Our usual Saturday tradition includes a trip to the Farmer's Market in downtown Santa Barbara. At some point during our shopping, there is always a detour to our favorite coffee shop, The French Press. Ewan has always enjoyed our coffee shop visits. He used to request to go just to watch the baristas grind coffee, but once Jason started including a scone with our coffee order, I believe the eating of the scone became his favorite part of our entire Saturday morning tradition.
Along with the scone comes a lesson in patience and a lesson in sharing. Our rule is that we all have to wait to start eating the scone until our coffee drinks are ready, and the scone has to be shared between everyone except Isla. Ewan is pretty good with both of these things, although he always wants the last bite to be under his control (mostly eaten by him, with possibly a little crumb or two handed out to Mama or Papa).
We've been missing our usual tradition sometimes lately due to busy work schedules and/ or Isla's napping, so I decided to make some scones at home to fill this void in my life. They don't quite live up to the ones from The French Press (which I highly recommend to any locals or vacationers), but they're pretty delicious, and I haven't seen the chocolate-blueberry combination yet...
Gluten free seems to be everywhere right now. The subject made big news again last month when Dr. Peter Gibson, the researcher who performed an experiment proving the presence of gluten sensitivity in people (other than only those who suffer from celiac disease), disproved his original theory.
I read numerous blogs written by people who eat gluten free diets because it has greatly improved how they feel, so I would never discount that. No one person's body reacts exactly the same to each food or type of food. And when a food is removed from someone's diet for awhile, the reintroduction can have pretty obvious and undesirable effects. As Dr. Gibson states, gluten is usually attached to FODMAPs, so they may be the bigger cause of sensitivity than the actual gluten in many people.
I know from personal experience that I feel much better when I completely remove processed sugar from my diet. I used to feel awful for hours after I ate pancakes at a restaurant that were made from 100 percent white flour (which I stopped doing because of this). I could continue my list and go into great detail about how different foods affect me, but my point is that although Peter Gibson's study was sound, if people feel better when they eat gluten free, let them eat gluten free. Not everyone has chosen to eat this way just because it sounded like the cool thing to do this month. It seems that educated people on a gluten free diet eat a more healthy diet because they have to eliminate so many processed foods and cook real food (like all of us should do anyway). Although the food industry is trying to ruin this necessity by jumping on the gluten free train, offering more processed gluten free foods by the day.
After my success with the maple and vanilla yogurts, I decided to try a few of my own variations. So far I have made cinnamon yogurt two different ways, once using ground cinnamon and once using a cinnamon stick, honey yogurt using local raw honey, and peppermint yogurt using peppermint extract. The honey yogurt and both cinnamon yogurts were good, but I didn't care for the peppermint yogurt eaten plain. It was good mixed into green smoothies though. I plan to try making it again using peppermint leaves and hope it will result in a milder taste.
These yogurts will not be extremely sweet like most sold at the grocery store, but if you are used to eating plain yogurt, you may enjoy having a bit of added flavor without all the processed sugar or artificial sweeteners. If you enjoy sweeter yogurt and are trying to quit or cut back on processed sugars, you can always add honey to the cinnamon yogurt and increase the amount of honey in the honey yogurt. Or come up with your own flavor. If you have any successes, please share them with me in the comments.
Jason bought me a wonderful new cookbook at one of our local bookstores, Chaucer's, when they were holding a fundraiser for our son's preschool. I really love how so many businesses in town are willing to help out the local schools by donating a portion of their sales on certain days back to the school. I imagine they usually get enough increased business during these events to more than make up for the sales they are donating, so it's a win for everyone involved. It also makes me more likely to return and recommend these businesses when they are willing to help their community.
I altered her Pear-Hazelnut Oat Muffin recipe to make this one. We hadn't been to the grocery store in over a week, and a friend I hadn't seen in quite awhile was coming over for coffee. I wanted to at least have something we could nibble on with our coffee but couldn't go to the store since my youngest was napping. I just used the ingredients I had on hand, resulting in quite a few changes to Megan's original recipe. But they turned out really nice. I especially love that they are free of processed sugars.
Confession: I have quite a sweet tooth. I try not to give into it often, but I go through periods (such as when I am sleep deprived like I have been for the past four months or so) when I have almost no willpower and can't keep any sweets in the house without eating them. Luckily for me, I eat pretty healthy aside from this weakness, but I sometimes think I should quit sugar completely in order to stop craving it so often.
I have been experimenting more with natural sweeteners, making occasional treats that Ewan and I can share (we only started allowing him sugar just before his third birthday, and just on special occasions). But I don't have enough experience baking things like cakes with anything other than the real thing.
We celebrated Jason's birthday earlier this month, and he requested this cake, a favorite in our house. This has been my go to chocolate cake for a number of years; I have made it too many times to count. I used to make it for co-workers' birthdays back when I was employed outside the home.
I love baking but try not to bake sweets very frequently because I can't stop myself from eating too much of the finished product (see above). Baking is such a great activity to do with toddlers and older children, but we usually stick to making things like granola, pancakes, and bread dough. Ewan was extremely excited to help me make his Papa a birthday cake.
I first discovered this recipe when searching for a dessert to make on St. Patrick's Day. Adding stout to a cake seemed like a very American way to celebrate the holiday, aside from coloring a white cake green (definitely not my style). I have never gone wrong baking a cake recipe (or really any type of recipe) from the Smitten Kitchen; Deb really know her cakes along with everything else she makes.
This chocolate cake is not as sweet as a typical chocolate cake, and the taste of the stout really comes through, so choose your beer wisely. I have also made it with porter, which is another beer that can easily be substituted here.