toasted cake

college, food, and making them fit together…

OMG Muffins

[Disclaimer: wrote this last semester, too thoroughly amused not to post it given that I made cupcakes yesterday]

[Disclaimer the second: if you want to see a blog I actually post at, check out five a.m. free fall]

Dear World,

Ahem. So yeah… posting… about that… ENGINEERING SCHOOL SUCKS.

Moving on, I bring to you the recipe for spice muffins with little commentary other than a criticism of cupcakes and an accolade of the humble (American) muffin.

Pros Of Cupcakes: Frosting, cake, small.

Cons of Cupcakes: Mountainous attacks of gooey frosting that wants to  do nothing more than stain your clothes, glob itself onto your hips, and make you look like a clown with an array of chocolate or pastel colors all over your face. Simply enough, they are a mess. That and they are made from cake… boring. Admittedly, I can’t quantize their smallness as a flaw, but the pop culture craze… just save me. I’ll take a muffin any day.

Why would I take a muffin, you may be asking right now. Simply put, they are better, they are more delicious, and they aren’t covered in frosting. Over the years, I have come to have a rather, erm, interesting relationship with frosting and have decided that if it isn’t cream cheese frosting where the main flavor is cream cheese, it isn’t worth eating… I’ll eat cupcakes to appease my friends, but given the choice, I make muffins (or carrot cake, which is really just a giant muffin with cream cheese frosting. Yum.).

Muffins are superior because A) there isn’t a lot of foo-foo girliness that you can attack them with, given that they aren’t frosted. And they come in so many flavors! Carrot, spice, pumpkin, banana-nut, lemon-poppy seed (easily becomes cake though…), chocolate chip, banana-nut-chocolate chip, orange-cranberry… get the picture? I’m sure that all the cupcake lovers will tell me that there is just much variation in cupcakes, and I know there is. I just need to figure out how to make a maple-bacon muffin to yell “HAH! We have bacon too!” and then not drench it is chocolate frosting. Mmm, bacon.

Anyways, an afternoon experiment of going, “nah, I don’t want to bake,” to one of my sisters, then thinking, hmm, I haven’t made muffins in a while…, googling, and then yelling something like “LETS MAKE MUFFINS!” and running into the  kitchen:

Spice Muffins (or, better than cake. Period.)

10 T softened STICK butter (I used salted, so that is why there is no salt in this recipe)
1 cup sugar
2 (large) eggs
1 T baking powder
1 C milk
1 to 2 t each: powdered nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon

(if using unsalted butter, 1 t salt)
2 muffin tins (greased or with liners)
Pre-heat oven to 350° F.

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, baking powder, spices (and salt). Beat until fully combined.

Add flour and milk in alternating additions (so, flour, milk, flour, milk, flour). Mix until just blended.

Using a 1/4 C measuring cup and a rubber spatula, put about 1/4 C of batter into each muffin dent. This should make about 17 muffins (om nom nom). Sprinkle the top of each muffin with some cinnamon sugar (see below).

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove, cool, eat. Yummy.

Cinnamon Sugar:
1/2 C sugar
1 T cinnamon

Mix well in a wee bowl.

Mmmmmm, muffins.

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if you give a chocodile a cake

Surely I am not the only one who remembers the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie book and all of its spin offs… and all of the moralizing lessons of the more you give, the more they take. Well, a chocodile is a different beast. The chocodile is uninterested in bedtime stories, drawing pictures, or sweeping the house. All it wants is chocolate. The key difference between the common chocoholic and the chocodile is as follows: the chocodile is the distant were-cousin of the chocoholic. The chocoholic is presented with a constant desire to eat chocolate. All forms, all flavors, at all times. The chocodile does not suffer from this compulsion.

For the most part, the chocodile leads a normal life, free from the nagging cravings for chocolate that come with chocoholism.

But then there comes that moment, possibly after emotional or physical stress where the chocodile appears. The chocodile is so desperate for chocolate that if anyone gets in its way, heaven and earth may not be enough to save them. It hunts its prey in all forms, staring at bar after bar after bar sitting in the candy aisle or on the check out lane and the chocodile wants them all.

The scenario becomes more interesting if the chocodile in question is a broke college student, staring blankly at a low bank account balance and wishing for more money to buy chocolate. It can become moody, aggravated, and perhaps a little emotionally unbalanced.

HAVE NO FEAR! That is, if you have invested in cocoa. Were you aware that somewhere out there, the Chocodile Hunter has invented a quick way to soothe the suffering that comes on in the werewolf-like attack of chocodileness? He has. Five-Minute Microwave Chocolate Cake exists!

To appease the rampaging chocodile, simply do as follows:

Five Minute Chocolate Cake (or, chocodile kryptonite)

1 large coffee mug
4 tablespoons non-rising flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
Small splash of vanilla

Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, and baking powder in the mug. Add the egg, combine thoroughly. Add milk, oil, and vanilla, mix well.

Microwave for 2.5 to 3 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for a few moments. If necessary, stick a fork in immediately and give it to the chocodile. Do try to make them share, because this really can be two servings.

All in all, its quick, easy, and appeases that devilish chocolate craving rather quickly. Another way to stop a chocodile rampaging is to give it hot chocolate or chocolate milk.

Feel free to do the following if you feel the above is inadequately decadent:

Chocolate Chips: feel free to add up to 3 tablespoons of chocolate chips to this. Beware, they may sink.

