Over sharing

I’ve been away from this space for far too long, and it’s making me twitchy. Almost every day I think about posting something, but then I realize I don’t have a photo, or wonder if it’s too easy/difficult/ordinary/bizarre to bother sending out into the ether, or I can’t read my notes; and then I get irritable and go into my kitchen and make something that I know someone else out there might appreciate, but I forget to take a picture (or it turns out really shitty because my house of windows is also a house of shade trees and gets almost no natural light), and it starts all over again. Bah!

I don’t aspire to be a fancy pants food blogger. I only think to check stats when I realize I made a big typo in an ingredient list and worry about how many people might have made the recipe. I’m too busy to finish my cookbook proposal. But when someone sends me an e-mail gushing about how much my recipe for something or other made their day, well, it makes my day, too. I use this site as my personal recipe repository – there are dozens of recipes that live in draft status, for the reasons I listed at the top of this post. Once I tweak a recipe to exactly how my family and I like it and I go to the trouble of transcribing it to this site, I guess I could just share it, right? And then maybe I won’t be so twitchy.

CMR-noted

In times of desperation I may simply post this. ^^

Because absolutely no one cares but I can’t stop thinking about it so I’m going to over share: a few things that make me twitchy. The word y’all. Andrea in The Walking Dead. The smell of anything fishy, including seaweed. Intentionally misspelled words. Noisy children. Not being able to tell Nina why I get choked up over certain characters in the Harry Potter series because we’re only midway through book four and oh, so many of them are going to die! Anyone who doesn’t recognize Stephen King as a genius storyteller based on his writing and not the genre.

CMR-before

Moving on!

So here’s the thing: I’m going to start putting more of my recipes out there. The boring ones, the really complicated why-would-anyone-bother ones, the accidentally genius-to-me ones. Even the one pot meals that I fear my family will have to subsist on once law school starts in a few weeks. If it’s good enough to make my personal recipe archive, it guess it might be good enough to share.

CMR-after

 

Cherry macaroon tart with muscovado and rye

§ § §

Muscovado, rye flour, and dark, heady fruit are one of my favorite combinations. I’ve made this tart with blackberries and plums in the past, depending on the season. The crust can easily be made gluten free by substituting buckwheat flour for the rye. I use a tapioca slurry in place of egg white for the macaroon topping, which gives it a nice sheen. Flax-thickened water made with whole seeds (which are strained out) also works well, if you have the extra time; you can add the strained seeds to the crust. I find that arrowroot gets too gummy, and cornstarch makes the topping dull.

§ § §

3/4 cup almond meal
3/4 cup rye flour (or buckwheat flour for gluten free)
3/4 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut
1/4 cup muscovado sugar, lightly packed
6 – 8 tablespoons natural cane sugar, depending on the sweetness of your berries
1/2 cup melted coconut oil

1 1/2 cups cherries, pitted and halved

1 1/2 cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut
1/2 cup natural cane sugar

2 tablespoons tapioca flour
1/2 cup water

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 F / 160 C. Line the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish or tart pan with parchment.

Combine the almond meal, rye flour, shredded coconut, and sugars in a large bowl and whisk to incorporate, taking care to break up any lumps. Add the melted coconut oil and combine; the mixture should be damp and sandy, and stick together when pressed between your fingers. Transfer the mixture to your lined dish and distribute evenly. Set aside the bowl to use for the macaroon topping. Using a silicone spatula or dampened fingers, press the crust into the bottom of the dish. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 350F / 180C.

While the crust is baking, combine the additional shredded coconut and sugar for the macaroon topping in your bowl; set aside. In a small saucepan, whisk together the tapioca flour and water. Place over low heat and whisk until it just starts to thicken and turn glossy, one to two minutes. Remove from heat, whisk once more to make sure it’s smooth, and add to the macaroon ingredients, taking care to scrape out any last bit clinging to the sides of the pan. Mix the macaroon ingredients together until well combined; there should not be any dry coconut in the bowl.

