Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: A Dose of Honesty


I sit before you as the same tired girl who was here last week, but I'll refrain from sharing the details of my all-night escapades because 1) "escapades" is a far too exciting word to use -- they're quite boring -- and 2) many of you lead equally crazy lives.

How does life get so crazy? Personally, I have to admit a lot has to do with this laptop resting on my legs. I can't live with it, and I can't live without it. Email and Skype keep me connected with friends too far away to hug, Picasa keeps my photographs stored and organized, and good ol' Microsoft Word keeps words flowing (or stumbling) out of my brain and into typed words that eventually make their way onto crisp white paper in the hands of the professors who, as my graduation date draws closer, seem to hold my future in their all-powerful hands. And, yet, this computer works against me by offering a million less important distractions from the things that I must accomplish before sinking into bed each night.

Tonight I'll be researching the works of illustrators such as Lane Smith, and committing the mood and sway of Glen & Mar's album to memory through iTunes, all from the comfort of a cleared spot at the end of my bed, which as gone unmade for a shameful eight days (not to mention that it is now sheet-less, because I washed them two days ago and haven't put them back on).


Why am I admitting all this to you dear people (who I'm sure have a squeaky clean image of me and are surely quite surprised to learn I'm not perfect)? Well, I tend to be quite honest when I'm tired.

And, along the lines of being honest, I have to counter that I can live without this laptop. People do, and I can learn to, again, if need be. I'm very grateful to the generous friend who gave it to me, but I don't ever want to get so attached to something as fleeting as a computer (which can be killed in a few seconds with water dumped across its screen and keys -- I would know), or convenient as a cell phone, or even as luxurious as $8 New Zealand honey (totally worth it, that once -- I hadn't tasted it since my childhood on our regular visits to the honey shop between Waiwera and Auckland).

But, as long as I have access to a kitchen and the internet, I will likely continue to take pictures and blog about my gastronomic experiences, so thank you so much for joining me tonight.


I have been retracing my steps all evening long, ever since I started scooping this muffin batter into its designated tin and wondering why it was so thick. I can't figure out what I did wrong. Dorie Greenspan presents a lovely sounding pumpkin muffin recipe in Baking: From My Home to Yours, and I have been looking forward to trying it for a couple weeks. But what I pulled out of the oven in no way outshines other pumpkin quick breads or muffins I have made. The most appealing way to describe its appearance was "rustic." The batter was too thick to fill out the muffin liner while baking and remained piled on top.

The only things I changed were that I made a one and a half recipe, switched out 1/3 of the all-purpose flour for whole-wheat, and used a very runny and sour yogurt instead of buttermilk. I do no see how these could have dramatically affected the consistency.

On the bright side, they're pumpkin flavored, so they're hard to hate (who are you crazy people saying you don't like pumpkin?) and loaded with cranberries (another minor alteration) and pecans and coated with crunchy sunflower seeds, but I could easily add these things to one of my preferred pumpkin muffin recipes.


These are my thoughts on Tuesdays With Dorie's recipe this week, but I'm looking forward to finding out how others' baking sessions went (as soon as I find the time). I could have just encountered something weird and only relevant to my kitchen; I'm willing to give Dorie the benefit of the doubt.

The recipe can be found here:
Pumpkin Muffins


beauty and bread said...

I know they say, "only a shoddy carpenter blames his tools" (or at least michael said it in that one episode of arrested development...), but in this case I'd blame the kitchen (oh, that kitchen!). At any rate, your muffins still smell delicious and, hey, I kinda like that rustic look!

Amanda said...

I'm sorry yours didn't turn out! Maybe something in the measurements when making 1.5 times the batter? Who knows, I've had kitchen mysteries-mishaps go unsolved as well. I made these muffins and loved them. AND I am one of those crazy people who is not a fan of pumpkin ;-) LOL They were divine!

Lael said...

beauty and bread: Kelly, thanks for the Arrested Development quote. It made my (late and weary) night! And I'm willing to point some of the blame at that damn kitchen too, though my other theory is that my brown sugar was too old and dry and soaked up some moisture...? Thanks for the encouragement anyway, and it's true, rustic can be just right sometimes.

amanda: I'm glad you were able to take my pumpkin accusation lightheartedly. (That's how it was meant.) It's good to hear these turned out for someone...I won't give up on them!

Rachael said...

'morning my sweet one! Last night I made a batch of pumpkin granola--very good. I wanted to make pumpkin muffins but decided to put it off until Elise & I had finished off the banana muffins I made a few nights ago.
This is the season that anything pumpkin sounds so fitting.
Love you...please get some sleep. If I were there I would make your bed for you, for old time sake. Love you heaps, naturally.

Lael said...

rachael: "For old time's sake"?? Mother, when have you ever made my bed for me? Surely, not since I was too little to do it myself :)
But I know you would gladly help me out now, so thank you. The thought counts for something, and I promise I'll get that bed made soon (I need to for my own sanity). Much love.

Anonymous said...

Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous. I'm sorry you these muffins didn't turn out for you. Sometimes its just the kitchen gods...who knows?

Christine Elaine said...

Well, I'll admit that I was a little apprehensive when I saw them, but I had heard how great of a cook you are and let me say they were great! And I don't even like pumpkin.....

I also feel healthy when I eat your food for some reason...

I love your pictures.

audrey said...

i can't live w/o my laptop either. which reminds me i should back up my hard drive!

hmm... is ww flour higher in gluten? they do look rustic but how was the flavor - sweet, dry, etc?

Lael said...

Pinkstripes: Thanks for the compliments and consolation. While I know my baking techniques are not without flaws, it's true that it's nice to point the blame at the kitchen gods sometimes.

C.E.: Thanks so much for visiting my blog and for not judging my muffins by their outward appearance!

Audrey: It's whole wheat flour's higher protein content that helps it form gluten more, and so there is a weightier feel to things baked with whole wheat, but they don't have to lack flavor. I think whole wheat can bring a nice complexity in flavor and filling satisfaction, and in these muffins it played that role very well. They weren't dry, just dense - not fluffy - and were sweet enough, spicy enough, and chunky enough with dried fruit and nuts (though one or both of these can be left out). I would definitely recommend trying them!

Kierstin said...

sweet picture of the muffin pan! I'm pretty much inspired to take pictures and frame them for my kitchen now.....

Lael said...

Kierstin: do it! You'd do a great job. And thanks for stopping by this blog of mine, deary.