Archive for the 'Food' Category

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

It’s autumn. The days are getting chillier. I’m in the mood to bake. So you may end up seeing a lot recipes and food photos in the coming weeks. Here is a simple recipe for banana oatmeal muffins. They are easily made vegan by using a milk substitute and egg-replacer. In this case, I used a cornstarch and water mixture, but you can use a store-bought kind like Ener-G Egg Replacer. Just follow the directions for making one egg. I’ve also read you can use arrowroot powder in the same manner and measurements that I used the cornstarch. I’ve never done this and would love to hear how well it works if you have.

I was inspired by a recipe I found in a little, vintage community cookbook. The original called for oil but I went for apple sauce for a healthier alternative.

Banana Oatmeal Muffins
Makes about 12 muffins

1/2 cup sour* milk of choice
1 egg, beaten OR 1 tablespoon cornstarch whisked into 3 tablespoons water
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 medium very ripe banana, mashed (about 1/2 cup)**
1/3 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

*I used almond milk this time but cow, rice, soy, etc would all work. To make it “sour” just add 1 1/2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. Stir well and let sit for a few minutes, until it starts to “curdle.”

**If you thaw a frozen very-ripe banana, you’ll get more flavor and juice from the banana. Whenever you have bananas getting black, pop them in the freezer until you are ready to use them in yummy baked goods. Take them out to thaw, mash and add the goodness to your recipe.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a small bowl, add the vinegar to the milk to make it “sour.” Let sit for a few minutes.

In another small bowl beat your egg or whisk the cornstarch and water until it’s well dissolved.

Now, in a mixing bowl, sift together the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Add in sour milk, egg or cornstarch mixture, mashed banana and apple sauce and stir with spoon until well incorporated. Don’t over-mix though. The trick to muffin batter is to not play with it too much.

Fold in the chopped nuts.

Spoon into a greased muffin tins, about 1/2 to 2/3 full.

(You can sprinkle a little extra brown sugar or white crystal sugar on top, if you want.)

Bake for about 15 minutes or until nicely browned and baked through. (If you insert a toothpick, it should come out clean.)

Feel free to double or triple this recipe and freeze the extras.

Printable Recipe Document (with image.)
Printable Recipe Document (text only.)

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Liesl Made Blueberry Agave Muffins

Back in March of 2011 I shared a recipe for Blueberry muffins sweetened with agave. The original recipe called for sugar but at that time I was experimenting more with alternative sweeteners. So I altered it to use agave and have since made them many, many times that way. They are kind of my go-to baked good. It’s really just one bowl and one muffin tin. Easy to make, easy to clean up and (a bit too) easy to eat.

I haven’t been doing much baking this summer so this recipe lingered, neglected with all my other recipes on the shelf. But autumn in here now and I have the urge to bake. Plus a reader recently asked if the vegetable oil could be replaced with coconut oil. Which is a perfect idea since I am trying to add variety to my diet with more natural fats and oils. I did a little research and you can easily substitute coconut oil with vegetable oil at at 1:1 ratio when baking. (If you want you can skip the coconut and use the same amount of vegetable oil, like in the old recipe.) Maybe someday I’ll try it with butter instead. Because, who doesn’t love buttery muffins?

Recently someone also said they quadrupled the batch and they turned out too salty. I just did a double batch (therefore double the salt) with no problems. But I thought it was worth noting to keep in mind that someone had that problem, in case you are looking to make massive amounts of these.

Another helpful tip: Swirl some of the melted coconut oil in your measuring cup before measuring the agave—it helps the sticky syrup slip right out.

I’m also using larger blueberries. In the old recipe, I used the wild Maine blueberries. The larger ones are bit harder to work with in the batter but you get an awesome burst of blueberry goodness when you bite into one!

New Blueberry Agave Muffins
(makes about 8-12 muffins, depending on size desired)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup agave nectar
3/4 cup milk (soy/almond/cow’s/rice/etc)
1/8 cup or 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
3/4 cup frozen blueberries

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

In a bowl combine dry ingredients.

Stir in wet ingredients until you have a nice thick batter.

Fold in blueberries.

Spoon into greased muffin tins, about half to three-quarters full.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until done and just getting browned on the top. Cooking time may be a little less or a little more depending on how big your tins are.

(Some folks in this house like a little crunch from crystal sugar sprinkled on top, so that is what you see on some of the muffins in the photos. If you allow sugar in your diet, feel free to do the same.)

I also used frozen sweet cherries in place of the blueberries and they were quite good. I just recommend you cut the cherries into quarters (or at least halves) before adding to the batter.

I’ve been experimenting trying to make them gluten free. I’ll share a recipe if I am successful.

Printable document (with image.)
Printable document (text only.)

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Weekly Finds

My Mom made a peach pie (while the peaches are still in season.) Wasn’t exactly the prettiest thing, but I hear it was delicious.
"Sun" Dried Tomatoes
I came across this post (via someone in blogland or pinterest, can’t remember who/where) and decided to make up some “sun” dried tomatoes. I simply washed them up, cut in half and dried in the dehydrator until done. Now I’ll freeze them and we can rehydrate them for use in pasta dishes or other dishes to bring a little summer into our winter. (Do you use sun dried tomatoes? Have any great ideas on how to use them?)
(I’m also hoping to make some tomato confit today, with the excess of Roma tomatoes we have.)
Zucchini "Fries"
Inspired by this, I made some zucchini fries. Mine turned out a little soggy but were still tasty.
New reads from the library and the mail to indulge in this weekend: Anthro catalog, Whole Living, Making It (Also one + one, which I flipped through and returned.)

