25 April 2009

Everything Old Is New Again.

I've finished editing the two old Altered Plates movies so that they could fit within the time restrictions of YouTube. It was weird seeing my old kitchen and evil oven in the films. They're not terribly old, just back to 2007, but what a difference a renovation makes!

OK, enough teasing. Here are the links to the newly added, split into smaller pieces movies:

1. The Hamantaschen That Became Stars.
2. Graham Crackers Redux.

If you haven't seen them before, please feel free to laugh at my silliness. I'm only an amateur. :D

Sooner or later I will get back to making movies again, especially since I actually have a good place to put my camera now. I just need some time.

Just in case you were interested, we've been doing some home improvements, especially in the garage. Also, the garden's a riot of color.

18 April 2009

Fruity Muffins

From March 2009 Recipes, Reviews and Other Photos

Lucky for me, many more bakers and cooks are using agave nectar instead of other sweeteners in their recipes these days. Back in March, Andrea posted this lovely recipe for Healthy Fruited Muffins that she had adapted from Canyon Ranch Cooking. I'm not sure what her changes to the original recipe were, but I wonder if agave nectar was one of them.

From March 2009 Recipes, Reviews and Other Photos

Because I was puzzled by the yield of just 7 muffins, I doubled her recipe and added lemon juice and more agave nectar because the batter was just so tart. It wound up filling several mini muffin tins as well as a few cups in my standard muffin tin.

This recipe looks like it would be a snap to veganize -- just add oil instead of butter, use almond or soy milk for the dairy, and use the flax trick for the egg. Also, I'd add a little baking soda for some lift.

My muffins turned out to be very light, moist (but not too moist), and just tarty enough to be very satisfying. The texture of my muffins looked markedly different than Andrea's, but my guess is that the additional lemon juice broke down more of the whole wheat's bran. It's just one of those baking things. Whenever I bake with whole wheat flour that isn't whole wheat pastry flour, I add a citrus juice. It does magical things to the texture and makes the resulting baked good into a baked great!

Have you tried this in your baking?

12 April 2009

Updates to the Site

Hi Folks,

I'm finally in the process of uploading all the old videos that were missing from this site into YouTube. Previously, they had been viewable via Brightcove, but they've deleted all videos from non-paying members (a very bad policy -- especially because they did not alert any of us in advance, or at all).

There are still a few that need editing in order to fit within YouTube's time constraints. In the meantime, please bear with me until I replace all the old ones (there are only two left on this blog and three left on Here and There to replace, but it shouldn't be long now). If the semester's end wasn't looming ever closer, this would already be done. However, I'm knee deep in research and final papers/projects to accomplish. Fun!

If, by some remarkable coincidence, you're in the library field, please feel free to check out the two blogs I've been writing for two of my courses this semester:

My term project blog for Principles of Searching -- still in process, but will probably be wrapped up in the coming two weeks.

My blog on the Learning 2.0/23 Things project -- I completed this project early because I had a feeling I'd be overburdened with reading and projects/papers/etc. left to do. The 23 Things project is a great way to learn new things over a reasonable period of time.

Last, but not least, I hope to be baking again very soon. My pile of "to-try" recipes is mocking me. I also have one last cranberry muffin recipe in the hopper to share with you, so you'll probably see that one first.

Wish me luck with my papers, projects, and research!

Hope you're having a wonderful spring.

09 April 2009

A Diversion: Spiced

This book by famed pastry chef Dalia Jurgensen sat on my night table for several weeks before I had time to pick it up. Once I did, I had to read it until the finish. Because my life has been steeped in incredibly dry journal articles on Library Science and its various subtopics, I was refreshed by Ms. Jurgensen's autobiography of a particular period of her life.

She tells of her fortuitous leap into the restaurant field, starting as a pastry chef at Nobu, and working her way through New York's top restaurants as well as Martha Stewart's test kitchens. What an exciting time for her!

However, there is a dark, alcoholic and sexist side to New York's kitchens. Ms. Jurgensen spills the beans on much of the seamy underbelly of this scene. When she describes in painful detail about life in these kitchens (because she doesn't mention anything about life outside the kitchens, except that in bars), it makes me very glad that I chose Library Science as a second career instead of pastry.

Don't get me wrong, I love cooking and I love cooking for others. Most importantly, baking makes me feel like all is right with the world, especially when it isn't at all. But, I couldn't do what Dalia Jurgensen does or did. It is interesting to read about though.

Check out Spiced.

02 April 2009

Superfood Muffins with a Twist

From March 2009 Recipes, Reviews and Other Photos

I'm a big fan of Hannah's recipes and her blog, BitterSweet. In fact, this muffin is an Altered Plates take on her Superfood Muffins.

I'm glad Hannah wrote a pretty strong caveat for these muffins so I'd know what to expect. I really didn't think they were that bad at all. I'd probably mix some almond meal into the flours next time for a little richness and substitute out some more of the whole wheat pastry flour for barley flour (my new favorite) for even more wonderful texture, but otherwise, I enjoyed them. I especially liked the quinoa, the cranberries, and the 5-spice powder I added. Heck, anything with 5-spice powder is right up my alley.

I didn't stray too terribly far from her original recipe but I did make some changes that affected the outcome and flavor a bit. Here are the alterations I made to the recipe to keep it superfoody, yet tweak it a bit:

1. Added 1 teaspoon of Chinese 5-spice powder to the dry ingredients.
2. Used flaxmeal instead of freshly grinding flax seeds (I don't have a coffee or spice grinder).
3. Substituted frozen cranberries for the blueberries.
4. Omitted the brown sugar and increased the agave nectar to 2/3 cup.
5. Used almond milk instead of soy milk.
6. Added 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
7. Substituted 1/4 cup pineapple juice for the 1/2 cup orange juice.
8. Used red quinoa instead of the white variety (went well with the cranberries).

My version yielded 12 typical muffins and 9 mini muffins.

I undercooked the quinoa a bit because I wanted the crunch, and it delivered. I'm sure Hannah's version is delightful, because all her recipes (and crafts projects) usually are. But, for an interesting twist, try the Superfood Muffins with cranberries. You'll enjoy the tartness.