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snack redefined

18 October 2011


at the onset of this year’s late summer, our property transformed into Watership Down. rabbits of all sizes converged to scamper and graze on freshly mown grass and tasty (from what i’ve heard) green offshoots. the young rabbits hid timidly behind bushes and boulders, as i ushered the dogs out the front door for a trot around the yard; the elders briefly looked up, then boldly continued to munch on their greens. this rabbit dance went on for months. then, the first cold snap arrived, and the population went underground. oh, every now and then i see a little cottontail scurrying into the woods. but for the most part, it’s a ghost town. well, until the hootenanny.

it began last Friday night, when a great horned owl announced he’d moved into the hood. every night (and all night) since, he’s proclaimed his presence. it doesn’t take great intellect or insight to ascertain why owl arrived and how our homey little habitat came to be advertised by the Welcome Wagon.

in the summer of 2010, our human neighbor to the north and west started demolishing trees. not just underbrush, but full-size cedars, alders and cottonwoods. day and night. crash. boom. earth- and ear-shattering thuds. soon, the summer ended, peace was  restored and the rainy season began. i prayed his big heavy, yellow equipment would rust. five or so inches of water sat on top of the grass i’d babied for the previous five years. the disruption to soil caused water to drain like a babbling brook across the gently sloping backyard. with the arrival of spring came birds. i felt like i was in a Hitchcock film. summer brought more bulldozing (who would have imagined the eight acres next door still had any trees left?). more rabbits. woodpeckers. mice. moles. wait, where were the locusts?? oh, that must be what’s on tap for next summer.

today, i’m putting out the welcome mat for owl. and i giddily hope the human neighbor who completely disrupted the habitat will be the big bird’s first snack.

speaking of snacks, here’s a treat that’s great any time of year. i made it this summer with loganberries and with huckleberries (i’ve never had fresh huckleberries; they were awesome!!). it’s not too sweet. delicious for breakfast or a late-night bite. woo-hooooooo.

Classic Buttermilk Coffee Cake
a very slight variation on a recipe from molly katzen’s sunlight cafe 

organic everything

for the fruit
2 cups fruit (i use berries or rhubarb)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

non-stick spray or a tablespoon of melted butter

for the batter
1/2 cup (1 stick ) butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk

for the topping
use 1/3 of this topping recipe OR
1/3 of this topping recipe  OR
no topping at all


  1. in a small bowl, toss the 2 cups fruit, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon flour; set aside.
  2. preheat the oven to 350F (metal) or 325F (glass).
  3. spray or butter an 8-inch round or square pan; set aside.
  4. in the large bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter for several minutes at high speed.
  5. add the sugar, and beat for several minutes longer.
  6. add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in the vanilla.
  7. in a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda; slowly mix together with a whisk.
  8. add the dry ingredients in 3 installments to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk; begin and end with the dry ingredients.
  9. after each addition, use a spatula to stir from the bottom of the bowl just enough to blend. be sure not to over mix!
  10. transfer 1/2 the batter to the prepared pan, and spread evenly.
  11. spread the fruit mixture evenly over the batter.
  12. add the second half of batter to the pan, and spread evenly.
  13. sprinkle your topping of choice over the batter.
  14. bake the cake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted all the way into the center comes out clean.
  15. cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.


Post a comment
  1. Zoe @ Pantry and Fridge #
    October 19, 2011

    Wow, that looks good enough to eat right out of the screen!

  2. October 19, 2011

    Yum, this looks delicious!

  3. dj #
    October 19, 2011

    thanks, gals! a wonderful recipe that turns out well every time. appreciate that you stopped by!

  4. Anne-Marie Harvey #
    October 20, 2011

    Okay, this was one recipe I just had to make immediately! I had all of the ingredients on hand, except the berries. I quickly decided that I would really love the apple crisp topping… Since I had no berries in the house, I decided that 2 cups of chopped apples would work really well because the topping was originally used on apple crisp. The coffee cake turned out delicious! Everyone wanted to dig in as soon it was out of the oven.

    Instead of using 1/3 of the topping recipe, I used 1/2, and that was a bit much. I also put the apples on top of the batter instead of doing a layer of batter followed by fruit, and then the remaining batter. Next time, I will trust dj’s infinite wisdom and follow her directions. My assembly change necessitated an increase in baking time and made for an uneven top because the edges bubbled up. The taste, however, was still divine, so even though it wasn’t as pretty as these pix, it was decidedly delicious!

    • dj #
      October 20, 2011

      delicious is all that counts, A-M! delighted that you gave the recipe a whirl. with a male teen still at home, perhaps next time you can double?? just sayin’…thanks for letting me know how it turned out!

  5. Anne-Marie Harvey #
    October 20, 2011

    Oh, and it is all gone!

  6. November 20, 2011

    Anyone who mentions Watership Down is worth following!

    • dj #
      November 20, 2011

      thanks, jennifer. nice that you can appreciate the reference. your pork roast sounds wonderful. i think i should put our local butchers to the test. cheers!

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