Savory Muffin Recipe!

I’m in a culinary mood this morning.  For breakfast, I prepared these for Kat before taking her to take the ACT at Rancho Bernardo High School:

Muffins with Cheddar and Chives

Ingredients

1 ½ c. a-p flour

1 t. salt

1 t. baking soda

1 t. baking powder

several chives, chopped (about ¼-1/3 cup, packed)

2/3-3/4 c. shredded sharp cheddar

1 large egg

¼ c. vegetable oil

¾-1 ¼ c. milk (I use cashew or almond, but this works with dairy milk, as well)

1 t. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375°F

Mix dry ingredients, cheddar, and chives in a large bowl, stirring to combine.

Beat egg thoroughly, then add oil and beat together to blend.

Add lemon juice and ¾ c. milk. Mix together, then add to dry ingredients all at once. If the batter is too dry, add enough milk to give it a good texture (it can be relatively dry or fluid, but that will only determine how long they need to bake).

Scoop by the 1/3 c. into silicone-lined muffin tin.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until there are tinges of brown on muffin tops.

Remove muffins from oven, and allow to cool for one minute.

Place in tea-towel-lined bowl and wrap with towel to keep warm. Serve with lots of butter and coffee or tea.

 

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To the Gills!

via Daily Prompt: Gorge

I have been trying not to consume so much at any given meal that I feel ill, or even uncomfortable.  It helps that I’m trying to eat more slowly, as well, in order for my brain to catch up with my digestion and not keep telling me to eat when I’m actually already comfortably sated.  Of course, this can be applied to other indulgences, as well, including drinking, smoking, gambling, all those “sins” that we are warned against.

Not having an addictive personality (or at least having outgrown it) allows me to be much more focused on the task at hand, even when the task is as dull as studying for an exam for which one only needs the ability to memorize things.  It’s exactly the type of exam I detest, for there is no learning involved, merely repetitive rote drilling.  That is what is so difficult for me right now.  I want to understand the reasons why the rules are set forth as such, so that it’s not merely arbitrary…

But, alas, so many things in life are arbitrary, like some people’s tastes in various arts.  The genre where this seems to come out most frequently (at least in my life) is music.  We all have our tastes in music, and most of us have a range of likes (and dislikes), with reasons why we like one thing over another, or dislike something completely.  We end up with a relationship with our choices, for the tunes and lyrics evoke emotions that we find pleasant, or at least provocative (in a good way, if such a thing is possible).  Some like the mix and play of contrapuntal music;  others base their selections purely on lyrics;  yet others enjoy the flow of wordless music.

This afternoon, I participated in a protest at a retail outlet for a national telephone/internet service provider, in order to call attention to the potential destruction of the Internet as it has been developed, as a free space for the exploration of ideas, with little hierarchy.  Internet service providers (ISPs for short)  can potentially place a monetary value to certain ideas, and therefore charge customers according to the sites they (the customers) visit and, more importantly, frequent.  Imagine how much money Spectrum (as Time Warner has rebranded itself) could make if it charged a penny for every Facebook visit made through its lines?  Or it (in this case, Time Warner, but could just as easily be Verizon or AT&T) might feel perfectly within its “rights” (because apparently, entities other than persons have rights, as judged by the Supreme Court in a terrible decision) to block access to political speech that does not agree with its owners’.

The air is dry.  Very dry.  My skin is telling me it’s horribly dry here, even for San Diego.  I will quench it in the shower before going to bed tonight.  Hopefully, it will feel better in the morning.

 

The Color of Things

via Daily Prompt: Patina

I like the appearance of aged copper and aged bronze.  Each metal takes on a certain patina through the process of oxidation.  A great example of this is the Statue of Liberty, in New York’s harbor, at the mouth of the Hudson.  Here’s a bit of trivia:  Liberty Island, on which the Statue of Liberty sits, is actually nearer the New Jersey shore than New York’s…

The reason why pennies, ostensibly made of copper, do not show the same patina is that any oxidation is rubbed off – on hands, on clothing, etc.  However, I think the real reason is that the copper used in pennies is, in fact, an alloy, so that there’s not enough of it in a pure state to actually oxidize.  That, or whatever it is in a penny (I forget the metal that makes up the interior of the current penny, but I think it’s zinc) prevents it, from a metallurgical point of view, from oxidizing.

