cookies · muffins · sweet

Sugarless: Oatmeal Cookies and Fruit Muffins

Sugarless Oatmeal Cookies

My sister is temporarily on a no-added-sugar diet so I’ve been experimenting with sugar-free baking for a while. She is also avoiding honey and industrially made juices which turned it into a bit of a challenge. So bananas, dried fruit and fresh fruit have all been summoned instead to substitute sugar and make my sister enjoy her meal anyway.

Sugarless Oatmeal Cookies

Here are two of the recipes I’ve come up with: oatmeal cookies and muffins with dried fruits and fresh apples.

1 year ago – Trans-Siberian Trip Part 4: Siberia Begins with Tyumen

2 years ago – Birthday Kovrizhka and Chocolate Chip Muffins

3 years ago – While Zucchini Are in Season…

4 years ago – Italian Delicacies a la Russe

5 years ago – Fruit Post

Sugarless Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

  • about 300 g old-fashioned oatmeal, roughly ground (or a mixture of oats, rye, barley and wheat flakes) plus some quick-cooking oats, whole
  • 60 g butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 banana, preferably overripe
  • dried apricots and dates, chopped
  • sesame seeds, ground
  • mixed nuts, roughly ground
  • optional add-ins: ground flax seeds (aka coarse flaxmeal), flax bran*, wheat germ
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • cinnamon, cardamom
  • pinch of salt

Procedure

First, beat butter with the banana and eggs, then add the rest of the ingredients in no particular order (I added while quick-cooking oats last). Adjust the amount of flour and/or add-ins according to the consistency. Cover and Let chill in the fridge for at least half an hour. Then form dough balls (preferably the size of a small tangerine) and place on a baking mat / baking parchment. The cookies won’t spread so mo need to space them a lot. Slightly flatten the balls with your finger.

Bake in the preheated oven at 180-190 ‘C for about 15 minutes (depending on size). My cookies did not brown much on the top but looked apparently cooked on the bottom.

Remarks: Add more dried fruits for a sweeter result. These smell delicious in the oven!

Result: Cheeeewy cookies for those on a sugar-free diet; for sweet-tooth people these cookies won’t be as attractive though they definitely contain quite a lot of nutrients and healthy stuff.

And here’s the other recipe:

Sugarless Fruit Muffins

Sugarless Fruit Muffins 

Ingredients

  • 3 small eggs
  • 100 g dried apricots
  • A handful of dates
  • A handful of hazelnuts, toasted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 150 ml sour cream (smetana)
  • 50 ml sunflower seed oil
  • Flax bran*, wheat germ, ground flax seeds (aka coarse flaxmeal), ground old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 200 g all-purpose flour, adjust the amount accordingly
  • A tangerine, peeled and chopped
  • Half an apple, diced
  • Cinnamon
  • Sesame seeds, for decoration

Procedure

Scold dried fruits with boiling water, drain, pour some more hot water and let them soak (I usually use a colander placed on a deep bowl). When they get soft enough, drain them (you can use the water in the recipe but I chose sour cream instead) and stone the dates.

In a blender, reduce dried apricots and hazelnuts into a sort of chunky puree (I left dates un-blended). Beat eggs with sour cream, then beat in the oil. Add the fruit and nut mixture into the eggs. Thoroughly mix baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon into the flour and add it to the eggs and fruit mixture. Add the extras (ground oatmeal, bran, germ, flaxmeal) and the dates. In a sort of a last-minute inspiration, add in chopped tangerine and some apple. Mix well but do not overmix.

Preheat the oven to 210’C. Divide the batter into the muffins cups and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Bake for about 17-20 minutes (mine were baking on the upper shelf together with bread below them). Left sit in the cups a bit and then leave them cool on a wooden cutting board.

Sugarless Fruit Muffins

Remarks: I added flaxmeal hence this somewhat darkish colour but you can add any healthy extras you desire. Same applies to the dried fruits, nuts and the last-minute ingredients you throw in – choose them to your liking but don’t forget to check that the dried fruit do not contain added sugar (sometimes they do add it to the cranberries). You can also add extra chopped dried apricots or mash in a banana for a sweeter result.

Result: Though you have to be on a no-sugar diet to appreciate these in terms of their very low sweetness, the muffins are soft, good in texture (not rubbery as I feared) and they rose nicely.

Adding these recipes to my Sweet collection.

*Flax bran – a recently discovered flax seed-derived thing, looks like very roughly ground golden flax seeds. Might be just a new name for coarse golden flaxmeal (as opposed to the more traditional ‘dark’ flaxmeal). Been adding it to my sweet baking.

