Saturday, June 28, 2014

Monday, June 23, 2014

"Why is Bacon So Good?" and the Universal Muffin

Because it's bacon!

This is one of Chuck's favorite sayings, so I thought I would try a recipe with several of his key food groups represented:

Spicy Bacon and Beer Muffins

If you  also love the noble pig, here's some real bacon-porn.

 Cooking Light has promised me these!  They look hearty!
3 T dark brown sugar
2 t water
1/2 t Cayenne pepper
3 smoked bacon slices
3 T old-fashioned rolled oats
1 T flour
1 T unsalted butter, melted

1 3/4 C flour
1/2 C packed brown sugar
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 t baking soda
2/3 C stout beer (I used Murphy's)
3 T oil
1 t vanilla
1 large egg, lightly beaten


 1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil; place a wire rack on the baking sheet.  I don't have a wire rack.  I used a broiler pan instead, which worked fine.  Don't forget the foil, or you will regret it.
 2.  To prepare streusel, combine 3 T brown sugar, 2 t water and Cayenne pepper in a small bowl.

 3.  Spread the mixture evenly over both sides of the bacon.  Or, just stick it in the sugar/pepper mixture and slosh it around.  But wash the Cayenne pepper off your fingers when you're done,  or you'll regret it.  This is becoming an "...or you'll regret it" recipe.  Bacon and beer, and fraught with danger!
 Place the bacon on the rack.
 Bake it for 18 minutes or until done. Yes, folks, we're bakin' bacon.   The drippings are full of sugar, so they will burn in the bottom pan and really gunk it up.  You won't care, though:  celebrate the invention of foil.  Remember that there is smoke from the burning sugar and the smoke is also infused with Cayenne.  Every time I opened the oven to check on the bakin' bacon, I had a fit of coughing.  More danger.
 Bake it at 400 degrees F for about 18 minutes, or until done.  Let it cool.
 Finely chop.
 3.  Combine oats and 1 T flour in a small bowl.
 Stir in the butter.
 Stir in 2 T of the chopped bacon; reserve the remaining bacon.  Threaten all those who try to pick at it and steal it by telling them that it has been infused with freakish amounts of Cayenne.

 4.  Reduce your oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

Lightly spoon flour into measuring cups and place in a large bowl.  Add remaining bacon, 1/2 C brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.  Stir well.
 In a medium bowl, combine beer, oil, vanilla and egg.  Stir gently with a whisk.
 Add the beer mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until combined.
 5.  Evenly distribute the mix among your muffin cups.  Think to yourself that they look kind of skimpy.  Cooking Light always manages to make their portions look huge when they are in fact small.  Yes, I know.  We're cooking LIGHT. Whatever.
 Sprinkle the streusel over the batter.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 18 minutes or until a wooden pick comes out clean.  Cool them for a few minutes, them take them out of their cups to continue cooling.

The kids loved them.  They ate them after supper last night and again for breakfast this morning.  I thought that the candied bacon was THE BOMB.  The muffins were a little bit ho-hum as a setting for them.  I find myself wishing I would just have the bacon back.  Chuck thought they should be sweeter and said that he likes his "muffins to be muffins".  I'm still trying to figure out what that means.  How do we define the Universal Muffin?  A question to ponder for sure.

Final analysis.  Ponder the Universal Muffin while eating bacon candied in brown sugar and Cayenne whenever you can.  Don't bother with these.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Six Word Saturday

Homeless youth shelter from shipping containers?

[Maybe. We have one friend who wants to open a shelter for homeless teens in Davis County; and another friend who builds emergency shelters out of shipping containers. They should talk, huh?  Good excuse for a party!]

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Wheel and Sprocket

Beautifully hot today.  Chuck and I are going to sleep in the tepee.  A cool breeze always makes its way under the canvas and the moon will be full.  I’ll lie in our makeshift bed and watch it silhouette the branches on the tepee’s canvas sides. 

Today was my first big bicycle commute.  I have always wanted to do this, but have always thought that 21 miles is too far.  Or it’s too much vertical.  Or I don’t have the right bike.  Or I don’t have time. 
My friend Gina commutes to work every day, though.  She lives close to her job, and it’s practical for her.  I was envious. 

