dog songs | seeded mini muffins

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It's usually when I'm on holiday that I try to read more, not just novels, but also poems. They are somehow less self conscious than books; often more difficult to unravel, but more honest. On some previous blog posts I shared quotes by poet Mary Oliver. I think that I, like many people, loved the way she could make emotion and nature somehow intertwine. I saw quite a lot of her poems were inspired by her dogs, one called Percy, or walks she'd taken with her pups. She even wrote a whole compilation of poetry, Dog Songs, that reflects on the love of a dog and their human. I have often written about my own pups, but not dogs as dogs. What having a little furry thing with a leathery nose and big beating heart means. It was global dog day a while ago (August 26th) so I was thinking about pets as a whole. They can teach you so much. About the giving and receiving of love, about loss, about humor, about snuggles. They can teach you that it's not always about the bigger picture, but sometimes the minutiae are worth your time. I could write more about this, but I found a poem Mary Oliver had written about her relationship with Percy that kind of encapsulates loving a dog and learning from one.

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There is always a bittersweet edge that comes with owning a dog, like a low mist rolling off the sea, sinking into valleys in the countryside where it can linger for days. Dogs’ lives seem so short, beauty like a sunset, snowfall, city lights from airplane windows. But. They just bring so much. They make our lives so full. They transform the way you think and the way you act and any kindness of humans pales in comparison to the tireless kindness of dogs. All the worrying you do and the rushing to get home to them and the cleaning dog hair and muddy paws is really nothing, compared to what they give us.
Mary Oliver's poem is called, quite perfectly, The Sweetness of Dogs.

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“What do you say, Percy? I am thinking
of sitting out on the sand to watch
the moon rise. Full tonight.
So we go, and the moon rises, 
so beautiful it makes me shudder, 
makes me think about time and space, 
makes me take measure of myself: 
one iota pondering heaven. 

Thus we sit, I thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s perfect beauty and also, oh!
How rich it is to love the world. 
Percy, meanwhile, leans against me and gazes up into my face. 
As though I were his perfect moon.”

Mary Oliver, Swan

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seeded mini muffins

makes around 24 mini muffs, 12 regular

1 1/4c (125g) oat flour
1c brown rice flour (120g)
1/4c (108g) flax meal
1/4c (35g) sunflower seeds
1/4c mixed small seeds (60ml by volume - chia, flax, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds etc)
1tsp baking soda
1tsp baking powder
1/2tsp nutmeg
1c (250ml) plain yogurt
2 free range eggs
1/4c (60ml) olive oil
1/2c (125ml) honey or maple syrup
1tsp pure vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 180’c, 350’f. Prepare a mini muffin pan, or a regular pan, whichever you have.
Stir together the dry ingredients, including the seeds.
In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, yogurt, vanilla and maple/honey. 
Stir the wet mix into the dry mix and spoon into muffin tins.
If making mini muffs, bake for 15-18 minutes. For regular muffins they will probably need 5-10 minutes more. 

The muffins will keep well in the fridge for around five days and you can also freeze them.

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💗some other sweet muffins 💗

free and wild | peach + honey muffins

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Prune girl,

What do you think about when you lie on your back, all four paws in the air and teeth showing, like your pretty face is caught in a grin? You can switch from deep slumber to paws-up in a second. In that deepest, most peaceful sleep, do you drift through pale pink clouds and run through long grass, wet with dew, chasing endless rabbits, barrelling through small streams and forests filled with butterflies? Is baby sister Suzi by your side as you run, always fast, but never fast enough to catch the rabbit, so your dream can go on and on? Do you dream that there’s a farmhouse in a green valley, with stone walls the color of honeycomb and roses climbing on trellises; with warm wood floors and soft beds for you to sink into after your chases? What are you thinking about when you’re dozing in the garden with the gulls screeching above you as they come in from the sea? Can you smell the ocean salt mingling with the inland breezes, bringing in visions of ships and barges and adventure, as you lie on the patio and sniff the air? Or are you thinking of the pheasants, roaming the countryside, running through wheat fields and pastures dotted with cows, where farm dogs roam, free and wild? Do you ever wonder what it’s like to be them?

