waking and baking.

(with sheepish thanks to my friend Eden, from whose delightful blog post I ripped off this title)

We all have our morning rituals, the idiosyncratic routines without which we spend the rest of the day feeling slightly off.

Personally, although I have learned to live largely without caffeine these last couple of years, and my drinking alcohol in the morning is limited to the occasional mimosa, I find it very, very difficult to begin my day without some kind of baking, preferably still slightly warm from the oven.

During the recent heat wave in our city, it took me several days of being out of sorts and saying ferocious things to anyone I met who dared utter the words, “we have air conditioning, but we prefer not to use it unless we really need it,” before I realized that a large part of my attitude problem had to do with eating a cold breakfast every morning.

Necessity being the mother of invention (and greed being an incredibly powerful motivator), I decided to try to come up with a warm weather-friendly strategy: rather than giving up the waking and baking altogether, the trick was to make up a recipe so easy and fast that the kitchen barely had time to heat up before I was pulling some yummy thing out of the oven.

With the help of my willing family and what must be the hardest-working ceiling fan in the GTA, I came up with these muffins.

And I have to tell you that, even though the temperature is more moderate now than it was last week, I still can’t get enough of them.

Muffins for Hot Mornings

3 very ripe bananas
1/2c oil (I use coconut oil because I’m obsessed with it these days, but go ahead and use whatever you’ve got)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2c thawed apple juice concentrate
1 2/3c whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp instant espresso powder
3/4c chocolate chips

In a food processor, combine bananas, oil, eggs, vanilla and apple juice concentrate and process until smooth.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and espresso powder.
Add flour mixture to food processor and process until all ingredients are combined.
Scrape batter into a large mixing bowl and fold in chocolate chips.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
While oven is preheating, line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper cups.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, and bake 17 – 18 minutes.
Remove from heat (and turn oven off immediately!) and cool 10 minutes or so in pan before transferring to a wire rack.
Serve immediately, or allow a little time to cool.
Makes a dozen.

are you talking to me?

I recently read a blog post in which the author, also a mother of young children, had had a cold. In her post, she talked about how she’d listened to her body so she’d know how to help herself recuperate; and then she described her lunch, which consisted of something along the lines of steamed beet greens, tempeh and sesame seeds with a bowl of sliced oranges and a glass of soy milk on the side.


I marvel that there are bodies out there telling their people to eat like that. My own body, on a day last week when I’d been laid low by a virus myself, demanded a bacon, avocado and goat cheese sandwich on a croissant for lunch. Granted, it was a whole wheat croissant, but still, a far cry from the self-healing fare described above.

It’s comforting to think that I’m not the only one whose body speaks to her from a slightly less lofty place: my running coach, who is also a mother and leads such a busily giving life that it puts mine to shame, called me last week on the morning we were set to go out together and said, “I’d like to tell you that I’m sick and can’t run, but the truth is that I have a raging hangover.” Wisely, she stayed in bed that morning.

After hanging up the phone, did I consider the needs of my own overfed body and head out for a run on my own?

No, dear reader, I did not. I stayed home and made muffins and ate more than I should have while flipping through the latest Bon Appetit.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

The soaking method for the raisins here comes from what I consider the best banana bread recipe ever; if rum seems too much, feel free to use water! Also note the lack of sugar in this recipe – I prefer to use apple juice concentrate, but brown sugar may be substituted.

1/3 c golden raisins
1/4 c rum
2c whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 scant tsp ground ginger
1/2 c grapeseed oil
3/4 frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
3/4 c canned pureed pumpkin
1/4 c plain yogurt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners, or use 12 silicone muffin cups (I have never used these, but I hear they are fantastic!)
In a small saucepan, combine raisins and rum. Bring just to a boil then remove from heat and cover until raisins are plump and liquid is almost absorbed.
Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and ginger.
In a second bowl or large jug, combine oil, apple juice, pumpkin, yogurt, eggs and vanilla.
Stir wet ingredients until dry until just barely combined, keeping in mind that less stirring makes for lighter muffins. Stir in drained raisins and walnut pieces, if using.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, and bake 16-18 minutes, until muffins are risen and golden and a tester inserted into the centre of one comes out clean.
Makes a dozen.