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12 January 2007

the sweetness of domesticity.

blueberry muffin

I am becoming so domestic.

This morning, I woke up before the Chef. Sentences were singing in my mind, with a high-pitched insistence. Reluctantly, I left the bed to write some more, quelling the choir into quietness. After awhile, I was fully awake. After I set a pot of coffee going, I checked in on the Chef. Sleeping sweetly. What was I to do? Read the paper? Curl up with my new favorite book? Go for a walk?

No, I did the only sensible thing a gluten-free girl can do. I made muffins. From scratch.

I have never made gluten-free muffins from scratch. I have only made them from mixes a few times, and those are fine. In fact, I have one sitting on the shelves of our pantry, right now. I could have so easily dumped that in the KitchenAid, added some butter and eggs, and called it done.

But these days, almost nine months after the Chef and I met, I find myself — to my surprise — becoming incessantly domestic. I make lists of projects to do around the home. I spend every evening wiping down the counters so the kitchen is clean before the Chef comes back. When I lived alone, I would let the kitchen go, for days. Who was around to see it? Now that it is his home too, I find that I want it gleaming and clean. And after reading dozens of crafty blogs the last month — especially this one — I’m even considering buying this book and teaching myself to sew.

(If you had seen the lopsided, sadly shapen, horribly embroidered placemat I made in the seventh grade, you would know just how shocking that sentence is.)

Mostly, though, I just can’t stop creating food. Certainly, that has been true for more than a year and a half now, since I stopped eating gluten. I have been cooking myself into a new being for months and months. But now, I’m cooking for someone else. Top it off, I’m cooking for a professional chef, a damned fine one. I have had to face the reality — I will never sear lamb chops or create a fish special the way this lovely man can, no matter how long I cook. He has a gift, a genius, I can only admire. Then again, he stands in awe of my writing, particularly the fact that I wrote an entire book in four months. We both have our strengths.

But you see? No one cooks for chefs. Everyone is too intimidated. Unless I let go of the need to be as good as him, the man will never eat home-cooked food. And this is our home.

Long ago, I gave up trying to impress him. What I want most of all now is to feed him.

Nothing sends out love like baked goods made from scratch. When I was first diagnosed with celiac, I thought I would never be able to make a batch of cookies for a friend, or woo a man with my pies. Now, however, I no longer worry. I’ve done enough experimenting with gluten-free flours to know what I want. The bottom shelf of our little pantry is filled with little one-pound bags of millet, quinoa, sorghum, and teff. I love the experimenting.

Mostly, though, I love the final product. When I make something new, and it turns out right, I stand in the kitchen and clap my hands, truly delighted. These muffins? They were golden-brown and studded with raw sugar, filled with so many blueberries that some bites tasted like June, and wonderfully warm. When I brought one into the Chef — he had been awoken by the smell of baking — along with a hot cup of coffee, he smiled up at me, delighted.

That is the sweetest part of domesticity: the look of love in his eyes.


Gluten-free baking truly isn’t that hard. All it takes is a desire to play and a willingness to make mistakes. However, over time — months later —you will know, instinctually, which flour to use. When I made these muffins, I knew. Sorghum, because that is the base of almost everything I bake these days. It is light and binding, the closest texture to wheat of any of the gluten-free flours. In fact, I use it in almost everything I bake these days. White rice flour, because muffins should be light and airy, with almost no density, just enough to hold them together. Tapioca flour, because some kind of starch works well with these together. (Could have been cornstarch or potato starch. I like tapioca starch here. It has an ephemeral sweetness, faint but perceptible, that I like.) Put them together — muffins.

My friend Monica came over for a visit this afternoon, for one last conversation before she returns to New York. She can’t eat gluten either. In fact, she was diagnosed because of me — she had the same symptoms, and my experience taught her what questions to ask. I fed her minestrone soup, some of the gluten-free bread, and one of these muffins. “Man, you are really getting this gluten-free baking down,” she said. I smiled. No accolade at school ever felt so sweet.