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And what goes on in that head of yours when you’re napping quietly on a blanket and Suzi clumsily lies down, right next to you, maybe touching you? You have a really beautiful head, Prune girl, maybe more greyhound-like than the chunky, soulful faces of your Labrador cousins. But you’re not particularly impressed by all that closeness, are you? You know baby sister means well, so you wait, maybe a minute, then you heave a tortured sigh and go sleep elsewhere, a couple of meters away. You seem to have learned that people, and Suzi, mean well when they come to fawn over you, and they should be tolerated, at least for some amount of time. It is just so hard to tell what you’re thinking. Sometimes you seem to be embraced by a silent gray cloud of melancholy, your big amber eyes seem to drift so far away. From living with you we know it’s too simple to say dogs can’t ponder the past. Do you think of the friends you grew up with, your mother, those you lost? Your pups that are all grown up now, or the tiny pup that didn’t make it; who you kept returning to your bed to look for, long after he had faded away. We know you worry, often too much.

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But we also know you can feel uninhibitedly happy. Is that how you feel when you gallop out of the wire gate in the morning when I hold it open before a walk? Are you thinking about the rabbits you’ll see as you drag one of your preferred humans through the tangled summer grass? And those small jumps you do, on the spot, when one of the preferred humans come home. It’s like your whole body is consumed by a bouncy spring. Your uncanny ability to sniff out all kinds of human foods, and to ignore anything remotely healthy. You know we’ll always give in; that we’ll take the mundane dog food out of your silver bowl, we’ll find a snack, you’ll grab it and run over to the rug in the living room, as sunshine streams through the windows and a sleepy Suzi naps. Because despite the fact you’ve been with us for almost all of your ten years, you will always know us far better than we’ll know you. You will always be a mystery, with your unreadable eyes the color of leaves after an Indian summer; your tentative cuddliness, and warm charcoal fur.

“the secrets inside her mind are like flowers in a garden at night time, filling the darkness with perfume”
- Fumiko Enchi

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Happy birthday to Prune angel. One of my many nicknames for her is Pruney muffin, so here are some muffins, almost as sweet as our girl. This is a very simple muffin formula that I think would work well with any stone fruits, or any fruit/berry in other seasons. I hope you try them.
If you scroll down to the end of this post, there are some sweet photos of Pruney recently, doing aaalll the Labrador things.
Love you ❤️

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peach + honey muffins

1/2c (60g) brown rice flour
1/2c (50g) oat flour
1/2c (50g) almond meal
2T flax meal*
1tsp baking powder
1/4tsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt
1/3c (80ml) honey
2 free range eggs
1/4c (60ml) olive oil
2/3c (160ml) milk of choice
1/2T apple cider vinegar
1tsp pure vanilla extract
1 heaped cup chopped peaches


Preheat the oven to 180’c, 350’f and line/oil a muffin tin.
Measure your milk of choice into a mug or measuring cup. Add the 1/2T apple cider vinegar, stir and set aside as you continue with the rest of the recipe. You can also use 2/3c buttermilk instead.
In a large bowl, stir together the flours, flax meal, baking powder/soda and salt. In a smaller bowl, beat the eggs with the oil. Add honey, vanilla and the milk-vinegar mix.
Gently toss the sliced peaches in the dry ingredients, which should help stop the fruits from sinking. Then add the wet ingredients, gently stir together until the batter is smooth with only a few visible streaks of flour.
Spoon into the muffin tray. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a skewer inserted through the muff comes out clean. You can also make mini muffs, but they won’t need as long in the oven so keep an eye on them.
The muffins will keep well for around 4 days on the counter, but will freeze/defrost nicely.

*If you’re not looking to make these muffins gluten free, feel free to use 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (or spelt flour) instead, no need for the flax meal. These muffs aren’t super fussy, unlike Pruney princess in these photos below.


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woodsmoke | gingerbread bundt cake

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I started this post a few days ago, well before Christmas Eve. In a quiet, dimly lit area of a fairly empty terminal in Amsterdam Airport. Before the boarding crush I could find a seat on tired, cracking vinyl, by the floor to ceiling windows that looked over the runways. The fields and the tarmac were dark, the bodies of planes loomed in gray shadow, brooding and immobile. Like the darkest clouds of a winter sky on the coldest days when rain would fall as snow, casting deep shadows, swallowing the moonlight. 

