Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pure gold.

As I'm typing this, I'm planted on my sofa in front of the TV. I am an Olympics junky. There is something about the triumphs and spills of competition at the Olympics, and getting caught up in the stories behind the athletes who train for years for a singular moment that determines their place in the world. It never ceases to amaze me all the sacrifices these athletes make and the injuries and adversity some of them overcome to get to this point, all to have the chance to be crowned number one in their sport. It reminds me just how resilient the human spirit can be, that come what may, people have the ability to grow from hardship and not only survive but also excel.

Sadly, watching the Olympics can also make me wonder what I'm doing with my own life and consider what I have "accomplished" so far.

But at the same time, I do wonder what person I would become if I were "great" at something the way these athletes are. Would I be able to maintain any sort of humility and remember that all my abilities are really not my own but a gift? Knowing myself, there is a pretty good chance that I would forget all that and revel in my achievements. (I already forget and I don't even think I've accomplished that much.) Maybe what's truly admirable are those who stay humble when they have done so much.

NBC is showing the half pipe competition, and I'm waiting to see Shaun White *throw it down*
(as the announcer would say) for the finals in the hopes of back to back gold medals. As you can imagine, with all this time in front of the TV, there isn't a whole lot of time to be baking (or doing much else), so I have no new recipe today. Instead I'm posting photos of cupcakes I made for a recent dinner, using the same recipe from my very first post, which has always proven to be a winner. (I really think it's the ganache that does it). I think I'll go back to enjoying watching the games now and just appreciating the amazing things these athletes can do.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

No fumbling.

Sorry about my cheesy title--I simply could not think of what to title this post. This may come as a surprise to some, but I love football. I know very little about the rules and strategy and all that (pretty sure I got touchdowns and field goals down), but I love the enthusiasm it creates in players and fans rooting for their team, and I love the white noise in the background as I fall asleep on the sofa when a game is on. I do really enjoy watching football games (especially teams that I care about), but sometimes, on a Sunday afternoon, the crowd noise, crunching sounds from the tackles and the refs' whistle just lulls me to sleep. It's a pretty close-to-perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon. Someone once said they should come up with an iPhone app with "football game white noise"--maybe there's already one that has it. That said, I am looking forward to watching the upcoming Super Bowl (and not napping through it), especially since I like the Mannings.

Now that I've set this all up, I have to tell you that my recipe for today probably wouldn't be considered tailgating-worthy by any means. While every foodie is putting together their Super Bowl party menus and food sites are channeling Super Bowl party tips with the big game just days away, today I am posting something completely irrelevant and a little...boring. I don't think people eat muffins while watching the Super Bowl, but I don't have any baking tailgating recipes. There also isn't anything particularly fancy about these muffins, but I like them because the recipe is fool-proof and easy to build upon depending on what you like (e.g. you can use wheat flour if you're more health conscious, add raisins, apple chunks, chocolate chips, different spices). You could probably use this for your next tea party or brunch. But if you're looking for a Super Bowl recipe, I'm pretty sure if you go to, she'll have you covered.

Applesauce Spice Muffins
Adapted from
Makes about a dozen regular-sized muffins

Grease or line muffin pan. Preheat oven to 400F degrees.

1. Stir together in a bowl:
- 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour (or substitute 1/2 or 1 cup with whole wheat flour)
- 1-1/2 t. baking powder
- 1/2 t. baking soda
- 1/2 t. cinnamon
- 1/2 t. ground allspice
- 1/4 t. grated nutmeg
- 1/4 t. salt

2. Using and electric mixer on low or by hand, whisk in a separate bowl until combined:
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup brown sugar

3. Add to the mixture in #2, one at a time:
- 1 stick + 3 T. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce

4. Fold into the apple sauce mixture, one at a time:
- flour mixture from #1
- 1 cup pecans or other chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds)

5. Divide batter evenly among the muffin wells. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Cool for a couple of minutes in the pan, then cool muffins completely on a rack.

(Epicurious includes a topping, which I forgot to use when I made this. It consisted of sugar, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Some reviewers of the recipe suggested using granola, which you can sprinkle on the top of each muffin before baking.)