Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Feminist Muffins

So I've had a craving for muffins lately, and the problem is that I can't seem to find any muffins that don't taste too sugary and too white and too cake-y. I like my muffins hearty. And so I've decided to try to invent my own muffin recipes to satiate this craving.

And this reminded me of an idea my friend Toni (sustainablecycles.wordpress.com) had to start a feminist muffin shop called Mighty Muffs. I think she was joking, but now I'm making feminist muffins. So there.

This one is in honor of Betty Ford. She just passed this last July, and she was an awesome lady for many reasons. First of all she was a dancer for Martha Graham in her youth, she was from Michigan, and even though she was married to a Republican president, she outspokenly supported the pro-choice movement, Equal Rights Act, and other progressive agendas.

*I did some research (post posting this) and it seems as though I went wrong in a few areas. 
1. I mixed the batter too much. It should be just moistened and mixed as little as possible. This should hopefully fix the texture issue I had.
2. To get muffins to rise, you need to cook them at a higher temperature. 425 degrees should create the burst of steam needed, although baking time may need to be adjusted accordingly. 
3. Also, maybe there was too much egg? I looked at some other recipes which only called for one egg, but don't cookies call for two? I was looking for the extra protein, but not if it messes with the consistency.
ok, continue...

--Betty Ford-itude Muffins, with carrots, cashews, and apricots--

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup oatmeal
2 tbls flax seed meal
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder

2 eggs (beaten)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/2-ish cup orange juice

1 large grated carrot
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup chopped cashews

Mix all the dry ingredients, making sure to break up brown sugar clumps.
Beat eggs separately.
Add eggs and wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until it's a batter. I had to add a few extra tbls of OJ to make it wet enough. As always with me, all measurements are approximate.

Stir in carrot, apricots, and cashews.
Put in muffin tins and bake for 12-14 min at 400 degrees.
These didn't rise at all, so go ahead and fill those tins all the way up.

OK, so granted, I am not really qualified to make up recipes...these were tasty (I just ate four), but the consistency was not quite right. Just a touch too moist/rubbery. And they didn't rise/puff up at all. And they could have gotten a better crust. So those with some baking experience can maybe help me tweak these so they are good enough to adequately honor Betty Ford. Thanks in advance for the help!

Also: Apartment Pictures. Living and Dining rooms!

Monday, September 26, 2011

I made bread!

So...I made a different recipe of bread (having only made Andy's bread before) and here's how it turned out:

I got the recipe from a blog I follow (Noshings) Here is the link:

The title was "Bread for the Lazy Baker" which obviously appealed to me. It's no knead bread that you let sit for two hours and then put it in the fridge. The nice part is that the batch makes two loaves, and because the dough keeps for two weeks in the fridge, you don't have to do so much planning for when you are going to bake your bread.
My experience making the bread was a little different than the recipe said it would be. For instance, after two hours it is supposed to rise and fall. Well, four hours later it still hadn't fallen, so I said screw it and put it in the fridge anyways. It turned out fine in any case, although took a little less time to bake than the prescribed 40 minutes. The genius part of this recipe is that it bakes on parchment paper on my pizza stone. The parchment paper makes getting it in and out of the oven a cinch--I didn't burn myself once! And clean up is easy too.  Next time I make pizza I am going to use parchment paper instead of flouring it to death so it will slide off the pizza peal.
In terms of taste, it was softer, moister, and a bit denser than Andy's bread. It reminded me a lot of eating soft pretzel. I mean, it had more crust than that, but similar flavor. I added fresh rosemary into the dough, which gave it a little extra something...but I think it would be good just plain too.

Here is her recipe, which I think she adjusted from a book...so I don't feel too bad posting it here. I mean, recipes are for sharing, right?

Bread for the Lazy Baker from Noshings
What you'll need:
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt

6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Mix the yeast with the water in a large bowl or container. Mix in the flour and salt with a large wooden spoon until they are thoroughly combined. Don't worry about kneading, but you want to mix until there are no more lumps of dry flour.

Cover the dough loosely with a clean dish towel and allow it to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses, about 2 hours.

The dough can be used right away, although it is recommended to cover it well and refrigerate it for anywhere from 1 day to 2 weeks.
It develops such a nice flavor, if you can wait...if you are me and cannot wait, read on.

