This Week’s Muffin: “Best” Blueberry

I posted a recipe for Jamesy’s Hearty Blueberry muffins just a few weeks ago, but another blueberry recipe has been calling to me for a while, so I indulged. The previous ones have a hearty, wholesome flavor while these are the prototypical blueberry muffin complete with crumb topping.

Best Blueberry Muffins

As you can see, I could have baked them a little longer, but I’m still learning the ins and outs of my silicon muffin pan, which sometimes browns things on the bottom if I’m not careful.

BEST BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

Adapted from Cooking Classy

Ingredients

    • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 7 Tbsp canola oil (measure 1/2 cup, remove 1 Tbsp)
    • 1/4 cup buttermilk
    • 1/4 cup sour cream
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Crumb Topping
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp chilled butter, diced into small cubes
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp turbinado sugar
  1. For the crumb topping: Put flour, granulated sugar, turbinado sugar and diced butter into a bowl. Use a pastry cutter to combine until evenly mixed and crumbly.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until evenly blended, set aside.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together 1 cup granulated sugar, canola oil, buttermilk, sour cream and eggs until well blended, about 30 seconds.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, fold in flour mixture just until combined. Gently fold in blueberries.
  5. Divide mixture evenly among 12 muffin cups lined with paper liners or coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle each muffin evenly with 1 Tbsp crumb topping mixture.
  6. Bake muffins in preheated oven 18 – 22 minutes, until lightly golden and toothpick inserted in the center of muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool several minutes in muffin pan before removing to wire rack to cool.

Are Computers Changing Us or Are They Just Another Tool?

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Sometimes I dream about starting a small group or worshiping community built around listening to podcasts and discussing them together. There are so many provocative ones that are secular, yet lend themselves to spiritual and ethical reflection: The Truth, Radiolab, New Tech City (which I’ve written about recently), and even certain segments of Pop Culture Happy Hour.

The latest is Invisibilia, which sadly has finished its season. But that gives you plenty of time to get caught up if you’ve missed it. The latest episode, Our Computers, Ourselves, was outstanding and great fodder for Spirituality in the Smartphone Age—both the book and the workshop. If you take a multi-day class with me on this topic you WILL listen to excerpts of this podcast!

The first segment follows Thad Starner, a professor at Georgia Tech who’s been wearing a computer for decades now. It’s like a home-grown Google Glass that helps him record what he’s doing, call up thoughtful details about people he’s talking to (“how’s your daughter adjusting to college?”), and much more. Thad sees his wearable computer as no different than eyeglasses—a tool that helps him make his way in the world. He sees no downside. Is he right? Does this strike some people as creepy just because it’s so new? Or is a computer that integrates with us so seamlessly—that helps us think, and on some level thinks itself—somehow different than an inert thing like a pair of spectacles? And is a smartphone really that different from a wearable computer?

The second segment is about a man who started a Twitter account to publish pictures of boorish behavior on the New York subway. At first, the affirmation he received for posting the pictures provided validation and helped him let go of his indignation. Then he began to crave the attention and got snarkier and snarkier… until the N train fought back. A great reflection about the psychology of Internet venting. (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t help you let the bad feelings go. Quite the opposite.)

Check out Our Computers, Ourselves on Invisibilia. And tell me what you think.

Image is from the Invisibilia website.

The Art and Craft of Not Being a Racist

Thanks to my friend Amy Hemphill for sharing this video, in which Jay Smooth turns a critical (side) eye to the Academy Awards. While this year’s presentation was the most “explicitly political” Oscars ceremony in years, the academy selections and nominees also managed to represent “the most exclusionary, white-ish, dudebro-ish” aspect of Hollywood.

Even if you care nothing for the Oscars, you owe it to yourself to watch this short 5 minute video. Especially if you’ve ever said to yourself, “I can’t be [racist/sexist/homophobic], I’m a good person.”

To that Jay says: There is nothing that does more to perpetuate injustice than good people who assume that injustice is caused by bad people.

The message is an especially potent one for those of us in the church, given the ways we both perpetuate the status quo without intending to, AND give ourselves a pass because we consider ourselves to be nice people who mean well.

Watch, think, and learn. And tend to your craft.

This Week’s Muffin: Pistachio Chai

I had a helper this time!

IMG_7175 IMG_7176This is a great recipe for kid helpers. Mine will help shell pistachios if they can eat some along the way. Whisking is always popular, and cutting open the tea bag is a fun step for littles. Twelve year old made the glaze.

Here they are pre-glazing:

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Enjoy!

from Cooking Light 2011 Makes 12 muffins

INGREDIENTS

7.9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 3/4 cups)
3.5 ounces (1/2 cup packed) brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 chai blend tea bags, opened
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1/3 cup shelled dry-roasted pistachios, chopped
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water

PREPARATION

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Place 12 muffin-cup liners in muffin cups; coat liners with cooking spray.

2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut open tea bags; add tea to flour mixture, stirring well.

3. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk, butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and egg in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

4. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle nuts evenly over batter. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack.

5. Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon water, stirring until smooth. Drizzle evenly over muffins.

 

 

Days Like Grass

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It’s the first Ash Wednesday in 12 years that I won’t be dipping my finger into a small pot of ashes and tracing the sign of the cross on the foreheads of people I love and serve.

On the upside, I don’t have to make the call about canceling services tonight, as the threat of a snow squall looms right at evening rush hour.

Last night I brainstormed possible Lenten disciplines and came up with about fifteen different things I might try. Gee, overcompensating much?

It’s so easy to get into competitive Lentening. No spiritual Crossfit for me, though. In the next few days I will settle on a couple simple practices that draw me closer to God. For today I am pondering time and mortality.

Would you believe a clickbaity post–a listicle, no less–is part of that pondering? Thank you to my brother for posting this to Facebook, 23 Facts about Time. It’s light, but fascinating and even thought-provoking.

Things you think are eternal are not. Other things are more timeless than you might realize.

But in all things, remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

It’s one of the most important things we do in the church, to trace the truth of Psalm 103 on one another’s foreheads:

As for mortals, their days are like grass;
   they flourish like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
   and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of God is from everlasting to everlasting.

…longer than calculus, the Pyramids, or Betty White.

~

Image: a friend posted this to Facebook–I’m trying to find out the source for permission and attribution.