What I'm up to
  • Oxo Good Grips Small Wooden Spoon
    Oxo Good Grips Small Wooden Spoon

    everyone needs these, many of them.

  • Mauviel Cuprinox Style 8-inch Round Frying Pan
    Mauviel Cuprinox Style 8-inch Round Frying Pan

    Scarily, I can say I have enough copper. Not many people can utter those words.

  • Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French Oven, Red
    Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French Oven, Red
    Le Creuset

    The same thing could be said for Le Creuset, but still. Great for braising and soup making.

  • The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century
    The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century
    by Amanda Hesser
  • Nordic Ware Bakers Half Sheet, 13 X 18 X 1
    Nordic Ware Bakers Half Sheet, 13 X 18 X 1
    Nordic Ware

    What did I do before I started using this half sheet? Cry.

flora and flying. Get yours at bighugelabs.com

Entries in breakfast (4)


Banana Coconut and Mango Muffins - Bananas at Anna's


 My friend Anna of Snacking in the Kitchen invited some friends over to her house to show off some banana recipes. We could showcase our own creations or use existing recipes, as long as bananas were featured.  Dole provided us with some banana goodies (a banana protector), recipes and marketing campaign materials on bananas as the new power bar.  As a seasoned and slow marathon/half marathon wogger, I agree.  At the end of a race, I have been known to utter "Screw the medal, give me my banana".  It is true. Bananas are great food for recovery, but I'm not sure I would carry one for 13 miles.

Bananas at Anna's

Other dishes included - banana nutella pie, cheese!, Banana cakes with brown sugar glaze, banana chicken salad, chocolate chip banana bread and curried bananas (not pictured).

While Dole provided some promotional goodies, we were responsible for buying our own bananas. Oh what to make? I knew that I wanted to bake something that would serve as a breakfast food, not too sweet and would be portable enough for TH to take to work in the morning.


I decided to make muffins. Muffins that would remind me of great trips of the past to Hawaii.  I immediately though of the Maloa'a Fruit Stand on Kauai, where you can get all sorts of great fruit smoothies and baked goods on the way to the taro fields of Hanalei.  Coconut would definitely be a flavor component. I polled my friends who agreed that shredded coconut would be too sweet, but coconut milk would impart a good flavor, so that is what I tried. It turned out to be pretty tasty with just the coconut taste coming from the oil and milk.

With further aplomb, here is my creation.  Thank you Anna for including me in your Banana Challenge!

Banana Coconut Mango Muffins
Makes 18 regular sized muffins or 12 large muffins

Note: I used frozen mango chunks and diced them while they were still frozen.  This makes it much easier and neater.  Here is a great video from allrecipes.com that will show you how to slice, chop and dice a fresh mango if you are that way inclined.

2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (I used 2 cups all purpose and 1/2 cup whole wheat)
1 cup mashed ripe banana (two large bananas)
1 cup diced mango
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, blended
1/2 cup coconut milk (I used TJ's coconut milk beverage, but you could use
light coconut milk)
1/4 fluid cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1 t vanilla extract
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter muffin pan or use paper muffin liners in the pan for easier cleanup.

In a large bowl, blend together dry ingredients until well mixed.  In a separate bowl, combine eggs, sugar,vanilla, banana, coconut milk and oil.

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, add diced mango and mix until combined, being sure to use spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl to get all dry ingredients incorporated. Do not overmix batter.

With a spoon, drop batter into muffin tins or liners, fill to only 2/3 full.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or  until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool on rack and serve either warm or cool.

Store leftover muffins in a zip lock bag for up to 3 days.


Wayward Fruit and Lost Buttermilk - Buttermilk Fruit Smoothies


Its all in the pink.

They say summer doesn't start in Seattle until July 5th.  This year it started the day before and we were blessed with a marvelous 4th of July to spend in the company of friends and family and to watch the fireworks from near or far.  The weather is supposed to stay warm and sunny for the foreseeable future. For this my tomatoes and raspberries are grateful.

In praise of soft fruits of the drupe etc.

In praise of  the soft fruits.

