Mini Pumpkin Muffins

Another recipe that’s been in my family since I was little is one for miniature pumpkin muffins. My mom and I would make them every year near Thanksgiving and give them to friends and family. This recipe is another gem that came from Sunset Magazine. They kind of have the best stuff.

These muffins are about a million times better just because they’re miniature. I swear it makes them taste better. It also makes it way too easy to eat 10 of them in just one sitting. My biggest problem with these is that whenever I make them, I eat them all day long. They’re so small and delicious I just don’t notice, until suddenly I realize that I made them a few hours ago and only half of them are left. That’s when I need to start giving them away, and my friends don’t complain about it. I can’t help but make at least half a dozen batches when Fall comes around. And sometimes I make them in the middle of summer just because I feel like it.

Whenever baking doesn’t call for fresh fruit I think it’s kind of hard get local ingredients. The only thing that isn’t your typical baking staple (think flour, sugar, spices, etc.) in this recipe is the canned pumpkin. I made sure I got organic, especially since it was on sale at New Frontiers, but I don’t really know of any places that I would be able to get local pumpkin puree. That, and I would have no idea how to make it myself. Oh well, either way I don’t think anyone minds. I know I don’t.

Here’s a picture of what one of my many (double) batches this Fall ended up looking like.

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Holiday Toffee

If you’ve been around me at all in the past week and a half, then you probably know that I like making toffee. And by like, I mean I have a batch of it sitting in my refrigerator cooling right now. I think it’s my third or fourth batch in the past nine days. I’m almost sorry about it, but not really.

This toffee recipe is one that my mom and I have made since I was little. She found it in a Sunset Magazine back in 1995 and it’s been a holiday staple since then. Since I’ve been in college, we haven’t made much of it when I come home, and I was really starting to miss it. We would make a bunch of batches near Christmas time and then give it to all of our friends and family and pretty much anyone else we knew. It’s been a few years since that happened. Things get busy, life happens, your kid goes to college and things just change, etc. But I decided this year that I wanted to change that, so I kind of stole the recipe from my mom during Thanksgiving break and I’ve been rampantly making it since then.

It consists of about five ingredients, and the main components are sugar and butter. AKA it’s horrible for your arteries and a piece of heaven for your soul. That’s how I like to think of “bad” foods. Good for your soul. And it’s perfect justification any time you need it.

This is what one of my batches from earlier this week ended up looking like. Everyone seemed to think it turned out just fine, because it was gone in a few hours.

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Graham Cracker S’more Cupcakes

Another one of my baking adventures was this summer, and the recipe definitely came from Pinterest. I decided to make some graham cracker s’more cupcakes for my last day of interning at KSBY. The newsroom loves anything edible, and I like to make edible things. It was a win win for everybody. 

While I don’t remember how many ingredients were organic, I know at least the sugar and butter were. That counts for something, right? Is it even possible to get organic marshmallow cream? I guess I’m not sure. Anyway, these things were a huge hit with everybody in the newsroom, and with my friends that got the leftovers. Everybody came back for seconds, or was at least trying to avoid them. Cupcakes are a dangerous thing to have in the newsroom. 

They were a bit more time consuming to make than I had expected, but I guess that’s what happens when you don’t have a food processor and have to crumble graham crackers into powder by hand (I know it’s ridiculous, but I really like to bake stuff). Baking is almost like a challenge for me, and when something turns out like I wanted it to, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment. And it’s fun for me, so I don’t really mind the amount of time and effort that goes into it. 

These were my finished product. Close to four hours later. I think they were worth it. 

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Blueberry Peach Cobbler

One thing people should know about me, if they don’t already, is that I love to cook and bake, especially bake. And when I say I love to bake, I mean that it might be a borderline obsession. I haven’t decided yet. I’m pretty sure that I can blame that on Pinterest, because that’s where I find 95% of the recipes I decide to make.

This recipe happens to be one of the few that I didn’t find on that devilish little site (don’t ever go on there, you’ll spend hours and end up craving every bad food you never knew existed). At the time I really just wanted to make some sort of peach cobbler, and I wasn’t feeling very inspired by what I found on Pinterest. So I turned to Google, and stumbled upon this recipe. I wish I could say that I made this just the other day (because I really want some now), but I made this over the summer when ripe and juicy peaches were everywhere to be found.

