16 February 2008

Banana Muffin Heaven

I was bored the other day as I sat at my desk and procrastinated, carefully avoiding anything and everything that has to do with the Chinese Republican Revolution of 1911 or the implication of gender in Shakespeare's King Henry V. So, I set to work in my kitchen making...

Banana Muffins with a Crumbly Top!

What you need:
-Oven preheated to 375 degrees F
-Muffin tin with little paper muffin cups (or greased, but I like to conserve our butter and oil)
-Two mixing bowls
-1.5 cups of flour (I just use regular all-purpose, but I'm sure whole wheat or something would work too)
-3/4 cup of sugar
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-3 mashed bananas
-1 slightly beaten egg
-1/3 cup melted butter (I used oil instead because I was lazy)

And then, for the crumble topping:
-1/3 cup brown sugar (the packed kind)
-2 tbsp flour
-1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (I used a bunch more… I like cinnamon.)
-1 tbsp butter

Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. You'll be pouring the wet ingredients into this bowl, so make sure it's big enough (I didn't and ended up with an extra bowl to wash).

Then, beat together the bananas, sugar, egg, and oil (or butter) in a separate bowl. When a recipe says beat, I always think "electric mixer" but I was lazy and just used a whisk. It turned out fine, just took a little longer and a little more effort. That's okay though, my arms are out of shape anyway and can use the exercise.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring only slightly, until the flour disappears. Don't over-stir. What this will do, I don't know, but every recipe I've ever read for banana bread, banana muffins, or anything similar warns against over-stirring at this point.

Transfer the delicious goop to the muffin tin. Be generous. These don't rise all that much, so don't be afraid to fill those little cups right to the top!

Now, the Crumbly Topping!

In a clean bowl (a cereal bowl works just fine) mix together everything but the butter. The recipe then says cut in the butter, but what I did was more like violent mashing with the blunt end of a fork. Anyway, when you're done cutting in the butter (or violently mashing in the butter), it should be grainy, like cornmeal apparently. Not ever having worked with cornmeal, I cannot vouch for the validity of this statement, but I trust the original recipe writer.

Sprinkle the crumbly topping over the muffin batter (be generous), pop the pan into your pre-heated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, and voila! Delicious muffin goodness.

The original recipe is from Allrecipes.com but I have since lost the original URL. I'm sure if you search "Banana Muffins Crumble" or something similar you can find it.


13 February 2008

Notecards and Knitting and Books, Oh My!

The past few days have been sort of stressful, for no other reason but that my bizarre anxiety and OCD was running full force. Sunday, I had a very productive day, getting more done in 12 hours than I have for weeks. Unfortunately, that meant the pressure was on for Monday and Tuesday. I felt so good about myself by the time I went to bed on Sunday, and I desperately wanted to perpetuate that feeling. However, what happened was that I ended up placing my expectations too high, and falling way short of them.

I need to stop psyching myself out like that. It got to the point yesterday where my brain just completely shut down. I went to make a pot of coffee, and forgot to put any coffee in the filter, it was that bad. And THEN, as if that wasn't bad enough, I was so upset over the fact that I now had a steaming hot pot of water instead of a steaming hot pot of coffee that I just pouted and sniffled a bit before pouring it down the drain.

A few hours later I was recounting this unfortunate coffee story to my best friend, and she was like, "Why didn't you just make tea? You love earl grey, and that has a decent amount of caffeine in it." I was dumfounded by my own inability to think. Tea! Of course! Why didn't that occur to me? This was, of course, followed by more pouting and sniffling. Because that's what happens when my brain shuts down: I pout and sniffle like a six year old.

No crying though. I don't do that.

So, the new Calorimetry headband I started (see previous post for pattern link, I'm too lazy right now to go find it) kind of got forgotten in my little frenzy of work over the past few days. I hope to get it off the needles later tonight, since I've only got about fifteen minutes of knitting left to do on it. The yarn I used is just some crappy acrylic that I've had sitting around for years. I had originally intended to use it in an afghan that I was planning at one point during high school. I've always loved the combination purples and greens, but as it turned out I thought the color scheme was hideous once crocheted. However, the way its knitting up is wonderful! I think I just don't like the way the multicolored yarn patterns when crocheted. It always ends up looking like some sort of strange camouflage.

On a more random note, I noticed Sunday night the amazing contradiction between my reading choices and my mug choices. I think it characterizes this strange point that I'm at in my life pretty well. Scholarly book, Tigger mug. Adulthood, Childhood. I seem to be stuck somewhere in the middle.


07 February 2008

Calorimetry Complete!

Project 3 out of 50 in 2008 = FINISHED.

As I had mentioned last time, I had planned to knit up a scarf using my new skills before I began a more complicated pattern. And then... I got the flu. I was not feeling too hot for a while, and had been kind of sick the weekend before, but then the wind kicked up one night. Now, in our old, slightly crusty apartment building, when the wind kicks up, the ductwork sounds like there's an army of giant rodents continually scurrying in the walls. And the ceiling. And the hallway. And did I mention the walls? All of them?

So anyway, the wind was really bad ALL NIGHT. So I got no sleep. This was apparently just the kick the influenza virus needed to take hold of my system. DESPITE the fact that I had gotten my flu shot (there is apparently a major strain out this year that is not covered in the vaccine). So, to fight my boredom upon finding myself incapacitiated, I dragged myself into the living room, printed out the pattern for Calorimetry from Knitty and set to work.

I knitted the pattern up a total of two times, and the first time went surprisingly without a hitch. So much so, that I was rather impressed with myself. And all who know me are aware that me being impressed with myself can be a slippery slope.

I really beleived that I had completed the pattern flawlessly the first time. Luckily enough for the people around me, a) I was stuck in bed and limited from human contact, and b) when I cast off the last stitch and removed it from the needles (to get what is pictured in the photo above) I was smart enough to try it on.

It was GIGANTIC! Or maybe my head is just really small. Either way, it was at least three times the size of what it should have been, and it looked like I had just draped a large piece of knitted cloth over my head. So my ego deflated nicely. And here I thought I knitted way too tightly. Humph.

So I frogged it, and tried again using the ball I created from the trashed piece. I made some pattern modifications (I only cast on 90, and only repeated row 5 around 8 or 9 times instead of the reccomended 15. I ended up with 22 stitches outside the markers at the end of the repititions) and ended up using only about half the yarn I had on the first try.

With the pattern modifications, it ended up being a much better fit for my apparently too tiny head (see photo below for finished product), and I must admit: I love it. I'm going to make so many more of these, I know it. I wore it to rehearsal today, and not only was it a hit with my friends, but it kept my ears and head tosty warm in the cold Pittsburgh wind without overheating me when I was indoors. AND I didn't have hat hair once I took it off.

I am debating adding some embroidered flowers or some sort of pattern to it to match the little button, but I have yet to theorize a way to do it without hampering the stretch of it too much. So that's something for me to think about.

In other news, I must apologize for the quality of the photography I have been posting here lately. The Pittsburgh gloom has rolled out from over the rivers, and it won't be leaving until sometime in mid-April, so getting decent natural lighting is becoming harder and harder. This is probably not helped by the fact that I'm usually in class during any usable daylight. With any luck, as spring... well, springs, the photography will improve. Our apartment kind of sucks for photography even when it's sunny and wonderful out anyway, but it's not been this bad before.