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I wasn’t at a window seat but when the plane, enlivened in flight, dipped its wing, Amsterdam played out in lights far below us. The warm golds from street lights, the cheery red blinking of cars heading home for the holidays, white glow from illuminated buildings. Like the lights on a Christmas tree, with the colour from strands of tinsel, full of memories, familiar. 
I had a long wait in Abu Dhabi. A wait with a lot of anticipation, eagerly checking my watch, wishing for progress. It reminded me of the night before Christmas when I was very young and impossibly charmed by it all. Finding it so hard to lie in bed and wait for the morning, the expectation so palpable.

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It was early morning when I arrived in Bangalore. Warm, thick tropical darkness, loaded with fumes, throbbing with action, like how the thin winter air clings on to the scent of pine and woodsmoke. Something celebratory in how India does chaos, like everyone is waiting for something to happen. The taxi guys with their windows open played the morning prayers and Bollywood pop, some background similarity to it all, something different woven into each. Telling the same stories to different beats, like Christmas music. Dawn breaks, the red roofs echo the pinky streaks of hot morning sky, doves cry from deep in the clumps of bougainvillea. There’s a whispering breeze through the palms and the clearing night clouds are violet, indigo, pillowy. Someone is cooking in another house, something with spices. Chilli maybe, red and intense; turmeric, powdered gold; ginger, the rounded spice.
There were lights and anticipation; music, people on the move, heady air filled with spices. There was Christmas everywhere, and all the time. 

"and all my soul is scent and melody"  Charles Baudelaire 


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Wow. Christmas Eve already. A little last minute perhaps but if anyone is considering some Christmas baking, this cake is perfect. If you don't have a small bundt pan it will also look cute as a real gingerbread loaf in a regular loaf pan (just keep an eye on the baking time). This cake somehow encapsulates the holidays so I hope you try it.

Merry Christmas to you all. Much love xx

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gingerbread bundt cake

1 3/4c spelt flour 
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg 
Pinch cloves
1 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp salt 
1/4c olive oil
1/3c pure maple syrup
1/4c pure cane molasses
1 free range egg
3/4c milk of choice 
2T coconut sugar (or other dark type of sugar)


Preheat the oven to 180 c, 350 f.

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt and spices.
In another bowl beat together the egg, oil and maple syrup. Add the sugar, then the milk and molasses. If the molasses isn’t combining well it may help to heat the whole mixture a little.
Pour the wet mix into the dry and stir gently until just combined.
Prepare a 6 cup bundt pan: oil and flour it well so that the cake comes clean out with the beautiful shape. Prepping the pan right before baking means the oil won’t slide down the sides and pool at the bottom which wouldn’t help much for sticking. If using a different kind of pan, you can prepare it how usually works for you.

Bake 40-45 minutes, until the cake looks deep golden brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Allow the bundt a little time to cool in the pan, then gently release onto a cooling rack. It will be a little fragile to cut at first so if you can resist the ginger-y smells, it will cut cleaner after it’s cool.
This baby bundt will keep well for a few days in an airtight container and tastes as good (better?) with time. It will also frost and defrost nicely.

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the deluge | apple blondies

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The thing with these long, dry European summers is that when the heat breaks, it really breaks. Those first showers after the heatwave aren’t the typical spirit-sapping drizzle, but something closer to tropical. The heavy, fat, cool drops of rain mingle with the warmth and the air turns steamy, a foggy blanket broken by those continuous chubby drops. They fall fast in a sort of percussive one-two, more like a hurried trap beat than mellow, languid r&b. Curtains of water turn the dry summer gutters into rapids and liquid seems to seep into every crack. Wood creaks and groans, trees heavy with leaves strain under the weight of the deluge. 

It might be just for an hour or it might be for days. The skies might have lightened from that angry purple-gray to something more marbled and the raindrops perhaps stroll out of the sky rather than rush. Tarmac roads are soaked to dark beady black, car headlights glow, the windscreen becomes foggy on the inside. On one of those late summer rainy days, somewhere deep in the deluge, we took a drive north along the coast. The fields were growing wild with ivy, dewy and happy, ploughed fields looked rich and earthy in coffee tones from deep espresso black to milder latte. Crows cling to power lines that flail in the wind, the car engine hums healthily, fields part and the North Sea fills the windscreen, moody and agitated, like the rain only added fuel to the restless sea’s fire. The stretch of beach looked pale yellow, like it was itself a lonely shaft of sunlight as waves kissed the breakers, maybe once painted white, now peeling down to the dark wood, in that kind of melancholic, forgotten feeling of small seaside towns in Europe.