I try to use organic and locally-grown fruits and vegetables when I can. This time I got all of my ingredients from our local New Frontiers. The peaches and blueberries were both organic and ended up tasting amazing.

I brought all of my goodies home and got to work. This is what I ended up with.

vscocam73I decided that these little guys are good for just about every meal, trust me, I ate them for all three. Without agriculture, these tasty treats wouldn’t even exist, and I would be incredibly sad.

 

 

It’s Been a While

It has been quite some time since I last posted on here. I haven’t used this blog since Fall quarter of last year for one of my journalism classes, and now I’m back to use it for another class! This time I’ll be using it for my agricultural communications class, but I’m keeping the blog name the same. 

I’ve learned a lot in my ag comm class so far, and also found that I have more knowledge about some things in the agriculture industry than I expected. The class mainly focuses on how important the communications side of the agriculture industry is, and how they go hand in hand with one another. Agriculture has ties to just about everything in people’s day-to-day lives, and it’s important for them to realize what those ties are. This is where agricultural communications come into play. 

For the next few posts I’ll be talking about how agriculture plays a part in my life, and something tells me it will have a lot to do with food. 

What’s Your Favorite?

Story Highlights:

  • My Favorite
  • Favorites of People Around Campus

It’s Not a Secret

If anybody has ever visited this blog before, it should be no secret that my favorite coffee spot in San Luis Obispo is Sally Loo’s Wholesome Cafe. You can see previous posts about it here, and here, and here. You can also visit their website, here. Sally’s is my favorite for a lot of reasons. The first probably being that it was the first coffee shop I “discovered” while I was in college. It became an easy go-to place whenever I wanted a break from studying on campus and living in a triple dorm room. Not to mention campus food isn’t exactly the greatest thing you’ll ever eat. Sally’s has an inviting atmosphere, friendly staff, and delicious food that gave me incentive to come back without having to look for anywhere else. I could come and study with a hot vanilla latte, or just veg out eating one of the many delicious creations on their menu.

The seasonal and ever-changing part of Sally Loo’s delicious menu

That got me thinking; I know my favorite place to go, but where do other people on campus like to go? I know a lot of my friends also love Sally’s (probably thanks to me introducing them to it at one point or another), but what about people just around campus? So I decided to ask around.

All Familiar Names

While all of the people I asked may not have been familiar faces, the places they listed were familiar. The first person I asked was 5th year forestry major, Jaclyn Lim. Lim’s favorite go-to coffee shop in SLO is Blackhorse at Uptown on Higuera. She loves going there to study or just to relax and enjoy a good cup of black coffee (her drink of choice).

“It’s never too loud in there, even when it’s busy. It always has a great balance of peace and coffee shop chatter. I once spent an entire day there alternating between studying, reading for leisure, chatting and just enjoying the atmosphere.”-Jaclyn Lim, 5th year forestry major.

The next person I came across was 2nd year theater major, Max Harper. Harper’s favorite coffee spot in SLO is West End Espresso & Tea in the middle of downtown. While Harper has only visited twice, he would go back again for a couple of reasons. “It’s quaint, in a moderate atmosphere, and pretty retro. It looks small from the outside but it’s pretty roomy and cozy on the inside.”

There will always be plenty of room and plenty of drink options any time you visit West End.

 

After my visit, I would probably have to agree.

The final person I came across was 2nd year graphic communications major, Meredith Stewart. And, like me and several other friends, Stewart’s favorite spot is Sally Loo’s. She enjoys Sally’s for its location and the relaxing atmosphere that comes with it. “It’s not right downtown where it’s loud and busy. All I need is a cup of coffee, a good book, and Sally Loo’s does the rest.”

Sally’s cozy atmosphere may be busy sometimes, but it is always inviting.

So now you know a few favorites of other Cal Poly students and SLO residents, where’s your favorite place to go?