Spread the cherries evenly over the crust. Add dollops of macaroon topping in between the spaces, around the edges, and over the top until used up. There should be bits of cherries poking up here and there. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or the macaroon peaks are golden brown. Cool before slicing.

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 40-45 minutes, divided

Kitchen garden tour // chocolate beet root cake

Indoors, my husband’s minimalist nature prevails; outdoors, my maximalist nature is unhindered. More is more! I often refer to the steps leading from the back of my house onto the grounds as my happy place. From a distance, my teensy weensy, one story, 1,000 square foot old-but-not-too-old farm cottage appears to dwarf the small beds that flank both sides of the concrete stairway. When you’re standing on those steps, though, the beds take on a life of their own.

1. house

To your right, a small but vigorous patch of wild strawberries that produce all summer long. To your left, a tiny kitchen garden with chives, oregano, thyme, lavender and marjoram spilling onto your feet. The steps and back wall are lined with pots containing anything from shade-loving greens to a bay laurel tree, and a grotesque named Gargoyle. The opposite edge is lined with dahlias, sunflowers and lemon balm, and the front is guarded by our gnome. Inside this illusory boundary, it’s organized chaos. Greens overflow from a central raised bed year round – what we don’t eat I let bolt and feed them to the hens. Green and purple shiso form a carpet over the garden floor. I’ll let an entire patch of carrots, cabbage or onions go to seed just so I can marvel at the flowers. Flats of seedlings are lined up wherever they’ll fit, preempting the soon-to-be basil forest into a nursery. In addition to the toads, frogs and turtles that take advantage of Nina’s carefully arranged broken and side-turned pots and the thicket of Japanese knotweed I can never completely eradicate, we have blue-striped skinks who live in the cracks around the stairs and scurry from bed to bed along the side of the house. It feels like another world.

2. strawberries+chives3. kitchen garden collage4. dahlias et al

Continuing to walk around the house is the tea garden, anchored by a small wisteria tree and a sea of irises. This past winter was not kind to my turmeric and ginger roots, lemongrass, nettles, catnip or chamomile; the bed is presently a chocolate mint garden. I’ll be replanting everything in pots and troughs so I can move them around if next winter is surly.  Next to the tea garden is a butterfly bush and scrub grass. My goal is to turn it into a rock and succulent garden by summer’s end. Parallel to these beds is our rose trellis. On a whim, my husband lashed a few scraggly vines up off the ground so Nina wouldn’t cut herself on thorns while chasing Goblin. The roses have all but taken over the south side of the house. I use the petals for cooking all summer long, and collect rose hips for tea in early winter.

5. Goblin+mint 6. chocolate mint 7. scrub garden 8. rose trellis

In front, we have one bed completely overgrown with wild blackberry vines, and another that’s home to anything that catches Nina’s eye when we visit the nursery. This autumn the blackberry vines will be replaced with peonies, mums, and maybe a gardenia. The other bed has Chinese lantern and balloon flowers, hostas, caladiums, sweet potato vines,  variegated grasses – anything that tolerates partial shade. Around the corner, the north side of the house is home to hydrangeas, butterfly bushes, allspice and holly trees, giant blue hostas, and my rhubarb. A few feet away is another overgrown bed that I’m going to turn into a moon garden. It’s anchored by ginkgo and Japanese maple trees.

9. future peonies 10. collage 11. ginko+maple

That was an awfully long walk around my house! Next week I’ll take you through my main garden, our fledgling orchard, and the arbor.

But first, cake.

A few months ago, I bought a cookbook based solely on the photo and text of one recipe. This is not unusual behavior for me. But the tiptoeing around this recipe, my not wanting to be disappointed outweighing the challenge of omitting a scant cup of butter and five eggs from a highly lauded recipe by a renowned author and chef? Very unusual. And then I saw the most beautiful bundle of beet roots at the farmers’ market, stopped myself from asking if they were any good (it’s way past beet season here), dug my best quality chocolate out of the freezer, and made the best damned chocolate cake I’ve had in a good long while.

cakeThis is what happens if you touch your cake before it cools. Consider yourself warned.

