15 December 2012

Berry Berry Go Kickass

“I am my own leader” read one of the affirmations I received this week from The Virtues Project. 

On Sunday when I arrived home from my walk, my aunt’s copy of Watchmen, the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, caught my eye.  I began to read it, knowing that it’s one of those comics I should probably have read because of the gaming/sci-fi/geek/artistic circles in which I rotate.  One slogan graffitied on a wall in an early frame stuck out: “Who will watch the Watchmen?”

A few weeks ago, as I wrote morning pages, a voice asked me, “If you don’t begin taking care of yourself now, when will you?”

If your body is your vehicle for this world, do you want to drive a Yugo or a Bimmer?

Clearly, change is a-comin', and if two tea cake flops aren't an indication of my energy transitioning to another level, then I don't know what is.  Soon enough, I'll be hearing David Bowie's "Changes" when I'm shopping at Whole Foods.

Frozen berries did not perform as well as I would have liked in my tea cake recipe, so my aunt generously bought me fresh berries to try again (I made this failure-to-bake loaf into a cobbler thing). 

Head-to-head tea cakes with frozen and fresh berries took an obscenely long time to bake as well.  So I had a bunch of berries.  These muffins I called Omega-3 Powerhouse Muffins because when I first made them in 2010, I was impressed by the amount of flax and walnuts in them (I was also just becoming vegan and was easily impressed by such things.  I still am!  Trying to cultivate beginner's mind, folks).

The second time I made these in 2010, I was just beginning my job at Mudd Library and I was leaving home for this unknown position.  Nourishing myself, no matter what happened at this new workplace, was a priority.  My fears were unfounded since now I count Mudd Library as a place where I can be nourished by its energy, its quietude and orderliness--all created and sustained by the awesome people who work there.  Nevertheless, a high-energy muffin can’t hurt, whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, or dessert; I count these as a valuable part of my baking repertoire.

Omega-3 Powerhouse Muffins/ Cranberry-Orange-Walnut (COW) Muffins
Modified from Madhuram’s Eggless Cooking, “Vegan Cranberry Muffins,” http://www.egglesscooking.com/2010/01/04/vegan-orange-cranberry-muffins/

1 cup walnuts

3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
dash of cinnamon

1/2 cup Sucanat
1/4 cup organic granulated sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1 1/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used almond)
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons chia seeds
zest of 1 orange (I used the zest of 2 tangerines)

1 cup fresh cranberries (and blueberries, because I had them)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place walnuts on a piece of foil and toast in preheating oven until fragrant, about 7 minutes.  Remove walnuts from oven and set aside.  Line a 12-well muffin tin with papers or grease each well.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  In a blender or food processor, blitz the sugar, oil, non-dairy milk, vinegar, chia seeds, and orange zest until uniformly combined.  Add the wet to the dry and mix well.  Stir in the toasted walnuts and the cranberries.  Divide amongst the muffin cups.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean (not berry-ful), the tops have browned a little, and the tops spring back to the touch.  Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

As for the tea cake experiment, both loaves tasted fine, if a little oxidised (science-speak for burned). 

The one on the left is the frozen berry version and the one on the right is the fresh berry version.  When I produce a marketable product, I will surely update this blog.  As long as the final product is edible (especially with a little chocolate vice cream), I’m not complaining.

What does the post title have to do with anything?  The obvious: berries in the muffins and unfortunate tea cake.  The personal anecdote: when I was wee and ate Berry Berry Kix, I called them “Berry Berry go Kix.”  The success of the muffins lifted me up from the mooshy cobbler and the toasty tea cakes, and I am ready to kick ass in the kitchen again.

I hope I inspired some Stafford Middle School students for whom I demonstrated two healthy snacks yesterday to do the same.
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