This post was made using mobile phone pictures. But I think I’d rather keep to my good ol’ camera!

G.

muffins · sweet

Vintage Soviet Cookware and Date and Hazelnut Muffins

Mom says it’s not that vintage claiming they bought this glazed iron dish in the 80s, but to me this looks like 60s, doesn’t it? I rediscovered it at my grandparents’ place, and since it’s been out of use for quite a long time, I’ve decided to bring it back to life. Cooking in vintage (and pseudo-vintage) dishes and pans certainly adds up to the whole process, making it more enjoyable in a way.

Vintage Cookware

I’ve already tried baking bread in this vintage Soviet cookware twice and I must say it takes a bit longer than in my previous (and unfortunately now broken) glass baking dish.

Vintage Cookware

The bread turns out quite moist with thick crust, reminding me of that bread you would buy some years ago (good ol’ times, ya know).

Vintage Cookware

I baked the loaves about 25-30 minutes with the lid on and then about 25-30 minutes more without, including some minutes out of the dish as well.

Vintage Cookware

The first time I baked in this dish, the lid left an indent in the top of the loaf, the other time it didn’t. Both times I used baking parchment although I should probably try greasing the dish for a change to see how it goes.

Vintage Cookware

And here’s the sourdough rye bread baked with that very flexible recipe I’ve been using for quite a while – makes you pretty lazy though cause it’s so fool-proof and easy:

Bread in Vintage Cookware

And now on to another lazy recipe. There’ve been quite a few dried fruit recipes in the kitchen (and in my blog) recently. Well, you see, with this very capricious autumn-like summer in St Petersburg one has to find some solutions to substitute the energy you would otherwise get from the sun (and good mood). And even though we can buy nectarines from Tanzania (!), they all taste a bit bland (and sometimes are hard as wood), so you naturally turn to using dried fruits and nuts instead.

Date and Hazelnut Muffins

A pretty nice combination from my recent experiments – dried cranberries, walnuts and dark chocolate in a sort of spice cake, with brown sugar creating a crunchy crust, and these date and hazelnut muffins:

Date and Hazelnut Muffins

1 year ago – Spinach Pie with Phyllo Pastry for Midsummer

2 years ago – Rolling Pin Recipes: Flatbread, Pie and Sweet Buns

3 years ago – Two Ways To Make Russian Carrot Patties

4 years ago – Soviet Kitchen Heirloom

5 years ago – Sourdough Bread with Dates and Flaxseeds

Date and Hazelnut Muffins recipe will make 12 coffee-flavoured muffins. The amounts of the ingredients are quite approximate!

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 150 g sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • 50 ml sunflower oil
  • ginger
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • 300 g flour mixed with ground flaxmeal and flaxmeal flour (super fine ground flaxmeal, aka flax porridge), approximately
  • 1/2 tsp ground coffee
  • orange juice
  • chopped dates
  • roughly chopped hazelnuts, toasted / microwaved

Procedure

Beat eggs with sugar, add vanilla extract and sunflower oil. Mix flours with baking powder, soda, coffee and spices, and add the flour mixture to the eggs alternating it with orange juice (I usually do it in 2 doses, starting and ending with flour. And if I add too much of either dry ingredients or liquids, I just add more of the other). Do not overmix. Add chopped dates and nuts. Divide the batter among 12 muffin cups (I was using paper cases too) and bake in the preheated to 210 ‘C oven for about 20 minutes.

Date and Hazelnut Muffins

Remarks: I added two kinds of flaxseed meal / flax flour to these muffins, a rougher and a finer grind. I think adding bran or some other kind of flour would work as well.  

Result: These are sweet muffins, with a crunchy sugary crust and a delicate coffee flavour – just a hint! They puffed up nicely too. And who doesn’t like those tasty-tasty hazelnuts?

This recipe goes to my Sweet collection where you will find more muffins and dried fruit recipes.

G.

muffins · sweet

Birthday Brownie Muffins

Brownie Muffins

Made these brownie muffins for a birthday party of my very good friend: combining the taste expectations (brownie) with the easy and handy shape (muffins) + some paper cases and party decorations made this recipe a success!

Brownie Muffins

1 year ago – Concert in Rotunda and Country Applesauce Muffins

2 years ago – Darnitskiy Bread

3 years ago – Travelling Muffins and Wandering Bread

4 years ago – Crackers + Pesto

Brownie Muffins adapted from www.mrbreakfast.com will make super rich, thick and chocolaty muffins. Click on the link to get the entire recipe.

