If you see me today you will notice that I am unusually pale, my eyes a bit squinting and cautious. For that matter my voice is a little on the crackly side. I sound like an old tape recording and look like a ghost. Not a good look. Continue reading
My love of breakfast is pretty well established. Not only is my Instagram feed chocka with variations of avocado on toast and a million ways to eat chard before 9 am, but I will eat breakfast at non-breakfast times too. I sometimes prefer it that way. That way I can legitimately have dinner leftovers for breakfast! I can’t be the only one who does that. Am I? Continue reading
It doesn’t happen often, but I have just rendered my daughter speechless. Not that she’s particularly loquacious, but she will speak her mind as necessary. And pass honest judgement on her old Mum’s cooking. More particularly my modest attempts at baking. Ouch.
When my Rachel was young I would make a good effort at donning a ‘pinny’ and doing a spot of after-school baking with her. But even then it was mostly breadsticks, flatbreads, or making something for a bake sale: we would lick the spoon and tidy the edges of course. Continue reading
I’ve just realised that I haven’t posted anything to tempt the sweet of tooth lately. Not a morsel. By now I really should be posting something in honour of poor, executed St Valentine. A saint with only the most tenuous links to pleasure, romantic love, and chocolate. So tenuous as to be non-existent, an invention of Chaucer, and the English.
I digress. And possibly depress. But still, I should post something chocolately. And soon.
It won’t be grand. It won’t be clever. But it will fulfil my self-imposed brief, “do no (culinary) harm.” Kind of like my own Hippocratic Oath. But with calories. Continue reading
These probably aren’t going to be the prettiest muffins you will see in the run up to Christmas. If you want pretty – and I’m sure extremely tasty – festive baking, have a look at the world of wonder and fantasy that is Pinterest. I’m crushing on this page in particular. I practically weep at the skill and creativity contained within those rolling pixels of perfection. Maybe I have even wailed and gnashed my teeth over your dainty treats. To restore sanity and a sense of perspective I have recently adopted a habit of going over to Damn You Autocorrect. I find it is just the thing to cheer myself up after going on my increasingly regular Pinterest benders. True. Continue reading
Confession time: I’m not a big fan of pumpkin pie. There. I said it. However, I’m not proud of this declaration. For an American it is rather like saying you hate baseball, or Disney World. Might as well burn your passport and be done with it.
I have to admit I haven’t tried very hard with the whole pumpkin pie liking thing. I’ve attempted a few slices in my day but they were always too bland, too soft, or too aggressively spiced: Goldilocks and the three pumpkin pies… Continue reading
Hello, hello! Just back from seeing my lovely Dad and sister in Florida. It was a super visit, with too much food, lots of sun (and sunscreen) and loads of cheering for my star-pitcher nephew. Going to Tripp’s baseball games are always a highlight, even if any mosquito in a 20 mile radius always finds us…
It is funny to think that this young man, with a 90 mile an hour pitch (he is only just 14), used to throw so wildly that even the spectators ducked – from behind a 25-foot mesh fence. Perhaps I exaggerate. A tad. :D Continue reading
Polenta cakes are stupidly easy to make. I don’t mean this as an insult to polenta cakes, you, or anyone else for that matter. But, really. Dumping everything in a stand mixer and pressing ‘on’ is pretty easy. And sometimes – even although you may be the best baker in your family, in your workplace, in the world – stupidly-easy is what you need. If and when that situation arises, polenta cake is there for you.
Some of you reading this may be packing too, Perhaps you are jetting off to some island to laze around and sip rum punch, or maybe you and your family will be threading your way through the queues in some exciting theme park. I however am packing to go to London. Not to shop (although I will definitely squeeze a bit of that in) or go to the theatre. No, I am down to attend my second Food Blogger Connect, and I am SO excited. Last year I was scared-excited. This year I am just excited-excited. Which is the same thing, but with less nervous sweating. Not a good mental image in a food blog, but I like to tell the truth.
Any of you who were kindly reading me last October may recall a rather long post reviewing my weekend at FBC. It was beyond my rather pedestrian imagination. And this year promises to be even better. To wit, we are getting to press the flesh with Mr American in Paris himself, the wonderful David Lebovitz. There is the chance of winning a 15 minute one-to-one chat with David about how to improve one’s blog. Which sounds terrifying but probably a game-changer for the lucky winner.
Another highlight will be seeing fellow FBC alumni Ren Behan and Karen Burns-Booth on the podium sharing a panel discussion with Sarah Cook of BBC Good Food magazine on how to get published in magazines (I will be taking furious notes: Why didn’t I do shorthand!). I adore these bloggers as people and as wonderfully good examples of how to run a compelling, must-read blog. And of course, there will be -ahem – serious and academically-rigourous attention paid to the art of eating. I have lost count of the number of folks and companies lined up to help us expand our waistlines. But I am especially looking forward to sampling from Ren’s pop-up Polish Kitchen. Her website is already making me want to book a second holiday to Krakow.
So, the muffins. Which I will sneak into my miniscule Easyjet handluggage, along with a little tub of my butternut squash and almond dip and some homemade pitta chips. Anything to avoid getting hungry enough to buy one of the airline’s extortionate ‘snack packs’ (full of cr*p and more cr*p). I just hope my little healthy snack pack doesn’t get confiscated!
By the time you read this I will have said goodbye to friends old and new and be on my way to meet Mr A for his birthday lunch. Another London food adventure awaits! Back up the stairs to add another pair of stretchy trousers to the bag…
Carrot and Coconut Muffins
This is a riff on an old recipe of mine, Carrot and Marmalade Cake.
This is an easy and delicious way of making a sweet treat healthy. Perfect for trips, picnics, brownbags and handbags. I make this recipe as muffins mostly, but it happens to make a fine ‘plain’ cake too. The decoration is all on the inside…
NB. Trade the coconut for plump raisins or, what the heck, put them both in.
50g desiccated coconut, plus extra for sprinkling on top
*If you don’t have self-raising flour, just add an extra one and one-quarter teaspoon of baking powder (total) to the flour mixture.
Oil a 12-hole muffin tin (I tend to make them smaller and use an extra 6). You could also line the holes with squares of baking paper (so they look like the muffins you get in coffee shops) or regular muffin tin liners. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F.
Sift together the flours with the baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Stir in any bran that remains in the sieve from the wholemeal flour.
In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs with electric beaters or stand mixer until light and fluffy, then whisk in the oil and sugar until thickened and leaves a trail when the beater is lifted. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Fold the wet mixture into the flour until the flour just disappears, and no more. Mixing any more may give you a tough muffin. Which sounds like an insult, or perhaps a strange compliment: “She’s one tough muffin!”
Fill each muffin hole evenly and bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until well-risen and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. If you want to add coconut to the top, do this about halfway through the baking so as not to burn the delicate coconut, but just give it a lovely toasty tinge of gold. Let the muffins cool in the tin on a wire rack and eat immediately. Or store for a few days in an airtight container. You could always go a bit fancy and extra-sweet by spreading over your favourite cream cheese frosting, or one such as this vegan one from food.com; or a classic cream cheese one from cook.uk. I like to keep them ‘plain’ for my nutrition classes and serve with fresh fruit.
Makes 12-18 muffins or two small cakes (I don’t think this would be as good if made as a big fat cake).
*Living in Scotland, a place known for its love – nay, worship – of homey baked goods, fresh fruit scones are not common. Actually, in all the twenty-something years that I have lived here, I have yet to encounter one. I’m assuming someone here makes them, maybe sells them. But I don’t get out much. Maybe in Glasgow you can hardly get down the pavement without tripping over fresh fruit scones. Continue reading