Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rainy Day Baking

Pumpkin muffin photo shoot!

Today it is rainy and gray out, but it smells cinnamon-y and delicious inside our warm house. When I am stressed and worried, as I have been much of the time recently, there are lots of things that soothe me: journaling, warm cups of tea, hugs from friends, baking, and more. Today and yesterday, I was called to the kitchen. I'd like to share what I whipped up while listening to good music and wearing one of my favorite wedding presents: a homemade apron with my initials hand-embroidered on it!

First up, my mom's pumpkin muffins recipe. I generally make it her way, but this time I wanted to try something a little "healthier." (Only mildly healthier b/c I added chocolate chips. :)

Karen's Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 12-15 muffins

1 1/2 cups spelt flour
1 3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
6 T canola oil
1/3 c brown sugar, packed
1/6 c sugar (I would probably leave this out next time)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup + 2 T pumpkin
1/2 c milk
mini chocolate chips, to taste
2 t sugar + 1/4 t cinnamon, mixed

Combine all ingredients (except chocolate chips) in a bowl. Fill greased muffin tins 2/3 full with batter. After filling half of the muffin tins, stir chocolate chips into the batter. Fill remaining muffin tins. Sprinkle muffins with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

I have found myself tired of store-bought granola bars, but they are one of the easiest snacks for me to pack for work. I looked through my accumulated bookmarks from my extensive food blog reading, and found these breakfast bars from So I Married a Chef. I made just a few modifications: I used currants and dried cherries instead of raisins and dried cranberries. I used a combination of sunflower seeds and walnuts for the 6 T of nuts the recipe calls for. I used just one teaspoon of vanilla (I have to ration our amazing Dominican vanilla!) and 3 eggs + milk to equal the 3/4 c of liquid egg whites (per Carly's suggestion). I haven't tried them yet, but they smell and look fabulous!

The other recipe I want to share is a fun one. One of the pastors from my home church in Ohio used to always bring baked oatmeal to our Easter brunches. My mom has the recipe. I've made it many times with many combinations of dried fruits and nuts (my favorite being candied pecans and dried blueberries, or without either. Recently, I've been changing the recipe a bit so I can feel ok about eating it more often (the original recipe has a lot of sugar and oil in it). Enjoy!

Dee's Baked Oatmeal
makes a 9x13 pan, which is enough for 4 servings + leftovers

2 eggs, beaten
1 c milk
1/2 c unsweeted applesauce
1/2 c brown sugar, packed
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt (the original recipe calls for 1 t--I don't like to use a lot of salt because high blood pressure runs in my family. I've found you can generally reduce the salt by half and baked goods turn out fine. If you aren't used to a reduced salt diet, use 1 t!)
1/2 t cinnamon
3 c rolled oats (the original recipe calls for quick oats--use what you have)
1/2 c dried fruit (I used dried cherries this time)
1/4 c-1/2 c chopped nuts (I used about 1/4 c of walnuts)

Whisk the ingredients from eggs to cinnamon together in a large bowl. Stir in the oatmeal, fruit, and nuts. Pour mixture into a greased 9x13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve warm with milk. (I find it delicious cold as well.)

Hope you enjoy if you try these recipes!

Saturday, October 9, 2010


This is a photo of our poor neglected tomato plant. I stopped watering the plants over a week ago...I've just gotten busy and the season is ending and my attention to the plants is waning. Today I walked out the back of the house and noticed that our little tomato plant has two new blossoms, and one red tomato. The top part of it wilted and died mid-summer. It didn't seem to phase the plant, which went on to produce quite a few tomatoes. Those little blossoms gave me hope today.

Recently I have been feeling like the brown, dead part of the plant. Without going into a lot of detail, I'm having to make a very difficult decision that I'd prefer to just not deal with. It's a decision that is challenging, because, like most, it is impossible to have all the facts. This decision will have to be based on a lot of what if's and projections, and since it involvs my health, I am hesitant to base my decision on shaky ground.

This has left me feeling dead and dry, sad about my life and sorry for myself. I am not doing a good job of just dealing with the cards I have been dealt. I am spending my energy asking 'Why me?' and wishing fervently for this whole thing to go away.

Those two, tiny yellow blossoms on the tomato plant I'd given up on give me just an inkling of hope that this might turn out ok. That my friends, family, and my faith will watch out for me and the millions of scary thoughts that run through my head just might not happen. I am a bit more hopeful today. I am striving to be ok with my fate and to continue to blossom, even though things are hard right now. Here's to hope.