A Food & Travel Blog

For Barbara Harris – Lemon, Pear and Choc Chip Muffins

16/07/2012 | By

The food blogging world is a very noisy place – both aurally and visually.  There are a lot of us out here in the ether and we’d all quite like some of your attention.  Some of us are prepared to go to great lengths to attract that attention with flashy themes and cleverly designed  websites, glitzy photographs, amazing recipes and over-blown prose – not that there’s anything wrong with any of that.  However, others take a quieter, more measured approach to their writing, food and life.  They are not carried by trends, the drive for traffic or passing food fads, preferring instead to genuinely engage with their passion and those they meet through it.

Barbara Harris was a food blogger of the latter type.  As she wrote in her seventh anniversary blog post, Wino’s and Foodies was a diary of Barbara’s days –  “a place to leave my memories of family and recipes for my children.”  It was the place where she shared her food and photo’s, and the place from which she reached out to other bloggers with warmth, support and sincerity – no matter how she was feeling.  She was one of the first in the blogging world to reach out to me when I started this little piece of silliness, encouraging, including and supporting me.  I valued her insight, friendship and kindness and I will be forever grateful that we were able to spend some time together briefly last year.

Barbara recently lost her battle with cancer, after quietly and courageously living with her diagnosis for some years.  Her struggle was not easy, but she carried herself with inspiring dignity, grace and warmth and she will be missed more than she could possibly have imagined, by people whose lives she touched all around the world.

LiveSTRONG With a Taste of Yellow was Barbara’s creation, timed to coincide with Lance Armstrong’s LiveStrong Foundation Day to raise awareness of cancer.  As an indication of the esteem in which she was held, this month’s Monthly Mingle event (created by Meeta of  “What’s for Lunch, Honey“), hosted  by Cook Sister is dedicated to Barbara’s memory and “A Taste of Yellow” so all who knew her and loved her can eat yellow one more time.

Lemon, Pear and Choc Chip Muffins
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12
  • 2 cups SR flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 good pinch salt
  • ¾ cup choc chips
  • grated rind of one lemon
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 large pear, grated
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Grease and line muffin pan with paper cases.
  3. Place dry ingredients in a large bowl, whisk together with a fork.
  4. Place liquids and egg in smaller bowl, mix well with a fork.
  5. Add the grated pear, stir to combine.
  6. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir with large spoon to JUST combine. Do no over-mix.
  7. Spoon into prepared, lined muffin pans.
  8. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden.





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The Greedy Girl and the Dentist

08/11/2011 | By

It’s been pretty hysterical in this house for the last couple of weeks as those of you who follow my Facebook page may be aware.  The 21st birthday is all done and dusted, my youngest eventually made it to Vancouver and the last of the year 12 examinations was held this morning (I’m not expecting to see my son for the next day or two).  Admittedly, the hysteria surrounding all of this activity was mostly on my part as looming over all of the above-mentioned I was looking at the prospect of some quite unpleasant dental surgery.  (Hmm, possible oxymoron – is there any pleasant dental surgery?)  Ten days ago they strapped me down in the chair, filled me full of happiness-inducing medication and spent  two and a half hours doing unspeakable things to teeth and jawbones.  Unfortunately the happiness induced by the magic medication only lasts as long as the surgery – after that I was on my own with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics and what they termed a soft-soft diet.  Shudder.


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Seasonal Secrets – What’s in the box 29/30 June

01/07/2011 | By

Well folks, it is a sad week for Adelaide Food Connect subscribers.  No link to this week’s box, but for all the details on the demise of Community Supported Agriculture in it’s current form in Adelaide, check here.

You will note I said “in it’s current form”.  While there is a great deal of disappointment in the Food Connect community, there is far more goodwill and I urge you all to bring it with you when you attend the (yet to be announced) public meeting.  The meeting will be held to address the issues of account settlements, but will also be an opportunity for us all to look at new ways carry on the future of CSA here in Adelaide.  Please bring all of your ideas and enthusiasm to this meeting so that together we can help raise a phoenix from these ashes.

In the meantime, this weekly post will not stop – it will just alter it’s name slightly and will henceforth be known simply as “Seasonal Secrets”.  It may take me a little longer to change the title on the blog page – I’m having a little problem with that. (Any help from Thesis buffs gratefully received.)

So – on to this week.  It’s a glorious day today, but I’m told that winter is on its way back this weekend and what better way to challenge it than with a big pot of soup?  There are plenty of soup options in the boxes this last week and, if you are looking for spinach suggestions, might I suggest shredding it finely and bunging it in with whatever soup you make.  Leek and potato is a favourite in our house, dead simple and can be instant greened up by the addition of the shredded spinach towards the end of cooking, but before the mulching part of the procedure.  Broccoli soup is another simple dish and the spinach won’t be spotted by even the most vigilant teen in an already green soup.

