Spiced Apple Oat Bread & The Tale of The Urban Farmer (Invest in an Urban Farm)

November 2014

Earlier this fall, I asked the community, or Facebook as it were, to guide me to Fracking-free, local apples. Unfortunately, the natural gas industry has negated local farmers’ sacrifices to grow and harvest pure produce. To put it simply, it’s shitty. It’s really, really shitty.

Apples and Loaf

Many of my friends responded with suggestions, but one of my dearest friends responded with an entire box of local, frack-free apples to fuel my baking. If anyone would scour to source a frack-free apple, it would be my friend Dana. She has fought tirelessly to defend the environment and the people who have lost access to clean water. What she has seen is truly harrowing.

Local Apples

During one of our coffee catch-ups, Dana’s anti-fracking accounts introduced (very purposefully) a new character. She had met a Pittsburgh area native who was also dedicated to protecting our natural resources and wanted to join her efforts. Being as deeply entrenched in this movement as she was, Dana sussed him out intensely. She was uninterested in another tag-along looking for a shocking story for a blog or social media. She was interested in a volunteer who would respect how difficult it had been to establish relationships with these victims, sympathize with them, and to assist her in standing up to the industry behemoths.

Spiced Apple Loaf

After just one day on the road with her, meeting families, photographing flaming drilling rigs, and listening to her emotional breakdown, this man had impressed her beyond her expectations. She saw the selfless, giving soul of a respectful man, who wanted to save the world. She took note, and her gears began to turn.

Spiced Apple Bread

As Dana and I sat drinking coffee and catching up, I asked more about this man, who I had glimpsed briefly at their first meeting. As she responded, I sank dramatically in my chair. This dude couldn’t be real. Had I forgotten to lock and stow some youthful diary of mine? Had she found my naive musings of a dream man? Earth saver, photographer, wanderer, aspiring urban farmer, beekeeper, graphic designer… my eyes were glazed, and my head was spinning, but Dana’s head was on straight. She plotted and schemed, and before long, that dream fella and I were locking lips under a mulberry tree.

Swoon City. Population: Two!

Spiced Apple Slices

I’ve alluded to “the Urban Farmer” or #theurbanfarmer here and there, but in light of recent strides, I wanted to share the full story. Kyle, as most people know him, launched his Kiva campaign to fund his vision for Hazelwood Farm. I’m asking you, dear readers, to join me and help support his efforts and his dreams. His heart is huge, his vision is commendable, and when I’m too busy to notice, he secretly waters my windowsill basil and keeps it alive. He deserves a farm because he’ll use that farm to make the world a better place, one CSA share at a time. Even Julep can’t help but smile when she imagines what these abandoned urban lots could become, and she is so ready to herd something… to herd anything!

The Urban Farmer and Julep

Here’s the deal- my generous, selfless, supportive, handsome Urban Farmer is asking the community to help him help the community. Still following me? In other words, please consider investing in his Kiva Campaign, so he can launch his farm. Any size donation-from $1-$10,000 helps. While you’re at it, support someone who has grown local, frack-free apples, and make this bread. It’s good and good for you, just like an urban farm.

Whole Wheat Spiced Apple & Oat Quick Bread
yield: makes two loaves


2 cups diced local apples
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 cups organic Greek yogurt
2 cups organic oats

3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 organic/cage-free eggs (slightly beaten)
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup packed organic brown sugar


Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil two loaf pans, and line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the diced apples and spices. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together yogurt and oats. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, mix together eggs, oil and brown sugar. Stir in the flour mixture, and then stir in the yogurt mixture. Batter will be very thick.

Pour a layer of batter into each pan. Top with a layer of spiced apples. Repeat until all the batter is equally divided.

Bake 45 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Place on a wire rack to cool completely.



p.s: If you do invest in Kyle’s campaign, be sure to leave a comment. I’d love for the world to be a little smaller and to thank you by name.

Instagram Lately: Calming Gray Days & Thanksgiving Gratitude

November 2014

When the warmth hits my bare shoulders, and the fiery pink light lifts my spirits, I wonder why I never took root in some place warmer, where Vitamin D supplements would be a joke, not a necessity. Then fall arrives with magical misty mornings and vibrant leaf swirls, and the beauty is overwhelming. This year, winter seems to be dipping its toes in the water and settling at a more manageable pace. Though I shiver for months at a time, there’s something calming about the dreariness. These winter grays are rich with subtle blues and greens and coppery accents. I may be the type of person who needs a dose of winter. After all, isn’t winter what makes spring all the more magical?

