Change. Orange Bran Muffins.

Change tends to come quickly. Maybe it takes you by surprise. Lately change has been sneaking up on me.

Two weeks ago I was running in full winter gear as snow flurries fell onto my tongue. This week I’m wearing shorts and tank tops. Not together. Let’s not get too crazy. Two and a half months ago I had my heart broken. Talk about chaos. A week and a half ago I remembered why I loved the mountains and a barn filled with horses—peace. And five days ago I crossed the finish line of the Shamrock Shuffle with a new personal record and the Chicago skyline rising in front of me. I felt this overwhelming sense of luck and joy, and that feeling just hasn’t gone away yet. Change is sticking.

I once thought bran muffins were ridiculous. I worked at a coffee shop in Raleigh and we sold muffins. The bran were always left at the end of the day, and honestly I didn’t blame our customers. Why would you opt for healthy, tasteless bran when you could go the blueberry or carrot?

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Delicious Accidents. Potato Chickpea Breakfast Hash

What inspires you in the kitchen? Is it a certain recipe? An ingredient you find yourself drawn to at the grocery or market? A type of cooking or cuisine? Maybe even a person?

I’ve been inspired by all of these things at one time or another. A few weekends ago it was the ingredients, two of my purchases at the Indy Winter Farmers Market—the eggs from my favorite Schact Farms (where I also purchased some leaf lard that for pie crusts same weekend!) and some delicious greens from a farm that I’m embarrassed to say I don’t remember the name of.

I came home starving and ready to just throw some food together. I’d reached the point of hangry, AKA the point of no return, AKA I need food simply to fuel my body and am no longer concerned with how it tastes. This is the point at which I sometimes stand at the counter and eat dry granola from the box.

Thank God I accidentally made the best breakfast/brunch meal ever.

This is just a pile of simple and good ingredients. We’re talking greens with flavor (if you’ve only eaten iceberg lettuce or a bagged salad mix, brach out to some fresh and not bagged other greens like arugula, butterhead lettuce, or mustard greens. Mind-blowing.), earthy potatoes, spiced chickpeas, mushrooms, and peppers (leftovers in my kitchen from chickpea and roasted vegetable fajitas), all topped with bright yellow runny yolk eggs. This is delicious, easy, healthy fuel. This is what you should be stuffing into your face on a weekly basis.

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Peach Butter

Summer is fleeting and always fills up too quickly with plans. Do you notice that? I’ve had very few weekends since June without some kind of something going on. I’ve loved every planned, filled and busy minute, really. And I know that this summer has probably been extra busy because Michael is moving at the end of it all. We’re cramming. Aside from all that, the moments that stick out the most for me have been the quiet ones, unplanned or regular and weekly. I guess I’m a girl who likes routine and the familiar.

One of my best friends and I laid on her apartment floor shivering in the air conditioning, eating Mediterranean food and talking about everything and nothing. (Do you remember what you and your best friends talked about before you talked about everything and nothing? Before conversation just came and went? I don’t. It’s just always been this way for me. My BFFs have been around for lifetimes.)

I spent an entire quiet afternoon and evening in the kitchen, watching transformations happen with just Mira and my iPod for company.

homemade mozzarella cheese started as milk!

I lounge in bed with Mira and Lola on weekend mornings for at least half an hour before getting up.

Mom and I go to yoga twice a week. Mother daughter relaxation detoxification time.

Saturday is farmer’s market day. We started this last summer…getting up, riding our bikes to Broad Ripple High School, and shopping. Well, I shop, wander from stand to stand, gush over tomatoes and berries, and Michael follows along, agreeing that we could have sweet corn for dinner this week. I love moving through the dogs and people, selecting fruits that we sometimes can’t wait to eat til we get home.

This summer we’ve also been frequenting a particular ice pop stand, Nicey Treat. Avocado, pineapple-basil, mango-ginger, key lime pie…perfect on a hot day.

I can judge the passing of summer by the fruits at the farmers market. Strawberries mean the beginning of summer, but they go quickly. Raspberries mean summer is in full swing, but you can’t expect them to hang around too long either. Blueberries and blackberries show up at the same time and stay for awhile. But peaches, they’re my favorite, and thank goodness that they come with the strawberries practically and stay all summer long.

