June 28, 2010

The Drifter And The Gypsy

I'm sitting in my room at this absurd hour, listening to the rain and William Fitzsimmons, nursing a runny nose and what's left of my muse (it's trying very hard not to give up on me completely). Today was the first official day of summer to me- my family and some friends went to Eagle Island and swam around in the reservoir. I love floating on my back in the water, letting the liquid hold me and feeling the slow currents deep beneath. Somehow, between the weightlessness and the blue blue sky, I obtain a feeling of nothingness. I defy gravity, or rather, it isn't even there, and I am merely floating, stranded between reality and something nonexistent.
Of course, all this is abruptly interrupted when one of my brothers chooses this exact moment to spray me with a water gun. However, even late into the evening, after a dinner of hot dogs and potato salad, the feeling still lingers.
After a thorough shampoo I still smack faintly of sunscreen and lake water, and the summer thunderstorm creates a wonderful smell and sound so I have left my window open. I should probably be in bed asleep, but I'd much rather entertain my wish to write, even if all I come up with is rambling nonsense.
Today I am struck mostly with the impression of passing time. Only a year ago I was revving up for my first (and so far and sadly,only) visit to Seattle and my new nephew. Looking back, it seems like no time has passed, and I have hardly grown at all. But delving deeper, I find that I have grown changed- deep deep inside me somewhere, things have changed. It's not a great realization or an obvious difference, it's more an unlocking and a lift away. It's amazing how we can change fractions at a time and not even realize it, and then look back, shocked to suddenly realize we are someone completely different than what we were.
However, I know my little journey is only beginning, and as I look eagerly forward to the day when I leave home next year and, consequently, all the protection and world I've ever known, I know that the little changes have only just begun as well.
I wonder what I will be like at the end?
"The journey, not the arrival, matters."

June 13, 2010

Summer


What is it about summer that we find so enchanting?

Is it the hot, bright days, the way the surrounding scenery takes on a new life and seems to smile? Is it the prospect of a dip in a cool lake or pool, lazy afternoons with lemonade followed by magnanimous sunsets and late nights? For schoolchildren and young adults it may be the break from studies, for adults it may the atmosphere that seems to break from the drudgery of their very life, that hope of a vacation in the near future. Maybe it's just being able to wear lighter clothing and lay in the cool green grass to admire the clear, blue sky.
Whatever it is, it has us all hooked, and it's the season we all look forward to most. Even for a fog and rain loving girl like myself the sunny days and long evenings are a magnet to which I am irrevocably drawn. Everyone, old and young alike, embrace the middle months as a period of fruition, happiness, fulfillment, and beauty.

June 10, 2010

The Blueberry Muffin Recipe And Then Some

So sorry, all, but it would appear that in my muffin post I never actually put down the recipe. Let me rectify the situation by posting it, plus my favourite zucchini bread recipe (also from the same book). Let me stress how important it is to follow the recipe to the letter. The first few times I didn't, but when I did the difference was remarkable.
Ingredients for the Pecan Topping
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons pecans, chopped fine
2 Tablespoons rolled oats
Mix the topping ingredients together in a small bowl.

Ingredients for batter
11 Tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 Tablespoon) unsalted (or salted) butter, melted and cooled to room temp.
3 1/2 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Cups coarsly ground pecans (like a nut flour)
2 Teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
3/4 Cup sugar
1 Cup cold milk
2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried on paper towels

Directions
1. Position your oven racks so that one is in the center, and preheat it to 400 degrees. Smear eight muffin tins with butter.
2. whish the flour, ground pecans, powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.
3.In a separate, big bowl, whisk the eggs to break up the yolks. Still whisking with one hand, pour in the sugar with the other. Continue to whisk for a few minutes until the eggs begin to pale in colour. Whisk in the milk, vanilla, and melted butter.
4. Gradually add dry ingredients to the wet, stirring gently with a wooden spoon. When there is still a little flour visible, gently stir in the blueberries, taking care not to break them up any more than is inevitable.
5. Scoop the batter up with a wooden or metal spoon and, using a rubber spatula, scrape the batter off the spoon into the cups of the muffin tin, filling each almost to the top.
6. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the muffins. Wipe excess topping off the pan.
7. Place muffin tin in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
8. Remove the tin from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Let the muffins sit for a few minutes in the tin, then flip the tin upside down and let the muffins fall out onto the rack.