I also like the color of aged cherrywood.  When finished with wax or oil, it evolves into a rich red that is only matched by mahogany in beauty.  I have a box (that I use for storing paints) that I made using cherrywood as the base material.  The removable shelves inside are made of ash and maple, wonderfully complementary in hue.  I finally completed inserting the strips of veneer on the lid only a few years ago, after having kept the box, wrapped in newsprint, for the years since I started it in college (half a life ago at this point).  But now, complete, it sits atop a cabinet in our living room, next to a box I made of Maple and beech.  The cherrywood box holds my tubes of oils and brushes, sticks of Cray-Pas, a small bottle of linseed oil, and a box of watercolor paper cards.  The other box holds my acrylics and watercolors, a small Windsor-Newton travel watercolor set that was a gift, and more watercolor cards, all waiting to be turned into paintings and gifted.  Might make use of some of them at some point.  I have a can of turpentine under the kitchen sink, but the notion of having to smell the turpentine for any length of time is not terribly attractive.  Oils are really for large, open spaces in which there is sufficient airflow to make the odor not quite so oppressive.

Worn leather can take on a nice patina, as well, whether from being oiled purposefully, or just being exposed to the natural bodily oils of its owner/wearer, especially around collars and sleeve cuffs…

 

 

Tenterhooks

via Daily Prompt: Tenterhooks

I was happy when I first learned the origin of the phrase “to be on tenterhooks,” as I love word origins and language (even though the only language I speak fluently is American English).  I have a friend who studies languages and has been learning them throughout his adulthood, making him the most successful polyglot I know.

I will make this entry brief, as my right wrist hurts due to an injury when I fell a few weeks ago in an asphalt parking lot.  Because I was in such a hurry, I failed to see the wheelstop, which caught my foot and sent me sprawling onto the not altogether dry pavement.  My worst injury appears not to be the bruise which continues to discolor my left knee, but some kind of internal injury because of the way I fell onto my hand and allowed it to slide along the pavement a few inches before stopping my body’s forward downward motion.  I will contact my GP’s office in the morning to make an appointment to see if there’s anything to be done for it.

And You Are How Old?

via Daily Prompt: Age

Oh, it comes up now and again.  And then I’m reminded of how some people age faster than others, growing gray at the temples as they reach adulthood, their skin forming smiling wrinkles from youthful happiness…

I’m not often prompted for my age, but when asked, I answer honestly and straightforwardly, since I have nothing to hide, and nothing to lose.  If I appear young for my calendar age, that is only because my wrinkles don’t make themselves apparent at first glance, and my gray hairs do a good job of keeping themselves relatively well-hidden.

However, other signs of age are not to be put off:  thinning hair, mostly, in my case, as well as signs of an ageing body, with its skin not quite as supple as it once was;  the loss of whatever “babyfat” that once kept my face youthfully round(er).  The fat of adulthood sits differently on my bones and multiplies my chins.

But I am not complaining about the ageing process, as I realise we all go through it, at varying degrees and in different ways.  I have friends who are almost fully gray now, though they’re scarcely older than I am.  In contrast, while my hair remains mostly its original color, its thinning is worrisome to me.

There are other ways to think about the word “age.”  One might be tempted to find a meaning in it related to certain social phenomena, as in the current “New Age” in which we are living and sometimes refers to a state of consciousness that some find enlightening and others droll.  I, myself, see the “New Age” movement as another means of framing reality, how one chooses to see life and other people, whether ’tis gentler and kinder, or merely tired and worn-out, non-energetic.

I’ve considered to what age I would like to live.  I certainly wish to live long enough to see certain events take place, such as certain life events in K’s life, as she is almost 30 years my junior.  At the same time, I don’t know if I will want to outlive too many of my peers and family, but since I am among the youngest in my immediate familial generation, this is a very real probability.  Among my Facebook friends, however, since many of them are people I’d first met in primary and secondary school, I am one of the older members, my birthday being in January.  I believe I would like to live well enough so that my chronological age may be well-advanced before my physical well-being deteriorates.  I would like to live fully, and meet death with serenity, having lived a satisfying life.

