Recipes worth sharing

IMG_5582I’ve been buying the giant bag of spinach and the humongous clam of blueberries at Costco.  I see the massive quantity of food as a challenge, and I get a little obsessed with using every last leaf and berry.   Mike told me the other day that he couldn’t remember the last meal we ate that didn’t have either spinach or blueberries in it.   I told him that he should be glad that I didn’t buy a giant bag of Cheetos or extra-large jar of sauerkraut instead because he’d be stuck eating those every meal.

Anyway, in my quest to get to the bottom of the clam, I found a recipe for delicious blueberry muffins that deserves sharing.  As a kid who grew up on the boxed version (which is still pretty good despite being loaded with trans fats and other weird ingredients), I was shocked to learn how easy it is to make muffins from scratch.  It always amazes me that the p.r. guys manage to convince us that stuff is so complicated to make that we need someone else to do it for us, when in actuality, with just four steps, this homemade version is just as simple as the box recipe!

So, here’s the recipe. I double the strudel topping and keep the leftover in the freezer so that I don’t have to make it every time.  I also use buttermilk instead of regular milk, which I make by stirring in a teaspoon or so of lemon juice or white vinegar to the milk and letting it sit for five minutes.

In other news on the baking front: My good friend Melissa has recently turned me on to making bagels from scratch.   It’s a fun lazy Sunday activity because it requires a lot of time but not too much labor, as long as you have a kitchenaid mixer. I can’t think of a better excuse to hang around the house in your pajamas for a couple extra hours than hot, fresh bagels.  Here’s a great article from Slate about pantry staples that are easier to make at home instead of buy (never buy a box of croutons again!) where she found the recipe and a direct link to the bagel page.   I like adding cinnamon and raisins to my bagels, and of course blueberries.

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An update from the garden

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A squash blossom close-up, and a baby okra plant growing in upper left and corner.

IMG_5569Left column top to bottom:  Soy beans, an artichoke plant, and carrots.

Front Left: baby beets

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Sophie taking time to smell the roses watermelon.

IMG_5574Clockwise from top left: mystery plant, cherry tomatoes (funny how the smallest tomatoes come from the largest plant), brussel sprouts, chives, mint, and parsley.

IMG_5573 an itsy-bitsy bell pepper

IMG_5576A close up of the mystery plant.  Ideas, anyone?

I’m Kyle, She’s Jeanne

Shawnee and I volunteered as ushers at the Globe Theater in Balboa Park.  It is a pretty good gig–you get there about an hour before the show, you usher (or is it ush?) for 30 minutes, and then you get to watch the play for free.

The play was called “Cornelia” and was about George Wallace’s second wife.  It was written by the head writer of Big Love.

Before the audience arrived, we were given pretty basic instructions–we were responsible for Aisle 2.  We were also given name tags.  Since this was our first time, we hadn’t yet earned name tags in our own name.  So I was “Kyle” and Shawnee was “Jeanne”.

Of course, things did not go smoothly.  An elderly man fell backwards trying to walk down the steps right in front of me.  He wasn’t hurt, but I had to pick him up with a lot of people circled around us–making it a bigger deal than it should have been.

Then I overheard snippets of Shawnee talking to a woman seated on the aisle:  “My name’s not really Jeanne–it’s Shawnee”  “When did you have your cancer surgery” and “We’ve been trying to get pregnant for a year–right now we’re going through fertility treatments.”  Shawnee later told me that the woman asked her, “Are you one of those people who is fanatical about fertility treatments?” and then gave Shawnee her business card in case she was interested in adoption.

Finally, a man who was physically disabled wheeled into our aisle by pushing his chair backwards with his feet.  By the time I knew what was going on, he was already close to his seat.   He couldn’t speak and we couldn’t turn around because the aisles were narrow.  He also had almost no control of his arms, and could barely use his hands.  So I had to transfer him to his seat by reaching over the back of his wheelchair.  We learned at camp that this is not the way to do it.  It was a little sloppy, but we got the job done.

After the show, I hurried out to get his wheelchair.  I thought about how I wanted to transfer him, and backed the wheelchair in to just the right spot.  As I turned to him, I saw that he was looking at his blackberry.  He had it in his lap and could move his thumb to scroll.  The digital revolution is officially everywhere.

Finally, I transferred him into his chair.  Perfect lift, everything went smoothly.  I was kind of proud of myself and it felt good for the camp skills to come back.  He was joined at the show by an attractive young woman.  Once he was in his chair, she looked at me, paused for emphasis, and said, “Thank you, Kyle.”