Seeds and Thanksgivin

Thanksgiving was one of those quiet, gray, Pittsburgh days, but that’s just the type of day to fire up a new waffle maker, take a stroll, sink boots in the earth, rake up some leaves to form a garden blanket and enjoy a slice of dessert after waiting all day long. Thanksgiving was gray outside, but inside it was warm and rosy.

Cakes and Waffles and Coffee

I’ve much to be thankful for, and I’d be remiss not to dwell just a tad…

The Urban Farmer, who makes me a better person and picks me up when I’m sort of a puddle. He makes me laugh until I can’t breathe and dances with me in the kitchen.

Julep of every day, who snuggles like a champ and warms hearts all over our neighborhood.

A warm oven and friends with whom to share my baked goods.

A new venture
which has taught me a lot about myself recently- some lessons are tougher than others, but I’d rather face those moments than risk stagnation. In a way, the timing of these hurtles has made Thanksgiving feel like New Year’s Eve, and the spirit of resolutions is upon me.

If you’re reading this post, I’m thankful for you! This corner of the web means the world to me, and having an audience for these musings is the all-natural icing on the whole-wheat chocolate cake!

How was your Thanksgiving?


May your gray days be calm and warm!

P.S: You can follow more of my Instagram adventures here.
P.P.S: I love this to-do list for the week from Kid President: Love big. Laugh a lot. Dance. Repeat.

Patterns and A Pumpkin Recipe Roundup

November 2014

Once when I was lamenting my string of broken relationships, my best friend cut through the bullshit and told me something I will always remember, “If it happens three times, it’s a pattern.” Sandra’s not one to sugar coat, but why would I want her to be? Her words made me see the situation in a whole new light. I’ve been more conscious of my influence on my life’s patterns ever since, so officially, thank you Sandra!

Pumpkin Recipe Roundup

Some patterns, however, are easier to spot and/or embrace than others. Through recent collaborations, I reminded myself of some bad working/communication habits I need to improveme. That was a tougher pattern to face. On the sweeter side of the spectrum, I noticed I really latched onto pumpkin this fall. I have zero remorse for such ingredient fixation, and instead thought this pattern merited reiterating. Without further ado, a little pumpkin roundup should you still feel inspired by autumn’s prized gourd.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage Butter, Cranberry, Pecan & Goat Cheese
Pumpkin, Cranberry & Pecan Granola
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Spice & Chocolate Swirl Bread
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Ale Donuts for JoJoTastic
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Bread


Here’s to friends who tell it like it is, patterns & pumpkins!

#TBT: Happy Thanksgiving!

November 2014

Oh how quickly this day has arrived! It seems like just yesterday I was making mini turkey pot pies and a table full of desserts, but that’s the way the calendar flutters. There we were, and here we are. Just like that!


May your day be filled with wholesome foods, family, friends, and chocolate wherever possible.


Happy Thanksgiving!

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

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Bread

November 2014

Do you need this recipe in your life?

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Bread 01

Editing these photos made me crave this bread anew, so I argue yes. However, I am a reasonable person, and I understand you can’t please all people all the time. For the sake of busy holiday schedules, venturing through madhouse grocery stores, waiting in long-ass turkey lines and the constantly nagging fear of snowflake graphics on iPhone weather reports, I’ll help you expedite this decision making process for yourself. Proceed.

Do you even enjoy baking?
I hope so. I hope that’s why you’re here. If yes, continue!

Are you still craving pumpkin goodness?
If yes, continue!

Do you live your life by the philosophy “chocolate makes everything better?”
If yes, continue!

Do you enjoy a slice of something wholesome and sweet with your morning coffee and maybe a sliver for dessert?
If yes, continue!

Do you need to bake for a gathering or visiting guests?
If yes, continue!

Pumpkin Choc Chunk Bread 02

You made it!

As I mentioned before, pumpkin haters gonna hate, but I’m all about pumpkin, and I obviously live my life by the add-chocolate-make-better principle. As such an adamant disciple of said chocolate philosophy, I may have even gone a little overboard here, but when you bite into the dark chocolate chunks and the spiced pumpkin flavor, you’ll be floating in a lifesaver right along with me. This bread’s natural ingredients make it a wholesome breakfast choice, but it’s also sweet and cake-like enough to satisfy a dessert craving.

Pumpkin Choc Chunk 03

Lastly, this is a recipe that gives and gives and keeps too. Initially, I thought the batter would become two loaves, but it divided magically into three- a real Thanksgiving miracle! You’ll be able to keep a loaf for your own breakfast slices (and dessert bites) and still have plenty to share, which comes in handy this time of year.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Bread
Makes 3 loaves

Dry ingredients

3 ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups organic cane sugar

Wet ingredients

15 oz canned organic pumpkin puree
4 whole eggs (organic, cage-free)
1 cup raw honey
1 cup olive oil
2/3 cup water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 cups dark chocolate chunks, divided


Preheat oven to 350.

