Monday, July 30, 2007

Higher Math

In honor of Lilah starting on Cheerios (actually a generic wheat-free version, since Cheerios contains wheat starch, which she's not supposed to have yet for allergy reasons), I present a word problem that illustrates the amazing powers of Baby Math:

I put 10 Cheerios on Lilah's high chair tray to give me time to clean up the kitchen. By the time I'm done, there are no Cheerios left on the tray. I have been watching her, and 2 Cheerios have actually made it into her mouth. I find 1 in the pocket of her bib, 3 on her seat, and 1 stuck to her cheek. How many Cheerios are on the floor?

You guessed 3, right? Ha! The answer is 7. I cannot explain this.


Knitting: I've now done 4 repeats of the lace pattern! This is out of 14, and the shawl is only about 4 inches long, so there's a long way to go. I have a shrug to start soon as an instant gratification project to raise morale. The slow growth of the Irish Diamond means I need a kick-start.

Writing: Still nothing to report here.

Reading: Ooh, lots!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: I will not ruin anyone else's enjoyment by saying too much, but I loved it. I must read it again soon!

Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde: I love these books! This one was excellent, and it's obvious at the end of the book that more sequels are coming. The first is The Eyre Affair, in case you're interested--I wouldn't jump into the series in a later book. I have to reread this one as well.

I also read a mystery novel called Crime Brulee by Nancy Fairbanks. It wasn't great. The protagonist was not all that sympathetic, and she was the best of the bunch. It was so promising, too. Maybe I'll try a later book and see if they get less tedious.

Cooking: I actually baked on a cool evening. I wanted to make pumpkin muffins with a random can of pumpkin in the pantry, and pumpkin chocolate chip sounded yummy. Anyway, the muffins were fantastic. They started as an adaptation of a random recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins that I'd found somewhere on the internet, but I subbed some whole wheat flour and added pecans (we ARE in Georgia, after all). I used my Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Chips (now they're labeled 60% Bittersweet or something, but they're the extra big ones). Substitute any other chocolate chip. If you want to make mini muffins, use mini chips and chopped pecans. At the last minute, I realized I had no cinnamon, which the recipe called for. Oops. I was afraid they'd need a bit more oomph, so on a whim, I subbed cardamon. Yum! Even better than with cinnamon, I think. I'd like to play with this a bit to make it lower in fat. I'm sure I could use less oil and add some applesauce or something. Anyway, here they are:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pecan Muffins

4 eggs
1 can pumpkin (16 ounce)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cardamon
1 tsp salt
1 12-oz bag Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (or any other chips)
1 cup pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 24 muffin cups with nonstick spray or line with paper liners. Beat together eggs, pumpkin, vanill, and oil until smooth. Stir together dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to the wet ingredients and stir until blended. Fold in chips and pecans. Divide evenly among muffin cups. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown (check for doneness with a toothpick). Makes 24.

A couple other recipes I've been meaning to post:

Marinara Sauce

1 TBL olive oil
6 cloves garlic
1 small onion, finely diced
1/4 cup red wine
28 oz. crushed tomatoes
1 carrot, finely grated
1/4 tsp chili flakes (more to taste)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion, saute 2 minutes. Add wine, simmer 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 20 minutes. Serve over pasta with parmesan or goat cheese.

Cheater's Non-Dairy Baklava

This is adapted from a Cooking Light recipe. I served this a couple of times before moving, and no one guessed it was a non-butter version. Traditional baklava uses melted butter brushed over each sheet of phyllo instead of cooking spray. It's a pain and also insanely fat-laden. But good. Resist the temptation to cut into bigger pieces. It's good, but if you eat too much, you WILL get sick!

1 1/2 cups wildflower honey
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 whole cloves
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

1 lb. walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon salt

Remaining ingredients:
Cooking spray
20 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed (I used Athenos brand)
1 tablespoon water

To prepare syrup, combine honey, 1/2 cup water, juice, cloves, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan over low heat; stir until honey is completely dissolved (about 2 minutes). Increase heat to medium; cook, without stirring, until thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; keep warm. Remove solids with a slotted spoon; discard.

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare filling, combine all filling ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until combined and walnuts are well-chopped.

Lightly coat a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Working with 1 phyllo sheet at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), place 1 phyllo sheet lengthwise in bottom of prepared pan, allowing end of sheet to extend over edges of dish; lightly coat with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with 4 phyllo sheets and cooking spray for a total of 5 layers. Sprinkle phyllo evenly with one-third of nut mixture. Repeat procedure with phyllo, cooking spray, and nut mixture 2 more times. Top last layer of nut mixture with remaining 5 sheets phyllo, each one lightly coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat top phyllo sheet with cooking spray; press baklava gently into pan. Sprinkle baklava surface with 1 tablespoon water.

Make 3 even lengthwise cuts and 7 even crosswise cuts to form 32 portions using a sharp knife. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until the phyllo is golden brown. Remove from oven. Drizzle honey mixture evenly over baklava. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Store covered at room temperature.


Stefaneener said...

The cooking spray idea sounds ideal. I might want to adapt it for spanikopita, one of my complete favorites . . . but such a pain to make!

Must. Go. To. Greece. Soon.

Knittypants said...

Those muffins look great! I know what I will be baking next cool day :-)

Thanks for sharing the recipe.

YarnThrower said...

LOL about the baby cheerios math. If you check under the oven, you'll find three more...

mle said...

Yummy looking recipes! the chocolate pumpkin muffins sound really interesting...I love pumpkin and of course anything with chocolate is good!:)

snowdrop said...

Your cheerio math made me laugh! Out loud!!
Thanks for the recipe from me too...

Rain said...

I love watching babies eat, they make such a mess of it but it looks like so much fun.

Rachel said...

Well that's what you get when you go with non-brand Cheerios. Highly untrustworthy cereal behavior.

Glad to know you enjoyed HP7!