat in Rhode Island all last winter, sailed down to the Chesapeake Bay in the spring and summer, and then sailed up to Maine. I know. What a life!
        I won’t go into to much detail about the whole boat thing here; this is my cooking blog and this is my sailing blog. I will, however, be cooking on the boat and blogging about it because I think it’s as much of an adventure as the sailing itself!

        Finally, on to the muffins! After 30 hours or so of high winds, bouncy seas, and really, really, really cold everything I was ready for some good food. We’d been living on cold hot dogs, apples, and PB&J sandwiches because I was afraid to heat up a pot of soup on our pitching stove. Things had calmed down a little so I went below, dug out some ingredients, and started into a recipe that had been brewing in my head.
        Pear and ricotta cheese go together like, well, peanut butter and jelly. They are perfect for each other, delicious, and simple. I often ate pears and ricotta with my lunch last fall and winter. When I saw this recipe for muffins with ricotta cheese in them I immediately thought “But why are there no pears?”. Something had to be done.
        I salvaged a few very ripe pears from the house in Maine and padded them down with scrunched up plastic bags for their boat ride. They survived nicely.
        I made a few modifications to the recipe I started with to accommodate for the pears and my healthy taste. I wish I knew how they would have turned out if everything had gone according to plan. There was, however, a little problem with the oven. The boat oven is tiny. It has one rack and a burner on the bottom that I have to light by hand. When I started working on the muffins the other day, I lit the stove and set the temperature to 176 degrees C, or 350 F (the boat is Finnish so the temperature is in Celsius). I mixed all my ingredients, poured the batter into the muffin pan, and popped it in the oven. The oven was probably preheating for 15 minutes before I put the pan in. I set a timer for 20 minutes and when I checked the muffins at the end of that time they were still liquidy!
        The only explanation is that the oven wan’t preheated when I started baking. There is no thermometer in it but I used a removable one when I first started cooking on the boat last year. After I determined that it heated up to the right temperature I stopped using the thermometer. I guess I forgot how long it takes to heat up the other day though.
        I put the muffins back in, turned up the temp just to be sure, and baked them for another 20 minutes, checking them often. Then I pretty much gave up and declared them done. They were mostly done and they solidified a bit as they cooled.
        Lesson learned? Use the oven thermometer! I also think the batter was a bit too liquidy. I will not rest till I get this recipe right! Next time I’ll use a little less buttermilk and probably less pear as well. The good news is, even with their slightly soggy centers, these muffins are DELICIOUS! They are cheesy, sweet, and protein packed. Lee’s dad, who sailed with us for this passage, loves doughy things so he really liked these.

Lee enjoying a muffin as we approached Newport.

Sorry for the unglamorous pictures. Food photography underway will take practice.


This is also my recipe for Fall Fest, which I am really enjoying. Visit A Way to Garden to find out more.


Pear Ricotta Muffins
Adapted from Cherry Ricotta Muffins from Mollie Katzen’s Sunlight Cafe.

1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons pumpkin puree (or butter, melted and cooled)
2 cups flour (I used about 3/4 whole wheat pastry – all I had left – and 1/4 whole wheat)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 very ripe pears, chopped very small

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs into the ricotta one at a time.
Add the buttermilk, pumpkin, sugar, and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and allspice.
Slowly stir dry ingredients into wet until barely mixed.
Fold in pear.
Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups with liners or greased with a little oil. Cups will be very full (you could also make more like 16 muffins with less in each cup).
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

You might want to cut down on the liquids and/or pear. Using butter instead of pumpkin might also help. As I said, I’ll be experimenting with this recipe and I’ll post an update on my success.


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