When peaches made their first appearance at the market, I bought an obscene amount. I kind of went crazy. In fact I’m pretty sure the girl thought I was nuts. Good thing I bought that many though. We ate a few fresh and right away. This summer marks Michael’s first experience with a fresh peach. He’s finally living for real. The rest of the peaches I promptly turned into peach butter.

Peach butter is magical. It’ll create those perfect routine and quite summer moments for you. How can it not? It’s peachy, sunny, barely sweetened, and so easy. Peaches, a bit of sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of ginger in a pot. I could easily go through an entire batch in a few weeks, but I try to savor the stuff. I’ve even gotten into canning, and make a few jars to last me through the winter.

Canning isn’t hard. I cross my heart. Promise. I’ll tell you how to do it. Actually Deb of Smitten Kitchen will tell you how to do it, but I’ll put it here on my site so you don’t have to click around and around the web.

I love these labels!

So please, make some peach butter, enjoy a quiet summer moment with it spread on toast, a biscuit, pancakes or right from the jar. Then get back to cliff jumping, road tripping, and concert going!

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Sprinkles For All Occasions

This is what my childhood looked like

Sprinkles and flakes (or, more correctly, hagelslag and vlokken) on bread for breakfast, lunch, snack, dessert….they weren’t just for ice cream in our house.

Serious Eats’ Sweets blog wrote about sprinkles today and when I came to the post in my reader I almost yelped aloud. You know how some things can really take you back to your childhood, to certain memories? Looking at that grid of bread and pieces of chocolate and sugar did that. Back to visiting my grandparents and marveling at how many different boxes of sprinkles Oma would line up on the table at dinnertime. To tapping the box carefully, just like Opa did, at the kitchen counter at my parents house, and squashing the sprinkles into the toast so they would get melty. Back to introducing our friends to sprinkles and to them wanting the treat every time they came over.

So, sprinkles and flakes are these chocolatey or sugary morsels from Holland (that’s where my mom is from and why they were a staple in our kitchen) that you but on buttered bread or toast. If you top untoasted, fluffy, and preferably crunchy-crusted bread with sprinkles, you get a nice crunch crunch of chocolate against the soft bread. If you go with brown and crisp toast, apply sprinkles to buttered bread, wait a minute to let them begin to melt, them press them down with a knife, and the chocolate and butter will mush together into something beautiful and melty.

ingredients to sprinkle bliss

I’m not sure where you can get sprinkles or flakes in the States without having to order them. Perhaps at an international grocery? My mom usually keeps a good stock from The Dutch Store. And every once in awhile I take a box and hide it in my cabinet to eat when I need a pick-me-up.

Do you have a food that takes you back? Like if you saw a picture of it, you’d be all “oh man! That embodies my childhood!”

Pumpkin pancakes with apple maple syrup

Right now I am sitting in a coffee shop. Michael is sitting across from me doing work on a paper for Sweden. He’s a big deal. The couple at the table next to us is having a first date. Michael and I text back and forth about them. He has nice eyes. She’s a lot smaller than him. He was probably skinnier back in the day, but maybe he doesn’t have time to workout now that he has a 9-5 job. And HOLY SHIT WTF does that dude have a tail? Welcome to Broad Ripple. In order to make this afternoon more…cafe-like, I’m listening to Pink Martini on my phone. Some of their songs sound very Parisian cafe. All of them sound like they could be on the soundtrack of a black and white movie from the 40s. It’s making the ambiance less dude-with-a-tail-y. I feel fancy.

I love breakfast. Have I said that before? Making a pot of coffee, taking the time to cook eggs or pancakes or biscuits, making my plate look pretty before I set my fork to the food, and then sitting on the couch and eating at a relaxed speed without the pressure of having to run to work hanging over my head. I love drinking multiple mugs of coffee over a few hours, really taking in and enjoying the taste. Breakfast can really be a ritual.

I have two weekend breakfast stand-bys: eggs with runny yolks, poached in my new-old egg poaching pot from my grandparents house or fried eggs, or pancakes. I have a variety of pancakes in my weekend breakfast repertoire. The latest addition are these pumpkin pancakes. They’re filling and thick and made with whole-wheat flour, and full of autumn spices. And the apple maple syrup. Oh heaven. sautéed and cinnamoned apple slices briefly cooked in a dousing of maple syrup. This is the breakfast of autumn kings and queens. Or at least the exact breakfast I’d like to eat on a blustery November day. This recipe makes more than enough for one or two people for one meal. I still like to make the full recipe though, and put the extra batter in the refrigerator to use for a quick weekday breakfast.

