food photography

Buckwheat Banana Muffins

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Treats! They are on my mind pretty much all the time these days. Quick, pick-me-up foods that are mostly healthy and easy (and fast) to eat. As a general rule of thumb, I like things to have dual functions -- healthy yet tastes good; something I can wear to a yoga class and then out to dinner; form as well as function; even our bike trailer turns into a jogging stroller. These little muffins fit the dual-function bill exactly. Delicious but won't give you a sugar crash, moist and sweet but full of protein, they are perfect for breakfast or snack. The house will smell amazing while they bake!

Freshly ground buckwheat is the only way to go with this recipe. Brands like Bob's Red Mill Buckwheat tastes just too much like... buckwheat -- heavy, kind of earthy, but not in a good way. If you have a vitamix or a high-powered blender, making your own fresh buckwheat flour is simple. Using whole buckwheat groats (found in the bulk section of most health food stores -- they're the little grains in the photos above), throw them into the blender -- plus all the rest of the dry ingredients -- and press go!

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Banana Buckwheat Muffins, via Nourishing Meals by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre

Dry Ingredients: 2 1/4 cups freshly ground buckwheat flour (measure out 2 1/4 cups of the groats into your blender) 1/4 cup arrowroot powder or tapioca flour 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients: 2 cups mashed ripe bananas (generally around 4 - 5 large, ripe bananas) 1/2 cup coconut sugar 1/4 teaspoon cardamom 1/2 cup melted coconut oil 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

Blend the dry ingredients with the groats in your high powered blender.

Pour the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients and in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, mix well. If the batter rests for a while, it will thicken as buckwheat is "thirsty". If it's still too sticky, add a little more milk and maybe a little more coconut oil until the batter will easily fall off the spoon but not too much that it's runny and thin.

Fill the muffin cups to the top and bake 20-25 minutes. This batter made 12 muffins and a loaf for me, but you could make several dozen muffins instead. I believe the loaf took about 45-50 minutes before the toothpick test came out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for longer storage.

Coconut Carrot Chai Cookies

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Often times, I've found one of the best way to say a heartfelt "thank you" is giving something good to eat. My favorite go-to is a baked treat. This summer, I met with the warm and charismatic Jack Petrash, author of Understanding Waldorf Education and teacher at the Washington Waldorf School. He took time out of his busy summer schedule to talk with me about Waldorf Teacher Training, show me around the school and loaned me a book from WWS's library under his name.

This recipe appeared from one of my favorite sources, Heidi Swanson's 101 Cookbooks. At first glance, these cookies seemed a bit bland. But after a closer look (and taste) I realized they're anything but. The ginger carrot combination had surprising depth and spicy heat. And the addition of cardamon puts them over the top, reminiscent of a warm, deep, aromatic chai. They also turned out to be a perfect thank you cookie.

I've been thinking of doing a cookie of the month. Cookies don't get the attention they deserve anymore. They're so simple, humble even, in their bite-sized goodness and come in countless shapes, sizes and flavors. They also can have wonderful cultural significance, rich not just with flavor but stories and ritual. It's high time I do a little more exploration of these timeless treasures!

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Adopted from 101 Cookbooks, Oatmeal Carrot Cookies

1 cup whole wheat pastry or regular flour 1 teaspoon baking powder scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt 1 cup rolled oats 2/3 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut 1 cup shredded carrots 1/2 cup real maple syrup, room temperature 1/2 cup unrefined (fragrant) coconut oil, warmed until just melted 1-2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon

Preheat oven to 375F degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, cardamon, salt, and oats. Add the shredded coconut and carrots. In a separate smaller bowl use a whisk to combine the room temperature maple syrup, coconut oil, and ginger. Add this to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Drop onto prepared baking sheets, one level tablespoonful at a time, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. Bake in the top 1/3 of the oven for 10 - 12 minutes or until the cookies are golden on top and bottom.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Blueberries

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Blueberries get a lot of attention around our house. As a favorite food of both my husband and Little Mister, they find their way into a lot of meals. Our Saturday morning ritual is making homemade, freshly ground buckwheat pancakes loaded with blueberries (a lot easier than it sounds!). We all look forward to waking up that first weekend morning and sitting down to a warm, gooey plate of sheer blueberry bliss.

Recently, I've been going through my trove of cookbooks and came across a lovely recipe for Blueberry Scones from Rose Bakery in Paris. They did not disappoint and are probably the best scones I've ever made to date. It was also nice to mix up the super healthy cooking/baking I normally do with a bit of decadence. And these were all decadence.

Bike rides, grilling, friends, pool time, naps, and snacks -- a nice weekend indeed!

Fall Plantings

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Today, we planted our garden with Martha for the fall harvest. Two types of kale, lettuces, brussels sprouts, beets, English thyme, and cilantro were all put into the ground. Rainbow chard will make it's way into the garden at some point, too.

Little Mister took on all tasks with complete gusto. He oversaw the plantings, helped with dirt moving, crawled through plants to make sure everything was in right order, and directed the watering.

There is a nice little verse I found in Beyond the Rainbow Bridge, by Barbara Patterson, called Snack Blessing. Although it's meant for reciting together as a group in Waldorf Kindergarten's before snack, it is universal in it's message of gratitude. Earth who gives to us this food Sun who makes it ripe and good Dear Sun, Dear Earth by you we live And loving thanks to you we give.

So kind and sweet.