Mix wet ingredients and dry ingredients in separate bowls.  Be sure to thoroughly mix both wet and dry separately before combining.

Add the dry to the wet in four stages, and stir until just barely combined, careful not to overmix.

Fold in 2 cups of the chocolate chunks.

Use olive oil or butter to grease three loaf pans. Line with parchment paper, and pour the batter evenly between the three.

Disburse remaining 1 cup of chocolate chunks over the surface of each loaf.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center (avoiding chocolate chunks) comes out clean, approximately 50 minutes.


You made it this far! I really hope you make it all the way to a sweet, chocolatey bite with your morning brew. Thanks for joining me!


Instagram Lately: What Do You Think?

November 2014

“What do you think?”

Sometimes the answer to that question can be a tough pill to swallow. I’m one who thrives off collaboration, and I seek critiques. I want to be better. I want my work to improve. I want to know what I am missing. However, when that feedback seems to undermine my thought process, it can sting a bit. This week stung a bit.

Bleak Skies

However, sometimes the lessons have to sting in order to shake us from moving too fast and redirect us. After feeling accused and defensive, I found new inspiration. I remembered why I open myself up to feedback in the first place.

Pinks Too

There’s still a little sting on the mend, but there are also bright pinks despite the bleak skies.

What do your Instagrams reveal lately?



p.s: You can follow all my Instagram adventures here.

Donut o’ the Month for JoJoTastic: Whole Wheat Cranberry Cake Donuts with Whiskey Cider Glaze

November 2014

As one who thrives on the adrenaline rush of working until the very last minute, I prefer the role of hostess in the production of Thanksgiving. This year, however, I feel like more of an understudy to an understudy. I’m not sure which part I’ll be playing, where I’ll be performing or what I’ll be eating.

November Donut o the Month

I’ve been in such a frenzy of projects, Thanksgiving had been hiding in the shadows of deadlines, and it very quickly sneaked up on me. Despite my lack of plans, I couldn’t let the Donut o’ the Month series pass November without a nod to the month’s star holiday.

November Donuts

This recipe draws inspiration from Thanksgiving’s cranberry sauce tradition, fall herb accents, mugs of hot cider, and the shot of whiskey you need when dad digresses into politics at the dinner table.

Cranberry Donuts 05

Check out my original November donut post and all the other fantastic content at JoJoTastic!

Whole Wheat Cranberry Sage Donuts with Whiskey Cider Glaze

makes about 12-15 standard sized donuts

4 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup organic raw cane sugar
2 Tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon zest (~2 lemons)
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped sage

1 cup organic whole milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten (organic/cage-free)

4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (8 Tbs) organic, unsalted butter, melted

3 cups fresh organic cranberries

Organic, non-GMO Safflower oil for frying (about 1 quart)


In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, spices, salt, zest and sage, whisking to combine.

In another bowl, combine egg, milk and vanilla extract, mixing together.

Add melted butter to the dry ingredients, quickly stirring to disperse the butter and form small crumbs.

Stir in milk and egg mixture, bring the dough together with a spoon.

Before it comes completely together, add in cranberries, mashing some as you stir, and bring dough together with your hands.

Form the dough into a large ball, then roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut donuts using a biscuit cutter. Use a smaller cutter to create the donut hole. Repeat with dough scraps until all the dough is used.

Heat oil in a large pot or deep fryer, bringing it to 375 degrees. Fry donuts 1-2 at a time, frying for about 1 1/2-2 minutes per side. After your first donut, check it by cutting into the center and making sure the dough is cooked. Finish remaining donuts, transferring to a cooling rack as you go. Once all the donuts are made, add the glaze.

Cider Whiskey Glaze


2 cups organic powdered sugar
1-2 Tablespoons Hickory Finished Wigle Whiskey
1/4 cup apple cider

For the Glaze

Whisk ingredients together until a smooth glaze forms. If the glaze is too thin, add sugar a few tablespoons at a time, while whisking. if the glaze is too thick, add more water by one very small drop at a time, whisking constantly. Dip donuts in the glaze and set aside for the glaze to harden slightly. Note: You may need to make a second batch depending on the size of your donuts and your glaze preferences.


May your Thanksgiving morning be stress free and donut filled!

p.s: A bite of one of these donuts with a dollop of all natural pumpkin ice cream (and maybe a coffee on the side) is the stuff dreams are made of.