My changes to the original recipe:

Used a chocolate bar instead of chocolate chips, did not add any walnuts or pecans. I also doubled the recipe.

Brownie Muffins

Remarks: The muffins rose fine but cracked on the top. Use good quality cocoa and chocolate for these – because you do want your muffins to be as much brownie as possible 😉  Also, the very first bite of every muffin will be the chocolate bits which you are supposed to add to the top – so make sure you will enjoy it!

Result: Rich, chewy and really brownie-like muffins. Might try these again – now with nuts, as in the original recipe.

Brownie Muffins
This post goes to the Sweet and Chocolate recipe collections.

G.

muffins · sweet · travel

Black Currant Muffins, Vyborg and Lappeenranta

Vyborg, Russia

A quick post combining three in one. Food, friends and travelling – best memories of this autumn 2015. First things first – I’ll start from the revisiting of a town situated to the North of St Petersburg, close to the border with Finland. I was in Vyborg in May and now we went to Vyborg again in early October.

Vyborg, Russia

My aim was to see the Monrepos park in its autumnal glory. At first it was cold and windy – perfect only for Vyborg krendel’ (pretzel) and hot sbiten‘ (honey beverage) but we courageously mounted the 200 something stairs up the St Olaf’s tower (see above), glimpsed some of the decadent Medieval part of the city:

Vyborg, Russia

…and then I walked to the park while the weather was gradually getting better. Here are the 18th century fortifications which did not survive the time test half as well as the Medieval ones did.

Vyborg, Russia

I made a long walk in the park – it was not long in time but in distance. I actually walked all the way to the End of the World – this is how the farthest corner of this landscape park is called. Somewhere on my way there I found these roots:

Vyborg, Russia

And there was this tiny ‘pebble’ too. Perfectly Karelian forest – although it was designed in the 18th century and artificially planted to resemble an English landscape park:

Vyborg, Russia

The view on the Gulf of Finland in such gloomy but absolutely characteristic weather (it was changing with the wind) is quite atmospheric and graphical:

Vyborg, Russia

Loved this view too:

Vyborg, Russia

The Island of the Dead, adding up to the Romantic / Gothic aura of the Monrepos park:

Vyborg, Russia

Feeling inspired? Get more information about Vyborg here.

***

A short break for food now?

 

Glazed Blueberry Doughnut Muffins from www.cookingclassy.com

A year ago – Kaliningrad: In Search of Old Konigsberg

Two years ago – Cheesy Potato and Leek Bake with Sourdough Bread

Three years ago – Autumnal Comfort Sweet Treats

Four years ago – An Easy Bread and A Not That Easy Bread

Glazed Blueberry Black Currant Doughnut Muffins adapted from www.cookingclassy.com will make soft ship-shape berry muffins. For the entire recipe visit the original blog.

My changes: Used less salt, added lemon zest and substituted blueberries with defrosted black currants from our dacha.

Glazed Blueberry Doughnut Muffins from www.cookingclassy.com

Remarks: I tried not to overmix the batter so that they do not become dark blue from the berries. I skipped the glaze part which definitely adds sweetness to the muffins. I had to bake them a bit longer – at the suggested time they were still to ‘white’.

Result: These muffins rose nicely and were soft inside. A simple recipe for a simple sweet treat!

Glazed Blueberry Doughnut Muffins from www.cookingclassy.com

***

Lappeenranta, Finland

And now on to my last stop of this post – Lappeenranta, Finland, where we celebrated my school friend’s marriage. It was probably the best destination to make the trip there easy both for my friend’s Russian friends and her husband’s British family.

Lappeenranta, Finland

The wedding was beautiful, bringing together such different people for the sole aim – to make this moment special for the couple, for their relatives and for us, the friends. It was completely not Russian (though there was a traditional karavay that the newly married break and eat with salt, a very tasty bread!) and yet it was a cozy and cheerful event. It felt both Christmas and some kind of harvest-celebration 🙂 I also felt involved in the preparation and the actual day of the wedding (although that was already a symbolic not the official wedding), which definitely made me enjoy the process even more.

Lappeenranta, Finland

My best wishes to the beautiful people – Tanya & Ben, take care of each other and let magic into your life!

Lappeenranta, Finland

Next day we had some hours before the bus back to St Pete. For the citizens of St Petersburg, Lappeenranta is where you go to get that stamp on your Shengen visa. You go shopping there too.