So, I started eliminating barriers.  Chuck has a bike I can use.  It is a small mountain bike and is almost 30 years old, but it works and it has enough gears that I can climb hills with it.  He got it all fixed up for me with a new water bottle holder and a rack for my bike pannier.

I looked through my calendar.  When can I find the time to do these long-ass rides?  What about taking the bike to work on my car and riding home one day, then riding back the following morning to be reunited with my car?  Hey!  I can do that!  I found four times this month when that can work.  Today was my first opportunity.

In picturing me doing this, you need to understand what kind of cyclist I really am.  Not a confident one.  I am generally the type of cyclist people associate with twittering birds in a little European village.  I tootle along in my flower print dress and floppy sunhat.  There are flowers in the wicker basket on my handlebars.  People smile as I go by, and I spray them with Love’s “Baby Soft”. 

The tandem doesn’t count.  On the tandem, I just sit on the back and pedal like crazy.  This is the first bike I have ever owned that has speeds.  And hand breaks.  Such agency.

Picture me in tennies, with yoga pants covering up my bike shorts so no one will see my leg-fat.  Envision a loose, button-down shirt and fashion sunglasses.  I buckled my helmet and started off.  About one-third of the way home, I realized that I had a KILLER headache.  I thought, I’m dehydrated.  I’m stressed.  I’m craning my neck.  I’m having a stroke!  I reached up to wipe sweat off my brow and bumped my helmet back on my head.  Instantly, the blood flow to my scalp returned with a miraculous rush.  AHHHHHH!  What a feeling!  My helmet was too tight. 

This was a good adventure for me.  I was alone with my derailer.  There was no one to whine to and no way to chicken out. By the time I had done the 21 miles, I KNEW those gears; had MASTERED the ranges. All in all, I did OK.  I managed busy streets with no bike lanes during rush hour.  I climbed all 2,000 feet of vertical.  It took me two and a half hours.  I crawled up the front steps when I got home. 

Tomorrow, it’s literally all downhill.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

May Ends in Pictures

 Creek in spring flood.

 Given how frustrated I get with the amount of laundry the girl creates,  I view this picture with a Hansel and Gretel mindset.  Yeeeeessssss, little girl.  Just lean in a little closer... a little closer....
Trying not to eat so much sugar and junk this week.  Eggs for breakfast.  My heart yearns for my Honey Nut Cheerios.

 Ooooh!  Four bars here at the park where I have dropped Sara for soccer.  I'll take care of the e-mails I didn't get around to yesterday.

 We had a big, dead tree taken down last week and have been busy cutting up all the bits that we want to use. Big stove-wood; cook stove wood; kindling; finally (what I call) small-wood. The twiggies will go the chipper at the landfill.
 This is ALL HERS!  And she just got to my house last night!  How can this be?!  "I cleaned my room, Mom."  So all the clean clothes that got dumped on the floor, and can't be worn because they are "dusty" are now back in the laundry?!?  She swears that is not the case; and that these are all clothes that were dirty and discarded on the floor, but I am not convinced.  She can't figure out why I care, since she washes and dries it herself.  I counter that she would have a better understanding of the luxury of doing laundry if she had been in the Peace Corps and had to wash everything by hand in an old-style wash-tub, like I did.
 Making it rain on my rhubarb.

 By far the most kids Sara has ever invited over.

 Nate is helping by prepping the maps for the different teams.
 Sara told me all I had to do was provide drinks and ice, so I am now doing housework and staying out of the way.
 Chuck is finishing up his balsa and fiberglass raft frame.

 Boundaries laid out in the woods for Capture the Flag.

 While the kids arrive and get ready to play, I get started on the tamales for Chuck's birthday party tomorrow.

 OK, they're finally ready to go.  Sara gives instructions.

The tournament has ended.  The boys have gone home; scratched legs have been cleaned up; the girls are chilling and giving each other dating advice. It's all over except the Solo cups strewn over a half-mile radius.

 Need to catch up on my filing.
 Chuck and I went to take the recycling out to the county dumpster.  He showed my his loot from the landfill, where people often dump perfectly good firewood.  He left with that twiggy stuff and came back with real logs.  Kind of Rumpelstiltskin-like.  Straw turned to gold.