25 February 2015

Am I supposed to believe?

This is a repost from an old blog. Apologies if you've seen it before.

Am I supposed to believe that God walked in the Garden with Adam and Eve?

Am I supposed to believe that God asked Cain where Abel had gone?

Am I supposed to believe that God gave Noah detailed plans for building the ark?

Am I supposed to believe that God told Abraham to take his family and go to another land?

Am I supposed to believe that God sent an angel to save Isaac at the last minute?

Am I supposed to believe that God wrestled with Jacob, blessed him, and named his Israel?

Am I supposed to believe that God had a purpose for Joseph?

Am I supposed to believe that God spoke to Moses from a burning bush?

Am I supposed to believe that God sent many prophets?

Am I supposed to believe that God spoke to Job from the whirlwind?

Am I supposed to believe that God sent His only Son to walk among us?

Am I supposed to believe that God sent the Holy Spirit down like tongues of fire?

And if I am supposed to believe all of that, am I then supposed to believe that God has had nothing new to say, no new revelations for us, in the two thousand years since? Am I supposed to believe that words that were written down nearly two thousand years ago are God's final words to his people? Am I supposed to believe that God spoke to His people in many tongues for thousands of years and then just stopped?

I don't believe it.

22 February 2015

Stolen Pumpkin Muffins

Saturday Muffins, Plate 1
Muffins can be tricky business. They're great things to make fresh for breakfast, because they're small and bake quickly. On the other hand, they go from deliciously moist to dreadfully over-baked in the time it takes you to finish typing a status update.  Add in all the usual pitfalls of quick-breads and you really need a good recipe and good technique to make good muffins.

It started with Christine's pumpkin bread recipe, which I stole shamelessly, because in cookery it's not stealing, it's sharing. It's a fine pumpkin bread recipe, not a thing wrong with it. But I have never been one to leave well enough alone. Perhaps because I don't want to feel like I'm making someone else's recipe, because I want to prove I'm a special baking snowflake who can fiddle with baking recipes.

So I fiddled. And the first time it was all wrong. The bread was overly dense and a bit sad looking at the top. Multiple slightly sad, if still edible, attempts followed. Often they were all wrong because I was trying to double a recipe as I went and I always forgot to double something. Eventually I just wrote down the doubled amounts and worked from there, which a sensible person would have done in the first place. A week ago the stars finally aligned and I had the muffins I wanted. 

A note on spices: I just use what I have hanging around the pantry waiting to be used. Sometimes it's store bought pumpkin pie spice mix. Sometimes it's my own mix, which is like store bought, but heavier on ginger and nutmeg. Last time I used only cardamom and ginger. You can use plain cinnamon if that's what you have on hand.


Stolen Pumpkin Muffins
Makes two 8.5" x 4.5" loaves or 18 standard muffins.

Ingredients: 
360 g (12 3/4 oz) (3 cups) White Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons  spice (See note above)

4 eggs
3/4 brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice (water)

Method:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Prepare 2 standard loaf pans or 18 standard muffin cups. (I always use non-stick baking spray with flour for this, but lightly oiling the pans works too.)

In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and spices. Whisk well, 30-60 seconds, to evenly distribute the baking soda. This will give an even crumb. Set aside.

Break eggs into a large bowl and whisk them until slightly lightened in color and they have a nice foam. This is where you beat the air into the muffins, so don't skimp. 

Add the sugars to the beaten eggs and beat again. If you're like me you'll have to crush more than one brown sugar lump. Get the big ones but don't worry about the tiny ones. They'll be fine.

To the egg and sugar, add the pumpkin, oil and orange juice. Whisk to combine.

Put down the whisk. Dump the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Using a silicone spatula, fold the flour into the batter, slowly, using large strokes, just until all the flour is wet. This is not where you beat air into the muffins. If you stir too long or too hard you'll just make tough muffins.

Distribute the batter in the muffin tins or loaf pans. For muffin tins I like to use an ice cream scoop with a release scraper. Mine is 1/3 cup and is the perfect size for muffins.

Bake 18-22 minutes for muffins or 40-50 minutes for loaves. Remove from the oven when a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Remember that the muffins especially will keep baking after they're removed, so don't over do it. 

Allow to rest in tins, 5 minutes for muffins, 10 minutes for loaves, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Saturday Muffins, Plate 2

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