I should be writing. Instead…it’s time to adopt a dog.

dogs-984015_1280

I’d take all three of these guys.

Yep, once he/she arrives, there will probably be umpteen ‘I should be writing’ opps.

boo retirement

Boo was my career counselor.

We lost Boo over a year ago and I usually need more healing time, but as the years progress, I realize I can’t be dawdling on this. I want a dog’s spirit, loyalty, and companionship in the house. Not to mention the entertainment value.

Note: My wife is actually spending more time on the local shelters’ websites than I am. Perhaps, just perhaps, it’s harder to live with a dogless me. 😉

 

 

I should be writing. Instead…blueberry muffins, with variations.

muffins horizontal

I was going to launch a mini-rant against technology this afternoon [Safari and WordPress weren’t playing nicely], but I redirected toward wholesomeness. And comfort. And calories.

After all, frustrated writers don’t rant; they bake.

In my case, blueberry muffins. A new recipe. A simple one, since I just wanted something straightforward so we could squeeze in a little afternoon coffee. Never mind that the temps outside are in the high 90’s. When the need for ‘fresh-baked’ arises, I spring to action. [Well, not exactly ‘spring’. That would imply flexibility…agility…youth.]

Breaking news from the kitchen–[Hey, if CNN can do this 24/7, so can I.]…They’re halfway done and they’ve already earned the ‘They smell goood’ pronouncement from my wife and they look like they’ll turn out ‘normal’—a relative term in my kitchen.

What constitutes ‘normal’?

These muffins [here’s the recipe] will form fit to the muffin tin. That’s about it. Anything less than that, I add the word ‘mutant’ to the title.

Today, three of these little hummers are traditional, I’ve added a sweet ginger jam to two of them, and one of them has nary a blueberry. [Yes, a blatantly forced rhyme.] I populated it with ’60% cocoa’ chocolate chips. My wife…ever so subtle. When muffin fixins emerge, you can bet she’ll saunter by and plop some usable form of chocolate onto the counter.

Impressions

  • Good ‘blank canvas’ recipe. I will gladly reuse this as my muffin base. Add cinnamon, etc. for stone fruit muffins. Add peanut butter to join the chocolate chips. You get the idea. [Thank you, Joanne and Adam Gallagher.]
  • I used muffin-top tins today to shorten the cooking time. Again, I wanted quick results. In the future, I would use traditional tins for more moisture.
  • Ginger jam: Yep. I’d repeat this. The marriage of blueberry and ginger definitely worked.
  • Chocolate chip muffin: I bungled this one. The muffin was fine, but someone [me] turned out to be chintzy with the chips. [Divorce proceedings imminent…]
  • Everything tastes better when it’s served on my favorite ‘dog plate’.

I should be writing. Instead…an expected winning recipe and, well…

Let’s start with the good news– a recipe I’ve relied on for a decade.

best cocoa brownies

This is my chocolate chip-studded version of Alice Medrich’s Best Cocoa Brownies. These babies are uncooked and darned if I forgot to take a photo this morning before they [and their counterpart batch with walnuts] headed over to a staff celebration.

But the serious ‘dark’ should tell you anybody eating these might well liken them to a  candy bar. [Only a half-cup flour is needed.]

The kitchen gods–whose voices sound oddly like my wife’s– are beckoning me to whip up another tray–one that won’t leave the premises.

***

And now, for a venture into the land of culinary unintended consequences…

refried beans unintended

There in the fridge sat a bowl leftover red beans and a bowl of cooked quinoa.

Hey! Why not doctor them up with a caramelized onion, sun-dried tomatoes from the jar, and some paprika, granulated garlic, and chili powder and make veggie-burgers? I’ve had good luck with this combination in the past, so why not?

Aaaand you’re wondering where the recipe is.  Me too.

I did a short consultation online, but paid as much attention to the recipe as I did to the cranked-up food processor.

So…burgers? Malleable patties out of this glop? Not a chance.

But…refried beans? Absolutely. In fact, the best I’ve tasted in years.

All due to my lapse into ‘kitchen shlub-hood’.

Nice save, T.

I should be writing. Instead…hand pies.

Two-fisted hand pies, that is.

cherry hand pies cropped

In our kitchen, ooze rules.

We had considered the more elegant look of a galette, but we laughed that off once we rolled out the dough.

My wife and I just wanted to slap those babies on the preheated cookie sheet and get’em baking.

I started with a glance at a crust recipe of author Linda Lomelino [Book: Lomelino’s Pies].

She goes with 3/4 cup of flour and nine tablespoons of butter. No salt or sugar.

So I, of course, veered a bit–1 cup pastry flour, a quarter teaspoon of salt, a little more than a tablespoon of sugar pulsed in the food processor joined by a stick [cubed] of cold butter. Add the cold water by the tablespoon until the dough sticks a bit to the sides. Scrape the dough into a piece of plastic wrap, and, once wrapped, sculpt it into a disk. Refrigerate until it’s baking time.

We were pleased with the crust. I think the pastry flour makes a difference.

But it was a good starting point and the book offers quality advice, photos, and recipes.

Pie filling for today?

Pie 1: Canned dark sweet cherries, thoroughly drained, with a little sugar and flour and a syrup of a reduction of creme de cassis, brandy, vanilla, some sugar, and a little juice from the can.

Pie 2: The rest of the cherries and diced Granny Smith apple dredged in sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice.

We have actually decided to follow baking protocol and are letting the pies cool.

I know, that’s crazy talk. But every once in awhile, we are able to resist.

Verdict–on the count of not sealing the pastry borders: Guilty

Verdict–on the count of assembling a quality, comforting, repeat-worthy treat to chase away the Sunday evening blues: Guilty

Verdict–on the count of eating more than you should have: Guilty.

I should be writing. Instead…a little culinary decadence.

hot chocolate

Camped out at Bellden Cafe in Bellevue, Washington with family.

Revelation: Some of the best idea generation sessions take place are when author tools are nowhere in sight.

Conversation at the table yielded these possibilities:

  1. Why not create a journal of light-bulb moments in the classroom? [Both teachers’ and students’]
  2. The world could use a new business-speak glossary pretty much every year.
  3. Student artwork posted online should/could/might be accompanied by a short audio clip from the artist revisiting the process.

 

 

 

 

 

I should be writing. Instead…hero worship.

unknown leonardo book

I was cruising the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store on Saturday and my wife held up this treasure.

A 10″ x 13″ 300-page tome on da Vinci to add to my ‘Leonardo Library’.

$2.50.

Major score.

So much more gratifying–for the time being–than rambling endlessly. [Well, other than this endless rambling.]

I have a shelves of books that need to be thinned, but the Leonardo Library is untouchable.

Last summer’s visit to the Machines in Motion exhibit at the Aerospace Museum of California last summer did little for my writing projects, but was another feather in my procrastinator’s cap.

leonardo flying machine copy