On baking day, dust the surface of the dough with flour and divide your dough in half. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching and rotating it. Shape your dough into an oval-shaped loaf. Allow to rest and rise on a piece of parchment paper on a wooden pizza peel or flat cookie sheet for about 45 - 60 minutes.

Thirty minutes before you want to bake your bread, preheat the oven to 450*F with a baking stone on the bottom rack. (That's where my element is)  Place an empty tray on another shelf in the oven.

Slash deep parallel cuts across the loaf using a serrated bread knife.

Slide the loaf off the tray, carefully, onto the baking stone.
I do this gentle little shimmy, shimmy, shake thing using small jerking motions to get the loaf to move off the wooden peel.  The parchment paper is KEY here, it just slides right off the board onto the stone and its fine in the oven with your bread!  The parchment stays with the dough...and its okay, you definitely want to bake right on it.
Before I had a pizza peel...I used a large piece of cardboard. True story.

Pour 1 cup of hot water into the other pan and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the loaf is brown and firm. They really want you to allow the loaf to cool before slicing and eating, sometimes this is just not realistic.

This recipe makes 2 loaves that are about a pound and a half a piece. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sneak Peek!

Some apartment photos of completed (or at least first draft) bits:
Some things I put on the built-in... Grandma Margaret's plate is looking stunning up there!

My new nightstand! It prevents the under-bed drawer from being pulled out, but Nathan sacrificed it so that I could have a little night stand area with a little dish for earrings, lamp, my earplugs and eye-masks, alarm frog, etc. For right now I put some boxes on the bottom shelf that are full of mostly hair things that I don't use now my hair is short...I just needed a place to stick them, but eventually I think that will be a great spot for books I am currently reading when I start reading again.

My tea shelf! I found these drawers and painted them red on the outside and pale turquoise on the inside (the same color as the walls) and the turquoise is a little brighter than it appears in the picture. Now I have a place to display my tea cup orphanage, my coddling cups, and the beautiful delft blue teapot louise gave us.

This is an awesome plant mom bought for me. These leaves are huge! They remind me of dumbo's ears. I'm afraid the plant will just start flapping and fly away at any minute!

Ok, all we really need to do to be completely moved in is hang art, and it's on the agenda. We also have a small issue with grounded plugs, so right now there is a lot of very ugly wiring/extension cords, and that will be fixed soon, but right now it is pretty tragic. 
Happy Saturday everyone!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Great Fathers

My mother's cousin who lives in New Zealand developed this wonderful website called "Great Fathers" that delivers information regarding pregnancy, birth, and the first three years of a child's life and how important the role of a father is! The best part is that this information is delivered in a hip, men-accessible way and I think would be a great resource for any couple having a new baby!
Here is the link:

The idea is that many future social problems can be prevented by creating an environment in the early stages of a child's development that is conducive to making children the best adults they can be. The website explains it more clearly, but basically LOTS of wiring is happening in the baby's brain, and in order for it to wire properly, it needs certain condition and stimulus, and one of the best ways to provide that is through having an involved and loving father. Of course not all children are raised in a traditional heterosexual family environment, and certainly having an involved father is not the only way to raise a successful and well rounded human being, but if there is a father figure, it would likely behoove them (and baby) to check out this website.

Ok, that's my promotion. Thanks to Dave for embarking on such an awesome project.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Procrastination Post

So I am sure some of you are anxiously awaiting the "After Shots" of our amazing new apartment, unfortunately I am also looking forward to the time when "After Shots" can be taken with great anticipation. Right now we are still living amongst chaos and mess and boxes, so we will all have to wait a little longer for those pictures. We have all the rooms painted (except the bathroom, but that is a project for another time) and it looks GREAT. I am especially in love with the kitchen color. The place, upon closer inspection, was pretty filthy when we moved in, so it did not help that we had to clean clean clean before we could do anything. Fortunately my mom was here, and on a cleaning mission, and anyone who knows my mom knows what can be accomplished when she has "a mission." It's powerful stuff. 

