“You’re goin’ down like a sweet muffin!” - White Goodman
Well, on Karen’s recommendation I used the recipe in this month’s Fine Cooking magazine. The results were quite good! The muffins themselves were not overly-sweet. In fact, a little less sweet than I would have liked. However, I hadn’t applied the glaze yet which likely balances them out.
It’s a great batter. Really good to work with and an excellent texture. I think they would be perfect for an orange/cranberry muffin. A tart muffin with a sweet glaze on top would be excellent.
I’m bringing a few in to work tomorrow. I can’t eat any more tonight to try the glazed version; my tummy is full because Maggie made stew. She taught her first class of the semester today, made stew, and hosted a GSA leaders meeting. I supplied the muffins. Good thing they didn’t suck.
And thanks to Karen for introducing me to an excellent magazine!
(P.S. You’ll note form the picture that I didn’t use paper muffin cups. I’ve been loving the new silicone muffin “tins” I bought from Kohls last weekend. They were on sale. I grease them with AB’s Kustum Kitchen Lube (a mixture of Crisco and flour I keep in the kitchen) for easy muffin removal. They work like a charm.
Once the muffins are out of the oven, I let them cool for 5 minutes or so. That’s not long - they’ll still be hot. I am able to pretty much dump them out of the tins at that point and they cool much faster. Be careful - if they’re full of fruit, the fruit will make the muffins less structurally stable.
Paper muffin cups do help to hold muffins together, but I’ve never liked them. It annoys me how much muffin sticks to them. So I make them without the papers in the silicone tins, use a little kitchen lube (I hear Baker’s Joy is good, too) and the muffins pop right out. Eat the whole thing, no paper!)
It’s been a bad few days for baking in the Burke household.
First, I experimented with a special pound cake recipe that (I believe) had the wrong amount of shortening. This cause the pound cake to kind of fry on the outside. Gah. Eventually I was able to make a decent pound cake, but my confidence was getting low on baked goods.
This weekend I tried Alton Brown’s fudge cake recipe. It was supposed to be similar to a hostess cupcake, so I went with the cupcake variation. My food processor didn’t quite measure up to the task of pulverizing the baker’s chocolate into dust. After plenty of processing there were thousands of little table salt-sized specks of chocolate among the dust. No matter how I processed, the specks remained. There were other problems, but this was the most obvious.
Maggie and Julie tried valiantly to eat them with me. Actually, I had two today and they’re not so bad the next day. They’re just not so good either. And when you put a lot of work into baking something, you really want it to be good.
Tonight I tried my hand at some blueberry muffins. I wanted moist, so I used a sour cream recipe that I found in one of my older books.
I followed the recipe to the letter. The time came to mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. The instructions said “it will form a moist but lumpy batter.” It formed a moist, lumpy… dough. Big difference. Mixing dough forms gluten, which makes a muffin tough. Aside from that, it was unbakeable in this form. I frantically added milk (which was not one of the ingredients) to thin the mixture out into a thick batter. Then I added the berries and baked it.
It didn’t turn out as muffins. They’re more like blueberry scones. It occurred to me that I should have noticed the low amount of sugar in the recipe… no butter… no vanilla… no milk. In retrospect it sounds like a scone, not a muffin.
I want a recipe that turns out muffins something like a Dunkin Donuts muffin (or better). Actually, like a crumb cake without the brown sugar/cinnamon top and with blueberries inside.
So, I’m making an appeal to my readers. Does anyone have a blueberry muffin recipe that they have made and were happy with the results? I’d love to hear about it. Because I don’t give up. But instead of making more scones, I’d like to try a recipe I know has been used successfully.
I have 13 bottles of Chocolate Bock (last year’s batch). 13 is an unlucky number so I am compelled to drink one bottle to get it down to 12. However, having to drink a bottle of Chocolate Bock seems lucky to me. Thus, it is a paradox. Which you can contemplate while… drinking Chocolate Bock.
Which I plan to do tonight while watching Battlestar Galactica.
BTW: willing to “break up the set” if friends are having trouble finding this stuff.
(You can only really see 12 bottles in the picture above, I noticed. One bottle is hidden in the back)
One of the links below explains what “PVI” is.
Thanks to BobMcC, Sara, Patti, and others for the links.
First off: I need to stress that this poll is not about anyone you know receiving a nose hair trimmer as a gift. But I had a discussion about this with someone years ago and I wondered what my readers would think.