Chocolate beet root cake

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This is my vegan interpretation of Nigel Slater’s Extremely Moist Chocolate Beet Cake, from Tender. Have no fear – it does not contain five eggs’ worth of egg replacer or a scant cup of oil subbed for the butter. What it does contain is seven ounces of best quality bittersweet chocolate, and this is non-negotiable. You’ll need to take great care when melting your chocolate, which is easier than it sounds. Simply place a heatproof bowl inside a skillet of barely simmering water, and stir stir stir. This cake is dusty on top, but incredibly moist. I serve it topped with homemade vegan crème fraîche and poppy seeds, but it tastes (almost as) good without.

§ § §

7-8 ounces beets (3 small/medium)
7 ounces best quality chocolate (70% cocoa solids), cut into half-inch size pieces
1/4 cup hot espresso
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups white spelt flour
1 cup natural cane sugar
3 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Vegan crème fraîche and poppy seeds, for serving

Boil the beets, whole and unpeeled, in unsalted water until fork tender, 30 to 40 minutes depending on their size. Cool under running water, remove the peel, top and tail, and place in a food processor. Pulse a few times until coarsely puréed.

While the beets are cooling, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Lightly oil an 8-inch round springform cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment. If you don’t have a springform pan, you can turn this out onto a plate once it has cooled, but it will be a little messy.

Melt the chocolate in a small bowl set inside a skillet of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until melted. Add the espresso and olive oil and stir until smooth and glossy. Remove from the heat.

Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa and baking powders, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the melted chocolate mixture, almond milk, apple cider vinegar and almond extract to the bowl, and gently stir until fully incorporated. Gently fold in the pureed beets.

Pour into the prepared cake pan and transfer to the oven. Immediately decrease the heat to 325 degrees, and bake for 50 minutes. The top of the cake will look dry, especially around the edges, but it will feel springy to the touch. In the last few minutes of baking, the center of the cake will fall. Once the cake has cooled completely, carefully loosen around the edge with a thin icing spatula or butter knife before removing the ring. Serve with vegan crème fraiche and poppy seeds.

Prep time: 10 minutes | Stovetop time: 30-40 minutes | Oven time: 50 minutes

Pre-garden tour // five minute miso cashew chèvre

I’ve been meaning to give a garden tour for ages, one of the entire grounds. It’s a lot – my gardens and beds are spread out over 15 acres, and every time I think about it I get overwhelmed. Until I finally realized that I don’t have to do it all at once, and then I got excited! Starting next week, with my kitchen garden, I’m going to give you mini tours of this wee little farm I love so much.

The recipe I’m sharing today pairs really well with a lot of things growing in my kitchen garden right now, both sweet and savory.

kitchen garden cross sectionThe corner of my kitchen garden, home to sprawling herbs, many pots of various sizes, and full of hidden frog and lizard burrows.
kitchen garden toad and frog Most of the pots offer temporary housing to seedlings or plants while I decide on their permanent places of residence. They are also home to many a burrowing toad; Nina made a temporary dwelling for a couple of toads we found in a pot while transferring plants. After everything was put back in order, we released them back into the garden.
kitchen garden VastraThis photo of Vastra was taken a few weeks ago – the bed of greens behind her is now completely overgrown, despite us cutting salad greens every day. I leave a ground cover of chickweed year-round, so that when the girls jump their fence and make a beeline for the garden, they’re distracted enough that we can catch them. Don’t feel sorry for Vastra! She and her flock has a very nice fenced in dwelling, which I’ll show you during an upcoming tour.
tangy cashew chevre w. radishesA dark rye tartine with homegrown radishes and chive blossoms.
tangy cashew chevre lunch prep
tangy cashew chevre lunch tartinesTartines for lunch, left to right: last night’s radish leaves and a pepper from the farmers’ market; radish leaves and chive blossoms; homegrown strawberries and mint.