Ok, so in order to mollify my many adoring fans/family members (who may turn into zombie-like roving hordes if I do not post pictures) here are some pictures of our "last supper" in the old place. Yes it is tomato season, they are cheap and ripe, and bacon is always in season, and this means BLTs!!!! And what more perfect to go with your scrumptious and seasonal BLTs than some very reasonably priced brussel sprouts from Trader Joes that you can cook right up in the left over bacon grease. It's like a match made in heven. 
Alrighty, everyone knows how to make BLTs (I hope) but in case you don't, the ingredients are:
-bacon (not too crispy if you are like me)
-tomato (we had heirlooms at $2.99/lb. yes please!)
-mayonaise (if you like miracle whip just don't tell me because I will respect you less)
-bread (toasted of course)
Most of the ingredients are right there in the name, so it's pretty hard to forget. Brussel sprouts are also few ingredients (brussels, bacon fat, salt, pepper) but are finicky little things. So many people dislike brussel sprouts because they were made the way that makes them taste horrible, and for a long time that was me. Then I worked at Winslow's Home in St Louis and their brussels were green and fresh with crisped edges, not mushy and bitter. They said the secret was blanching the brussels, that keeps them green, but that seems like far too much work. I tried to replicate at thanksgiving 2009, but put them in the oven to keep warm while everything else finished and they were ruined. This time I know better. Med-high heat, don't stir too often (the burned parts kinda caramelize and they are the best), don't cook too long, and eat right away. I wasn't sure if these puppies would get weird in the fridge over night, so I ate them all (Nathan helped) and that was A LOT of brussel sprouts. But look how pretty!

Ok, then mom came and we hoped down to Oregon for a little vay-kay. Good to get out of Seattle for a bit, and out of our apartment where everything was in boxes!

First we stopped briefly to visit mom's friend Patty in Portland, and meet her daughter Katie. Sadly I did not take any pictures, but Patty's apartment has a beautiful view with lots of trees and she seemed to live in a very nice and trendy neighborhood with lots of shops and restaurants that I saw as we drove by. Portland is definitely high up on the "to visit" list. Then we made our way to Cornelius where mom's cousins Carol and Grant live. I hadn't been to their place since I was about 9, but it so enchanted me at the time that I still had very distinct memories of it. And it was again enchanting! 
Here is about 1/4 of the view out their front door.
We awoke to a fawn and mother doe grazing in the field, a humming bird at the window, and a little black kitty named Hacky Cat. They grow walnuts here and have lots of other gardening projects. It was not clear when I took the picture, but when it is you can see all kinds of mountains in the distance.
We went to visit Aunt Peg who has recently moved into a very nice community home.

Peg's apartment overlooks a really lovely courtyard with tall flower pots so the old folks don't have to bend over. There is also a large sewing room, a library, and a big cage full of finches to watch.

Carol led mom and I on a hike through the forest behind their house.
Big banana slug. I'm sure glad I didn't step on one of these!

I'm pretty sure some Ewoks live around here...

Then we ended up at a little porch with a half cabin that Carol and Grant built to take it all in.
 Very restful.

Wild blackberries. They are all over the Northwest--we even have our share in Seattle.

And I think some fairies might live here...

 or here...

 We all went to dinner at this really neat place called the Grand Lodge or somesuch which used to be a Mason geriatric home and orphanage on beautiful grounds. After it closed it was taken over by the Mcmenamin brothers who restore old buildings and make them into really cool restaurants and hotels. The whole place was very detailed--they just let some artists loose in there-- here is the dining room:
 and some of the mosaic work and detailing in the basement.
 The place was huge and I didn't get any pictures of the outside, but the grounds were beautiful.
Mom said I couldn't put this up on the blog. ; D

ANYWAYS, what a great idea! I love the concept of repurposing old places and making them unique and useable. I guess they do lots of local music and other community events there, which is sweet.
A last look at the view, and we hit the road in the AM.

We drove on 26 to get to the ocean and dip our feet in. Mom found a whole sand dollar!

We ate at the Baked Alaska restaurant in Astoria. Check out the view!

I had crab mac n cheese. Trying to expand into seafood a bit since we were right on the ocean after all. It was good as long as I kept the cheesy noodle to crab ratio in check.

Back to working on the apartment...my list is ever growing...