The Kitchen, My Playground

“Laughter is brightest where the food is best.”

– Irish Proverb

DSC06946When I look out my kitchen window, I see two young girls swinging in the playground. They swing in rain, in snow, from day to dusk. It’s so refreshing and makes me smile every single time.

While they swing, I bake. I have been in the kitchen a lot these last few weeks and have been discovering the beauty of baking without white flour, refined sugar and trying to incorporate plant based dairy substitutes. I know what took me so long? I have tried using different flours like whole wheat, chickpea, almond and buckwheat to see how they get along in pancakes, biscuits and desserts. Instead of refined sugar, I have been using honey, maple syrup and dates.

Some days I feel like a mad scientist trying to get the formula right. Maybe this partially explains my last post on Berlinale. Good golly, I can’t believe I posted even in its horrible sloppiness. Oh the inner angst of a blogger egger nogger. Blergh.

Anyway, I thought I would share a few of the recipes I tried. I often tweaked them (because that is how I roll) and am directing you to those that have inspired me. Thank you, awesome fellow bloggers! I am reminded that it’s not important to please others, just yourself. So feel free to make any changes to better suit your taste buds.

Sweet Potato Pancakes from @dieffs – I used oatmeal flour (made from oatmeal ground in the food processor) because I didn’t have any almond flour, added 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 tablespoons unsweetened flaked coconut and cooked these babies in coconut oil. We enjoyed these as minis – well…because sometimes good things come in small packages.

Buckwheat Pancakes from Cookie + Kate – It was snowing and frankly, I didn’t feel like getting out of my pjs just yet. I didn’t have buttermilk so I used 1 cup soy milk with 1 tablespoon vinegar for the batter and used honey instead of white sugar. I didn’t roast strawberries but made a fruit compote:  2 cups Trader Joe’s frozen fruit blend placed in a small pot and brought to a boil. I added a half teaspoon of brown sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon then simmered for 5 minutes. I love the nutty texture of the buckwheat and especially feel comforted by pancakes like this on a cold winter’s morning. Yummm.DSC07183Cheddar Biscuits with Scallions & Black Pepper from Completely Delicious – we paired these beauties with Carrot Mango Coconut Soup by Heavenlynn Healthy. I used half whole wheat and half all purpose flour for the biscuits. I ran out of butter and soy milk so I used plain soy yogurt. Warm and delicious straight out of the oven!IMG_8497.jpg2 Ingredient Naan from Little Spice Jar – great with Indian dishes or even 7 Layer Greek Hummus by The Larson Lingo. I used half AP flour and half whole wheat flour to make the naan. Ugh I forgot to take a picture. Sorry. I will woo you with my attempt at a 7 Layer Greek Hummus instead. 5 out of 7 layers isn’t so bad. Beneath the blanket of feta, cucumber and tomatoes lies the hummus base which is homemade. That should count for something, right?

Chickpea Naan from Broke Ass Gourmet – I have recently discovered chickpea flour and am loving its flavor and protein factor. To me, it has a peanut buttery taste and if you know me, I do love peanut butter. I ended up adding a bit more water than called for in the recipe and added chili flakes and chopped garlic for a little kick. This pairs well with Daal simmered in Indian spices, tomatoes and spinach. What is it with Naan? I forgot to take a picture again. Sooorrryyyyy.

Healthy Banana Bread with Blueberries from Cookie + Kate – This time I had all the ingredients (yay!) and added fresh blueberries and chopped walnuts. Even with the awkwardly split banana on top, it still tastes amazing! I had been using the Best of Bridges recipe for two decades now and feel less guilty by replacing the loads of white flour and sugar. Great with company and coffee!

Dark Chocolate Black Bean and Raspberry Brownies by Hummusapien – almond flour and black beans make this a protein packed dessert sweetened by maple syrup. I used 1/2 tsp almond extract instead of vanilla and replaced the Theo chocolate bar and chocolate chips with Schwarze Herren Schokolade, but you can use whatever brand you fancy. It was so good and moist we forgot it had black beans in it. How about that!?

Chocolate Date Caramel Walnut Tart by Gourmande in The Kitchen – Ever since I had a walnut tart at a café by Adenauerplatz last summer, I have been wanting to make a walnut tart. In this recipe, I used half ground oatmeal and half almond flour for the base. The rest is sweetened by maple syrup and dates. The chocolate is dreamy just like a ganache but without heavy cream. Absolutely my new favorite!!

Baking is a science so sometimes things don’t always go exactly as planned. Not to worry. Enjoy the experiments, learn from the failures and have a little fun on your playground. Happy baking!


4 thoughts on “The Kitchen, My Playground

  1. Hi Shirl,
    I am so glad you are so adventurous with food and travel. You are so fortunate to have traveled the world and experienced so many different flavors. Your pictures from your recent holidays in Mexico and the Philippines are incredible! Would love to taste local Flip food with you in the PI. Not sure about the Pinoy cook off tho – lol.

    I have not tried using beets as a sweetener. How neat is that! Please share the recipe and I’ll give it a try. xoxo


  2. Hi Arlene, thanks for your sweet comments. Odd is not so much a quality control person but much more of a quantity control person – haha! He eats everything! Karina is my best and worst critic. It’s much harder to pass the Karina-litmus test so she’s the honest one 🙂

    I have tried coconut sugar in the past but not with recent recipes. I should try that again soon. Thanks for the reminder. Well no plans for a recipe or koffeehaus any time soon but it’s really nice to hear some encouragement. xoxoxo


  3. Hi Vern
    Love love love to join you in your playground. Like you I am the happiest in my kitchen, wherever I go in my travels the first place I hug is the local market, that’s were you see the local people and learn so much about the culture by what they eat! You can come with me next time I go to the Philippines and we can do a Pinoy cook off!
    Let your creative juices flow.
    Have you used beets as a sweetener? I have a made a chocolate tart with beets and no refined white sugar. Delicious!


  4. Vern, you definitely should open up a Koffeehaus 8am – 2:00pm. I feel your passion am glad you’re not afraid to try substitute and try out other ingredients. Have you tried coconut sugar?
    Odd is so blessed for having a goddess in the kitchen. Is he a good quality control person? gives you an honest opinion on your creations? what about Karina, does she also give you her honest opinion?

    keep on cooking and creating new recipes. Baking is truly a science, that’s why am not a baker, everything is so precise. Am more of a wing it person.

    make sure you keep a record and photo of your recipes and I look forward to your first recipe book printing.
    Have a fabulous weekend.
    Love and hugs,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s