The question is simple:
Feel free to discuss the reasons behind your answers. When there are enough votes, I’ll weigh in, too.
General Michael V. Hayden ran the NSA while Bush was beginning his wiretapping program. You might be interested in the address he gave yesterday.
Someone was good enough to point out highlights to me, so I’ll do the same for you. (To my critics who say I am entirely stealing this post… well, they say steal from the best. Especially with an important message)
Within this address, Gen Hayden insists that what the Bush administration is doing is reasonable. If it’s reasonable, then it is lawful. His basis for this?
GEN. HAYDEN . . . Just to be very clear — and believe me, if there’s any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it’s the Fourth. And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment. And so what you’ve raised to me — and I’m not a lawyer, and don’t want to become one — what you’ve raised to me is, in terms of quoting the Fourth Amendment, is an issue of the Constitution. The constitutional standard is “reasonable.” And we believe — I am convinced that we are lawful because what it is we’re doing is reasonable.”
But the actual fourth amendment clarifies that probably cause is necessary to overcome the prohibition on searches.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
See here, where somebody tried to correct him. That is, tries to correct they guy who was running this program, and really ought to know what the fourth amendment says:
QUESTION: Jonathan Landay with Knight Ridder. I’d like to stay on the same issue, and that had to do with the standard by which you use to target your wiretaps. I’m no lawyer, but my understanding is that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American’s right against unlawful searches and seizures. Do you use —
GEN. HAYDEN: No, actually — the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure. That’s what it says.
QUESTION: But the measure is probable cause, I believe.
GEN. HAYDEN: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.
QUESTION: But does it not say probable —
GEN. HAYDEN: No. The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure… .
Finally, you’re supposed to nod along when he tells you that these unconstitutional warrantless searches are a good thing:
General Hayden: Had this program been in effect prior to 9/11, it is my professional judgment that we would have detected some of the 9/11 al Qaeda operatives in the United States, and we would have identified them as such.
Would have identified them?
An FBI informant was living with 2 of the 9/11 hijackers. Cells were identified. At the time, Ashcroft was too preoccupied trying to come up with ways to save you from internet porn to worry about what terrorists might do.
Now, if the terrorists had been searching for porn on Google…
But we haven’t really had winter at all here until now. Not to speak of. A couple of cold days here and there. One time I had to shovel. The picture to the right is what it looked like in my backyard one year ago today.
Looking at this, I don’t think we have much cause for complaints. Well, until it drops below freezing again and the roads turn into skating rinks.
Sara is all upset that she can’t cross-country ski on this slush. But you can’t really ski on 9 inches of snow, either.
It’s not completely insane weather, but it’s close.
Anyone else here seen I Heart Huckabees? (imdb)
Maggie and I watched it this weekend and I came away thinking: “Huh?” I believe that reaction is probably at least partly the intention of the film makers.
Jason Schwartzman contracts two existential investigators (Lilly Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman) to explain a coincidence he’s experienced. They toss a bunch of psychobabble mumbo-jumbo at him while spying on him. A whole host of other characters are involved. Jude Law is something of a nemesis in the form of a shallow go-getter. Naomi Watts is Law’s girlfriend, the low self-esteem voice, face and body of Huckabees — a WalMart-like national store chain.
But I’m not sure the plot is all that important. All I really got out of it was a lot of amusing scenes of people saying things that sounded as though they thought they made sense. Pretty good comic timing is most of what it had going for it.
But I never really got a strong enough sense of whether they were making fun of the babble. Or whether there was a reason why it was worthy of being made fun of. I guess that means it was a very subtle joke. In the end, it’s a sort of fable, I guess.
I’d like to know if anyone else made any sense of it.
A Somerset man with an interest in treasure hunting took his metal detector to the fields of nearby Warren and came home with something a little more dangerous than coins and trinkets.
Following their detector readings, they dug six inches into the soil of the Warren field and unearthed a 4-inch diameter bomblet from a cluster bomb. They judged it to be some sort of a cannonball, but with some pretty strange markings that to me would generally scream out: “don’t touch me if you find me buried 6 inches deep in a strange field.”
These fellows brought it back to Somerset and stored it for a while in one of their basements. Eventually, they posted pictures of the thing on a metal detectors forum, whereupon someone told them not to handle it any further, that there was a good chance that it was still live. It was. The guy’s girlfriend was of the opinion that they ought to handle it long enough to get it out of the house, and so it ended up across the street. (See Map)
They blowed it up, but good.
