Category Archives: baking

peaches, bunk-beds and heat

It’s starting to get hot in the desert. The kind of hot where I don’t want any of my skin exposed to the unforgiving sun. The kind of hot where when you walk into the scrub, you worry about snakes and occasionally see a sand-colored iguana dart past you. The kind of hot where it’s more quiet than usual around noon. And the sky seems bluer than usual.

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It’s also peach season. Our peach tree, which yielded 18 peaches last year, has a few hundred this year. So I’m blanching and freezing them for smoothies. And on Saturday, I made my first pie ever from scratch, using this crust and this filling. I cut the sugar in half and didn’t put any on top. It was Meditteranean-style delicious where we could actually enjoy the sweetness of the peaches. Last night, A. and CM walked freshly-picked soft peaches to the neighbors.

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A. is working hard on building bunk-beds for the boys. Over the past few weeks, he’s taken over the garage cutting and sanding and assembling the wood. This weekend he painted. CM wanted green, so we picked out three shades on Friday, ultimately deciding on Happy Camper. We ordered mattresses — splurging for organic to avoid chemicals — and I’ll pick out some sheets this week. We hope to move CM into his new room by next month so we can shift CP into the crib.

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As for the boys, CM now has six imaginary friends, who are always with us, on our hikes, in the backyard, in the car: Bevi, Doc, Wood, More Wood, Mud and … wait for it… Jason. CP, who’s not quite three months, rolled over and is kicking and coo-ing and smiling all of the time. He’s a calm, happy baby who sleeps well, and that makes for a calm and happy me.

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sweet tooth, (mostly) healthy recipes

Ever since CP was born two months ago, my sweet tooth has been pestering me in a creepy horror film kind of way. There’s a low murmur in my head: “E., E., eaaaat me!” I don’t know if it was the amazingly delicious chocolate croissant I had within two hours of CP’s birth that set me off, but I’m fighting that voice in my head.

The thing is, I know that if I don’t satisfy my sweet tooth slightly, I’ll give myself over to the voice and make batch of crazy fattening oatmeal cookies and munch on at least 20 throughout the day.

So, along with making fruit smoothies, I’m seeking recipes that call for whole wheat flour (or are gluten free) as well as natural sweeteners like fruit, honey and maple syrup. And I’m making mini bites. That way, I can eat three or four guilt-free.

Here’s what I’ve made in the last few weeks that have been delicious (click on red to get to the recipe):

Chocolate Brownies (From the Longevity Kitchen cookbook by Rebecca Katz, made with maple syrup, almond flour and dark chocolate.)
photo 1-7Strawberry Cupcakes (I halved the frosting recipe, used only one cup of powdered sugar and frosted fewer than half of the cupcakes. I also used maple syrup and honey as the sweetener. I discovered that it’s tastier to eat them minus the frosting and doused in milk with extra strawberries.)
photo 2-9Banana Coconut Muffins (Made with whole wheat pastry flour and coconut oil. These were a hit at the park on Monday. I suggest doubling this recipe.)
photo-11 Orange Oatmeal Cookies (From the Healthy Kitchen cookbook by Rosie Daley. These are better cold, so I keep them in the freezer. And I make a batch at least every two weeks.)
photo-10Do you have any go-to “healthy” recipes that satisfy your sweet cravings?

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my first loaf of bread from scratch

One thing that’s been on my bucket list for years is to make bread from scratch. I remember having a conversation with a hippy named Seamus in a dark D.C. bar more than four years ago who said that making bread, building furniture and skiing where the three things that made him feel connected to the earth. I wasn’t interested in the guy, but those comments stayed with me.

One of the reasons we moved to the California desert nearly six months ago was to have time, space and money to do things we’ve always wanted to do. Here, the rents are cheap, the skies are blue and we have zero distractions, including obligations or places to go in town. That gives us energy to create.

Last week, I received an email from our farm box supplier Abundant Harvest Organics: “Our baker is going on a well-deserved two-week vacation.”

“Noooooooo!” I thought to myself.

And then I looked at the sky. Overcast. Actual clouds in our desert skies. I took that as a sign.

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So I bought some yeast and whole wheat flour and started the process while C. was napping. I halved the recipe because we have only one bread pan. And maybe I chose the right recipe on Epicurious, but the oatmeal wheat bread was easy. I kneaded it for about 10 minutes: the majority of the process was to let the bread rise.

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magic muffins: third time’s a charm

When A. and I went to stay with my aunt in Atascadero on the California coast for New Years, she offered us delicious magic muffins. Why are they magic? Because her friend, who’s a nutritionist, gave her the recipe and they’re not only addictive, but also full of good-for-you ingredients.

The first time I made them I cut my hand on the food processor and had to get five stitches (ow). The second time I made them, they were a little undercooked. I was beginning to think these muffins were cursed. Well, I made them yesterday, and I have to say that I nailed it.

I’ll admit, the recipe calls for skim milk and I pilfered from C.’s stash and used whole milk. I also didn’t fill the muffin tin to the top so that they cooked perfectly. Now, C. keeps asking for “muh-muh”s. They’re delicious and filling and perfect for travel and breakfast.

Blueberry Oat-Flax Muffins

(This recipe was in an old-fashioned binder. Now it’s digitized. Thanks Aunt. J.!)

muffins

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
3/4 cup flaxseed meal
3/4 cup rolled oats (not instant)
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
1 cup shredded carrots (peel on)
2 cups shredded apples (peel on) (I used Macintosh)
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub a bit of butter in the muffin tin.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, flax, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Mix in shredded carrots, apples and walnuts.

In a small bowl, mix together milk, beaten eggs and vanilla.

Gently add liquid mixture to dry ingredients. Don’t over mix. Fold in fresh blueberries.

Fill muffin tin almost to the top and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.

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these cookies may break my marriage

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Last Thursday evening, after dinner, A. and I had an argument that went something like this:

Me: “OK, we each get one cookie.”

A. takes two.

Me: “What are you doing?”

A.: “You’re not the boss of me.”

Me: “Um, I made those cookies.”

He pops both in his mouth.

A., with a full mouth: “Don’t be an a-hole.” (This made me laugh.)

I was trying to save the cookies for poker night the next evening. I had taken several cookies to the pottery party on Tuesday. And I was working on controlling my impulse to eat all of them during the day while I’m home with C.

So as A. and I played chess on the rug in our living room, I did some arithmetic in my head: “If there are five of us playing poker, and each of us has two cookies — and they won’t — that’s 10. We have 12. That means I can eat two more. One tonight and one tomorrow during the day.”

So, while it was A.’s turn, I went to the kitchen and returned with a cookie. Just one. For me. And a grin on my face.

“Mmmmm,” I said.

A. shook his head. “Unbelievable. You probably hid them, too.”

I had. I put them in a different cupboard, hoping he wouldn’t see them.

You see, I’m pretty good at turning down desserts. Or, at least, controlling how much of them I eat. But these cookies are my weakness. I made them the night before I went into labor for the labor-and-delivery nurses, and it was the first thing I ate after C. was born and I was in heaven.

Now they may break up my marriage, and yet, like an addict, I keep making more. I made another batch on Sunday for a barbeque and they’re currently taunting me on the counter. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to eat them before A. gets home.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Warning: These cookies are dangerous.

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Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup of semisweet chocolate chips

Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Add the quick oats — spreading them out evenly if possible — and then the chocolate┬áchips. Put in the refrigerator for an hour or more.

Preheat the oven to 335 degrees F.

Drop heaping spoonfuls onto un-greased baking sheets.

Bake for 14 minutes. Let them cool for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack or wax paper to cool completely. Indulge.

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