Monday 4 April 2011

Strawberry muffins, new oven and an allergy

 Last week should have been better as things settle down in my life but the challenges continue to rise up in my path. I was so tired last week, I barely made a dint on the clean up needed after the kitchen renovation. Sylvia is not sleeping well, our heater was not working and we discovered that Sylvia has an allergy to peanuts. Well at least I didn't have to sit in a cold carpark for a few hours waving cars in (that was the week before when we had a work event).  And I made some lovely muffins.

I bought some strawberries at the market which on closer inspection weren't great.  I remembered Cakelaw's recipe for Strawberry Yoghurt Muffins and miraculously had the leftover dairy in need of rescue, albeit not the no-fat strawberry yoghurt as specified by the recipe.  I also had the remains of a bag of choc chips that I used instead of dried cranberries.  Throw in a bit of LSA that has been in the fridge a while, and these made lovely moist grainy muffins that weren't too sweet.

My one uncertainty was as to how much to bake them.  I am still easing into the new oven.  My old oven always took far longer than the specified temperature and cooked unevenly.  I think this one cooks fairly evenly and seems to cook as the recipe intends.  But I am not yet familiar enough to make blithe assumptions.  These muffins looked ok after 20 minutes but I decided to bake the second lot just that bit longer.

I still am in transition when it comes to reading recipes.  I realise this means that I will now have a mix of recipes on this blog when it comes to the oven.  Some made in a dodgy old oven and others in a brand spanking new oven.  I have gone into my Kitchen Notes page on the weekend and updated the notes on my oven.  Other than that, I can only apologise to anyone who must adjust to my changed oven timing.

Most of the muffins are now in the freezer but below was the sight that greeted Sylvia when she got up on Saturday morning. Not bad, eh! We had muffins for breakfast. I had been hoping I might have been able to make her some baked goods with peanut butter but that is not going to happen any time soon.

Last week Sylvia did a peanut challenge at the Royal Children's Hospital.  She started allergy tests after her allergic reaction early last year.  We never identified what she reacted to back then but it set off a series of queries.  She did a cow's milk challenge last year and was fine.

The peanut butter challenge did not run so smoothly.  Fortunately her reaction wasn't life threatening but it was not pleasant to watch her in distress after a quarter of a teaspoon of peanut butter.  I have delayed introducing her to peanuts and was glad she tried them at the hospital, now that I know the reaction wasn't good.

There haven't been many recipes on the blog with peanuts in them since early last year and there wont be many more.  I love peanut butter and still have some around for when I fancy a peanut butter sandwich, usually when Sylvia is not around, but we need to educate her not to have peanuts.  Yet another new challenge to face.  I am planning to try some other nut butters on toast with Sylvia as she doesn't seem to be allergic to any other nuts so far (touchwood for luck).

Meanwhile, it amused me to photograph a muffin with some of the detritus that I found in our old fruit bowl when cleaning up after our kitchen renovation.  Don't ask!  All I can tell you is that this is not my current mobile phone in the picture.  My phone has been lost for a week or two but I dislike using it so much that I am not too bothered.  They are handy every now and again so hopefully I might find it.  I meant to take a pretty picture of the muffins with strawberries but got waylaid.  A bit like this post.

A new week ahead and I am looking forward to some strawberry muffins in my work lunches.  Highly recommend you try them too.  Like Cakelaw I am not keen on strawberries in baking but these ones work wonderfully in the muffins to keep them moist and fruity.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: WHB Easter nut roast and reflections
This time two years ago: Carrot Miso Soup
This time three years ago: Pumpkin Apple and Sage Risotto

Strawberry yoghurt muffins
adapted from Cakelaw
makes 18 muffins
  • 250g fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups wholemeal plain flour
  • 1/2 cup LSA (or more wholemeal plain flour)
  • 1/2 cup white plain flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dark choc chips
  • 1 lightly beaten egg
  • 1/4 cup canola or other neutral oil
  • 1 1/4 cups vanilla yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche (I topped mine up a little with milk because I didn't quite have enough)
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius (or 170 C fan forced). Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper muffin cases.