This also means that the berries are starting to ripen at a pace that makes it hard to keep up.  I will admit that it is hard to not drive by the berry stands in Anacortes and not stop for Skagit Sun Hoods or Sakuma Farms Shuksans.  I have many raspberry plants bearing fruit from now until September.  Our marionberries and blueberries are starting to color up too.TH and I will make our annual pilgrimage to the blueberry farm sometime soon.  It also means finishing up the berries in the freezer that we vowed that we would get through by February because we would eat them every day. We made a good dent in the berries this year, but I could make 16 pies this week and we would still have berries to eat. The dent might be more like a ding. Now, it is the race to the end of the fruit and smoothies are the vehicle of choice.


milkshakes made with buttermilk

The real deal - Superior Dairy Products  strawberry and chocolate shakes

In 2008, TH and I attended the Vernacular Architecture Forum Meeting in Fresno, California. The meeting was awesome. We toured Fresno and the Central Valley farms saw worker's housing, ethnic neighborhoods and ate some amazing food. That is what is so amazing about the VAF meetings - they don't just focus on the buildings, but on the social and cultural factors that shaped the communities and landscapes of settlement.  One place we visited, Hanford, California had the requisite things in a settled agricultural center - mills, town common, courthouse, commercial district and a great little ice cream shop and diner called Superior Dairy Products that good VAFers flocked to after touring the town.   There TH and I had shakes made with buttermilk instead of milk.  The tangy and thick buttermilk added a dimension to the shake that I can't really describe, but it worked.  Guess what? It works in a smoothie as well.  At Superior, you can have them add ground walnuts to your shake.  While I did not partake on that trip, I am now adding ground almonds and they are delicious.  This smoothie is the best thing to do with the lingering 3/4 quart of buttermilk leftover from your famous pancake batter.

Buttermilk Smoothie - where wayward fruit and lost buttermilk meet

Makes 1 12 oz smoothie (can be doubled)
We use a old stick blender, but if you have a nice vitamix/waring/smoothie maker, by all means use it.

1/2 to 3/4 cup frozen fruit (I use mixture of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries)
8 oz of lowfat buttermilk
1 T almond meal or ground walnuts (optional)
1 T ground flax seed (optional)
1 T maple syrup (optional, but good if you want things a little more sweet than tangy)
1/2 t vanilla (optional)

Place fruit, buttermilk and any or all of the above ingredients in a 1 pt wide mouth mason jar or your blending vessel of choice.  If you like things icy, then start your blender/hand blender/vitamix and blend until smooth. If you like things a little less refreshing,  let the mixture sit for a bit to soften up. Go check your email and walk you dog. Then return to your smoothie making and blend until smooth.

Drink up.


Coconut Pancakes with Ginger and Lime - Sunny days are ahead


A lovely combination.

I am trying to change the way I eat. It is not easy with travel and a lot of social activities, but when I pay attention to what I am shoveling into my gullet, things seem to be easier on my body and mind.  For the last three months I have avoided eating wheat or wheat products and refined carbs.  I feel much better and other than a few wistful glances at the cannoli in Rome, it has been pretty easy.  I have been tested for gluten intolerance and I’m fine, so don’t go on about that.  This is my choice and since I see some marked results in my mood (partly sunny) and skorts (loose again), I am not going to complain.


Ah, Kauai. How I miss you.

In my quest for new foods that will keep me satisfied, I started hunting around the internets for breakfast recipes. I came across a lot of mentions of coconut flour. I have been using a lot of coconut milk for smoothies and other things and love it, so I figured I would give it a go.

Coconut flour is a strange thing.  I think that coconuts are fatty delicious nuts, but when you extract out all that oil, you are left with a lot of fiber and some protein.  Let’s embrace that shall we?  The recipe comes from a Paleo way of cooking. I’m not going down that road either, but the concepts surrounding the way of eating intrigue me. The recipe is high in protein (eggs and coconut flour), low sugar (honey) and low carb (coconut flour). I like the results and honestly, so have others (excluding TH, who is not a fan).  It leaves me with more pancakes than I need, but they freeze and keep well.  I modified the original recipe to remind me of places where flip flops are required and coconuts fall from palm trees just like in the cartoons.


Serving suggestion.

Coconut pancakes with lime, ginger and vanilla (adapted from www.paleospirit.com)
Makes 18 3”pancakes

4 eggs at room temperature
½ cup coconut flour
1- 1 ¼ cup coconut milk, soy milk, almond milk, dairy milk, any liquid will do, but coconut milk has a rich flavor and the vanilla coconut milk I used is a little sweeter
2 t vanilla
1 t baking soda
1 T honey (you can use sugar or any sweetener)
½ t cinnamon
¼ salt
¼ t dried ginger powder
½ t lime zest (zest a quarter of a lime)

Oil for skillet I used coconut oil, but would work great with canola or butter.

Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with liquids until well blended.  Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients and whisk or mix until no lumps remain.  If the batter looks too thick, slowly add more liquid until you are happy with the consistency.