 

 

 

Lost…

The Daily Prompt for today was Snippet.

Bits of conversations past come wandering through my brain as I find it increasingly difficult to study.  I sit, with my earbuds, in a somewhat noisy coffee shop in a popular part of town, straining to listen to the lesson, which, although I have the volume maximized, is still faint.  I think it must be the website, as the earbuds, when tested, sound just fine.  I have the impression that most people just use the speakers on their computers to listen to lessons, though I cannot imagine why that should make a difference.

I have a job interview this afternoon.  That is also on my mind.  Last night, I forwarded the interview invitation to Peter.  We discussed the potential job interview in San Francisco, for which I would need to fly to San Francisco for at least a day.  This morning, Peter told me that he will be going up to meet potential investors mid-December, so I sent an email to my contact at the firm asking if they could help defray the cost of flying to San Francisco, since I will be staying at Raul and Beth’s with Peter and therefore would not be incurring too much additional cost (except food & incidentals).  I await their reply anxiously…

 

 

Black Coffee?

via Daily Prompt: Percussive

Having a strong impact;  of or relating to percussion instruments (music).

Repeated percussive explosions of carpet-bombing has been used as a method for clearing enemy soldiers from forested land.  Since the pilots are not aiming at a specific target, they fly over and bomb everything, in and out of sight.

I can only imagine the impact this has on normal (read:  naturally occurring) forest wildlife.  Not only is life disrupted in the immediate sense, animals and trees indiscriminately killed and maimed, but the destruction has longer impacts on the ecosystem by potentially disrupting the flow of energy, though I suppose if all levels of life suffer from equal effect, then the surviving animals will once again form stable, if smaller, proportions and numbers, hopefully to fully occupy the forest once again.

The word itself brings up violent imagery because of the suddenness of what it describes.  It implies an almost staccato beating, so that I hear a drumroll in the word’s presence.

More pleasantly, I had a slightly percussive event occur at last night’s dinner.  We had been expecting a small group of four, but ended up with a group of seven, as two members appeared, kind of on the dot, one of them accompanied by a date, no less, which proved a further pleasant surprise, as I’m not used to meeting potential significant others, at least not at an early stage of courtship.

The word “courtship” brings up thoughts of an old television show called The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, an early role played by a later-famous actor whose name just escaped me…

Ron Howard, at an earlier age than even Happy Days, made his directorial debut in early shorts “Old Paint” and “Deed of Daring Do,” back in 1969!  At least that’s what IMDb tells me.

I think that is enough of a string of non-sequiturs to start a foggy Sunday morning.

Keep Those Tiny Hands off Women’s Bodies, Literally and Politically!

via Daily Prompt: Particular

I am concerned with one particular facet of The Rump’s attack on healthcare, not only on the masses in general, but on women specifically:

http://actnow.prochoiceamerica.org/sign/171006-birth-control-trump/?t=6&akid=3364%2E1774413%2EVuZN7A

Because ALL politics are personal.

Why this item specifically?  Why women’s health issues specifically?

The Rump shows absolutely no empathetic ability, and this blindness can only lead to personal disasters and unnecessary death, literally and/or mentally, of women all over the United States of America.  Actually, this is a particular threat to women who live in those areas that are not well-served by health clinics that provide all manner of health services to women, like Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood (https://www.plannedparenthood.org/) has been, and continues to be, a staunchly pro-woman organization.  Of course, this irks The Rump without end, because it is an example of women using their brains to lead their lives, instead of living at the beck and call of assholes like our current Rapist-in-Chief.

It’s no wonder that people have become, on the whole, less tolerant and more outspoken against the rights of anyone who is not white (of Northern European stock), male (even if only because he possesses -what one can only assume is- a miniscule penis), and wealthy (even if only materially, though we all know The Rump is intellectually and morally bankrupt).

The current political climate has brought out previously closeted bigots, whether their unfounded sense of superiority is due to their sex, race, or income.  Fortunately, there are also well-heeled and rational people like Steve Mollenkopf, CEO at Qualcomm, who walked in the PRIDE Parade in San Diego in 2015 (I don’t know if he’s walked in others, but I remember seeing him on that particular rainy morning).