10 tablespoons unsalted, soft butter
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 cup sweet white sorghum flour
1 cup white rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder (or ½ teaspoon cream of tartar, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon cornstarch)
½ teaspoon baking soda (if combining above, add another ½ teaspoon to mix)
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups plain yogurt
1 cup blueberries (frozen are fine)
2 tablespoons raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 375.

Combine all the dry ingredients together. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together, until just creamed. If you leave the stand mixer running as they are creaming, these muffins will not rise. Simply cream them until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg.

Add one half of the dry ingredients, mixing well. Add one-third of the yogurt and combine until well mixed. Add one-half of the remaining dry ingredients to the mixture, and combine. Continue this, alternating the yogurt and dry ingredients, until you have mixed both of them in, completely.

Add as many blueberries as you can.

Oil a muffin tin well, then sprinkle a little cornstarch or white rice flour on the bottom of each cup. Fill each space for muffin two-thirds full. Sprinkle the raw sugar over the top and set them in the oven.

(This recipe will give you enough batter to make two tins of muffins, or close.)

Bake the muffins for about 35 minutes, or until the tops have browned and started to harden, and the entire house smells of warm blueberry muffins. If your sweetie wakes up from the smell, the muffins are done.

Makes 18 muffins.

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At 12:38 AM, Blogger Nat said...

Hi Shauna!
Given the rousing success of your Artisinal Sorghum bread recipe, I will be trying these muffins very very soon.
Please keep creating, you have a wonderful talent for it. And though I don't know you, I am thrilled to reap the benefits, both in devouring your blog posts, and using the recipes. So thankyou.
About that bread -- I made it tonight for a dinner party. It's definitely the best GF bread I've had. By far. And my non-celiac dinner guests loved it almost as much as me (even the one who had no idea that there was anything "special" about this bread).

At 4:46 AM, Blogger Sheri said...

Wow, Shauna! That muffin is beautiful. While I love blueberries, I don't have any in the house but I have a bunch of cranberries I bought and froze, so I might try this recipe with them (and a little more sugar to counteract the tartness of the berries).

At 5:54 AM, Blogger Melting Wok said...

The gluten-free muffins looks delicious, will have to try it sometime, thx for sharing, cheers ! :)

At 6:57 AM, Blogger Boston Chef said...

We thought of you when we saw this article in today's Boston Globe: Gluten-Free Beer!

At 9:35 AM, Blogger katie said...

That is one gorgeous muffin!

And I just wanted to let you know that If you two are ever in Portland I recently discovered this restaurant:
What makes it special? Gorgeous gluten-free food.

At 11:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your amazing recipes, but even more, thanks for sharing yourself. My daughter & I are Celiacs & I am a teacher. You are a gifted writer. Embrace it, and keep sharing it. Through the process of writing you are blessing yourself as well as others. You show others that GF is not about deprivation. I don't recall who said this but it applies. "To have is riches, but to do without is powerful." To be GF is powerfully creative! Thanks, also, for your openness & transparency. You inspire others through that. Say "Hi" to the chef for us. Cling tight to your love & make it a priority to always keep it fresh & alive. God bless you two!
Tami & Toni from So.CA

At 2:45 PM, Blogger Mindy said...

Ah...yes that wonderful domestic feeling that comes with cohabitation. I hope that he liked the muffins!

I am sure he did. Best to you and the chef.

At 4:45 PM, Blogger Katie said...

I just saw you on nice. Congratulations on all of your success thusfar.

At 4:55 PM, Blogger Katie said...

Shauna, I just saw your little blurb on The Food Network! I feel like a dork because I got so excited and rewound it to the beginning so I could pay attention. It felt like watching an old friend even though we've never met; totally awesome! You've inspired me in so many ways. I had to share. :)

At 6:08 PM, Blogger E! said...