Lappeenranta, Finland

So it was quite a new experience this time when I actually stayed there for two nights and had a Finnish breakfast instead of Russian buterbrod 🙂 See the various rye bread? The triangle with bran is actually a round flat bread, very tasty. The square one was with caraway seeds which to my mind and taste buds just spoil the whole thing. The pie was with sweetened rice and milk (cream?) on a thin-thin rye crust (close to our Karelian kalitka pies).

Lappeenranta, Finland

I jogged in Finland for the first time, in the darkness along the embankment until I got that weird fear of boats I have for some reason back. That made me run in the opposite direction 🙂 I walked along the embankment again several hours later, going up to the fortress and enjoying the colours of autumn.

Lappeenranta, Finland

Brought back some tasty rye bread, Polaroid photos from the wedding and warm memories of a very pleasant time and a friendly party.

Adding this post to Travels, Berries and Sweet Recipes. Will come back to continue my Provence saga and give you some ideas of the South of Russia.

G.

muffins · sweet · traditional Russian recipe

Birthday Kovrizhka and Chocolate Chip Muffins

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

How come it suddenly feels so 1st-Septemberish on the 1st of August? It was dramatically windy today but sunny too – and yet there was this autumnal light and the mountain ash trees all covered in red berries that made me shiver a bit. I just hope those were fake signs! You see, this year summer merely forgot its way to St Petersburg 🙂

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

I’m sharing with you the recipe of a Russian gingerbread-like (or rather pain d’épices) cake traditionally made with honey. Its Russian name is kovrizhka – and I can assure you the only sound of this word brings up so many sweet memories! It’s even more evocative than pryanik (gingerbread) – honey, raisins, nuts, spices… Kovrizhka is a diminutive of kovriga, which is a measure of bread (something like a loaf of bread but round).

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

Kovrizhka can be made plain and quite flat (it’s also considered a lean food as it doesn’t contain eggs, milk or butter) but it is sometimes sandwiched with varenye (jam) in between and glazed with sugar. This is exactly what I did some days ago – turning a plain kovrizhka into a layered cake for my Mother’s birthday. Well, it’s kind of obligatory to make a birthday cake, right?

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

A year ago – Chasing Alexander Pushkin in Tsarskoye Selo

Two years ago – Zucchini and Aubergine Whole Wheat Pizza

Three years ago – Fruit Post

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka translated and adapted from www.pravmir.ru and turned into a 2-layer birthday cake.See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbs honey – half honey half apricot jam
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbs cocoa or ground coffee
  • 0.5 cup raisins
  • 0.5 cup ground nuts – I processed some grilled peanuts in a blender
  • 0.5 cup sunflower oil
  • 1.5-2 cups all purpose flour
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of ground coriander
  • jam, chocolate glaze (see further) – optional

Procedure:

Place sugar, oil and water in a pan, place over low heat and add honey. Mix well until the sugar and honey dissolve. In a separate bowl mix soda, cocoa or coffee and spices, then add this mixture to the liquid mixture. Mix well. Add nuts, raisins and flour sifted with baking powder. The amount of flour may vary: the mixture should look like thick sour cream.

Bake in a baking dish lined with parchment paper or greased and floured (I used a round silicon pan without paper or lining) at 200 ‘C for 30-35 minutes. You can eat kovrizhka plain or layer it with jam.

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

Remarks: My cake took less time – it started to burn actually, so I took it out earlier. Be careful! I used this recipe to make a layered cake, cutting it in two and spreading some chunky apricot jam in between. I normally do not like raisins but here they are just right! I also liked the zestiness of the peanuts – they worked well both inside and on top. I also glazed the cake with chocolate icing (see further).

Result: Tasty, chewy but soft, flavourful. I’m sure it will be very rich even without all the extras. Once you bite in this kovrizhka you menacingly become unstoppable… Beware!

Lenten Honey Kovrizhka or Postnaya medovaya kovrizhka from www.pravmir.ru

As for the glaze, I think it’s high time I share with you this family recipe!

Chocolate Glaze, the family recipe we traditionally use for my Mother’s spécialité – the all-time birthday cake. This amount is enough for glazing one cake.

Ingredients:

  • 5 Tbs sugar
  • 3 Tbs cocoa
  • 2 Tbs milk
  • 50 g butter

Procedure:

Mix all the ingredients together in a non-glazed pan and bring to boil, stirring constantly.