 

Five minute miso cashew chèvre

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This reminds me of chèvre – delightfully tangy, with a hint of sweetness that is only detectable when you aren’t looking for it. It’s a soft cashew cheese, one that isn’t cultured that I like to make while I wait for my cultured cheeses to hurry up already. I make it in small batches in my mini Cuisinart, which has graced my many kitchens since 1995. I don’t bother soaking my cashews; it’s such a small amount that they turn to powder with just a few pulses of the blade. When Nina wants to get in on the action, I let her pulverize the cashews in a spice grinder – not necessary, but very gratifying. And truth be told, even faster than the food processor.

§ § §

1 cup raw cashew pieces
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon shiro miso
2 tablespoons water

Add your cashews to the food processor and blitz until powdered. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Add additional water if necessary – you want the texture to be similar to whipped cream cheese. Will keep in the refrigerator for a week or so.

Prep time: 5 minutes | Yield: about 1 cup

Yep, my dad was right

In the summer of 2001 I was divorcing my first husband, high tailing it out of a town I didn’t want to live in, and had my sights set on joining one of two friends as soon as the ink dried on my divorce papers: either a sorority sister who had just moved to downtown Chicago, or one of my closest high school friends who was leaving Chicago for NYC. After a lifetime of bouncing around Iowa, Illinois, then back to Iowa while growing up, I didn’t feel at home anywhere and wanted to get as far away from the Midwest as humanly possible (on the shoestring budget of a newly divorced twenty-something). My father got a little misty eyed and said something to the effect of “If you move to New York, you’ll never want to move anywhere else, ever again. But it would be great if you decide to give Chicago a chance, even if it’s just for a few years.” He said it with reverence and nostalgia for the New York he immigrated to several decades earlier as a teenager.

By the time my divorce was finalized I decided to humor my parents and scheduled one day of back-to-back interviews in Chicago, just in case my friend John’s laissez-faire advice of “Move here. Crash at my place. You’ll totally find something!” didn’t pan out. My interviews were on the 11th of September. I ended up moving to Chicago.

Chicago was the first – the only – place I’ve ever truly felt at home. I moved there on the weekend of the Chicago Marathon (I ran my first of several the very next year), lived next door to the most beautiful library I’ve ever laid eyes on, dated half the city, knew the Lake Michigan running path like the back of my hand, cocooned myself in a very large vegan bubble, and despite my very best efforts managed to meet someone worth marrying and even let him knock me up. I swore up and down that I would never ever ever leave Chicago. (I still don’t know how I ended up in North Carolina, but we’re having a blast.)

That fella I married almost a decade ago, well, we took a little trip to Brooklyn Heights last week. We’ve both been to NYC on our own, but I wasn’t married and definitely wasn’t a parent my last visit out, so I was seeing things through a different prism.  We tromped around a couple of the boroughs, but really we just settled into the Heights and soaked it all up while I thought to myself, yep, my dad was right.

red door blue bikeFDNY 205Peaks b&wpromenadejapanese magnolia envycasting shadows on brickbedroom window

 

sunrise sun rise

Obligatory sunrise photos from the promenade.

 

TeresasThe reason my mother-in-law was worried I wouldn’t find anything to eat? She dined at Teresa’s almost every night, and yes, it was difficult finding something vegan. Smack dab in the middle of their menu was a rocket-radicchio-pear salad that was so big I needed help to finish it. Unexpected victory never tasted better.

 

CHAMPSA quick hop and transfer on the MTA led us to this joint, which was in the vicinity of Nitehawk Cinema (we’re cinema folks; it made us very very happy).

 

Veg GingerNestled atop some eatery called Andy’s is a Chinese vegan mecca.