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Maybe it would be different on a sunny summer day in mid July. Maybe during the heatwave the beach was a quilt of cheery sun umbrellas, kids in colourful swimsuits, pale limbs seeking out the sun. The sea was quiet and settled and a tempting shade of baby blue. There were packed cars lining the boulevard and the little hotels had turned the signs to ‘no vacancies’. There were ice creams to be bought and waves to skip through and the photos of said ice creams would grace office pin-boards and living room walls. It seemed short lived. Like a good song, the first hour of a Friday afternoon, a sunrise, the heatwave itself.

You could almost feel the curtains twitch, on that rainy day. The eager little hands of the youngest late summer holiday makers, pulling back the musty fabric, releasing a shower of dust towards the murky wallpapered room and onto thinning carpets. Pressing a face to cool glass and looking upwards, trying to find the streaks of light in the feathery sky. I’d done it myself, as a kid. Thin hotel windows rattling in a seaside breeze, the incessant crashing of the sea, cries of gulls, container ships outlined and ghostly on the horizon.

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The tourist hoards slowly ease and instead it’s the earliest autumn leaves that swirl on the wet tarmac, picked up by the coastal wind to dance around the hood of your car. The dark lingers for longer each morning and if you’re out in the country, maybe walking dogs, puddles reflect the skies and seem to pool moonlight. You watch the dawn push in from the east, the lines and patches of clear light competing with the white moon and a million stars. Dawn always wins, but the night comes to take back its turf earlier and earlier. The sun is mellower and the wind is sharper, collars are pulled up around necks and drying hands are crammed deep into pockets. They may have forecast another Indian summer but there’s a shift in the air. The rain that washed the cooler countryside this weekend was different, less benevolent. The wind that made the leaves dance may have pushed those ashen clouds away but the real rain of fall will lace soggy grass and damp umbrellas. It dusts clear dewy mornings with a promise of more, and soon you'll see the moon as much as the rain and sun. 

“staring into the clouds, they rising or are they coming down?”
Lil Wayne ft xxxtentacion, Don’t Cry

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Hi. It’s been a while. My bad. I was doing... not really anything. Anyways I’m back to this space again. As Lil Wayne would say, don’t call it a comeback, it was dark out, now the sun’s back. Guy’s full of wise words, at least we know where Drake got it from. I digress.
Funny thing is that I’ve been holding on to these photos since a very dark and shadowy day last year but I lost the recipe so I had to try it again. Good news is, the recipe works, yay. I call these little guys apple blondies but they are just like an apple cake. They are quite pretty and seem fitting for the time of year, well, until it’s 20 degrees out again. 
I hope you like them. Love xx

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Apple blondies 
makes one 8x8 pan, or similar

2/3c (75g) almond meal
2/3c (75g) oat flour
2/3c (80g) buckwheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2tsp cinnamon 
1/2 tsp salt
3/4c coconut sugar
2 free range eggs
1/3c melted coconut oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large apple, grated

1 or 2 apples to top


Preheat the oven to 180’C, 350’F
Line an 8x8 inch square pan (or something similar)
Sift together the flours, salt, cinnamon and baking soda in one bowl
In another bowl, stir together the coconut oil, eggs and coconut sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla and stir again. Combine the wet and dry mixes gently; stirring through the grated apple. Stir until just combined, then set aside.
For the remaining apples, core and cut them into thin crescent shapes. They will be to top.
Stir the batter one last time, then pour into the pan, you can use a spatula to make it smooth and (relatively) even.
Arrange the sliced apples over the top in a pattern of your choice - I messed this up the first time, but you probably won’t. Try to lay the slices very gently over the batter until you get them in a pattern you like, then push them in a little so they sink in slightly.
Bake for between 25-35 minutes. This is a big window but it will depend on the shape of your pan, how ripe the grated apple was, and how much moisture the apple slices added. Keep an eye on it. It will be kind of pleasantly golden but not brown - blondies are better a little under-baked.
They will be fragile, so let them cool completely before moving them around. 

They will keep well in the fridge for several days.

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