Other Goodies: Whipped cream, your favorite fruit that pairs with chocolate, a drizzle of caramel syrup, and a drizzle of chocolate syrup can make this a master piece of chocolate cake. Allow the cake to cool before topping with the cream, else the cream will melt.

say yes to the pizza zombie

PIIIIIZZZZZAAAAA

College has perks. Along with mountains of reading, equations, and cursing at the computer when it crashes, you get things like the ubiquitous college nights around town.

Here, it is a weekly excuse for a large part of the student population to band together, squish around the smallest table possible, and collectively rumble “PIIIIZZAAAAA.” College students are pizza zombies. We pursue the greasy, bready, cheesy goodness with the veracity that a zombie pursues brains. After we have glutted ourselves, we shamble home and fall into bed, deep in the throes of a food coma.

I’m sure not every college night is reminiscent of a zombie attack, but they have one thing in common: relatively cheap food. Knowing the time and location of such a frenzy can prove useful in many ways. To begin with, you can’t always cook. It is preordained that at some point, your stack of undone homework with grow arms and teeth and suck you in, chomping happily away as it goes. This is when you need to escape. You need to run as far and as fast from that finals created monster and seek shelter with your own kind. This is a wonderful excuse to become a pizza zombie. Second, it provides ample location and impetus to get your friends together and shoot the breeze for a while. Third,you have no dishes to wash. That is always a plus.

Don’t forget your server. Tip them decently and try not to make an ass of yourself. They have to deal with you zombies and your craving for pizza, after all. Also, it will help keep them from considering Rule 2.

“Rule 2: The Double Tap”
– Zombieland

lies… and granola

I suppose you’ve been taught that you can’t use a dry measuring cup to measure liquid ingredients.

For our purposes, it is a lie and perhaps a trick of the cooking toy industry to make us buy more items and fill our kitchen drawers with “nifty” kitchen gadgets.

In science-land, we wouldn’t use something meant for measuring something dry for measuring a liquid, but this is not science land. This is somewhere between art (nearly everything goes) and science (you want to what with what? No! At least, not until you know why). And in the names of expediency, convenience, and art, I say you can use the stupid dry cup to measure your liquids.

Before the smarm begins and I am informed that I am wrong, that there is a vast difference in volume, etc… let me explain. Yesterday, I ran a quasi-scientific test with dry cups and a liquid cup and discovered the following: if you fill a dry cup to the brim, it holds the same amount of water as I had measured out in the shiny glass one for liquids. Going across the kitchen with a brimming cup may be difficult, but it might just save you time and washing.

And now, for the hippie kibble. Although it might seem like something you’d find being toted by your local sandal wearing, patchouli scented tree-hugger, granola is more. For one, it makes oatmeal palatable and serves as a quick way to a more complete breakfast if you throw it into a cup (or bowl) of yogurt. Second, if you already enjoy granola, it is cheaper to make your own. Instead of paying three bucks for 12 oz of the stuff, you can buy the ingredients and be set for at least double that (which is about what the recipe below makes). Third, if you don’t like dried cranberries, you don’t have to eat them. The same goes for things such as sunflower seeds and wheat germ. You can have your granola just the way you like it.

Basic Granola

4 cups oatmeal
1.5 to 2 cups of your choice of whole nut(s) or .75 to 1 cup chopped
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon of the following: ginger, all-spice, nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking pan with upturned edges.

Roughly chop the nuts if you don’t have the pre-chopped kind. Mix them with the oatmeal and spices and set aside.

In a small sauce pan, combine oil, honey, vanilla, and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.

Drizzle syrup over oat and nut mix and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour mix onto pan, level out the mixture across the pan, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove, allow to cool, and store in an airtight container.

Yes, it really is that simple. I bake it half a batch at a time, just to get more crisp everywhere.

You can dress this up, but it can’t get much more naked than it already is. Some possibilities (note, what I make is above, this is where you get to be creative):

Dried Fruit – add 1/2 to 1 cup of your favorite dried berry or chop up your favorite dried fruit and throw it in.

Sticky Stuff – If you aren’t the biggest fan of honey, substitute agave nectar or maple syrup.

Don’t be afraid to throw something else in either.

And on the technology side, if you don’t have a pan with edges, put aluminum foil on the pan and fold the edges up, voila, edged pan! Foil is our friend.

“I did not consume any food, drink or product from any of the hotels for fear of sabotage. The cooler was full of incredibly top-secret and potentially illegal water, cereals, jams, bread, salt, pepper, butter, etc.”
– Lance Armstrong

toasted… cake?

College.

For some people, this is the best time of their life. For others, not so much. I am not sure where I stand on this. I am 20, a sophomore in Environmental Engineering, and my arch-nemesis is the campus cafeteria.

Toasted Cake is an homage to the questions of “What do I eat?”, “When do I eat it?”, and “How do I cook it?!” and some of the insane urges, such as considering cake in the toaster, that come with trying to eat, cook, and pass classes at the same time.

The third question can be the most daunting in college. Sometimes, you have no kitchen. Other times, you have no ingredients. Or, you have no money and no time. Sometimes, all of these are true. I can’t help in that case. If you have a kitchen, I can help. My goal is accessible food for college students. I will do my best to avoid ingredients that are a) not found in an average store and b) so expensive you could pay for a few credit hours of class with them. I will try to keep techniques easy and times short.

Keep in mind, food is somewhere between an art and a science. Creativity is needed. Not every recipe is the be-all and end-all of what it can be. Almost countless variations exist in what we can do with food. Cooking for one (or two or three) should not feel the same way as taking the test that is 50% of your grade or writing the paper that determines if you pass the class or not. Cooking should be fun.

So go ahead, play with your food.

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