Author Archives: withthegrains

About withthegrains

Blogging about whole grains, film grains, wood grains, words and wanderings.

Donut o’ the Month for @JoJoTastic: Powdered Whole Wheat Gingerbread

December 2014

Though my ideal temperature is that of a desert, there is a big part of me that likes winter. I don’t admit this too frequently, mostly because I would be making that declaration through chattering teeth and purple lips, but it’s true. The major stipulation is this: I like winter when I am just sort of cozily watching snow fall from my third-floor window view.

December Donut of the Month_WTG

I like winter when the only reason to face the brutal winds is to run around the park like a crazy person with my dog (a big perk of having a dog!). I like winter when I’m buried deep under blankets, a candle is flickering and I’m burning my way through a Netflix series. Not wanting to leave home in the winter is a huge motivator for home cooking and baking.

December Donut of the Month

The more delicious foods and drinks I am able to prepare at home, the less I need to 1) leave home 2) spend extra money and 3) eat less wholesome ingredients. Thanks to Joanna’s love of donuts, I was inspired to develop this donut-o-the-month series. So content am I with these homemade versions, I no longer need to brave the cold and the lines for the Pittsburgh brunch place that serves the beignets I used to crave. I am one step closer to a complete hermitage this winter, so three cheers for JoJoTastic!

Dec Donuts 02

December’s donut was inspired by fluffy snow, gingerbread men and hikes in the park with my four-legged snow lover. I hope these donuts enable you to stay some place warm, sip something hot and dive into the series of your choice.

Powdered Whole Wheat Gingerbread Donuts
Yield: 14-16 donuts, depending on size


3 3/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup packed organic, light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 large organic/cage-free eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

6 Tablespoons (3 oz) organic, unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

1 cup organic Greek yogurt

Organic/Non-GMO Safflower Oil for frying
Organic Powdered Sugar for topping


In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the brown sugar, molasses, eggs, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth.

With the mixer running, slowly pour in the butter and continue mixing until the butter is completely incorporated.

Add the yogurt in two additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between the additions.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing just until a uniform, but rough dough comes together. The dough will be sticky.

Transfer the dough to a large bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes (or up to overnight) before continuing with the recipe.

Add enough oil to a large cast iron Dutch oven/pot to measure about 2 inches in depth. Set the pan over medium heat. Let it start getting hot while you cut out the donuts (between 350 and 360 F if you’re lucky enough to have a thermometer that reads that high).

Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, adding more flour to your hands and the surface as needed. Roll the dough until it is about 1/2-inch thick (lifting and turning as you go to make sure it’s not sticking). Use a 3-inch round biscuit cutter to cut rounds from the dough. To cut the holes in the center of the donuts use a 1-inch biscuit cutter. The donuts expand noticeably in the oil, so do not cut the center hole too small, or it will close up almost completely.

Gather and re-roll the scraps to cut more donuts. You can either save the holes to make donut holes or re-roll them with the scraps. If the dough gets too soft or warm to work with at any time, chill it in the fridge briefly.

When the oil reaches the desired temperature, add a few donuts at a time and fry them for 4 minutes total (flipping once so both sides cook evenly), or until brown and cooked through.

Use a stainless steel spatula to remove the donuts from the oil and transfer to a cooking rack with a pan underneath it to catch any dripping oil. Donuts holes will require less time to cook, about 1-2 minutes total (remember to flip at least once).

When the donuts are still slightly warm, roll them in a shallow bowl of powdered sugar.



From my blanket bundle,

This post was originally created for JoJoTastic. Check out more great content from Joanna.

#TBT: Spectacular Holiday Dishes

December 2014

Siblings marry and disperse. Christmas day becomes a flexible date. A younger family member takes the throne at the biggest present pile. It’s more exciting to travel far and wide than near and home. There’s no time for a tree, and the nativity scene becomes more of a story than a testament of faith. At a certain point, holiday traditions face obstacles. However, these forks in the route can lead to new activities, new relationships and new traditions in the making.

DSC_8683_Pine Cone

Christmas is any minute now, and as this reality sunk in, I started to think more and more about how to make a day in December feel like Christmas day. I won’t be with my relatives, but I’ll be with people who have embraced me as family. I want to make homemade egg nog spiked with whiskey like I sipped in London. I want to make monkey bread because I know my sister will be doing the same. I want to decorate with close friends and listen to early 90s R&B. I want to curl up with the Urban Farmer and watch Love Actually because I can practically recite it by heart, and this movie has somehow escaped him.

