almond + blackberry tarts, and living in Texas

almond + blackberry mini tart

I know, last year was a rough one for me and blogging. I apologize, and am determined to get back into the groove now that I’m settled in a new home for at least a year. (!)

The past year was about getting some more travel out of my system, going to school and figuring out where to go and what to make of my adult life. Turns out my next chapter begins with a move to Austin, TX, more on a whim than any real specific reason, but I think it was a good choice.

I brought my big furry beast with me and we moved in with a little furry beast and his human into a small home with a big back yard in south Austin. The house, pretty neglected and dirty looking when we first moved in, is really starting to grow on me. We broke it in with a delicious meal and bonfire with friends on a warm, starry night, and since then it’s really starting to feel like home.

home sweet home - austin, tx

happy ingredients

So, what other important activity must I do when breaking my new house in? Bake. Something chocolatey, something nuttty, something healthy…(ish).

I’m a big fan of using nut flours and butters in baking for the rich, buttery texture it gives, and, obviously, the nutty flavor. I’m also a big fan of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, and even more so, what I call the grown-up version: almond butter & blackberry sandwiches. Today I decided to convert this combination into little bite-sized desserts – or snacks, because they’re healthy :)

blackberries + almonds Continue reading

why I love summer mornings at home, and happy birthday blog!

Summer mornings at our quiet country home are perhaps the most serene and savored moments of my days.

All is still except the yellow sunlight slowly slipping further through the windows.

And silence is broken only by the voices of chirpy birds and occasional snores of a sleepy dog.

It’s a brief calm before the heat storm that is to come…

I take my time with a good long stretch, a homemade latte, and a slow breakfast including wild black raspberries picked from a neighbor’s farm and sweet, fat blueberries from a friend’s backyard. And my newly discovered favorite granola.

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vegan blueberry cornmeal cake

I’ve had this on my list of recipes to try for a long while, and now that I have an overabundance of blueberries and not enough mouths to force them in to, it seemed a good time to give it a go. This light, slightly sweet and wholesome coffee cake turned out lovely— just a touch of sweetness contrasts with the tart berries, the combination of corn meal and whole wheat lends a hearty texture, yet it’s still light and fluffy. I can’t wait to have this tomorrow morning with a big cup of coffee, some yogurt and more blueberries!

adapted from Eggless Cooking

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup stone ground white corn meal

¼ cup + 2 T Sugar (I actually think I could do with less)

3/4 t Baking Powder

1/4 t Baking Soda

¼ t salt

1/4 cup Unsweetened Applesauce

1/2 cup soy yogurt (I used regular Greek yogurt, which un-veganed it)

a little soymilk or water

2 T Vegetable Oil Spread, melted (Earth / Smart Balance)

1/2 T Apple Cider Vinegar

1 t Vanilla Extract

1/4 t Almond Extract

1 cup Blueberries, fresh if possible!!

1/2 cup Sliced Almonds (I omitted)

1 T Brown Sugar

1/4 t Ground Cinnamon

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Berry spoiled

When it comes to summer berries, I’ll admit I am one spoiled girl. The pick-your-own strawberry patch is right down the road, my dad’s co-worker has overflowing blueberry bushes in his backyard, and our close family friends have wild raspberries growing across the street on their farm. This is why I love living in the country.

I posted a few weeks ago on my family’s shared tumblr blog about strawberry picking and baking up some treats using frozen fruit from last summer, to make room for this year’s harvest! The strawberries are done, as the season is rather short and they spoil quickly, but at the moment I have more wild raspberries and [especially] blueberries than I can handle!! I swear I’ve never tasted a strawberry, blueberry or raspberry as good as the summer ones at home. The strawberries are small, deep red, sweeter and juicier than any you’ll ever find in a store. The blueberries are plump, firm, and just damn good tasting. And the wild raspberries. Oh my. I won’t even eat a store-bought raspberry any more.. that’s how spoiled I am. These little babies are teeny tiny, tart and sweet, and literally burst with flavor in your mouth. It’s hard to explain the incredibleness of these guys if you’ve never had one. All I can say is if you do, you’ll never go back to their oversized, bland domesticated cousins.

I took my little cousin Hana, who was visiting from Okinawa, strawberry picking and then just a few days ago both blueberry and raspberry picking. Of course growing up in Japan, she sees fruit as solely dessert, unlike me who uses fruit to make dessert, like a cobbler which then becomes next morning’s breakfast, as well as afternoon snack… and repeat. ugh. There’s fruit in it so it must be healthy, right?

Anyway, here are some photos from our berry adventures, and now I’m set up for lots of summer berry recipe experimenting so check back for my favorites!