The green awning above Andy’s was home to Vegetarian Ginger, a vegan restaurant we stumbled into our first afternoon in BH, mostly because it was two blocks from the apartment. We hadn’t eaten anything of substance in about twelve hours, and after a horrible Griswaldesque start to our vacation of which our four hour flight delay was the least of our annoyances, we were so hungry that we ordered two appetizers and three entrees. Several days later, I’m still dreaming about the miso mushroom soup and pineapple avocado rice I had there.  Last night while walking the grounds I still had them in mind as I picked some green garlic and baby kale. I worked out how to combine the components of both dishes into one, and my new favorite Buddha bowl was on the table an hour later.

buddha bowlsI promise the food tastes umpteen million times better than it looks!

Pineapple avocado Buddha bowl with mushrooms and green garlic

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This dish is very adaptable to whatever vegetables are in season. I went with white rice because I was out of brown, but I know I’ll make this again with quinoa, millet or barley. I especially like the combination of having both cooked and raw components; I shredded my raw vegetables and folded them into the rice with the miso, which had just enough warmth to wilt them without overheating the miso. A simple dusting of hemp hearts finished this dish off, but I think sliced almonds, cashews, or a spicy peanut sauce would also be lovely. It’s a nourishing bowl, intended to soothe your current cravings.

§ § §

1 1/2 cups short grain rice
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 cup pineapple chunks, fresh or frozen
1 cup sliced mushrooms of choice
1 stalk green garlic, thinly sliced, divided
Dash each of ground ginger, ground coriander, and white pepper
1 carrot, grated
3-4 leaves baby kale, minced (size of grated carrot)
2 tablespoons shiro (white) miso
1/2 avocado, diced
2 tablespoons hemp hearts

Rinse the rice briefly one or two times in a fine sieve, then combine in a heavy-bottomed pot with 2 cups water. Bring the pot to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cover tightly. After twenty minutes, check once to make sure the water has all been absorbed; if not, let it simmer a few more minutes, taking care that the rice at the bottom of the pan doesn’t scorch. Turn off the heat but keep the rice covered for another ten minutes to let it rest.

In a small skillet or sauté pan, heat up the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the pineapple pieces and brown them on both sides. Turn the flame down to medium and add half of the sliced garlic, all of the sliced mushrooms, and the ground spices. Stir frequently until the mushrooms are wilted and have released most of their water; remove from heat and leave uncovered.

When the rice is done resting, remove the lid, fluff it with a fork, and let it cool for a couple of minutes. Add one cup of cooked rice to a bowl. Fold in 1 tablespoon miso, half of the carrot and kale, and half of the remaining uncooked garlic. Once this is mixed, make room in the bowl for half of the pineapple-mushroom mixture, and half of the avocado. Repeat for the second bowl, mixing the remainder of the carrot, kale, garlic and miso into the rice, and adding the remaining pineapple mixture and avocado to the second bowl. Sprinkle each with one tablespoon of hemp hearts, and serve while still warm.

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes active, 40 total | Yield: 2 bowls

Breakfast for dinner

 

Saturday morning drizzleEverything is better when lemon icing is involved, even a Saturday morning school make up day.

Nina’s love for the written word is at that stage where she’ll read anything within reach. Comic books, chapter books, the back of a cereal box, whatever I’ve downloaded on my Kindle.

It wasn’t long before she started reaching for my cookbooks, especially anything with ‘vegan’ in the title . A few weeks ago she shouted “Tonight, blueberry waffles!” from the living room, and just like that, she also took over menu planning.

The Readerpage three

Ni reads recipes with intent, quizzing me about ingredients (always fun when she mispronounces them), memorizing the steps, and preemptively chastising me if anything I’ve ever done in the history of our time in the kitchen together these past seven years contradicts a recipe’s Notes. This intensity means she has the energy to read through exactly one recipe most nights, usually from the first chapter of a book.