"quelling the choir into quietness"

quelling the choir into quietness...I can't stop saying it, it's like rolling something sweet and cold and Q around in my mouth.

Shauna, you are effing amazing. I can't even read more than one sentence you write without your incredible gift for language stopping me dead in my tracks.

Man. OK, now I have to go back and read the rest because that muffin looks as scrumptious as your alliteration!


At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those look yummy. Funny, I have just started experimenting with a new muffin recipe myself.

I have been craving my own cooking. I used to make everything from scratch before I started eating gluten free, but all the rules have changed on me.

I miss making my own pancakes, I am tired of using a mix, but I am not completely ready to go out there and do it. I have 2 small children (they are eating gluten, but we are eating some meals all the same), so I am not prepared to have to start something all over again.

And I have found and tweaked into existence a fast and easy recipe, and if you want to share it here, please do, and if you don't, I wouldn't be insulted and I would still visit your blog everyday.

It is just such an easy recipe for Moms to whip up, 5 minutes, a few here it is, share if you like, tweak to make it better, I think it is too good to keep to myself..

3T butter, melted (or coconut oil)
3 eggs
1/3 C sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 C sifted coconut flour
1/4 tsp baking powder

I add 1 mashed banana, and chopped pecans, and sometimes toasted coconut on top.

Just mix up the ingredients and put in a lined muffin tin, otherwise they may stick.

Bake 15 min at 400 degrees.


At 11:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just bought some blueberries this afternoon! We must be "synergizing" ;-)
I'll eat most of them fresh, because they're so good just by themselves.
However, I may try my hand at some muffins.

At 3:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey there.
I consider making and adapting a lot of your recipes. Have you ever considered keeping dairy out of your diet? I am dairy free, and I have to say that I get a lot of inspiration from you about your reasoning behind being gluten free, and I feel like they go hand in hand. Either way... just a thought. Maybe the next time you stop to make something, you can ask yourself as you add that dairy element in, if there is something that you can substitute? and is it even needed?

At 5:51 AM, Blogger Lynn Barry said...

Hi Shauna,
I got an e-mail from my sister telling me to check out gluten free girl because she saw you on the food network. I told her I already knew about you and have been to your site on a regular basis. She was much impressed that I knew (via blogspot)you.
Have a great day!

At 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for leading me to soulemama. I spend an entire snowy afternoon yesterday reading and wishing I were one of her children!

I'm eagerly waiting to get sorghum flour to use my Christmas-new Le Creuset dutch oven to produce your beautiful bread.

At 6:29 PM, Blogger Tea said...

My gosh these look good. I swear I can smell them from where I am sitting!

Like the new photo as well:-)

At 7:02 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

All I can say is---will you come be my personal chef? I guess The Chef has dibs on you, eh?

Just found your blog. Haven't tried the recipes yet, but they're printed out and posted on the fridge just waiting for the weekend.

At 7:09 PM, Blogger Hummingbird said...

Ah! These sound divine! Must try recipe... Blue berries are my favourite. My brother was a chef for years, and he complimented me on my cooking one evening, which was huge for me,. Also I dated a chef once, so know the intimidation and insecurity you feel, but what my brother pointed out to me, is that I am a 'real cook' versus a chef. Sometimes, after a long hard shift at work a chef wants to come home and have some easy going, lovingly prepared, down home cooking. I am sure that your man appreciates your cooking, and is inspired by you more than you know. And as for the sweet domesticity thing... Darlin' you're nesting, and its lovely! :) Enjoy it!!!

At 9:26 PM, Blogger Calli said...

Shauna- Oh gods. Yum.

Slackermommy, I'm so glad you posted that recipe - I've got a bag of coconut flour I picked up on a hypomanic whim, and I was wondering what to do with it --- I'm making muffins! ^__^

At 11:29 PM, Blogger Camille said...

i am new to the whole blog world, so i am not sure if you even read these... i am a personal chef and gluten-free for about 6 months (mostly, but i dont have celiacs, i dont think...) and am really excited to have stumbled upon your blog. thanks! i am thinking of starting one myself, though i am not sure i would have anything to write that hasnt been said before...sort of like a tattoo... anyway, good work!