Combine the flours, cinnamon, brown sugar and choc chips together in a bowl.  Stir in the egg, oil, yoghurt and strawberries. Spoon the batter into the muffin cases.

Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out cleanly. Allow the muffins to rest in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.  (NB they will be very fragile when hot so letting them rest will make them easier to handle.)

On the stereo:
Scott Walker: The Collection


  1. thankfully there are so many other nut butters out there that Sylvia won't be lacking in spreads to try! That stinks though :(

    The muffins look fantastic! I'm so glad strawberries are coming into season soon so I can try them!

  2. I'm sorry to hear about the peanut allergy, but can I let you in on a little secret? I've actually been more obsessed with the sunflower seed butter on sale at Woolies and Coles these days. Perhaps you could try that with Sylvia? I don't think it's as expensive as the other nut butters one finds at health food stores...

    Johanna, you just focus on taking care of yourself (and your family, but yourself too). Clean up can wait! There's no point wearing yourself out for no good reason. Anyway, I love a house that looks "lived in" ;)

  3. Oh dear, allergies can be quite a challenge but I am glad you have pin pointed the trigger. My sister was born with a severe egg allergy so I am familiar with the "allergy training". Good luck to Sylvia and there are plenty of yummy nuts and nut butters beyond peanut; here's wishing her good eats.

  4. Sorry about the allergy, but since it is so common these days I'm sure you'll find lots of good food options without peanuts.
    This recipe looks MARVELOUS. thanks for sharing.
    I can't wait for the New Jersey strawberries. If summer ever comes!!!

  5. The muffins look delicious, just what you need after such a stressful few weeks. I'm sorry to hear sylvia has a peanut allergy but at least you've found out what it is fairly early on. This way she can grow up learning how to avoid peanuts as the norm. Try her with other nut butters too, also sesame as thats quite common too.
    All the best

  6. Poor Sylvia, glad the allergy has been identified though. Loving this muffin recipe, will be book marking it for strawberry season!

  7. You seem to have your hands full Johanna, and yet you turned out delicious muffins. I made a batch of streusel topped strawberry muffins some time ago which were great too.Your poor little poppet...just glad you discovered the allergy in a 'safe' place! take care...

  8. Oh no, I'm so sorry to hear about Sylvia and her peanut allergy although it is good that it isn't a life threatening reaction. Those I would imagine would be absolutely frightening for parents. Hehe great minds think alike baking strawberries in cake/muffins :P

  9. Oh I am so sorry to hear about the allergy - the poor little thing :( From what I have heard, a lot of schools are now really 'allergy friendly' when it comes to peanuts which is a small consolation I suppose.

  10. A peanut allergy! I would definitely miss my peanut butter but the situation could certainly be much worse. You were very wise to keep Sylvia away from peanuts this last year and test them out only under medical observation!

  11. These muffins sound great (with a few vegan substitutes of course)!

    Nut allergies are a terrible thing to have, however you should be relieved that Sylvia is only allergic to peanuts at this stage. My mum has terrible allergies to all nuts and she winds up in emergency often as they are snuck into so many foods. Even when you ask if there are any nuts, you don't always get the truth! My sister also has allergies to most nuts and sesame seeds however her reactions are not as severe as my mum.

  12. Sorry to hear about Sylvia and her peanut allergy. Small comfort, but at least she can eat other nuts. I've never baked with strawberries before, so if ever I get an abundance of strawberries, I shall have to try these. As for ovens, mine cooks everything far faster than it should. I think they are all different and everyone has to adjust to their own.

  13. Thanks Joanne - definitely lots of other nut butters for sylvia

    Thanks Hannah - I can assure you our house looks lived in - will have to check out the sunflower butter - never had it before

    Thanks Nupur - Sylvia and I are already talking about peanut butter - figure that is the best way to train her - ironically she is learning to say it just when we know she can't eat it

    thanks Rivki - you are right about it being helpful that peanut allergies are common so it is easier to avoid

    Thanks Katie - yes it is easier when she sees it as the norm not to go near peanut butter - though we were told that some children grow out of allergies - fingers crossed

