Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Grouchy Oscars.

Full of ire and dismay at losing the Oscarette. Again. One award away from wrestling the coveted Oscarette from Megan's white-knuckled grip. I feel like Meryl Streep. Year after year I come so close, only to lose out at the last second. At least Sandra Bullock had a decent acceptance speech.

This year I blame James Cameron. I was counting on Avatar to bring home some gold, but he totally lost out to his ex-wife. Kudos to her, but hell, I kinda don't think The Hurt Locker deserved both Directing AND Best Picture.

Should remove the Oscar Check Off List from the blog, but most of the movies are coming out on DVD this month, so maybe I'll keep it up for a while until I get to see the ones I want (i.e. Crazy Heart, The Blind Side, Sherlock Holmes, The Princess and the Frog, Up in the Air). Should provide me with many knitting hours.

Speaking of knitting, I've started and made some serious progress on the "Birthday Project." Between the Oscars and the knit-together last night with Erika and Amber, I'm about half done. And I finished my last Christmas gift during the Olympics, which gives me a Knit Olympics Gold Medal!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bananas. In my pajamas.

Friday night I was sitting around in my pajamas, overwhelmed with the amount of food in my refrigerator's crisper drawer. Hadn't I just used all my oranges to make Prosecco sorbet (which is still delicious and still in my freezer)? How was there still so much fruit in there??

The answer: APPLES. So bloody many apples I needed to use them immediately or I would consume more than my monthly allowance of peanut butter to get them out of the drawer. Enter the beloved muffin recipe.

Fluffly Apple Walnut Muffins

1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
2 cups peeled, cored-apples, sliced
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp butter, cubed

1. Preheat oven to 375 and prepare muffin tin. Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and salt in large mixing bowl. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Stir into butter mixture, alternating with milk, until just incorporated. Fold in apples and walnuts. Fill muffin cups to 3/4 full.
3. Cinnamon crumble: Mix sugar, cinnamon and flour in small bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles small peas. Sprinkle on top of batter in cups.
4. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until tops are brown and a wooden toothpick comes out clean.

I have made this recipe many times with great success, and have started to make my own modifications. My one unsuccessful attempt included replacing all the butter with applesauce and the results refused to leave the liners. Delicious if you were content to only have one bite, mostly the cinnamon crumble with a wee bit of muffin attached.

Friday night's modifications turned into an adventure. First, I doubled the recipe to get rid of more apples. This turned out perfect, because I wanted to use half butter, half applesauce, and both come in 1/2 cup portions. Next, I used 2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 1/2 cups whole wheat (100% whole wheat flour often makes baked goods dry, so I like to do halfsies).

I went to the fridge to pull out the eggs. Where were the eggs? Oh yeah, Leda had just cleaned and rearrange the fridge, so maybe she put them somewhere other than the usual place.... hmm. Nope. No eggs here. Weird. Maybe there are some downstairs? Nope. No eggs downstairs, either. Dammit! How could I start baking without checking for eggs first? And honestly, how could we be out of eggs??? (I think my real thought was "Dammit, VB! I want my eggs back!") After running up and down the stairs again looking for Egg Beaters or Crisco, I consigned myself to going to the store. But wait! I was on the phone with Elaina in San Fransisco at the time and she was trying to sooth my ire by proposing egg substitutes. Elaina is a genius! She found a list of common and not-so-common replacements for eggs in baked goods. We didn't happen to have any tofu, soy milk, arrowroot powder or flaxseed, but we did have bananas.

To replace eggs in baked goods, use 1/2 banana for each egg. If egg is used for leavening, add 1/2 tsp baking soda.

I was a little worried what two bananas and an extra teaspoon of baking soda would do to my recipe, but WOWZA! They turned out great!! Unlike some recipes that call for a bit of banana and the flavor takes over the whole thing, you can't tell there's any banana in these guys, much less two whole bananas!

I guess what they say is true. You learn something new every day. And every now and then its even from someone other than Alton Brown!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Magic Words.

Full Circle sent me an extraordinary box this week. Not particularly due to the contents (only one TINY red pepper? rip off.) or the quality (good, as always), but because of the newsletter. Normally I skim the headlines just to see if there is something interesting, then recycle the thing. This time, my eye caught on the word "prosecco."

Who's eye WOULDN'T catch on Prosecco? It's delicious and alcoholic. Yum.

Tangerine and Prosecco Sorbet

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
2 cups fresh squeezed tangerine juice, strained
1 cup Prosecco
1 Tbsp finely grated tangerine peel

Heat sugar and water (simple syrup) over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Transfer to a medium bowl and chill until cold, about 2 hours.

Mix juice, prosecco and peel with simple syrup; whisk to blend well.  Transfer to ice cream maker, etc. etc....


Do as I did:
While simple syrup was chilling, I juiced tangerines (don't forget to strain) and put it in fridge. My champagne was, conveniently, already in there.  I also put my tupperware in the freezer.

When syrup was cool (kinda. I'm not very good with that patience thing), I mixed in the other ingredients and put it in the freezer. Then, I stirred it every half hour or thereabouts. I wasn't very good about remembering because Ricky was over with stories. By the time I went to bed it was the most delicious slurpee I've ever had.

I might just skip dinner tonight and drink the remaining half bottle of champagne with a side of sorbet.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Epic Battles.

 Change pink angora to purple alpaca and you've got me lately. One and a half pattern repeats and the ribbing and I'll finally be done with the longest project ever. Note to self: Never use sock yarn. For anything.

Saw Avatar last week. Awesome graphics, but wasn't it really just a remake of Ferngully? Or a futuristic Dances with Wolves with deep sea plants? Or Pocahontas? I heard somewhere that there are only 12 plot ideas and everything just revolves around those. I think Avatar proves that.

Watched A Serious Man last night while battling the alpaca. I think I missed something because of the knitting distraction. I think what I missed was the point.