Over low-medium heat, melt fat of choice in your skillet of choice.  Turn down the heat to low and start making pancakes. Be patient, these pancakes do not like high heat.  When the top of the pancake appears to be drying and there are the telltale bubbles forming, it is time to flip them over to the other side.  Keep pancakes warm until you finish the batter.

I served them with lime curd I made, some lovely tropical fruits on the side and chicken sausage. 

Bon Appetit!



Bowls of full of memories - pear-ginger granola 

bowls of memories

My short term memory seems to be going, or I should say, there is so much going on it is easy to lose the little things in the all the stuff flying around the interwebs and our lives.  I can tell you my long term memory is great, just ask TH. I am famous for bringing up things in an argument that happened 15 years earlier. Its a gift I picked up from my father, just ask my mother.

I can also remember the provenance of each bowl in our kitchen.  Bowls are my weakness - cafe au lait bowls, hand thrown bowls, and old stoneware bowls, some found locally, some brought back from various trips around the world. In my opinion, most every meal, save a good steak can be eaten in a bowl. Desert island dwellers take heed, a spork and a bowl will save your life, although a coconut will do in a pinch.

Okay, enough with the bowl lust, let's talk about filling that bowl.

pear ginger granola

A few weeks ago, I had the great honor of meeting Melissa Clark at a book reading.  I have read many of her columns, but hadn't really familiarized myself with cookbooks. Her new cookbook, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite: 150 Recipes and Stories about the Food You Love , has both great recipes, but even better stories behind each recipe.  One recipe that I have been making over and over again is her olive oil granola recipe. Like all good cooks and scientists, I first made the recipe by the book, and then started to modify it to my tastes.

Dang, this stuff is good and so far, everyone else who has sampled it has agreed.

The olive oil is an interesting twist on the neutral flavored oils used in most granola. I was my usual skeptical self.  I was worried about the taste overpowering the rest of the ingredients, but when paired with maple syrup, it works. I used a few different types of oils and settled on the Trader Joes Extra Virgin Olive Oil which has a nice flavor and a little lighter in color. The recipe also calls for 1 teaspoon of salt, do not skip this, you need it as a foil for the sugar and maple syrup. I used Secret Stash Salts' flavored salts, but if you can't get ahold of this wonder ingredient, please use a flaky sea salt. Unlike most granolas, this recipe does not make a chalky granola nor an oily one, it is perfect granola for munching out of hand or as a topping for greek yoghurt or for crisp. Melissa suggests serving it with fresh ricotta and fresh berries. I also tried a combination of fruits and nuts, using basically what I had lying around in the pantry. It is a great granola to use up odds and bobs in your pantry.

Pear-Ginger Granola (adapted from Melissa Clark's Olive Oil Granola Recipe from the book -  In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite: 150 Recipes and Stories about the food you love (Hyperion, 2010)

makes ca. 7.5 cups of granola, which depending on your family could last nearly one day or a week, give or take

Approximate time to make recipe from start to finish ca. 55 minutes, active time 15 minutes

3 cups thick cut oatmeal (I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free oats), but regular cut (not quick cook) oatmeal should be fine

1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

1 cup pumpkin seeds, hulled

1 1/2 cups sliced almonds, raw

1/2 t ground cardamon

1/2 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t ground ginger

1 t flaked sea salt, I used Secret Stash Salt almond cardamon salt or vanilla salt, depending on what I had lying around

3/4 cup maple syrup, I used grade B, dark maple syrup

1/2 cup olive oil, extra virgin, but not too dark

1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup uncrystallized candied ginger, cut into a small dice

3/4 cup dried pears, cut into a small dice

Preheat oven to 250 Degrees F.

Take a large piece of parchment paper and cut it to fit an 11 x17 inch jelly roll pan  with about an inch of overhang on the sides.

In a large bowl, measure out oatmeal, coconut, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and brown sugar and mix well. In another bowl, mix together cardamon, cinnamon, ginger and salt until combined. Add spice mixture to large bowl of ingredients and mix to combine.  Mix together the maple syrup, oil and brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add this to the oatmeal/spice bowl and using a large spoon or your hands and make sure the oatmeal,coconuts and seeds and nuts are coated with the syrup/oil mixture.

Place granola mixture onto jelly roll pan and place in oven to bake, stirring every ten minutes until the granola has taken on a lightly browned color and some of the syrup has cooked off, this should be approximately 35 minutes at 250 degree oven.

Remove from oven, and let cool in tray.

When cool, mix in chopped fruit.

Store in an air tight container.