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The End of Creativity

Um, I know. June ended like a week ago.

I have the last two days of creativity for you. 30 Days of Creativity challenged me more than I’d expected, especially after Michael pointed out that I cook every day anyway, so using that as the majority of my creativities was kind of cheating. The point of a challenge is to stretch yourself, right? Coming up with ideas wasn’t the hard part. It was finding the time to create after a long day of work and the budget to create. I am more excited about the ease of DIY projects, and I’ve found lots of inspiration on Pinterest.

So maybe this isn’t the end of creativity as we know it. I certainly feel fine.

Day 29

I revisited the coconut peach cookies, now renamed peachy colada cuffins (that’s cookie + muffin). Peaches have been added and pureed.

Day 30

Vegan raspberry muffins from ReadyMade. I love one thing about these muffins – they’re vegan. No butter and no milk. All whole-wheat flour. But I’ve made healthy, whole-wheat muffins before! The addition of silken tofu and the lack of sugar got my interest. I don’t know that I’d make them again considering they require buying tofu, but I have been enjoying them.

Lots of Days

The above muffin recipe makes 15 muffins. I cannot eat muffins that fast, so after three days I packed them into a large ziplock bag and stashed them in the freezer. Now, most mornings, I take one out, defrost it in the microwave, and make a smoothie (that’s 1 banana + handful of berries or peaches + spoonful of peanut butter + 4 spoonfuls of Greek yogurt/soy milk halfway up the fruit blended in blender). Perfect breakfast! Quick and easy, and can be eaten on the go.

I have lots of music posts coming up now that creativity has ended. Summertime music is here!

Days 17, 18, 19, & 20 a.k.a. I am behind

Creativity is hard to document!

I have also been a bit of a slacker lately. Probably at least half of my creative endeavors have involved cooking, something I do on a regular basis. The whole idea of this month was to stretch my wings and let some creative juices flow. So I’m pacting to do stretch and flow more the second half of this month.

Day 17 

Mira attended a picnic at 100 Acres at the Indianapolis Museum of Art with Michael and me. The summer sun and extensive playing and exploring wore the pup out and she stole some drinks…many drinks…from Michael’s plastic cup. Luckily I had my water bottle with us, too.

Day 18

Homemade bread requires some planning to make. It’s certainly not difficult, but between hours of multiple risings and baking, the whole thing must be planned into the day. Due to bad planning on my part, we had no bread in the house on Saturday morning, and all I wanted for breakfast was some runny eggs with bread. So I made biscuits from Smitten Kitchen. They’re quick and fairly easy. My tips are these: the dough is quite sticky. Add maybe 1/2 cup extra flour. Make sure to bake them until they are truly golden. Slightly underbaked biscuits are not as delicious as fully baked ones. Breakfast was consumed too fast for photos.

Day 19

Happy Father’s Day! I have a…weird…awesome…hilarious…inappropriate dad. He dresses up in drag to raise money for Alzheimer’s, he tells me he needs a classy place for his whores to host more high-profile customers (my father is not a pimp), and he misses my mom when she leaves town for multiple weeks. So, on Sunday, my brother, his girlfriend, Michael, and I made dinner for him: Salads and stuffed shells from 101 Cookbooks.

The secret to these stuffed shells? Lemon zest. It’s mixed into the ricotta filling and spread across the bottom of the baking dish. Trust me, it really adds a unique flavor to the whole meal.

The beauty of this pasta is that you can make it in advance. This would be a great dish to make on a Sunday afternoon, freeze, and then make during the week after work. Scroll down to find the recipe after the jump!

I also went up to Zionsville for the annual pet parade and took a few photos for Robert Goodman Jewelers’ Facebook page. My favorite

Day 20

I hung my shelf in the living room! Finally the photos that have been tucked away all hidden on my bookshelf have a real home. And now I have a place to put flowers that is Lolacat-proof! The white roses are from my parents in honor of Oma.

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