Blueberries

 

Blueberries hiding

My blueberry bush was the first plant that got me interested in gardening. I’ve never been very green fingered and house plants still do not fair well in my care (I’m sorry if you’ve ever given me an indoor plant, I do try. Oh and the beautiful flowering orchids in the house? Not mine, I don’t always even remember to water them when their carer is away!)

Anyway, outdoor plants are more my thing especially since I live in Scotland and there isn’t often a water shortage here. The blueberry bush has a special place in my heart because it takes so little care and yet it still produces beautiful deep blue berries for me. The exception was last year but we had just moved house and I think perhaps it was settling into its new abode.

Now that is has earned my favour I confess I do take some care. When we had the very dry spell this summer I would traipse up and down the stairs with watering can and water bottles to ensure it had enough of a drink to keep it going. I’m very glad I did because now I am reaping the rewards.

Blueberries on bush

Assuming I can entice just a few more delicious berries, there will be a blueberry muffin on here very soon. What’s your favourite muffin recipe for showing off the full potential of the blueberry?

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Chocolate Muffin

Chocolate Muffin Stack

I love a challenge and when one of my readers suggested creating muffins for special diets I happily accepted. These chocolate muffins are egg free. This one is close to my heart as from a really early age my niece was diagnosed with a severe egg allergy. Over time she has got slightly better and is now able to eat cooked egg.  With age she has also got fussier to the point where she has decided she no longer likes cake. Chocolate is her thing so these muffins are for her (even although she’ll not be partaking).

Half eaten chocolate muffinIt looks and feels like a muffin but the taste and texture in your mouth is more like a brownie. All I can say is yum! I will definitely be making more of these.

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Running

No matter how often we tell them to stay on the grass they never listen. We invariably have to go chasing after them to prevent them racing out onto the road. We are pretty sure they would not be brave enough to go outwith our sight but we don’t want to take any chances.

Being a mummy to a two year old is pretty hard work. They never stop. And I really mean never! Did I mention that they are fast? For people with such little legs they can fairly move when they want to. Then there’s that look they give each other before running in opposite directions. Conversations, therefore, tend to be disjointed at best until we decided that we weren’t going to let our toddlers get the better of us.

Let the training commence!  Only on rare occasions in my life have I actually felt inclined to run but if I’m going to do it though this is that time. We’ve started jogging a couple of times a week. It’s not fast as we can still manage to talk for the duration of the two miles. Some might say that we are not working hard enough but actually I think we’re working doubly hard.

Since starting I definitely feel better. It’s now easy to get places that I want to go with the little one in tow with games of “you can’t catch me” or “I’m going to catch you”. Plus I have a new lease of life for climbing up to the top of the slide and unleashing my inner child by sliding down to the bottom when the toddlers are distracted by the potential dizzying effect of the roundabout.

 

 

Courgette and seed

Courgette and seed muffin

If you haven’t bought into the Graze craze yet then you should definitely give it a try. Perfect little snacks arrive on your doorstep on a weekly basis. What snacks arrive depends entirely on your own preference. You can enjoy one (or more) carefully calculated nibble to keep you going till lunch or dinner. The choices on the website are love it, like it, try it or bin it. Personally I’ve loved all the honeyed almonds but binned all the olives.

Now I like seeds. Don’t get me wrong. And I definitely like the idea of nibbling my way through these healthy bites. The benefits they bring to body and soul are amazing but it has to be said that I do struggle to open up those little packets. Maybe it’s because they are reminiscent of bird food? I don’t know. I do know that I should “bin” the seed options.Courgette and seed muffins

However, my most recent unopened and sadly ignored packet of Omega Booster Seeds were the perfect finishing touch for these savoury courgette muffins. The cake-y part itself was moist and light but would have been nothing without the flavour of the seeds. The whole thing is just crying out for a little bit of strongly flavoured salty cheese just to lift it up and give it a bit of extra zing.

So next time you get a Graze snack you don’t feel like nibbling on you could always try adding it to a muffin. Which snacks to do you enjoy the most? And which ones would you muffinize?

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When do you eat yours?

