Farm to Table Conference & Carrot Cake Muffins, II

About a week and a half ago, the hubbs and I took a trip to Pittsburgh for the Farm to Table Conference- which we had never attended before.  We met farmers who poured a cup of their farm fresh milk (It turns out I Loooooove whole milk- my gosh, it’s like heavy cream!!!), we sampled their cheeses, tasted jams, jellies, pickles, and preserves, and so much more.  They had seminars on everything from the virtues of grass fed beef to demonstrations of healthy cooking.  They even had a demonstration on growing Shiitake mushrooms! In case you’re interested: Farm to Table Conference Info!

Since we’ve enjoyed such a warm spring, all the flowering trees are gorgeous with their blooms!

 Bridges of Allegheny County:

 These are the logs for growing Shiitake mushrooms.  It apparently takes 7 years to grow them!!!  Who knew?

Here is one of the abovementioned seminars.  This particular speaker is an Internist, who spoke on the virtues of eating fresh, healthy meals, as opposed to preserved, pre-packaged, laced with antibiotics and horomones, and he even spoke about the dreaded PINK SLIME.  Yuck.

Here he is demonstrating how easily one could make blanched asparagus (to lock in the flavors/nutrients and freeze for later.)

 A bird’s-eye view of the conference room, set up with lots of tables, full of friendly people offering information about the farm-to-table movement.  It’s a big deal.

 Umm, and yes, this is a group of women taking a yoga break.  I am in heaven.  Love that little girl’s Down Dog on the far left!!

We found lots of fresh, yummy cheeses- this particular gentleman had a wonderful gouda.

We loved the conference!  We also found information on a totally Organic CSA which we are thinking of joining (I loved our CSA from last year so much and loved the farmers, but it wasn’t organic)  🙁
We also received lots of information about harmful chemicals in household cleaners and beauty products.  It was all-in-all very enlightening!  🙂

We headed over to the Strip District, only a short drive from the Pittsburgh Convention Center, where we found some fabulous doughnuts at Peace, Love, and Little Donuts!  Mine is the one on the left: banana topping with toffee crunchy bits = heavenly.  Mr. Handsome’s is the one on the right: maple topping with bacon crumbles (such a man; add some meat to that doughnut, please!  LOL!!); I must admit, his doughnut was absolutely fabulous!

 Finally, last week was one of my co-worker’s last day (she graduates soon!  Yay!), so I made Carrot Cake Muffins.  Yes, usually they would have been cupcakes, but the point was brought up that we would be eating them at 8 AM, so they should the muffins.  Hence, muffins!  (We totally ate them at noon, lol!!)  Y’all know my style: they were whole wheat, no sugar, and no butter!  Still pretty good, I thought!  For me personally, I prefer the extra punch of flavor from the pureed ginger (as compared to ground ginger, which has usually lost most, if not all, of its flavor before I can use it all).  If you can find it already pureed in the refrigerated produce, it will make this process go much, much quicker.  If not, buy some ginger, peel it all, cut it into 1/2″ cubes, and toss into your food processor.  Same result (Refrigerates well about 1 week.  It freezes well, too, for 3-6 months!).

Carrot Cake Muffins, II
yield: 24 mini muffins
*adapted from the Rodale Whole Foods Cookbook

2 eggs
2/3 c. canola oil
1/2 agave nectar or honey
1/4 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. fresh pureed ginger
1/2 c. grated and minced carrots
1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 300 F.  In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt.  In a smaller bowl, whip eggs until frothy.  Mix in the oil, followed by the agave or honey, buttermilk, and lastly, add the ginger to this smaller bowl.  Gradually blend the egg combination into the flour mixture until smooth (it’s ok if there are some lumps).  Add in the carrots and stir.  

 Using a scoop (or spoon), measure out the batter into greased (and lined, if desired) mini muffin tins.

 Bake for 11-15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 1-2 minutes in the pan, then pop those suckers out onto a wire cooling rack until room temp.

 The best part: the frosting!

Cream Cheese Frosting
makes about 1 1/2 cups

4 oz. cream cheese (half of a regular 8 oz. block; could use Neufchatel or fat free)
3 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Let the cream cheese come to room temperature, and stir in the honey, vanilla, and cinnamon until very smooth.  Put all of the frosting in a freezer bag and seal.  Cut the very tiniest tip off of the bag & pipe onto the muffins in whatever design your heart desires!

Mmmm.  Love.  I am thinking about making an actual bonafide Carrot Cake for Easter…which is this Sunday!

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