At 12:36 AM, Blogger Kevin D said...

Just come accross your blog, will save it to my favourite list you have some great recipes! my mum can't have any gluten and I always run out of ideas when she come and stay with us! keep up the good work!
sylvie d

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Shauna said...

Nat, I am SO glad that the bread worked out for you. I just can't stop making it now! I'm sure your guests were thrilled.


I'm sure this recipe would work for any kind of muffin, really. That's the beauty of it!

Melting wok,

Of course! That's why we are all here -- to learn from each other. Thanks for stopping by.

Boston Chef,

Oh goodness, I am so eager to try that beer. There might be some in my future soon....


That restaurant looks fabulous! Much like the Chef's, really. We are bound to be in Portland soon. we'll be sure to stop by.

Tami and Toni,

Thank you so much for this beautiful comment. I am humbled.


He did like the muffins. He is still talking about them. Next time, he wants raspberry muffins...

Katie of the Khoury family,

I'm still amazed when I think that people are watching me on tv!


Thank you! I love the idea that people are reading, and know me from my words, and then see me on tv. So surreal! Do you know, I still haven't seen it live?


Aw shucks. Thank you so much. I read this comment more than once! It's true, I am a fool for alliteration sometimes.


Yum. Those pancakes look great. I have a recipe too, fairly different. I'll have to do a post about those too....


You know, we all have our own story. After the first couple of months of eating gluten-free, I was able to go back to dairy, successfully. Therefore, I cook and bake with it. I definitely love soy milk, and I eat plenty of meals without dairy. However, since it is not my experience, I don't want to guess on recipes. However, if you are able to substitute successfully, I'd love to hear about it, so I could share your success with other readers.


How cool! I do feel as though you and I know each other, even though it is only through this lovely blog world. Are you ever coming out to Seattle for a visit?


Isn't Amanda wonderful? Although, as a dear friend of mine said today, reading her blog does make me feel bad that I'm not making everything by hand! We all have our gifts, I guess.


Thanks my friend. When you arrive, I'll make a version of them you can eat. Swear.


Well, I sort of have my hands full, at the moment, and the Chef wouldn't be too happy. Would the recipes do? I hope they all work out for you!


Absolutely! We are nesting. It's downright ridiculous, actually. But I love it. And I love serving him my imperfect food. Last night, however, I made a potato-leek soup that made him nearly weep. "This is so good!" he kept shouting. I think he's rubbing off on me.


I want to hear about those muffins!


Oh, of course I read the comments! I adore them, actually. And you should start your own blog. It's not about being the most original. It's about sharing your own story.

Kevin D,

Glad to help. I hope your mom approves!

At 7:34 PM, Blogger Lianne Raymond said...

Hi Shauna,

I think I may be the lucky winner of the dinner with you at Impromptu!

I tried to email you but the link doesn't seem to be working. You can contact me at lraymond66 at hotmail dot com.

At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what happened, but mine didn't turn out! They were really heavy and the inside was kind of doughy even though the outside was all nice and golden. And, when I was mixing the batter it was super thick...hmm. Maybe I just suck at baking. :)

At 10:16 AM, Blogger Shauna said...


Yay! I'm so looking forward to having dinner with you.


Baking is really a science. Don't worry. Try again. Did you do the trick of folding in the yogurt and flours only parts at a time? That really does matter here. Check the temperature on your oven, to make sure it is accurate. Maybe try a little more liquid? It's worth another shot. Write to me, and we can carry this on email, if you want!

At 2:23 PM, Blogger Calli said...

Hey Shauna,

I'm sneaking back into this post. xP
I tried to make both of the muffins - yours, and the coconut.

