Thursday, March 28, 2013

My First Quarter Progress

Just wanted to include an update on my 30 before 30 list! I haven’t forgotten about my list and am chipping away at it, despite having my first baby shower last weekend and going out of town this weekend for Easter.

Here’s what I’ve done so far (or will within the week):

#6 Go to 3 new places. Going to Big Sur on this trip, which is my second new place after Bolinas.

#14 - Go on a road trip! Driving down to Southern California to visit family and then back up through Big Sur! Blog post to follow.

#19 Take 12 self-portraits. I’ve been taking weekly pictures of my pregnancy, so I’ve already met this one.

#18 Sing in public 3 times - done! Last week in church I sang for the third time, before my diaphragm can shrink too small to get any sound out.

#28 Write a biography of my grandma’s childhood - done! I loved learning more about her upbringing in Portugal in the 1920's and her family’s immigration to America.

#10 Do something with the retreat in our house. The conversion to a nursery is almost complete!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Carrot Ginger Muffins

Sigh. How I love muffins. They freeze well and make a perfect breakfast or snack on the go. They're easy to make and easy to make healthy! I just can't get enough.

Several months ago, I received the quarterly newspaper from my local Natural Foods Co-Op and right away, hungrily eyed a recipe for Ginger Carrot Muffins. I liked that it used carrots, which are always available and cheap, and as for ginger, I'm always hearing about how good it is for you. Last night I finally got around to making them and it was worth the wait.

I loved the way these muffins smelled, that spicy ginger and a touch of citrus. I used my food processor to make quick work of the carrot grating. Peeling the carrots and ginger is optional but not necessary. The texture was great as is, but next time I will for sure add some candied ginger and walnuts. The chunkier, the better, as far as I'm concerned. I tweaked the original recipe a little; here is my my version. The recipe made 18 muffins, enough for several weeks of breakfast and snacks. Hooray!

Ginger Carrot Muffins

3/4 c. white sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1.5 t. vanilla extract
Zest and juice of 1 orange
2/3 c. milk
1 t. fresh ginger
8 T. butter, melted (1 cube)
3 c. whole wheat pastry flour
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
3 c. grated carrots (about 5-6)
1/4 c. candied ginger (chopped) (optional)
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F.  In a medium bowl, mix together the sugars, eggs, vanilla, orange zest and juice, milk and ginger until well combined. Stir in melted butter.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Mix to combine. Add grated carrot and optional candied ginger and walnuts (if using) and stir to coat. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in liquid mixture. With a wooden spoon, stir until combined and moistened. Do not overmix.

Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray or line cups with paper liners. Divide batter evenly among the cups. (Mine made 18.) Bake on the middle rack until muffins are golden brown, and top of the muffins bounce back when you press on them - about 20-25 minutes.

Set on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Remove the muffins from the tin and let them cool another 10 minutes (if you can wait that long- I couldn't!).

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Hidden Falls Regional Park in Auburn

I'm quite pleased that I have been making progress on my "30 Before 30" list despite being a week away from 6 months pregnant. I've been fortunate to enjoy good health and decent energy levels so far. It turns out that my list, instead of being a distraction from preparing for the baby, has been a great way for us to make the most of our time together before the baby comes.

When I was making the list, I remembered a friend several years back telling me about a hike up in Auburn that ended in a waterfall. Since I had always wanted to go, I thought I'd throw that on my list.

This weekend the weather was to be gorgeous with highs in the low 70s, and I knew this was our chance to get outside and enjoy it. The drive up to Auburn took about an hour from Sacramento and took us through some pretty ranches and this hill covered in daffodils:

The hike itself took us through rolling green hills that contrasted with red soil trails and early spring wildflowers:

About 45 minutes into our hike, we arrived at a nice overlook on the hidden falls. It overflowed into a rather still wading pool area that looked like, come summertime, it would be a fun place for kids to splash around in.
Just in case you suspected me of handing my camera off to a more vigorous hiker to get the previous shot, here is another one proving I actually did hike my own self in and back:
After the hike was over, we stopped for lunch at Tsuda's Eatery in Downtown Auburn, which boasted great sandwiches and nice ambiance.

I'd like to return and explore of downtown Auburn. I'm fascinating by towns with history behind them. Walking to the cafe, we passed what looked like the beautiful remains of a decaying cellar.
And one of the best parts about Northern California in early March is seeing cherry trees in blossom. Tell me, is there a more stunning sight than a tree covered in those pale pink blossoms? Here's to early springs and lots of hiking in the future!