Enjoy! These are especially good if you serve them warm with cream cheese or devonshire cream.

Whew.
After a really long, extremely hard day at work, there is nothing like coming home to the things that matter- knitting, some devotional time, and some good cooking. I love cooking after a hard day. It's as if after all the turbulence and difficulty of a day full of uncertain results, you can really do something that you know will turn out ok. You can even mess around with the recipe a bit, and it may turn out even more wonderful than before. It's a great way to unwind, and I love sharing my unwinding techniques with people.
Also, after this long hard day, I realized how much I really do want to change jobs. I know I should be happy with what God has given me, but I really think that too many people settle for less than what they want to do, and then are extremely unhappy. This is America's problem. Do what you love, and you'll never work a day in your life. So I may become a librarian. :D

I would seem to have run out of time, so I will post the zucchini bread recipe next time. This gypsy will be back soon to update you some more on her adventures.

June 4, 2010

Long Ears

Sometimes, after a long day fraught with tornado warnings, dishes, and interior decorations shopping, you just need to come home to some hamburgers and one-on-one time with your bunny.
{Meet George}

This is by far my favorite picture of the evening- my little sister going up against George. I also love it because no one but Patsy can get this close to him. She's a Bunny Whisperer.

I was only able to get two shots of George in the grass- he seems to want to stand still whenever I'm not aiming a camera at him. *Huff* Most of the pictures didn't turn out, and when he ran to the pavement for the fifth time, I let him stay there.



Needless to say, the rabbit has secrets, I just know it. Next time I'll bring out Hugo, my gnome, and see what happens. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the latest sunset and try to complete my room. We've lived here almost a week! I love how easily I've settled in- it feels like I've lived here for years, and yet it's been less than seven days. I have a room with a view, a cup of tea, and a movie to watch (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, one of my favorites, and I will be knitting during the the film): what more could I want for?

June 2, 2010

In Which She Does Some (More) Cooking.

Ahh, the smell of fresh blueberry muffins! Is there really anything that can compare to the taste of moist semi-sweet muffin cake filled to bursting with luscious, fresh, blueberries?
Nope. I didn't think so.
I took pause this evening from all the unpacking to do what I love and so often do- to stay up to an absurd hour strictly to create some sort of deliciousness that will be devoured by my family in less than ten hours. Today's, or, quite technically, tonight's, adventure was a sally into the world of organic blueberry muffins.
My adventure began with my favorite cookbook- Once Upon a Tart. This is the most amazing cookbook since Julia Child's. You can get it off of Amazon for a pretty decent price, but let me advise you now to get a tart pan or two while you're at it. The pictures alone are enough to make you want to begin cooking immediately, and it isn't limited to tarts, either. It has cookies, savory tarts, sandwiches, salads, soups, scones, everything. But let's get back to the muffins before I geek out too much and embarrass myself.
I usually stay away from blueberry muffin recipes for one main reason: they're never perfect. They're either too sweet, too moist, to plain, to dry, or, most often, not calling for enough blueberries (I know, this is a crime. Moving on). However, this recipe is about as perfect as possible. It's neither too sweet, or too moist- the perfect muffin bread- and is crammed with enough blueberries to keep an herbivore dinosaur happy.
I always try to cook as organically as possible. This is simply because the food is so much better for you, fresher, just plain tastier. Throw out the shortening and use butter, use fresh fruit instead of canned; there is a long list of ways to improve your cooking simply by using fresh and organic ingredients.
Whew! Geeking out again! Now for some pictures. :D




Lots and lots of fun stuff going on in my kitchen. I wish I'd had the camera out during the baking process while I danced a rumba. (This is why you should always have your iPod on while cooking. It releases happy endorphins that make you want to dance.)
Well it's getting late and I still have many many dishes to do, as well as some calorie torching tomorrow- we were testing new desserts at the tea shop today, and I've already eaten one muffin. Although I like muffins, I don't enjoy the prospect of muffin topping.
Pop in again soon, for I won't be gone long!