- Calli

PS - The blueberry muffins are going to be a weekly staple. Yum.

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I baked these up last night and we have been enjoying them all day. I may try a lime zest with raspberry combo next :) I wanted to ask, do you think these would bake up well as mini muffins? I am totally gluten free and plan on converting my kids this summer. I think mini muffins would make an awesome breakfast option but I worry about the density in such a compact size

ps thank you a thousand times for the recipe, every GF muffin Ive tried so far has been a flop with the family. These have had the best texture by far.

At 8:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't "Eat, Pray, Love" just fantastic? I finished reading it on Saturday and now want to lend it out to half a dozen friends all at once. Glad to see you're reading it, too, and feeling similarly transported by Elizabeth's amazing journey.

At 5:39 AM, Blogger Kate said...

I make a gluten free banana chocolate chip muffin and I found that I can off-set any heaviness by separating the eggs, whipping the whites and folding them in at the end, sort of like a souffle. (Not that heaviness appears to be an issue for you, but one of the commenters mentioned that her muffins went thunk.)

At 7:59 AM, Blogger HappySlob said...

Yay, muffins! :) I think it looks incredibly delicious. And, I have to say that I've just found your blog and love it. You have a wonderful way of expressing yourself - a soothing way of writing that I just love.

Take care,
Christina - the Happy Slob

PS. If you have a moment to visit my blog, I'd be really grateful. :)

At 7:05 PM, Blogger Soul Kitten said...

Hey Shauna! I read EAT LOVE PRAY over my Christmas break and I couldn't put it down. I think I laughed out loud or cried every 10 pages at least. I even put the last 20 pages aside because I couldn't bear for it to be over. I have been spreading the word ever since. It is so fab -- food for the soul

At 10:50 PM, Blogger cambria said...

The recipe turned out wonderfully! The only things I added were a dash of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of vanillla. Thank you very much for posting this. In addition to being intolerant to gluten, I also can't have gum's, so finding a GF and gum free recipe that actually tastes good was amazing! thanks again!

At 8:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


great great recipe! my husband and both kids (3 and 5) have celiac disease. we are only in our 4th month of eathing gf and it feels like things are going to be just fine after eating muffins like these.

At 9:44 AM, Blogger Kristina said...

I tried these this morning and they are LOVELY! I didn't have sorghum flour so I substituted millet flour, also substituted Brown Cow vanilla and maple for the plain yogurt as it's what I had on hand. DELISH! This is a keeper. Thanks!

At 8:52 AM, Blogger AngelaJoTM said...

Good Morning! I just got done making your muffins and am waiting for them to come out of the oven. Thank you for sharing your recipes with the rest of us and encouraging our culinary creativity.

Best wishes,


At 5:48 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I just wanted to thank you for this recipe. I made it for my husband who has celiac and he was so impressed. I usually hate eating most of the food I bake gf style but these were AWESOME! Thank you from the bottom of my heart and the bottom of my husbands stomach!

At 12:22 AM, Anonymous kim said...

Thanks so much for this recipe! I didn't have white rice flour or raw sugar but they still turned out great.

I plan to share them with my sister tomorrow as she and I are both eating gluten-free. The rest of the family is going to be jealous I'm sure!

I can't believe they taste so good (and that I made them!)

Thanks again.

At 11:21 AM, Blogger micah said...

I made these yesterday so I had a gluten free breakfast option and all I can say is THANK YOU. They turned out light and fluffy and positively delicious. It made my Monday morning positively scrumptious. My favorite part of baking these though was coming home hours after baking and my home still smelled of the home baked goodness. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I am thoroughly enjoying the muffins!

At 1:28 AM, Blogger livinglife said...

Yummo ... your muffins sound amazing ... will definitely be trying them. I made some today from another recipe ... you might want to check them out.

At 9:13 PM, Blogger Bonney Hughes said...

