The Hemp Connection + [tips]

Food of the week: What you are moved to create

I promised Ivonne I would post a recipe here, but my format will be a little bit nontraditional.

See, so many people have this perception that if you have a nutrition degree, or work in the fitness and counseling worlds, you are somehow this magic creator of 3 gourmet meals a day. They're all perfectly balanced, exactly the necessary number of calories with perfect ratios of carbohydrate, protein, fat, zinc, antioxidants, omega-3's, yadayadayada.

NOT.

I think sometimes these blogs and websites with all these people who'd like you to think it's perfect in foodieland are downright intimidating. I want you to HAVE FUN with food, and I want you to have the confidence to experiment.

So here's a look inside my kitchen and my head when I recently improvised on a popular recipe, Morning Glory Muffins.

Here is the original recipe as I found it on the Internet:


1 1/4 cups sugar

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

3/4 cup Earthbound Farm Organic Raisins

1 large organic apple, peeled and grated

1 cup (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained

2 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts

3 large eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Now let's see what actually happened when I rolled up my sleeves and baked them.

1. "Where is the sugar? Dang! I forgot I was almost out and I only have half as much…OK, in food chem class we learned that while some sugar is necessary not all of it is. Maybe I can make do." Half the sugar is used.

2. Time to add the pineapple. "Hmmmm…I still have a dozen of those 400 oranges that I picked taking up space in the refrigerator…they're acidic, wonder what would happen if I replaced pineapple with chopped oranges?" Oranges are used in place of pineapple.

3. I used omega-3 eggs in place of regular eggs.

4. Now for the vegetable oil. "Wonder if I could use olive oil? That olive oil pastry I had on the cruise a few years ago was pretty good." So olive oil it is, and 2/3 of the recipe's original amount.

5. Home stretch…time for vanilla…"Oh, MAN! I could SWEAR I had vanilla!" Time for a little trick my mom taught me years ago…extracts are alcohol based, so you can exchange the vanilla for anything you might have that is a liqueur. "What's in my liquor cabinet? Banana liqueur, hazelnut liqueur…" Hazelnut wouldn't open (it was crystallized shut from disuse), so banana it was.

And there you have it. I would be a disaster on a cooking show, but my mad-science-hmmm-let's-see-if-this-works approach turned out some pretty darned good muffins.

Which, at this point, are no longer Morning Glory Muffins. Given the fact that I used local oranges and pecans, our local tree nut, they have been renamed Arizona Sunrise Muffins. Here's the recipe as it ended up:

Arizona Sunrise Muffins

5/8 cups sugar

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

3/4 cup Earthbound Farm Organic Raisins (chopped dates would make it even more local)

1 large organic apple, peeled and grated

1 cup oranges or other citrus, peeled and chopped (probably need more sugar if you use grapefruit)

2 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

3 large omega-3 eggs

2/3 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon banana liqueur

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Sift or whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add the coconut, raisins, apple, pineapple, carrots, and nuts, and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the oil and vanilla. Pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients and blend well.

Spoon the batter into muffin tins lined with muffin cups, filling each to the brim. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool muffins in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.

I must add an important disclaimer here. Not all my experimenting succeeds. I have some serious flops. The thing that matters is that I learn from each experiment, I don't aim for perfection, and I have FUN.

That's what I encourage all of you to do, too, when you step into your kitchen.