Well, I suppose I can take some comfort in the notion that many of the followers of The Rump are, unequivocally, dying out as his generation passes.  However, I know that there are those, in my generation and even among current young adults (who have grown up in –flyover?– territory where prejudice is rampant) who will carry their personal insecurities to the extremes personified by The Rump.  And that does, indeed, give me pause.

 

 

Damp Weather calls for Fungi

via Daily Prompt: Mushroom

It’s a cool, grey, damp day, and I’m inside with my cup of coffee, observing the balcony’s wood turning a darker shade of brown and the thankless trees whom I finally watered yesterday after an all-too-long drought…

I’ve got some mushrooms in the fridge:  portobella and crimini.  I have about a pound of mushrooms, which is not quite enough to make soup, so I shall go to buy more today in order to make mushroom and leek soup tonight for dinner. I will make soup with the mushrooms, my remaining leeks, and some of the remainders of a sack of potatoes that need eating.  A nice winter’s night is good for soup.  I might even feel inspired to bake bread to accompany the soup, too.  We’ll see how productive I feel.  I want to use the biga for something, as it’s been chilled and awaiting use (to make a tasty bread) since March (I’ve used some of it, so it’s not the full 10 ounces that I started with, so I suppose I can supplement it – “feed it” – and then allow it to continue fermenting for even later use).

K has Band practice tonight.  It’s their last chance to run through their field show before the southern California high school band final competition of the season/year (SCSBOA).  I watched their last run-through last night.  It was good.  I admit, I’m not one for the regimented regularity of these formations based on military precepts, but it was good to see something in which Kat’s really invested herself, along with hundreds of other kids (the band – with its color guard – contains about 225 members).  Since Brian decided to bow out of attending tomorrow, I will be driving up by myself to Citrus College, where the field shows will be performed.  There is a marching portion of the competition, as well, but marching is, well, marching – walking in formation with fixed-length strides.  A little too regimented for me.  The field show comes ever so slightly closer to dance, and while I’m not a huge fan of dance as performance, it’s a little more acceptable as a form of potential entertainment…

 

… And Now for Something Completely Different… Or Maybe Not So Much

via Photo Challenge: Experimental

I’m a BIG fan of experimental cooking and baking.  I rarely follow a recipe verbatim, even on the very first go-around.  There’s just so much that come come out of trying things out, even if only just a little bit differently from the original.

For instance, the first time I prepared shepherd’s pie (I prepared this just the other night, substituting sweet potatoes for regular spuds), I mashed cauliflower as the topping.  It came out really deliciously.  I’ve also made small changes to lots of recipes, including substituting cardamom for cinnamon in biscuits (YUM) and adding cinnamon to curry recipes (YUM, again!).  Of course, I make my substitutions usually with the knowledge of how each spice or flavoring behaves and interacts with the other flavors/ingredients in various dishes.

Of course, there have also been major FAILS, such as when I tried to create lemon-flavored meringues by adding lemon extract to the egg whites prior to beating, not realizing that the extract was, in large part, lemon OIL, which, as all oils will, disables the albumen’s ability to whip up properly…

But my growing knowledge of culinary tips and tricks has enabled me, thus far, to create both sweet and savory items that have been really wonderful to eat (even if I do say this myself).

I encourage others to experiment in their cooking, as well, for what is there to lose?  At most, it’ll be an entire pot of stew which goes to waste (and yes, I’ve done that, too, like when I tried using banana as a substitute for coconut in a curry when I was still in architecture school.  Ugh – talk about MAJOR FAIL!

Fruits are good substitutes for each other, especially berries (though I tend to shy away from berries/fruits with too many tiny seeds which can ruin the texture of almost any dessert)…  My favorite substitution is blueberries for just about *any* other berry, but that’s probably because I simply love blueberries, whether dried, turned into jam, fresh, or frozen.

I’d love to hear how others experiment with their culinary vocabularies, and invite others to share recipes they’ve created by making simple or even more intricate substitutions in existing recipes.  But What I’d love even more is if people send me original recipes, because I LOVE trying new recipes and foods!  Please do so in the comments below!  Thank you.