As an “adult,” there have been so many moving parts and inconsistencies to the holidays, but as I reflected, these disparate bits and bobs have started to form very intentional traditions. This dose of nostalgia made me appreciate how we start to choose what’s important and what’s worth repeating, This dose of nostalgia also reminded me to be grateful for the new additions, which may or may not include this pine cone inspired almond appetizer. It is, after all, quite spectacular.

What traditions will you be commemorating and creating?


Happy Holidays!

#TBT (Throw Back Thursdays) glimpse into the vintage visual feasts in my personal collection of food and entertaining books and magazines.

Whole Wheat Cranberry Gingerbread Muffins

December 2014

Do you remember the Dunkin Donuts commercial from the 90s (?), in which a man appears in various “costumes” in order to take advantage of a discount? “Dunkin Donuts it’s worth the trip!” he says each time he steps to the register. The donut clerk, amused by a hastily applied fake mustache, plays along and then eventually breaks it to the confused man, the discount he seeks is always applicable. No costumes necessary. It’s possible I have altered this scene over the years. It’s possible the commercial was for a different brand. Regardless, this is what I think of when I make multiple visits, in one day, to my neighborhood cafe. If only I had switched costumes (though to be fair, I think I do sometimes change outfits throughout the course of the day)!


This neighborhood cafe serves up coffee drinks and affordable, healthy foods, a mere block away from my apartment. There have been times, very busy times, when that cafe has fed me breakfast, lunch and dinner. There’s something slightly shameful about purchasing every meal there when I am not only  capable of preparing food for myself, but I write about preparing foods for myself. However,busy times call for convenient measures.


With Christmas shockingly close (thank you etsy for making me aware of just how close Christmas is with your S&H warnings!), we are in the throngs of very busy times. If you’re able to set aside some kitchen time, I highly recommend making these Whole Wheat Cranberry Gingerbread Muffins. Made with regular whole-wheat flour, they’re nutritious, dense and delicious! Most importantly, they are easy to grab in the morning as you try to meet the deadlines of the day.

Alternately, you could just wear a fake mustache and visit the same cafe again? Up to you…

Whole Wheat Cranberry Gingerbread Muffins


1 stick organic butter, unsalted, melted

1 cup organic milk
1/2 cup molasses
2 organic/cage-free eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups organic cranberries, finely chopped


Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a muffin pan with 12 large muffin liners or 18 regular size muffin liners.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then add all wet ingredient. Whisk until combined, a few lumps are acceptable.

In another bowl add all dry ingredients (minus cranberries).

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just combined.

Pulse the cranberries in a food processor, and then fold them into the batter.

Spoon batter into muffin liners.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Remove from oven, and allow to cool.


Happy Holidays!

Instagram Lately: A Calming Shortcut

December 2014

There’s a narrow, winding shortcut road to my neighborhood, which the locals defend fiercely. After rounds of cat-and-mouse in the limited space, the houses thin, the road curves, and a bridge emerges overhead with graffiti, not the work of amateurs looking to put their names anywhere and everywhere, but eye-catching, graphic graffiti. The road curves again, more severely this time, and the invasive Japanese knotweed forms a forest around the bend.

Gray City Migration

While driving this road recently, it began to snow, softly, as if each tiny snowflake were floating intentionally in the air before descending to the ground. Collectively, these snowflakes fell at an angle, directly into my windshield, as if I were being shaken in a snow globe. The whole scene seemed timeless, frozen in place and extended at the same time. The slow and steady anticipation of the soundtrack fit the moment perfectly. The thing about this road is it forces you to slow down, to notice where there is room and look at what’s ahead. At a time in my life when stress and emotions have been overwhelming, I am trying to be more conscious of the tiny calming moments I find along the way: blanketing gray skies, soaring and swirling bird migrations, floating snowfalls, and those four little paws that force me to walk my neighborhood hills and to inhale deeply.

What keeps you calm lately?


Happy Monday!

P.S: Have you noticed the snow falling on my little corner of the blogosphere thanks to WordPress? I look forward to this digital snow all year. It’s the little things.

P.P.S: You can follow more of my Instagram adventures here and some here too.

#TBT: Good Food Means Good Cheer

December 2014

Mazola oil and Karo syrup aside, Jane Ashley’s alliteration, food-inspired holiday cheer, and her tie have won me over.


I’m in Jane, I’m in. Good food does mean good cheer. Now to make that cheerful food from ingredients a little more wholesome than the sugary equivalent of Play-doh.


Have your holiday cookie endeavors begun? I’m hoping to revisit these Chocolate Gingerbread Twig Cookies, and it’s hard to go wrong with Double Chocolate Cookies with Orange & Hazelnut, but who knows?