I very much loved Soulemama’s post Convalescence. Well said, lady.

Normally, lists like this seem to only state the obvious. And perhaps this one does too, but for some reason I found it really helpful right now.

Yellow Bird Project

My photo was featured in this “making everyday beautiful: hello September” collage over at emma lamb.

Really digging this song. And this one. And this one, too.

I have a roll of film being developed at the local drug store, so expect a film photography post soon.

What have you been finding and enjoying this week?

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Fresh Ginger Tea

Fresh Ginger Tea
I think my all-time favorite tea is ginger. There is something so crisp yet so spicy and warm about it. Plus it’s got lots of great health perks.

I used to buy store-bought ginger tea but once I started making fresh, there was no going back. The dried stuff is fine in a pinch, but in comparison, it so mild and flat. I found myself often adding too much sweetener to jazz it up. But when I make it fresh, it has such a burst of flavor that sweetness isn’t necessary. (Though, I’ll admit it is nice to add a little!)

So today, I’m going to share a super simple recipe/how-to for fresh ginger tea.

Fresh Ginger Tea

You’ll need:

+2 quarts of water (about 8 cups)
+between 5-8 ounces of fresh ginger root (depending on your strength preference)
+lemon juice (optional)

Also: a sauce pan/pot, mason jar or glass jar(s)/pitcher(s)/containers(s) for storing, fine strainer, funnel (if necessary), knife or spoon

(Alternatively, you can boil 8 cups of water in a kettle and then steep in a bowl or pitcher, voiding the need for a sauce pan. And I’m sure you can use a tea bag or tea ball and void the need for a strainer.)

This recipe makes a strong flavored tea. I like to think of it almost as a concentrate. It usually put ice cubes in mine or add a little water, which is why I prefer a strong base. I’ve found I’d rather have it too strong (and scale it back) than too weak.

First off, start heating up your water in a saucepan. I use two mason jars to store my tea in the fridge, so I fill them with water then dumped that water in the pan to measure.

Then you want to rinse off/wash off your root. For a size reference, you’ll probably need one or more rhizomes equaling about the size of your palm.

Next you remove the skin. My preferred method is similar to peeling a potato: I hold it in my hand and peel it with a paring knife. However, because ginger roots can be so knobby (and the skin so thin), some folks swear that the edge of a spoon is best to get in all the nooks and crannies.

Now you don’t want to drop the whole meaty chunk into water. Instead you want to slice the knob into thin slices. You basically you want to create as much surface area as you can to suck as much of the flavor out as possible.

Now I drop those in the water in the pot. (You can also add a little splash of lemon juice, if you’d like.)

Bring to a rolling boil.

Turn the heat off but leave the pan/pot on the burner. Leave the lid on.

Set the timer for about 10 minutes.

After that I remove from the burner and take off the lid and let it cool for a few minutes.

Next I run it through a fine mesh strainer and a funnel into my mason jars. (this is how I rig my set up.)

Now let them cool on the counter until they are safe enough to put in the fridge. (I put the lids on when they are hot and it actually creates a vacuum seal.)

I usually drink mine up with one to two weeks so I can vouch for that fridge-life. Beyond that, I’m not sure how long it’ll last.

I always end up with a little sediment in the bottom each time. I pour/drink until I reach that and toss it. I don’t see how it could hurt but I’m not too interested in it.

Serve in a glass with ice and a little sweetener, if you wish. Or reheat at any time for a warming, spicy tea.

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Gratitude Sunday

I feel like I am getting back to the regular blogging swing now. I have some posts planned (mostly old ones I never got around to sharing.) I’m finding blogging is beneficial to me. I really appreciate being able to let go of all this here, put it out there, share it. And the icing on the cake? That a handful of folks are actually interested in reading my ramblings and seeing my photos. Thank you.

Speaking of appreciation:

I recently came across Gratitude Sunday and decided to participate. It’s easy to focus on the negative. But really, I (and many of us—if you can read this, if you have access to a luxury like a computer and internet connection, you’re better off than many folks in the world) are lucky creatures. I need to realize this more, acknowledge it more.

We have been going through a lot in this house lately. It seems each of us is fighting a personal battle and then on top of that, a couple weeks ago, we got word that our lives would change and our security here was put into question. We are heading into new waters: it might be rough or it might be smooth sailing. But we’ve got each other. This little unit of five. Always.

I need to start focusing on all I have to be grateful for. This weekly recognition and declaration of gratitude here could help.

This week I am grateful for:

-A successful garden and a freezer packed with food. (We are actually on the lookout for second cheap/used chest freezer.)

-Tasty (homegrown) dinners. Especially when eaten outside. (Roasted green beans and onions, sauteed zucchini and summer squash, beets, and fresh ginger tea.)

-Music. I know that a pretty broad thing but it’s so important to me. There is little else that makes me feel safe and sound than getting lost in some tunes. (Most recent find: Of Monsters and Men)

-To live in a four seasons clime. (That is on the cusp of my favorite season of all.)

-Receiving hugs. Lots and lots of them. (Especially when the hugger doesn’t mind dropping what they are doing to give one.)

-Remembering my family’s past here and hoping for it’s future.

-Textures and light.

What are YOU grateful for this week?


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