Beach Baking

Confession: I have a slight obsession with pinning recipes on Pinterest. I usually try most of them, believe it or not. When you are feeding a family of five you have to keep things interesting. Most of the recipes I try are dinner recipes, but yesterday after working on several work projects and battling the car pool line at my daughters’  school, which incidentally seems to lose all manner of civility and sense when it’s raining, it was time to bake.

This is not a mood that strikes me often (maybe there is a full moon?), but the kids sure seemed to appreciate it. We went right to Pinterest and found a recipe I’d pinned for Flourless Chewy Cinnamon Sugar Peanut Butter Cookies (originally shared on the blog Foodie Crush). We had all of the ingredients on hand and it sounded delicious, so it was an easy choice. The girls helped me add the ingredients to the bowl of the stand mixer.

mixing-bowl

After a quick blend, the dough went into the refrigerator for an hour. Keeping the kids busy and focused on doing homework during this hour was the hardest thing about this recipe. After an hour, we rolled the dough into balls, coated them with a cinnamon and sugar mix and popped them into the oven for the 8-9 minutes indicated in the recipe. We let them cool for a few minutes afterward, then wah-la, delicious snack!

peanut-butter-cookies

These cookies were good and a hit with all the girls, but they are definitely sweet. It is a sugar-intensive recipe, so that was to be expected. The original pinner noted that the recipe is vegetarian and gluten free, so it may appeal to those with special diets.

This was my second attempt at flourless cookies. The first, some sort of oatmeal and mashed banana concoction, was a disaster. I’m sure there are better variations I’d know if I baked this way often, but I don’t. In fact, baking yesterday’s yummy flour-less peanut butter cookies reminded me of a vegan birthday cake our family ordered for my brother-in-law’s birthday last summer.

We purchased the cake from La Loba’s Bakery in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, where we were spending the week for an extended family vacation. I don’t think I would have ordered a vegan cake had we not had a vegan in the family, but it was better than I expected. For vegans or anyone seeking out organic food in the South Walton County area, I’m sure this place is a boon. 

Do you like to bake? Would you bake on vacation?

Santa Rosa Beach: Art Classes at Gulf Place

If you spend any time in the beach communities along 30A in South Walton County, Florida, you’re sure to find that each has its own personality. In some cases, the variety is reflected in the architecture. Take one look at Seaside, Alys Beach or Rosemary Beach and the distinctions are clear. Further west on 30A, near Destin, the vibe is more eclectic in areas such as Grayton Beach and Blue Mountain Beach.

I hesitate to label any of these communities because each time I visit the area, I discover something new. Perhaps that discoverability, not to mention the natural beauty and small town charm, is what draws visitors back to these areas year after year.

My latest trip down 30A took me to Gulf Place, a mixed-use development in Santa Rosa Beach with condos and retail space, just across from public beach access at the intersection of County Hwy. 393. What I found most intriguing about Gulf Place was not the restaurants or shops, although they are no doubt worth trying, but the space behind the storefronts. That’s where I found a collection of colorful, wooden huts representing the Artists at Gulf Place, where individual artists have come together to offer original works of art, jewelry and gift items for sale.

jewelry-making

Far from a souvenir stand, the artists’ space allows shoppers to browse the varied creations and take home a small piece of the local art scene. During designated times, you can also create your own art. Several art classes are offered on a weekly basis. My daughters and I attended a jewelry making session. Choosing from a wide assortment of beads, my girls each created her own unique design. One chose to make a necklace ($20) and the other made a bracelet ($15). My niece opted for a separate project led by another artist, creating bottle cap wind chimes ($10). All the girls enjoyed their crafts, and the time spent was a nice alternative to shopping for the typical trinkets you might find at a tourist trap T-shirt shop.

bracelet-made-at-Gulf-Place

Other classes offered by the Artists at Gulf Place include tie-dying T-shirts and painting metal flowers. All of the sessions are first come, first serve. Gulf Place and the Artists at Gulf Place regularly publicize the classes and other events via their Facebook pages so it is easy to follow along with what is happening during your visit to the area.

flower_art_at_Gulf_Place

If art is not your thing, Gulf Place regularly hosts live music events. Greg Allman and Junior Marvin are two of the acts to grace the outdoor stage in recent months. A small farmer’s market is set up each Sunday morning. Selection may vary, but on our recent visit local vendors offered fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, grass-fed beef, honey, candles and other crafts.