Remarks: You can adjust the ingredients if the glaze is too runny or thick. The glaze will set while cooling so use it while it is still warm. The best thing is to try to get the glaze leftovers from the bottom of the pan! 🙂

Result: An easy and quick recipe with basic ingredients! A perfect Soviet practicality showcase 🙂

***

And now a bonus recipe which has been waiting its turn in the backlog for some time already:

Chocolate Chip Muffins from www.browneyedbaker.com

Chocolate Chip Muffins adapted from www.browneyedbaker.com will make cute little muffins. The only drawback is that the amount of the muffins is just not enough =) As always – visit the original website for the entire recipe.

Chocolate Chip Muffins from www.browneyedbaker.com

Changes: Used more sugar and a whole chocolate bar of Osoby, the best quality chocolate from St Petersburg!

Remarks: Had to bake these muffins a bit longer. You might want to double the recipe because… well, just believe me 🙂

Result: Super-nice! Soft and not rubbery at all, with melting chocolate inside…

Adding these recipes to Russian / Soviet, Chocolate and Sweet collections.

G.

muffins · on USSR / Russia · St Petersburg · sweet

Concert in Rotunda and Country Applesauce Muffins

Zinger House, St Petersburg

This week I continued exploring the mass of concerts and other events offered free at the St Petersburg libraries. I enjoyed going to these in Strasbourg which is especially rich in various cultural events. And you know what? Their ‘free’ status rarely meant they are low-quality or something. The same applies to the free events I’ve been to in St Petersburg! Actually the list of things one can do for free here is just amazing.

Music Shop, St Petersburg

On your way to the Ex-House of the Dutch Reformed Church you pass along the art-nouveau Zinger House and then this famous Music Shop on Nevsky Avenue. Continuing your walk, at the crossing with Bolshaya Konyushennaya Street you notice the familiar criss-cross of the wires against the St Petersburg sky.

Bolshaya Konyushennaya Street, St Petersburg

I was certainly in the mood of observing the things ABOVE my head that evening!

Concert in Rotonda, St Petersburg

An impressive door of the Arts and Music Center of the Mayakovsky Public Library promised some new discoveries inside. I have passed along this building so many times during and after my student years and never had I ventured inside! Shame on me…

Concert in Rotonda, St Petersburg

The concert was due in some 20 minutes so I had time to explore the interior of the former Dutch church built in the 19th century for the Dutch community of St Petersburg. It is now referred to as Rotonda (Rotunda) and is the place for various expos and concerts.Yet another example of converting churches into cultural institutions after the Revolution – a very-very lucky sort for a church during the Soviet times!

Concert in Rotonda, St Petersburg

You can imagine that the acoustics is great, particularly if you manage to get your seat right in the center under the cupola. Although in order to get there I had to move seats twice and end up with a very annoying spectator right behind me. She was all commenting and talking loud. A true connoisseur.)

Concert in Rotonda, St Petersburg

They say this is the most popular shot among the visitors of the Arts and Music center. And although I am not a huge fan of classical buildings, I think this one is something special. I didn’t have the chance to look inside the rest of the rooms but according to the photos on the center’s website, they look very modern and inviting! They have a huge list of heavy XXL-format art books there.

Concert in Rotonda, St Petersburg

The concert included pieces from mostly classical music created by French composers, performed by St Petersburg theatre Zazerkalye, one of my most beloved places in St Petersbyrg when I was a kid – a truly magical place for children! Although this theatre is mainly known for its children-oriented performances, they also stage operas and other concerts for the grown-ups.

Concert in Rotonda, St Petersburg

This woman played very beautifully. It was a completely different experience from that in the Smolny Cathedral where string orchestra of teenagers was performing. This was a truly professional musician who made her violin speak to the spectator’s hearts and years. There was also a woman performing Ravel’s compositions in Hebrew and Aramaic – I enjoyed the songs in Aramaic most of all, a very ‘world music’ experience, much more moving than, say, Bizet!

Country Applesauce Muffins from www.williams-sonoma.com

And now – some food which I devoured ate before the concert. After celebrating the final exhaustion of our apple stocks earlier this month with Apple Pancakes, we are now left with another task – use up the tiles of jars with various apple jam and apple puree, successful and not that very successful… The second type is the one I usually add to the recipes asking for honey or jam.

Country Applesauce Muffins from www.williams-sonoma.com

A year ago – Darnitskiy Bread (a time-proof recipe, I’m still using it almost every week! Like today, for example)

Two years ago – What a Peach! Sunny Cake and a Zesty Cranberry Cake

Three years ago – Oh Mon Dieu, Ces Baguettes!..