We had a lot of breakfast for dinner before I rearranged the cookbooks.

blueberry teff waffles

 

Blueberry teff sourdough waffles with lemon icing

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Any sourdough starter will work in this recipe, but teff is especially suited, flavor-wise, to blueberries. (Rye would be my second choice.) Also! My teff sourdough starter smells like apples, and this makes me want to put it in everything. I started it several months ago while testing recipes for Kittee’s Ethiopian cookbook, and it’s now the only sourdough starter in my refrigerator. Oh yeah, and it’s gluten free to boot. In case you don’t recognize the book Nina’s holding, she plucked this gem from Lauren Ulm’s Vegan Yum Yum.  As with most recipes in my cookbooks, I made it once as written, modified the heck out of it (which usually means making it from memory alone and letting instinct take over), and then scribbled all over the recipe page when I got it just so. The lemon icing is very sweet, the waffles not so much. Definitely use muscovado sugar if you have it;  turbinado is also quite good. To make these gluten free, substitute an all purpose gluten free flour blend for the white spelt and add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum.

§ § §

For the waffles:
1 1/2 cups white spelt flour
2 tablespoons muscovado sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
6 ounces unsweetened plain coconut or soy yogurt
1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup teff sourdough starter
3 tablespoons coconut or sunflower oil
1 heaping cup fresh or frozen blueberries

For the icing:
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons almond milk, more if needed to thin

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the yogurt, almond milk, starter and oil. Whisk together until just incorporated, and then fold in the blueberries. Let the batter rest while you prepare the icing.

Preheat a waffle iron and brush or spray it with oil. Cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions – a heaping 1/2 cup batter in my iron makes a 7-inch waffle. Serve immediately, or keep warm in a 200 F / 93 C oven.

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 5-7 minutes per waffle | Yield: 5 7-inch waffles

Of late

lemon cake

I finally started watching the West Wing, and every time Bradley Whitford comes on screen I immediately remember his license plates from that long ago 80s movie and have to suppress the urge to whisper “so cool” at the television.

I’m also watching Newsroom. Our house is bursting at the seams with Sorkin-speak and idealism!

she's all disco hat and long legs

before

after

The Southeast got a kiss from father winter, and we took advantage of our snow the few days it lasted.

tracking tracks

snow

My girl is getting tall. At this rate she’ll tower over me by the time she’s 12.

I’ve taken the occasional break from Sorkin to chip away at a very long movie queue: Take Shelter, What Maisie Knew, The Place Beyond the Pines, Before Midnight, Robot & Frank, the Master, Mud, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Solaris were worth the wait.

(I am loathe to admit I finally watched the Hangover. NOT WORTH THE WAIT.)

I started planning – and planting! – my gardens. Dahlias, greens, alliums, brassicas, dahlias, radishes, carrots, and more dahlias are going into various pots/my cold frame/the ground this weekend.

winter gnome

I joined the cult of Instagram.

I’ve been up to my elbows in Meyer lemons, making this cake every chance I get.

cake be gone

Lemon olive oil cake

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I wanted to call this Sunken Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Almond and Yogurt, but it seemed a bit wordy. All of these components come together to make a cake that’s dense and airy at the same time, with a tender crumb and a crunchy rind where the sugar in the batter caramelizes against the edge of the pan. This cake will slowly rise, rise, rise for the first half hour or so, until – poof! – it collapses onto itself. Fear not! It’s supposed to collapse. If you have a springform pan, it will make plating the cake a little bit easier. If you use a regular cake pan, no biggie; just use two plates. Place plate #1 on top of the cake pan, give it a quick flip, and then carefully invert it onto plate #2. If you don’t have lemons on hand, Meyer or otherwise, other citrus will do. I’ve made this cake with grapefruit, blood orange, and even clementines with success. Lastly, and most important – I’ll have a gluten free version of this to share in the coming weeks, and cupcakes, too.