I'd had heartburn off and on for years and been on Prilosec for over a year when I decided to try eating gluten-free in early January. It definitely seems to have made a difference. I still have to be careful what I eat, but I improved enough to get off all heartburn meds for a few weeks. Then I got overconfident and drank some white wine and ate some garlicky dip, and I was back on Pepcid. If I'm careful, I can probably get off again. I don't think I have Celiac disease--does anyone know any other reason one would be gluten-intolerant? Anyway, I made these muffins and they're delicious, but very crumbly. I couldn't really get them out of the pans without seriously injuring them. Any idea why? Thanks for your blog--I've ended up here twice, and it does feel like being in a friend's kitchen. That's especially comforting when one's trying to adjust to life without gluten.
If you're interested in tips for reducing climate change, see my blog at And thanks again.

At 7:17 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Yum! Followed your recipes, with a few little alterations.

I used 1 cup white rice flour and 2 cups Bob's Red Mill gluten free flour. Subbed sour cream for the yogurt and chocolate chips and raspberries for the blueberries.

Thanks for sharing the recipe!

At 10:28 PM, Blogger detritus said...

This recipe means a lot to me.When I found it, I had just tossed a particularly gross, gummy, GF blueberry muffin recipe failure in the trash. Which made me (being a Taurus) even more determined to make blueberry muffins, darn it!
I'm only at the 6 month GF stage, and so just beginning my foray into GF baking. I have always loved to cook, but it's been a very tough, frustrating 6 months as my ingredient options get smaller and smaller. And being an experienced cook, I'm not used to following recipes and ending up with disasters. But it's been happening. A lot. Yesterday I had my first pizza crust victory. And today, your lovely muffins. Tomorrow at work we are having a breakfast meeting, and I really wanted to be able to just eat a muffin, so that my employees wouldn't feel awkward with their bagels, etc. And these are so delicious, that now I think I'm going to have to share them with my staff! I followed your recipe quite closely, only substituting soy yogurt and omitting the lemon peel. And I took a poster's suggestion of beating the egg whites separately. Such joy in such a perfect little muffin. Thank you!

At 7:39 AM, Anonymous glutenfreemama said...

Oh me, oh my! Second time making these muffins and they are delightful again :) Last time I had no yogurt so I threw in buttermilk. This time, no buttermilk, and only a cup of yogurt, so I added 1/4 cup of ricotta and 1/4 cup almond milk. We are just finishing off our blueberries (we picked 20 lbs last weekend) as they are starting to look a little shriveled and sad now :( Many have been consumed, many have been frozen....the remainder became a component of the muffin batter! Since fresh peaches are in season I decided to dice some up and add them, as well as our family favorite spice: cardamom! Yum, yum, yum!!!

You know Shauna, I love our playdates! I know you are unaware that we have them but this summer (since we are only just over 3 months into the GF diet) we have been playing daily! I go online, read some new part of your blog (new to me at I got a chuckle out of your pre-wedding blog/invitation misunderstanding where you feared many uninvited guests would show up....I will have to read what really happened later) and find a recipe to play with. Sometimes I even chat with you (I try to use my internal voice to keep the raised eyebrows at a minimum) it was amongst the lines of "hmmm...10 Tablespoons of butter again....wonder how much that would be in cups....darn those measuring of my tablespoons says 12 ml, another says 15 ml and yet another says 18 ml....makes conversion really difficult...what do you think? Oh..right on...just grab blindly and hope for the best...okay...let's try it...heehee) Yup, my teenage boys think their 42 year old mother is a wee bit wacky, but they don't seem to mind as they are made of the same mold :)

Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Quite often our play is based on GF son's requests for things he is craving and can no longer have....what a truly delightful adventure it has been! He is feeling sooo much better and we are all much healthier as we are much more mindful of what we eat!

Fun fun fun...and thanks again for letting the world play along with you on your blog!! I have to run and grab another muffin...the guys don't realize they are ready to eat yet....sssshhhhhhh......


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