Nobody was hurt, and the neighbors seemed to have retained their sense of humor about their bumbling local treasure hunter. At least they didn’t try to cook and eat the thing.
(P.S. Even though I refer to them as “bumbling” for handling this strange object more than they should have, it could have gone a lot worse if they had decided not to contact the authorities at all. In my not-so-humble opinion, they should have notified the authorities when they dug it up and they ought not to have removed the thing from the field it was in. Maybe treasure hunters should get to know what dangerous treasure looks like, or at least adopt a healthy fear of certain kinds of treasure.)
In an effort to revive an old law that was struck down by the highest court in the land 2 years ago, Bush has demanded that Google turn over a bunch of search data.
The law in question is the Internet Child Protection law, deemed unconstitutional. Bush wants data to bolster his case. Google said “Uh-uh - we’re not giving you our users’ search data.”
Meanwhile, MSN and AOL rolled over and said: “Here you go, Mr. Man! Hope you find something interesting. Notice that Mr. Smith of Springfield Ohio searched for “Blonde on Blonde. He might have been looking for a song by Bob Dylan, but you can’t be too careful. Also, a bunch of people were searching on ‘breast’ and ‘chicken.’ I’m thinking that they ought to be investigated for bestiality!”
I don’t know about you, but I really resent the idea that people’s data should be handed over as if they are criminals. With no prior reason to believe that they are.
Some people drink Pepsi /
Some people drink Coke /
The wacky morning deejay /
Says democracy’s a joke
We were up in Boston for a doctor’s visit at Children’s Hospital (it went well, for those interested) and the CVS inside the hospital was selling Diet (and nondiet) Black Cherry Vanilla Coke.
Apparently, the company is phasing out Vanilla Coke and phasing in this new flavor.
While Maggie was giving blood (will bleed for free parking) M and I headed into CVS and I grabbed a bottle of the diet version. The registerfellow told me that if I bought a Diet Coke, I’d get one of the new flavors for free, so I did that.
My impressions: This stuff is really, really, really sweet. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, it may be for you. Sharon asked me if it was as sweet as Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper. I’d put it slightly below that in sweetness. I would prefer it to the Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper, but that isn’t much of an endorsement from me, since i wasn’t a big fan of that Dr. Pepper variation.
I’ve not yet tried the sugar version. Maybe it’s better. But by far my favorite Coke branded product is still Coke Zero.
I still haven’t spotted the rumored Coca-Cola Blak. Anybody seen it?
I’m about to read Richard Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker. To reach the proper frame of mind, however, I have decided to believe in Intelligent Design and shun evolution.
Turns out, Intelligent Design actually is true! See, I found this simple and compelling proof:
I don’t know why I never saw it before. Clearly, the human hand was either designed by George Lucas or someone at Industrial Light and Magic.
And now, back to our show.
This free online music streaming website has helped us turn our office into a sweet, exclusive little jazz club. Playing smooth jazz all day. Not that crappy pre-digested stuff, either. We’re being treated to Coltrane, Monk (the two artists I used to start the channel), Red Garland, Bud Powell, Lennie Tristano, John Scofield, Dexter Gordon and now a really catchy and upbeat number by Art Tatum: “This Can’t Be Love.”
(Also, some great jazz guitar with Kenny Garrett)
I can feel my blood pressure dropping down to manageable levels!
You can give it a listen by clicking on my link: Sweet, Sweet Jazz.
Someone has reserved a copy of the Necronomicon at Borders.
(Can you spot the spine? If not, just click on the image and see a bigger version on Flickr)
I used to have this very same volume (same edition, the Simon Necronomicon) but a friend (Sean) borrowed it in College and I never saw it again after that. I didn’t mind losing it too much, because it was basically a big goof.
To quote the Wikipedia entry:
The Necronomicon was first mentioned in Lovecraft’s 1923 short story “The Hound”, though hints of it (or similar books) appear as far back as “The Statement of Randolph Carter” (1919). In the stories, the book is dangerous to read because it is often harmful to the health and sanity of its readers. For this reason, libraries keep it under lock and key.Capitalizing on the notoriety of the fictional tome, real-life publishers have printed many books entitled Necronomicon since Lovecraft’s death.
It was goofy fun when we were teenagers, although my friends have better stories about exploits involving the Necronomicon than I have.
Been a while since I read any Lovecraft.
Is this the goofy relative of those “Stop Snitchin’” T-Shirts that are causing a stir in Boston? (See stories about Hub witness intimidation and spike in homicide rates).