The perfect accompaniment to soup is a fresh, warm, cheesy savoury muffin and, depending on what you put in them, they can just about be a meal in themselves.  They are also very easily frozen – brilliant for a weekend bake-up to save time on school lunches during the week.  These are limited only as far as your imagination and I’ve put some suggestions at the bottom of the recipe – so knock yourselves out!

Basic Savoury Muffins


  • 2 cups SR flour (white or 1/2 wholemeal, 1/2 white)
  • approx 1-2 cups of additions (see suggestions)
  • 1 cup milk (or 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup milk)
  • 125 ml oil or melted butter
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten


  1. Preheat oven 180C.
  2. Grease or spray muffin tray.
  3. Mix dry ingredients together.
  4. Mix wet ingredients together.
  5. Blend together, mixing until only JUST combined.
  6. Spoon into muffin pans and bake 20-30 minutes or until they are golden brown and spring back when touched.

Quick notes

It is generally wise to combine grated cheddar with parmesan for a cheesy muffin or the fats in the cheddar will be too heavy for the muffins.


A combination of grated cheddar cheese and grated parmesan, cubed feta, grated zucchini, carrots, pumpkin, chopped capsicum, chopped roasted capsicum, mushrooms, olives, finely shredded spinach, chopped sun dried tomatoes, chopped bacon or ham, finely chopped fresh herbs, chopped nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds etc.

Cooking time:

Number of servings (yield): 12

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What’s in the box – 25/26 May

26/05/2011 | By

This weekly post is aimed at offering some simple recipe suggestions to the subscribers of Adelaide Food Connect weekly fresh produce boxes – and the link to the list of contents for this week is here.

Winter has arrived up here in the hills and I sit here in front of the fire as I write this to you.  Stanley has been booted up, the dogs are wearing their coats to bed at night, uggies have become  de rigueur and slothful afternoons in the warm with a  book are (somewhat) justified.  I hope you are all keeping warm.

I have decided to tackle spinach head on this season.  It can be a challenge to find new and appetising ways to present it to the family, so each week I will have either a new recipe or a link to one for you to try.  I’d love to hear back if any of you try them out – perhaps we can put them into keepers and losers categories.  This week I’ve selected one from a favourite food writer and cook – Mark Bittman.  This recipe for Spinach-Bulgur Patties with Skordalia looks as though I might be able to sell it to the kids and would probably work quite well with a few substitutions or additions.  There is a local brand of beetroot skordalia that I would buy if I was feeling lazy/time challenged and left-over rice would probably work just as well as the bulgur.  Anyone else have any ideas?

By now you must all be aware of the extras which are available from Adelaide Food Connect.  If you aren’t then let me direct you here to check them out.  I love nuts and use them quite a lot in cooking, so I was very happy to see a local supplier of walnuts has been sourced.  Walnuts (and pecans) are quite happy to be frozen, so I’ve bought up big on these delicious Enoomah Farm walnuts and I’m thrilled with the quality.   I’ve toasted some and paired them up with some dates and date syrup in a batch of muffins that I baked this afternoon.  I’ve found that toasting nuts before using them in baking always gives a much deeper flavour.  The date syrup  gives a richer flavour, but if you don’t have any  – and, to be honest, I went out of my way to get this – then maple syrup, honey or golden syrup would substitute quite well.   There is one trick to remember with muffins – NEVER overwork the batter.  They should be stirred only until the ingredients are just combined, no more or they will be tough.

Date and Walnut Muffins

Date & Walnut Muffins
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12
  • ½ cup dates, chopped
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 75 mls canola oil or melted butter
  • 75 mls date syrup
  • Preheat oven to 180C.
  • Prepare muffin pan by lining with muffin cases or spraying lightly with oil.
  • Combine dry ingredients in bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon.
  • Combine wet ingredients in separate bowl and mix well with a fork.
  • Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until ONLY JUST COMBINED. About 20 strokes with a wooden spoon.
  • Spoon into muffin tray and bake for 20-25 minutes or until done.
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Prepare muffin pan by lining with muffin cases or spraying lightly with oil.
  3. Combine dry ingredients in bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon.
  4. Combine wet ingredients in separate bowl and mix well with a fork.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until ONLY JUST COMBINED. About 20 strokes with a wooden spoon.
  6. Spoon into muffin tray and bake for 20-25 minutes or until done.

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