Monday, August 29, 2011

Recipe: Birthday muffins!

It was my birthday last week (yay!) and I made plans to go to Yosemite with some friends. I had my birthday-morning free and wasn't working, so I whipped up some muffins to bring along.

I used the crumble topping from 101 Cookbooks' Oatmeal Muffins - as she warned, the ingredients for the crumble make more than double what you need for those muffins, and in fact I still have a bit of the topping in my freezer. Therefore if you want to make just enough for one batch, I recommend the following proportions:

1 oz / 27 g flour
5 oz / 15 g rolled oats
.8 oz / 22 g natural cane or brown sugar
pinch fine grain sea salt
.8 oz / 22 g unsalted butter, melted

After you've melted the butter, stir in the rest, and scrape the resulting rather firm goo into a flat patty and freeze a bit. I think the idea is that it's then easier to break it up into bits to put on the top of the muffin batter - but I had to hack at it since I froze it too hard. So, be advised.

The muffins were based on the genius recipe called Muffin Madness in the invaluable cookbook Moosewood Restaurant Cooks At Home. Then I modified it - of course.

2 large eggs
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/4 c plain  yogurt
3/4 cup or a bit less brown sugar
1/2 tsp or a bit more vanilla extract (I used vanilla paste because I lurve it)

In another bowl, mix together:
2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Stir the dry into the wet. Then add:
about a half-cup or so pitted sour cherries
about a half-cup or so toasted almonds - I buy them already chopped somewhat roughly. In fact they look about like cherry pits which can be a bit disconcerting as you chomp into the muffin.

Pour the batter into muffin cups - makes about 12. Be sure to top with some of the crumble topping! Bake at 350 for 20 or so minutes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Current obsession: Bluegrass

Allow me to share my latest enthusiasm with you. Over the last few years I've slowly been getting more into bluegrass. For the last three years I've volunteered at the San Francisco Bluegrass and Old-Time Music festival (SFBOT to those in the know). It's a super easy gig - I show up, hand out programs, maybe staff the CD-selling table if they need a hand. Then I enjoy free music! Sweet!

Two years ago I was really struck by a group called Huckleberry Flint - to the extent that I bought both of their cds. I particularly loved the performance of the song "On and on" - here's a video of them performing it, though it's not the performance I saw which was completely mesmerizing:

At this year's SFBOT I volunteered at a show that featured multiple bands, all of whom I really liked. My favorite was Windy Hill who finally released a CD a few weeks ago. I was checking their website for CD news when I saw they were playing a festival in the area called the Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival (aka GOF). So I went!

It's held in a park and everyone camps out overnight. The stage is small

and so is the audience:

And it was a gorgeous couple of days:
Based on the shows I saw I've added a couple of bands to my to-follow list: Jimmy Chickenpants, the Alhambra Valley Band, and OMGG - which stands for Obviously Minor Guys and Girl. This band is comprised of some seriously talented kids - the oldest is 15!

And now I'm learning more about some of the more-famous players and groups, starting with Chris Thile and Michael Daves.The video on this site is NUTS. Such amazing music, and these guys are so freaking young - they've got years of awesomeness in front of them. I've been listening to the 23-minute performance video non-stop all morning.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Wow, it's been a busy spring/summer.
- work a conference
- parents visit
- go visit friend in LA
- go visit sister in Florida
- learn to scuba dive
- spend two Sundays driving to the coast to finish the scuba-learning process
- go to Honduras
- go to Greece
- go to Portland
- go to Ashland
<--- we are here --->
- go to bluegrass festival
- have a friend in town
- go to Yosemite

On the one hand it's been nothing short of awesome...but on the other, wow am I tired!

Add to that a pending Zero Birthday. And my sister quit her job and moved to Germany. And a friend died extremely unexpectedly leaving a very devastated wife behind. And another friend is getting treatments for cancer... and I really feel very up in the air about, oh, everything! Am I where I want to be, doing what I want to be doing, living the life I want to be living? If I dropped dead tomorrow would I have regrets?

I don't feel bad, just muse-y. But there's a whole lotta musing goin' on!