§ § §

3/4 cup white spelt flour
1/2 cup whole spelt flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup plain coconut yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F / 180 C. Oil and flour an 8-inch round cake pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, almond meal, sugar, baking soda and powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, lemon zest and juice. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, being careful not to overmix. Pour the cake batter into the floured pan and smooth out the top. Place in the center of the oven and bake for about 50 minutes, until the cake forms a golden crust on top, feels springy to the touch, and the edges have pulled away from the pan. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack while still in its pan for ten minutes before transferring to a plate. Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing. It tastes even better on the second day, if you manage to save a slice that long.

Prep time: 10 minutes | Oven time: 50 minutes

Not a zombie apocalypse

Snow days are a rare occurrence in the Southeast. Sleet, ice, black ice, freezing rain, or about thirty seconds’ worth of snow that turns immediately into sleet, ice, or freezing rain (aka ‘wintry mix’) – pretty standard fare ’round here.

12504056255_ca75c1e4aa_bContrary to popular belief, writing in one’s book is not always a sign of boredom of hoodlumdom // no one is safe from the veganizer/deglutenizer, including Ms. Swanson

A bona fide snowfall that comes down so fast and heavy that my footprints from walking out to the pond are completely filled in by the time I make one loop and head back to the house? Until yesterday, I would have put my money on a zombie apocalypse happening first.

12504534764_86dec42a45_bNot zombie food

The possibility of losing power last night loomed large (and may very well happen tonight), so we took the usual precautions: charged all of our phones and various devices; filled up the cars with petrol; cooked giants pots of rice and beans and squash sauce; stocked up on bottled water, bread, chips and wine; and made a few favorite family treats, including these muffins.

For the record, I think all of these things would also come in handy for a zombie apocalypse.

12504056415_6959ac0800_bNary a blue streak // take the time to coat your berries in flour and you will not be disappointed

Blueberry millet muffins

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If you’ve never tasted millet before, it has a mild, sweet flavor not unlike cornmeal. I often grind it into flour for baking, but I really like the way the teensy seeds pop between my teeth when left whole. I used frozen wild blueberries in these muffins, but I imagine just about any berry would do. These are both gluten and gum free; I use whole flax seeds to bind and leaven. Maple syrup is my sweetener of choice, lending these a rich honeyed flavor.

§ § §

4 teaspoons whole flax seeds + 1/2 cup water
1 cup superfine brown rice flour (single-milled brown rice flour will also work)
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons potato starch
1/3 cup raw millet
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup plain coconut or soy yogurt
1/2 cup olive or sunflower oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
grated zest and juice from one lemon
1/2 cup blueberries (if using frozen, do not thaw)
1 tablespoon sorghum or brown rice flour to coat berries

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 F / 205 C. Line or lightly oil a 12-cup muffin tin.

First, prepare your flax eggs. Stovetop: Combine the flax seeds and water in a small saucepan and bring to a low simmer for five minutes. The water may or may not begin to thicken; this is okay. Remove the saucepan from heat and proceed with the rest of the recipe. Microwave: In a large heatproof bowl, combine 1/2 cup boiling water with the flax seeds; microwave on high for 40 seconds; set aside and proceed with the rest of the recipe.

In a small bowl, toss the berries in 1 tablespoon of flour; set aside.

Whisk together the flours, starches, millet, baking soda and powder, and salt. In another  bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, syrup, lemon zest and juice, and flax-water mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just incorporated. Carefully fold in the berries and any excess flour. Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 muffin cups; they should be filled 2/3-3/4 from the top.

Bake for 20 minutes, turning halfway to ensure even browning. The muffins are ready when they smell nutty and the tops are just starting to crack. Take the tins out of the oven and twist each muffin out of its cup, turning it on its side in the cup to cool.

These taste best if eaten the same day they are made, but will hold up well for up to two days stored in an airtight container.

Prep time: 15 minutes | Oven time: 20 minutes