Maybe this year I’ll try a more wholesome version of Jane Ashley’s Lebkuchen?


May your cookie tin soon be full and festive!

#TBT (Throw Back Thursdays) glimpse into the vintage visual feasts in my personal collection of food and entertaining books and magazines.

Instagram Lately: Nostalgia, Nebraksa & Dorie Greenspan

December 2014

Someone had painted the exterior signage when area codes were for just for long distance. The dangling, three-dimensional letters gave the words a sense of movement teetering on precariousness. Though the building facade would suggest otherwise, the royal blue door pushed right open, and in more ways than one, I felt as though the door had opened to another era. The capacious, wood paneled room felt like a museum of old office equipment: a curly-q phone cord, a radio clock, the type of printer that hums and lurches rhythmically. The technology took me back to the late 80s/early 90s, but more than anything, the smell transported me.

Rent Most Everything

I couldn’t tell you the proper proportioning of mechanics, oil, grease, work, etc that leads to such an eau de parfum, but I can tell you it smelled exactly like my older brother’s mechanic shop. Suddenly, I was a little, curly-haired girl running around cars, toolboxes, oil buckets, a parking lot full of deceased vehicles and staring at cornfields in every direction. I went from McKees Rocks to Gothenburg, Nebraska with the opening of a door.

Nostalgia fuels so much of what I do and why I do it. I love weddings because they can be one of the most memorable days in a lifetime if planned properly. I love cameras and Instagram and Photoshop and blogging because all of these tools help preserve (and beautify) what memory might otherwise push to a back shelf.

Weddings and Old Town

I took a moment this past weekend to sip coffee slowly and eat waffles by myself- delicious, fluffy waffles with real maple syrup and pumpkin butter- while reading the newest issue of Lucky Peach. Unfortunately, taking time to sit and read is a memory falling deeper and deeper into the recesses. However, in this delicious reading refresher, a quote from Dorie Greenspan really struck me-

“Baking is really special,” she says. “We really don’t just bake for ourselves…. You bake to share. It’s such a pleasure. Everything about it- from the ingredients to the way they feel and the way they combine. There are memories attached to baking, so I think that even the scaredy-cats, the ones that don’t have enough time, will bake for the holidays.”

Memory and nostalgia. Nostalgia and memory. As I said, it really is the root for so much of what I do, so stay tuned for more baking, more associations, more memories recorded…more, more, more.


Have A Deliciously Memorable Week!

P.S: You can follow more of my Instagram adventures here and some here too.

Flourless Chocolate Honey Cake with @WigleWhiskey Mole Bitters

November 2014

The lunch table was a spread of pad thai, see yew, woon sen and more. My friend, whose wife consistently pulls him kicking and screaming to the zero level, took full advantage of her absence and had ordered a 10 on the spice scale. As he spooned up the flavorful thai food, a rouge color overtook his cheeks. His tear ducts drained. His nose ran. His brow glistened with sweat, and a crazed look overtook his eyes. He spoke nonsense and gesticulated wildly. He was in the throes of a spice high.

Flourless Choc Wigle Mole Cake copy

I’m no 10 on the spice scale. I’m a comfortable 6. I like a little kick here and there, but only as a flavor accent, not as a testament to my tolerance or a feat of strength. This cake is just that. Accented with Wigle Whiskey’s Organic Molé Bitters, this cake is a little kick here and there. I erred on the side of caution, adding a modest 3 teaspoons. I would suggest a bolder portion for even more of that molé flavor in each chocolaty bite. The use of raw wildflower honey as the sweetener added a floral note, and incidentally helps keep this cake moist and fresh for a while…if it lasts that long. The coconut topping toasts as the cake bakes, making for a nutty finish to this floral, spicy, chocolate cake. It’s full of nuances.

Flourless Chocolate Honey Cake with Wigle Whiskey Molé Bitters


Organic coconut oil for pan

4 ounces organic semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 stick (1/2 cup) organic, unsalted butter

3/4 cup raw wildflower honey

3 large eggs (organic/free-range)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 teaspoons Wigle Whiskey Molé Bitters

1/2 cup unsweetened, pure cocoa powder, plus additional for sprinkling

1/2 cup organic, unsweetened, shredded coconut


Preheat oven to 375°F and oil a 6-inch spring-form baking pan with melted coconut oil.

Place chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth.

Remove bowl from heat, and stir honey into chocolate mixture. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until frothy, then pour into the chocolate mixture.

Stir in the vanilla, molé bitters and cocoa powder, until just combined.

Pour batter into pan, and then top with shredded coconut.

Bake in middle of oven 45 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust.

Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and then remove from spring-form pan.


May your spice level be just right!