Blueberry Obstacles

I was awakened this morning by the highly audible 'whispers' of my youngest daughter asking her big sister if she was awake yet. Smiling, I listened to their playful morning chatter and waited for the procession of elephants that would culminate with these two balls of energy springing from the floor into the air and somersaulting into my bed. Then the spell would be broken by one of the top 10 questions that my children ask me.

"What's for breakfast?"  

On this particular morning, my first thought's definitely time for a trip to the grocery store. Quickly moving beyond that, I began to tick through the ingredients that we may actually have in the house. Flour, salt? Check. Butter, sugar, eggs, and sour cream? Check. Hmmm, blueberries? And check. I turned to those gleaming faces and said, "I'll make blueberry muffins and Daddy will make 'leftover omelets'."  

The girls looked at each other; then back at me and said, in unison, "can I have cereal?".  

Another Top 10. To which I answered, "come help me mix the batter".  

As I gathered all of the major ingredients and placed them on the island, the girls grabbed their stepstools. My 4 year old proceeded to soften the butter in the microwave and my 7 year old started measuring the flour. While I was assisting my 4 year old with the hand mixer to cream the butter and sugar, from behind me I hear, "I need the baking powder next!" Screech!  

What?! On my mental journey, I had forgotten baking powder...a rather essential ingredient for BAKING and we were out. I had used the last of it on the Molten Chocolate Cake that I'd made earlier in the week. Oooh. So. Worth it. But this tiny road block reminded me of something that I have said to my yoga students. Obstacles are designed to make us stop. Let me type that again for you. Obstacles are designed to make us stop. And this is key, Readers. When faced with an obstacle, no matter the scale, you should take that opportunity to stop and think. Assess the potential of your obstacle. In other words, what is this obstacle capable of doing for you. Is this obstacle designed to keep you safe? Is it designed to challenge you to help you grow beyond a fear? Is it telling you to go back...that you are not supposed to go down this road? Is it designed to ignite creativity? Stop and let "the answer" reveal itself.  

In this case, as I'm weighing my to the grocery store, borrow some from my neighbor, or pack it up and have just cereal. Errick walks in and says, "there has to be a substitution or alternative for baking powder. Didn't you used to make your own baking powder?". That man truly is the back up hard-drive for my brain.  

Readers, I had learned some time ago that most store brands of baking powder included aluminum in the mix. This explains that tinny taste of many store bought baked goods. Aluminum (acid salt) is essentially used as a back-up to the cream of tartar (also an acid salt). These double acting baking powders are designed to make sure that your baked goods will rise and stop rising appropriately. But, our bodies don't need extra aluminum, I promise. In fact, researchers are investigating whether or not aluminum is a contributing factor to Alzheimer's Disease. So if it's not benefiting you, I recommend not ingesting it. Now, eight years ago when I began my journey toward a more pre-industrial diet (Paleo as they're marketing it these days), I had stopped buying things that had unnecessary, 'magical', or secret ingredients in the mix. It was only recently that I discovered that the Whole Foods 365 Brand of baking powder does not contain added aluminum, so I had been buying their brand rather than making my own. But, all you need to make Baking Powder is baking soda and cream of tartar. So Readers, I hope this explains why I have cream of tartar in my kitchen and no baking powder.  

For your information, 1/4 tsp of baking soda + 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar is the equivalent of 1 tsp of of single acting baking powder. You may notice that some recipes include 1/4 tsp of cornstarch or potato starch. The cornstarch is mainly to absorb moisture and help with shelf life of the powder; but is not necessary if you are using the powder right away.  

This teeny, tiny obstacle helped to remind me of the roots of my journey to a natural foods kitchen. The very reasons that I  began eating the way that I do came swirling back. Readers, to be honest, I'd gotten a bit lazy. I'd fallen prey to the "it's all good right now" trap. Not to mention, I'd gotten a bit stale in the kitchen. Obstacles are truly opportunities in disguise. Never be afraid to unveil what the Universe has in store for you.  It could turn out to be some of the best damn Blueberry Streusel Muffins you've enjoyed to date.    

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, softened

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract (the real stuff...not vanillin)

1 tbl lemon juice

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 pint sour cream

1 cup blueberries (dried, frozen or fresh)


Streusel topping: 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 1 tbl cinnamon  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter muffin pan or insert paper baking cups.   In a medium bowl, cream the butter with the sugar using an electric mixer until fluffy. Blend in the eggs. Add the vanilla and lemon juice.   

In another bowl, sift the flour with the baking soda, salt and the baking powder. By hand, add some of the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with the sour cream, blending well after each addition. Fold in the blueberries.  

Batter will be very thick. Scoop even globs into each cup. Then make your "streusel" topping. Mix 1 tbl of cinnamon with 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Distribute evenly over each muffin.  

Bake for about 25 minutes (ovens vary), or until they test done by inserting a toothpick into the center of a muffin dome. The toothpick should come out clean when the muffins are done. Keep in mind that if you poke a blueberry you'll see wet blueberry stain, but as long as you don't see wet're all good. These muffins will be darker on top because of the cinnamon streusel topping.