So, via T-Shirts not only can you spread witness intimidation, you can encourage a conspiracy against the authorities to let you know when they’re hot on your trail for those shooting deaths. Or, at least, you can wear this shirt to show how much solidarity you feel with the thugs.
It’s nice to know that local retailers can make some dough on these trends. Way to go! If it was store robberies on the rise, rather than something trivial like murder, do you think they’d still sell support this sentiment?
In case anyone is interested, David Tall has some pix of the goings-on at SymCog (VT 2006) up on his website here.
(P.S. If you don’t know what SymCog is, you probably aren’t interested in the pictures. But some lurkers here might be interested. People who persist and want to know what SymCog is can go here. But that likely won’t change whether you’re interested in the pictures or not.)
Looking for Sam Adams Chocolate Bock?
Rumor has it that this delightful brew will be on store shelves in February.
Actually, it’s better than rumor. I spoke with Mary Wu, a representative of the Boston Beer Company and she said ot keep our eyes on the shelves in Feb for the beer. It is on its way.
Katie Couric and he are commiserating.
Once you are done viewing this shotgun post, you have successfully updated your mental firmware. Congrats.
Worried that diet soft drinks might give you cancer?
Evidence shows diet soda actually lowering your risk of certain cancers.
You can thank me later when you don’t have esophageal cancer. Just don’t get carried away. I don’t want to be blamed for you bloating up on CO2.
Sharon, Fresca is on sale again at Stop & Shop. Race you there.
Bull and I went to see “The Ringer.” It’s a movie directed by Barry W. Blaustein, but produced in part by the Farrelly brothers, and their influence shows.
Johnny Knoxville stars as Steve Barker - mild mannered regular good guy who is backed into a financial corner by his desire to be a nice guy. In order to get out of a hole, and help out a friend, he lets his uncle talk him into pretending he is mentally challenged and competing in the Special Olympics. Uncomfortable with the idea, he half-heartedly goes along with it until he sees the other competitors.
In the face of what he is about to do, his heart erodes away his nerve and he nearly backs out. But when he trips in front of Special Olympics volunteer Lynn (played endearingly by Katherine Heigl) he’s entranced and knocked into the character of “Jeffy.” “Hi, I’m Jeffy and I like apples!”
The Special Olympians are fully fleshed out characters, given at least as much respect as the main character. Just as the song “Respect” appears at one point in the movie, I think a healthy respect for the competitors is seen throughout.
The amazing thing this movie does is take what is, on the face of it, a despicable act and turn it into not (only) crude comedy, but sympathetic comedy. There are laughs at the expense of everyone in this film.
There’s not a whole lot of complexity to the plot. It pretty much is what you think it is, and it’s a frame for a ton of situational jokes. Not only must “Jeffy” compete in the events, he has to live with some of his opponents. Under that close scrutiny, it’s a challenge to pull off this ruse. These folks are challenged, but they’re not stupid. And they’re talented as well. Early on, Steve realizes that he may not find it so easy to beat “Jimmy” - the reigning champion. Not without some help.
I found the jokes to be pretty funny, and Bull and I were laughing quite a bit. And while laughing at differences is easy, I think people will find that there’s more to this film than the obvious jokes.
Sorry, folks. Over the last few days I’ve felt like I’ve been hit on the head with a dull stick. It’s a good thing I took time off from work, because if I were there, I would likely be staring at the screen of my computer, wondering what all those funny symbols mean.
Likewise, I’ve stayed away from my blog because blank space on the blog is marginally better than “Duhhhhhh. I likes chockomunk ice cream!”
OK, so I did build a robot. I followed some instructions, and it is just the trainer robot for the Star Wars version of MindStorms. But it has a brain at least. It can respond to light! (see marginally viewable video here). He’s only got one motor and one sensor, and he’s using one of his built-in programs. I’ll have to start working with the other set Maggie got me before I can start doing neat stuff like downloading Java programs to a robot. I dunno what type of robot I ought to build.
BTW: Happy New Year and all. I’m not one to believe that it’s possible to tempt fate, but I remember thinking that 2004 was bad (I think it was the election, mainly) and being glad to see it in the past. Well, 2005 turned out to have some really ugly surprises in store.
But I guess ugly surprises are part of growing up. So, my wishes for 2006 are going to be simple. Health, and appreciating what we have that’s good. To keep it interesting, I hope we can through in a good laugh more often than not.