There’s nothing like eating a savoury muffin alongside a bowl of hot steaming root vegetable soup on a rainy autumnal day. At least in my opinion there is nothing better. Muffins are also pretty tasty for breakfast, afterall who doesn’t like cake for breakfast? They also make a pretty good portable snack for the more adventurous among us who spend their weekends in outdoor pursuits. And then who can say no to a glazed treat with their afternoon coffee?

So my question to you is when is the best time to eat a muffin?

Strawberry and rhubarb Muffin

strawberryrhubarb2

I’ve struggled for a while to bake strawberries into a cake because of the moisture in the fruit. After several attempts a while back I gave up. Then recently I decided to give it one more shot (finding some strawberries in the fridge that were slightly past there best was the push required). It also seemed rude not to when strawberries were so deliciously in season and my enthusiasm for muffins reignited.strawberryrhubarb3

Rhubarb is in abundance in a pot in my garden since I planted a root gifted to me from my parents garden. I was merrily pulling the bright red stalks whenever I thought there were a few and that the remainder could use some extra space. That is until I read that I’m not supposed to pick any in the first year to allow them time to establish. Oh well, no more rhubarb from the garden this year! I’ve roasted rhubarb many a time and usually it ends up with a crumble topping but this time I wanted to do something a little different.

I read about making fruit powder on The Cupcake Project and thought it sounded like a great idea. All the flavour and vibrant colour of rhubarb without the mush. I chopped the tiny stalks of rhubarb into thin slivers and dried them in the oven. They didn’t quite make it to the powder stage as I thought they looked so pretty as they were…perfect for a muffin topping.rhubarb

Opinion is divided on dried rhubarb on top of the muffin but I enjoyed the minuscule chewy bites in contrast to the moist muffin. Now I’m looking forward to next year when I will be “allowed” to pull more of the stalks although I may not be able to restrain myself, the poor things do look so overcrowded!strawberryrhubarb

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Fruit, veg and attempts to exercise

Thanks to you everyone who completely my poll on what else should be included on Much ado about muffin. If you haven’t had a chance to fill it out you can find it here and I’d love for you to tell me what you think in the comments too.

Meanwhile I think I’ll give all my ideas plus your suggestions a whirl and see where they take me. Watch this space for huge amounts of information on fruits, vegetables, special diets and even my attempts to exercise…

Raspberry, rosemary and almond

Raspberry rosemary muffin

A gift of a punnet of raspberries led to this latest experiment. Delicious organic Scottish berries, grown at the James Hutton Institute as part of a teaching garden, require special treatment. Raspberries and almonds are a match made in heaven so I used almond milk rather than coconut and added some ground almonds for moisture as well as extra flavour. I’ve also been really keen to use some rosemary, growing in abundance in a pot on my stairs, in some sweet baking.

Raspberries and rosemary might be considered an unusual combination but they work extremely well together. The rosemary adds just a touch of savoury to the sweet juicy raspberry. I also experimented a little with spelt flour and I really liked the results. Maybe some time I’ll be braver and not use any self-raising flour. Do you dare me?

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only half the story

It occurred to me today that this blog is only covering half the story. My desire to bake and eat cake is so strong that I want to make things that are both a treat but also a little bit healthier. It’s been said for a while that cupcakes with mountains of buttercream are dead. They may be pretty but the quantity of sugar is really unjustified. I prefer to use fresh produce and fruit and nuts feature highly. I’ve also been trying to use different flours particularly wholemeal and brown rather than white sugar.

Even so there has to be a balance. In order to be able to eat muffins regularly I have to be able to burn the calories. I do a pretty good job at maintaining my weight but now I want to lose it. So that I don’t have to give up making delicious muffins to share with you I have to do a whole lot of exercise. With good access to sporting facilities I’ve tried my hand at many different forms of exercise, but still I’m a sporadic exerciser at best. While jumping around in Zumba class today I realised that this might be something you’d be interested to hear about?

I really like, and I’m sure most of you do too, looking at delicious photographs of muffins but the majority of us want to know how to balance it all. I will definitely not be stopping my development of muffin recipes and sharing them but I do have a few ideas of what  I could write about to try to address the issue. These are just my ideas, I’d love to know what you think? What would you like to read about? I’ve made it easy for you with a little poll (I’ve been wanting to do a poll for a while now) but if you have any other suggestions it’d be great if you could leave a comment. Thanks for your help!