    Thanks Chele - yes we were lucky to identify it before we tried it at home

    Thanks Deeba - streusel topped strawberry muffins sounds great - will have to check them out next time I buy dodgy strawberries

    Thanks Lorraine - yes I laughed when I saw your strawberry cake - snap! and I was relieved that Sylvia's allergy is not more severe - there are so many terribly allergies out there

    Thanks Lisa - Sylvia's child care is nut free but I have heard that not all schools are - but at least there is a high community awareness of the allergy

    Thanks Cindy - I love a peanut butter sandwich so am sad I can't share that with sylvia but at least we are used to keeping them away from her - we were told to avoid them early last year after a skin prick test

    Thanks Mel - hope you can veganise the muffins - sorry to hear about your mum - that sounds really frustrating - I heard a story about a grandparent ignoring warnings about allergies - some people just don't have a clue

    Thanks Choclette - I agree with you about ovens - adjusting to a fast cooking one after a slow one is quite a change but a nice one - as for sylvia's allergy - am so glad it is only peanuts - all nuts would upset me as I love cooking with nuts

  14. Really sorry to hear about Sylvia's reaction to peanuts - as others have said, at least schools are much more aware of the problem nowadays. Glad you found out in a hospital setting though.

    As someone nut allergic (but thankfully not to peanuts) it does get easier with time - you learn to spot things that are likely to contain nuts. I guess peanuts might be harder though due to the widespread use of peanut oil - it all depends on what she reacts to. The other one that is often hidden, particularly in baked goods and sweet things is ground almonds, so it would be good to know if she is ok with almonds.

    Best of luck - I'm sure you'll both be fine!

  15. Knocking wood "as we speak." If Sylvia had to be allergic to peanuts at least it was pinpointed and noted. I don't envy you having to teach her about her allergy. I wonder if there are any children's books on the subject?

    Marion couldn't resist the strawberries at the market the other day. I think they may have been just perfect for these muffins as they aren't truly in season yet here. Yours, btw, look scrumptious!

    Baking in your new oven will become second nature sooner than you think, Johanna. I for one am looking forward to your endeavors!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing...

  16. Glad you tried these and liked them! It's a shame if Sylvia loves peanut butter but can't have it - but at least you may have identified her allergy.

  17. I'm sorry to hear about Sylvia's allergy, too! But it sounds like it wasn't life-threatening, which is something, I guess. The muffins look great--and we keep all kinds of odds and ends in our fruit bowl, too--looks like the kind of thing I'd find in mine!

  18. Also really sorry to hear about the peanut allergy. Hopefully she will grow out of it down the track.
    In the mean time, Almond Butter is a favourite round here. Monkey Boy loves the stuff and just quietly, I have been known to walk around with a teaspoon eating the stuff.
    These muffins look lovely. I'm sold on any cakey thing with LSA and yogurt in it.

  19. Thanks C - Sylvia reacted to almonds on the skin test but fortunately I had introduced her to them by then and could tell the doctor she was fine with them - but I will have to be alert as you say - hadn't even thought of peanut oil

    Thanks Louise - will keep my eye out for kids books about allergies - unfortunately the great bookshop near work that sold kids books about "issues" has closed - muffins are great for strawberries that aren't quite in season - but am sure your seasonal berries are just around the corner

    Thanks Cakelaw - yes if she must have an allergy, early identification has helped make it a bit easier

    Thanks Ricki - I don't know how these things find their way into our fruit bowl - am trying to use a smaller fruit bowl but there is still a loch ness monster worming his way in there :-)

    Thanks cityhippyfarmgirl - almond butter and cashew butter are my other nut butters of choice - have some almond butter that I am using occasionally and have tried to tempt sylvia with it but she is not interested in any nut butters so far.

  20. Sorry to hear about Sylvia's peanut allergy! But it's good to have identified the allergy in the hospital, as you said. Love the sound of these muffins. I love yogurt in muffins - and am very intrigued by the container your yogurt comes in. I've never seen yogurt in a jar like that - ours always comes in tubs. I like seeing what was in your fruit bowl. :) I tend to throw whatever I don't want on the counter in there, but mostly it's just random candies and chocolates, with some fruit on top.


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