 

Too Good to Miss: Bello Mundo Cafe

Story Highlights:

  • How I Found It
  • Cafe Background
  • Some of the Bello Mundo Team

Blink and You’ll Miss It

I have passed by this cafe on more than one occasion, and for some reason I have never stopped in until today. And boy have I been missing out. Sally Loo’s owner, Jen Manuele, actually recommended Bello Mundo to me in my interview with her for my most recent blog post. After having noticed the cafe before and thinking about the potential it could have for a blog post, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Jen’s recommendation sealed the deal for me.

Bello Mundo is conveniently located in a cozy hole in the wall between Boo Boo Records and Phoenix Books in downtown SLO

“If I’m not at Sally Loo’s, I’m over at Bello Mundo Cafe.”-Jen Manuele, owner of Sally Loo’s Wholesome Cafe

It may be small, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in character, atmosphere, and good coffee. I think part of the reason that I had never visited Bello Mundo until today is because, even though it sounds silly, I think I was slightly intimidated by it. It wasn’t the size by any means (it’s probably smaller than the average living room), but more the fact that I didn’t know anything about it, and I didn’t know if it was somewhere that I could “fit in” (like I’ve mentioned before, I’m probably the furthest thing from being a “hipster,” and for some reason I thought the cafe had that vibe). I couldn’t have been any further off-base.

There were probably three people inside when I walked into Bello Mundo earlier on this rainy day in San Luis Obispo. It was the perfect escape from the rain and the cozy atmosphere made me want to hang out for the rest of the afternoon.

How It Started

Bello Mundo started in SLO in August of 2011, but the idea behind it started long before then in a slightly different form. The owner, Jennifer Martinez, used to live in Boston and worked with teenage boys in a correctional facility. They told her that to help them out, instead of teaching them, she should be helping them get jobs. Martinez realized they were right, and she set out to open a cupcake bakery. You can read more about those plans here. Ultimately, plans changed and Jennifer ended up moving from the East Coast to SLO with her husband, and they somewhat unexpectedly opened up Bello Mundo.

The small size and warm lighting makes for a cozy atmosphere in this little cafe.

The cafe is small, and Jennifer likes it that way. The goal is to make it a comfortable place to come and interact with friendly people and enjoy some exceptional coffee at the same time. Bello Mundo has been going strong since its opening, and the community that has grown from the business has exceeded Jennifer’s expectations. Since the cafe is small, the team that runs it is also small, and as a result they are very close. They try to make as many decisions as a team as possible.

Part of the Team

When I walked into Bello Mundo I was lucky enough to find not only an awesome barista, Jeremy, working, but Jennifer (the owner) there too. Both were incredibly friendly and attentive the entire time I was there, and they were more than happy to answer any questions I had. Jeremy Fama came from the East Coast, just like his boss, and used to work in a restaurant before he ended up in a coffee shop-a job that he loves. “I’ve waited tables making a ton of money for a boss that didn’t care about me.” Jeremy and an off-duty barista named Amy both agreed that they had lucked out big time to find jobs like the ones they have at Bello Mundo. Jennifer seemed to feel the same way about them. “I’m really lucky that I get to come and work with people I actually want to hang out with,” Martinez said.

Good conversation is pretty much a guarantee any time you come into Bello Mundo, which Jeremy is demonstrating perfectly.

It was clear that the warm and cozy atmosphere of the coffee shop didn’t stop there; the team that work there have a tight-knit relationship too and genuinely enjoy each other’s company (and the company of their customers).

The team at Bello Mundo strive to produce the best espresso drink you can get whenever you visit their cafe, but the goodness doesn’t stop there. Jennifer’s love of cupcakes and other tasty treats didn’t get left behind in Boston and she would definitely recommend their cupcakes to anyone that comes in. On top of that, her favorite drinks are the ones with chocolate. “I’m a big fan of our chocolate drinks, we do real shaved chocolate.” She recommends either a hot chocolate or one of their mochas.

I happened to stick with my trusty go-to vanilla latte, but I’ll definitely have to check out something with chocolate on my next visit.

While serving exceptional coffee is one of their main goals, their ultimate goal is to just try and do good work. Clearly it’s working for them.

“We’re more interested in being nice than being cool.”-Jennifer Martinez, owner of Bello Mundo

It may be small, but there’s still plenty of space to sit down and enjoy a warm drink

If you’re ever on Monterey Street in downtown SLO, be sure to check out this gem of an espresso shop. I know I’ll be back.

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