[Thanks to everyone who purchased a copy of my new cookbook! And if you’ve been waiting for the book to be listed on amazon.com, it’s now there! Just click on the book image at left to see the three ways to buy.}
Anyone who’s ever successfully trained dogs knows that the key to success–more than anything else–is consistency. Dogs like things to be the same each time they occur. They like predictability. So when you say, “sit,” you must always ensure that they sit. When you say, “come!” you must ensure that they run toward you each and every time. When you set 5:00 PM as their feeding time, you’d damn well better feed them at 5:00 PM. And so on.
Why is this so? Because dogs are creatures of habit. Left to their own devices, they will repeat the same actions over and over (I mean, really, shouldn’t they already know what that hydrant smells like after the first 438 sniffs?). I recognize this canine quality every day at precisely 4:43 PM, when Elsie pads soundlessly across the office to barely graze my knee with her wet, leathery nose and remind me that dinner should be on its way in, oh, about 17 minutes. Or in the way Chaser tucks her head under the overhang of our bed’s comforter every evening before turning in for the night. Or in the way both Girls park themselves by the front door, pining, each weekday evening as they wait for the HH to arrive home from work.
Even though he’s fond of telling me I have “dog-like qualities,” it’s really the HH who is more the creature of habit in our relationship. I liken myself more to Jerry’s character in Seinfeld, the one who had a library of cold breakfast cereals lining his kitchen shelf because he peferred a varied selection. The HH, on the other hand, eats exactly the same thing for breakfast each day, following a very precise, very consistent morning ritual:
7:00 AM: Slam clock radio alarm with palm. Lower palm to side of bed and pat Chaser’s head. Heave self out of bed. Don “dog-walking pants” and sneakers. Take The Girls for their AM romp and morning ablutions.
7:40 AM: Shower and shave. Forget to wipe the counter, leaving soapy pools of water clinging to all of Ricki’s cosmetic bottles. Reach into closet and grab the next clean shirt and next clean pair of pants (no matter if they don’t happen to match) and dress for work. Slip into shoes, left one first, then right one and tie up laces.
8:15 AM: grab a paper bag from under the sink and a banana from the bowl on the counter. Head to the fridge to fill the sack with other foods to enjoy later with that first deskbound coffee. Pull out one green apple from the crisper drawer; then move to the door to select a home baked muffin from the unending stash on the shelf–
WHOAH! WAIT A SECOND HERE!
Suddenly, these days, there is no more stash of home-made, freshly baked breakfast goods. Crisis!
You see, for the past 12 years or so, the HH has cohabited with a baker. This means that he never had to think about his breakfast baked good; he was greeted each morning with a seemingly endless array of homemade, healthy treats from which to choose, courtesy of yours truly. In the past year alone, as I was testing and re-testing recipes for the cookbook, those baked goods seemed to multiply of their own accord like happy little Tribbles, and the HH was often faced with an embarrassment of riches. It could be a tough choice for the guy, between a Sweet Harvest Muffin, Lemon Blueberry Scone, Maple-Millet Muffin, PB & G Muffin, or even some Cinnamon Walnut Coffee Cake.
But recently, I haven’t been baking much. No, scratch that; I haven’t been baking at all. Adhering to the draconian restrictions desperate measures stringent dictates of the ACD has made me shun anything sugary. Forfeit anything floury. Eschew chocolate. And–for a while, anyway–ban baking.
Pity the poor HH.
Not only has he lost his endless stock of breakfast muffins, he’s also been forced to eat the red apples from our weekly organic box (since I’m off fruit) instead of his usual green ones. I mean, really, how much can the poor guy take?
Feeling sorry for the guy, I decided to bake up some new muffins for his morning meal. Well, turns out I’m more a creature of habit than I realized–where baking is concerned, at least. Bake I must! I decided to accept the fact: Baking is my calling. Baking is in my blood! Baking is my destiny! I. Love. Baking. Oh, and I also had a bunch of old ingredients in the cupboard I had to use up.
I spied a box of Cinnamon Puffins languishing at the back of the shelf , like the lone wallflower hoping against hope for a dance at the prom. I’d bought them before starting the ACD, mostly because I’d read about them so many times on VeggieGirl’s blog and was dying to try them. And while I would have been happy to finish the box myself, I’m not allowed cereal on this diet; and the HH wasn’t fussy about them. What to do?
Bake ’em into muffins, that’s what! I thought I’d replace some of the usual flour with ground-up cereal for an extra hit of both grains and flavor. Playing with proportions and one of my favorite flavor combinations, I came up with this version of Mocha Cinnamon Cereal Muffins. And this way, you don’t have to choose between cereal and a muffin–you get both in one!
The result was an incredibly moist, fragrant muffin. The cereal added textural interest and a density that suits these miniature quick breads perfectly. Unlike most of my breakfast baking, these gems contain neither fruit nor vegetable, attaining their moistness from the mixture of cereal and ground chia. With just a hint of coffee and whisper of cinnamon, they would be perfect topped with some almond butter or even buttery spread.
It felt great to get back to baking, even if I can’t enjoy the fruits of my labor (well, in this case, the cinnamon-coffee of my labor) just yet. As for the HH, he seems much more comfortable now that his morning ritual has returned to normal.
“Mum, it’s great that you’ve got back to your old baking habit! But how about that letting-us-lick-the-spoon habit? Can you please get back to that one, too–??”
Mocha Cinnamon Cereal Muffins
I bet these would work well with any cinnamon-flavored breakfast cereal, or any cereal of your choice (just be aware that the cereal will confer some of its own flavor to the final product).
2 cups (480 ml) cinnamon flavored cold cereal, dry (I used Cinnamon Puffins)
1 tsp (5 ml) finely ground chia seeds or 1 Tbsp (15 ml) finely ground flax seeds
2 Tbsp (30 ml) instant coffee substitute, or 1 Tbsp (15 ml) instant coffee
1/4 cup (60 ml) light agave nectar
1-1/4 cups (300 ml) plain or vanilla soy or almond milk
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup (80 ml) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic
1/2 tsp (2. 5 ml) apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup (105 g) light spelt flour
1/2 cup (60 g) barley flour (may substitute more spelt)
1 Tbsp (30 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2. 5 ml) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
2/3 cup (65 g) coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat oven to 350F (180 C). Line 10 muffin cups with paper liners for small muffins, or 8 cups for larger muffins; or spray with nonstick spray.
In the bowl of a food processor,whir the cereal until it has crumbled to a fine meal. There should be no large pieces of cereal visible. You should have about 1 cup (240 ml) of cereal-meal.
To the processor bowl, add the chia seeds, coffee substitute, agave, milk, vanilla, oil and apple cider vinegar. Whir to combine. (Note: if you use flax instead of chia, the muffins may be a teeny bit dryer–but still delicious!).
Add the spelt flour, barley flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and sea salt, and process again until blended, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary. You should have a fairly thick batter. Sprinkle with the pecans and stir them in by hand, but do not process again.
Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup (80 ml) measuring cup, fill the muffin cups, dividing the batter evenly.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pan once about halfway through, until a tester inserted in a center muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool about 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Makes 8-10 muffins. May be frozen.
Last Year at this Time: Sweet Potato and Kasha Burgers
© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs