Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I hope you like cherries and chocolate and batter folding techniques, cause that's what you're gonna see here today.

There are rules to baking. Some rules are stupid. Some rules don't count. Some rules only count some of the time. Some rules are pretty much an always and are widely accepted.

I don't use recipes (this falls under the 'Some rules are stupid' category). I will mention, however, tossing out the recipe also means tossing out exact duplication for the most part, and at times, necessary chemical reactions. I do not snub recipe users, therefore, unless there is no science behind their dependence. That said ...

Here is a recipe(ish) that I came up with tonight for some Chocolate Chip Cherry Muffins. They're good but not flabbergasting. I'm pretty sure I'm too guarded to give away my wow factor baking creations, but these are good, simple, and stay moist. Although I've adapted my version for something a bit more typical, feel free to substitute things for health benefits. For example, toss in apple sauce instead of the oil, you might try some cocoa powder to reduce your chocolate chips, pour in honey instead of all that sugar, etc.

2 C Flour
2 t Baking Powder
1/2 t Salt

2/3 C Milk
2 Eggs
2/3 C Sugar
1/4 C Canola Oil
1/4 C Butter
1-2 t Almond Extract
1-2 t Vanilla Extract
1 C Bing Cherries (pitted, stems removed, cut into quarters)
2/3 C Semisweet Chocolate Chips

Muffins (like pancakes, scones, etc) are quickbreads. I'm gonna assume you are quickpeople who can assume this is because we use baking powder/soda to leaven instead of the slow-to-grow yeast. Something else we don't want meddling in our mix is gluten! Not for these suckers! For a good muffin, we want what I call a moist crumble. To achieve this, no kneading or unnecessary mixing, my precious, else you'll end up with cakey muffins (let's call them cupcakes) or dense rubber. Ew.

Just like most baking recipes, mix all the wet ingredients together (this includes sugar [why you ask? Unlike other 'dry' ingredients, sugar dissolves almost immediately in anything liquid.]) and then the dry in separate bowls. One day I may understand the necessity of sifting staple foods, but I don't have a sifter so I simply added a little air by thoroughly whisking all my dry stuffs.

(note: for the super finicky, the wet ingredients should be ALL at room temperature before adding the dry)

Here's my favorite part. Dump all the dry on top of the wet. Now fold to mix. Folding is different than creaming or simply mixing/stirring. To fold, place your utensil of choice under the dry ingredients and pull up the wet from the bottom to lay on top of (or fold over) your flour mixture. Do this gingerly only until your ingredients are moist, no more. Your batter should be blended, but you may have that ring of dry flour around the edges. Perfect! Now is the time to fold in your extra goodies (in this case, the chips and cherries). Again, fold only enough to evenly distribute your ingredients.

Plop into prepared muffin tins (around 325-350 degrees) and check your email. In about 15-25 minutes, leave cyberspace and start toothpicking.

Photo Credits: Me!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"When the moon hits your eye"

It all started with a hungry tummy, a batch of fresh tomatoes, and one simple little recipe for pizza dough that didn't require much rise time. VoilĂ ! (oh crap. this is an Italian post)
Well my first batch was such a success (and how could it not be with my birthday present to help me [hello KitchenAid]), I had to make it again and again. And then I had to share it. So my dear friend and I met this week and we had ourselves a little dough throwing contest. Enjoy the progression! (those who leave really nice comments may find a random gift on their doorstep).
First you gotta appreciate how fresh all this was. It makes it almost uninfluenced and truly Italian. I'm pretty sure the only thing we didn't do was grow the wheat and mill it ourselves. But no, garden fresh tomatoes (which I turned into sauce), freshly plucked basil (which is growing on my bedroom windowsill) and sprigs of summer rosemary. Some pieces of fresh buffalo mozzarella would have been more authentic, but who has that kind of money? Instead we opted for my shrewd bargain from Target at $1.80 cheese.
Please note our fine array of accoutrement below.

Photo Credit: me!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fashionable Confusion

As an amateur photographer, when I think wedding, I picture the whole wedding party with mustaches. No really. This trend has been SO accepted; it can not be helped but to equate a handlebar mustache with the bride.

I can’t recall when I started seeing the furry upper lip on a stick, but it’s been my old friend these 2 years at least. Curiously, it’s not uncommon for the whole party, as mentioned, to don a plaster mustache for that oh so marvelous shot that screams silly - with taste and refinement.

Photo credits: (top) whiskerworks (bottom) lazybride

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fancy That!

There are three little things I hope to accomplish from this page o’ mine.
1) I’m thinking this spotlight will motivate me to do things. That’s all. Don’t get your hopes up. My ideas of ‘things’ are pretty tame. There will be no visuals of me bungee jumping at this juncture. 2) Perhaps having an outlet for happiness and aggravation will be beneficial for all my friends who have to otherwise deal with me the hard way (all have high hopes of this but again, don’t commit to freedom). 3) If you can take a glance and navigate away slightly amused, well, that’s better than online banking.

Below is a visual invitation into my world and the design world at large. I keep up on design blogs like nobody’s business, and it affords me some pretty great oohing and ahhing and many, many laughs. Over time, you begin to see trends that really do touch not only all areas of the country, but all areas of the world. Here are some items that are REALLY in vogue right now.

Food-wise, you can’t hit a colorful blog without seeing these little suckers. I’m thinking I’ll make my own batch one day to further unite myself to the ‘in crowd.’


“+{] Keep Calm and Cary On“

Here’s something that I thought was cool WAY before it was, so just keep that in mind.
Hannah’s History Hints:
During WWII, several posters were designed, though not printed, to promote morale in the British Isles. Two that were printed, and are more commonly known, read, “Your courage, your cheerfulness, your resolution will bring us victory” and “Freedom is in Peril.” The image you see (left) was designed in case of invasion of Britain by Germany. Didn’t happen. Poster – dismissed. UNTIL, one day, it was picked up by the most unlikely collector imaginable. A bookseller. For a few prints had been made (though were never seen by the public) and one managed to escape the massive pulp fest at the end of the war. Today, it’s in every home magazine or modern blog, either represented in its original color (red) or in a myriad of others. It has also attracted many parodies as of late (below).