Country Applesauce Muffins adapted from www.williams-sonoma.com  will make s dozen of spicy and very good muffins. This is a very successful recipe which leaves you enough space for improvisation! Visit the link to see the original recipe.

My changes: I added just a bit of chopped hazelnuts, used less salt and less sugar, and opted for sunflower oil. As for the applesauce, I had our neverending homemade apple puree.

Country Applesauce Muffins from www.williams-sonoma.com

My first edition (on the photo above) featured chopped up hazelnuts which made the muffins quite crunchy. The second edition (pictured here with a rough thread) was done with no extra sugar, flaxseeds instead of nuts, a bit of olive oil instead of sunflower oil and some wheat bran. But wait – there’s more! There’s this third edition 🙂 I made it just now with some orange zest chopped up finely (it caramelized and added crunchiness and extra chewiness), no seeds/ nuts but oat bran along with wheat bran and ginger.

Country Applesauce Muffins from www.williams-sonoma.com

Remarks: The batter – and the resulting muffins – might seem a bit on the dry side, so I would suggest using a runny applesauce/ apple puree / apple jam and probably adding more of those apple chunks which make these muffins even tastier. Pay attention to the baking time – these muffins will not escape from the cups so they do not need high temperature and lots of time to bake. Try experimenting with different spices too.

Country Applesauce Muffins from www.williams-sonoma.com

The greatest bite is when you have this moist apple chunk!

Country Applesauce Muffins from www.williams-sonoma.com

Result: An easy recipe for chewy muffins, a cross between gingerbread and jam muffins. This recipe asks for just 1 egg, no special preparation and when it is ready, the aroma is super! And they came up very handy to use leftover apple jam!

Country Applesauce Muffins from www.williams-sonoma.com

Adding this to my collection of Apple recipes and to St Petersburg series.

G.

muffins · St Petersburg · sweet · travel

Spring in Pavlovsk Park and Blueberry Muffins

Spring comes with all these tiny flowers and fresh green sprigs emerging here and there, with the birds flying around busy with their nests, with the children playing outside. There are of course several less pleasant sides to spring in St Petersburg – wind carries dust and sand right into your face and eyes, head aches because the sun is suddenly seeeriously intense. Some of my friends claim that they just detest spring (well, so they say) as this time of the year brings them so much trouble. But there’s no summer without spring, just as there is no spring without winter…

Here are some shots of the spring-time Pavlovsk Park which is an ex-royal residence close to St Petersburg. The park is purposely ‘wild’, as it is planned after English landscape gardens. So the nature there is surely different from what you will see in a more rigid Tsarskoye Selo. Love walking there in any season. This is one of the certain advantages of being suddenly unemployed – you can just leave and come to see the nature in all its beauty and motion! Enjoy!

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I did not intend this post to be published so soon as I have quite a line of the recipes to be posted. But as I am waiting for the author of a poppy seed roll recipe (an Easter treat traditionally baked in my family) to give me a permission to translate and publish her recipe on my blog, here is a very simple but certainly very very nice berry muffin recipe suitable for all seasons:

Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins from heatherchristo.com

A year agoApples and Oranges

Two years ago Biscotti and On Soviet Food Stupidities followed by More on Smart Use of Leftovers

Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins adapted from heatherchristo.com will make soft sweet muffins in just about no time.

My changes:

I used some powdered sugar along with the regular sugar. I added some oats for a more chewy result. Decreased the salt. Used milk + some kefir.

I purchased some frozen blueberries recently (with a definite desire to bake some blueberry muffins…) and used them in the recipe instead of the fresh berries. They turned out to be huge!

I had to bake the muffins longer (because I did not thaw the berries), also added some minutes with the ‘only top heat’ option.

Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins from heatherchristo.com

When with each bite these lovely berries burst inside your mouth, mmm… Cute, aren’t they?

Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins from heatherchristo.com

Result: Easy, foolproof, tasty, cute : ) Can become THE blueberry muffin recipe you need. Also comes handy if you happen to have some sour milk or leftover kefir. And if you are lucky enough you can try the recipe with the fresh blueberries!

Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins from heatherchristo.com

Want more berries in your life? For a blueberry JAM muffin recipe, see my recent post. For more berry recipes see this collection.

Leaving for France for a while… Just a short trip planned to fit in the long May holidays some months before my company got erased from the country’s business world (but not from the memory!). Hm, curious, but when you’re out of job you miraculously do not have time… Such a queue of posts yet to be published!

G.