Monthly Archives: October 2012

Hawaiian Banana Coconut Streusel Muffins

One of dearest professor’s spouses passed away last night.

I think all of us had a hard time staying focused after hearing the news. I know my mind was full of a whirlwind of thoughts.

What happens when it’s somebody who’s really close to you?

I can’t even begin to imagine. I thank my lucky stars that I can’t, but I can’t. I can’t. Period.

Sometimes those moments creep up on me and everything suddenly stops. Maybe I’m in the middle of scanning Beowulf. Maybe I’m standing in the kitchen half-listening as my mom chatters away at me while she’s making ma po tofu. Maybe I’m just sitting there thinking about something completely unrelated, like how I really want to make marshmallow Tigger Tails for Halloween.

The spoon stops stirring. The scanning is suspended. Whatever I’m doing, stops.

My parents aren’t going to be around for the rest of my life. Neither are my grandparents, or brother, or friends or mentors or cousins or aunts or uncles or all the people I know and love so dearly.

Wallflour Power: “Courage is not the lack of fear. It is acting in spite of it.” –Mark Twain

I have a really, really hard time wrapping my mind around that. I always thought I could handle the thought of it when the time came, in theory, but now I’ve been thrown off by something so removed from myself that I just. Can’t. Imagine.

And here I am, uploading photos and writing and trying to sort it all out.

It’s always a sign of how much somebody is respected when everyone around him or her feels the blow almost as keenly as if it had happened to them.

Another incredibly difficult thing I never had to think about was how you say you’re sorry when somebody has just lost their life partner, their significant other, their soulmate.… Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Muffins

Cheesecake-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes w/Coffee Cinnamon Frosting

It’s still Thursday already Friday somewhere in the world! Thank God.

I may or may not have been blasting some Rebecca Black as I started a new page for this post.

One of the best parts of having an entire two-room bedroom apartment to yourself is that anything goes the moment your pinky toe crosses that blessed threshold.

Rocking out to One Direction and Carly Rae Jepsen into the weest of the wee hours? Of course.

Staying up all night at Disney movie marathon sleepovers that would make fifth-grade girls emerald with envy? Uh, yeah.

Dunking your entire hand into the bowl of cake batter instead of reaching for a mixing spoon because it’s in a drawer that’s ten whole feet away from you? Now we’re talking, my friend.

Lounging on your couch like a boss on a Thursday night in nothing but what your momma gave you and with a glass of pinot noir in your well-manicured hand?

Okay, I haven’t tried that last one. Yet. Apparently maintenance has the key to every apartment in this building, meaning they are allowed to come in without so much as a “hello resident-on-whose-territory-we-are-totally-intruding, you should really put your fig leaves over whatever you don’t want exposed to these eyes.”

Of course, by the time I’m finished with this kamikaze quarter of teaching, coursework, and having a social life the size of a pea, I may just throw in (or rather, away) the towel, grab my fig leaves, and start lounging to my heart’s content. With my pinot noir. For which I will accordingly acquire a refined taste that I currently don’t possess.

As with most things that don’t involve legal persecution or intense self-reevaluation of my worth as a human being, I grossly exaggerate here. My social life has actually been moving along quite swimmingly as of late, thank you very much.… Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes

Magic Cookie Butter Bars

When’s the last time you felt so happy or inspired by something that you squealed, or wanted to really, really badly?

This week has been full of those moments. This week has also been a total vortex of busybody heckishness, resulting in a sleep-deprived mental state and horribly dry left eye. It’s funny how often these two go hand in hand, isn’t it? Emotional schizophrenia can be so tiring! I’d really rather just wrestle a grizzly bear or something.

I’m sure that would be much easier than grading a bunch of papers on Call of the Wild or Winnie-the-Pooh.

 Fortunately, right when I reach the point where I’m ready to throw in the towel and stalk the forests in order to satisfy my primordial instincts of bloodlust, something good usually happens.

To give you an example: early this morning I arrived at the office to find one of the other TA’s looking completely faint. Her first ever guest lecture was in a half hour’s time, and she had spent weeks exhausting herself over preparing for it. We talked about it and agreed that it was just a matter of getting it over with, and that she’d do just fine.

She even told me how she’d been thinking about how I lead discussions, and don’t get overly worked up over whether I know every little bit of info ever written about Lewis Carroll, because I love turning those gaps into a dialogue between my students and myself.

Flour Power: “When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?””I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.” –Winnie the Pooh, A.A.
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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bars

Pina Colookies (with a Cheesecake Surprise!)

Wait. Back up. Why didn’t anyone warn me about this movie?

You know, the whole Ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind and a freakin cute-as-heck blue mutant pet learns to love one?

Yeah. Talk about a bawl-fest at my crib last night.

My friend and I had a Disney movie marathon last night. A pack of tissues may have been lethally wounded over the course of the evening. The event might have involved the unleashing of an entire army of Disney stuffed animals.

Maybe. I’m not fessing up to anything except that we made these adorable Mickey Mouse pumpkin pancakes to celebrate:

We also might have had delicious food that my friend made for us. Again, whether or not I own something as embarrassing as stuffed Disney paraphernalia, I’ll let you decide.

As you can tell, I plead the fifth on that count. No self-incrimination here.

There may have been a tad more guilt involved in the making of this amazing amalgamation, which was entirely in keeping with the theme of Stitch’s rather mutant, unknown history. And really, what better way to celebrate a fictional account of an alien apocalypse in Hawaii than to make a fun, tropics-themed dessert?

If you didn’t already know, this stuffed cookie was inspired by the challenge Julie is hosting over at Willow Bird Baking. As you’re no doubt aware, she’s a fantastic gal and it’s always a pleasure creating things she’ll happily share!

The only problem with rewatching Disney films that you haven’t seen since you were about yay high (imagine me Lilo-sized–not that I’ve really grown since the fifth grade) is that you pick up on so much more that you never noticed the first time.

Crying during the ohana scenes. Check.

Understanding the total MAIN STORY about Lilo getting taken away from her big sister.… Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cookies

Apple Pie Streusel Bread

THIS POST IS DEDICATED TO APPRECIATING THE EDUCATORS AND TEACHERS IN OUR LIVES.

This has an embarrassing amount nothing to do with the fact that I’ve just started teaching an undergraduate course.

Have you ever had a teacher you respected to the core?

Like an apple core–you know, strong, sturdy, and full of so many little seeds of great ideas?

Now that I’m a full-fledged apple-core teacher of sorts, I’ve also crowned myself queen of magnificent metaphors. Because apparently everything I says actually has weight now, or at least so I’ve gathered from the fact that every ounce of word vomit that spews forth from my lips is written down by a dozen zealous pen-wielding university undergrads.

Funflour Fact #7: Did you know that (according to www.fotps.org) the average teacher…a) Spends an average of $443 per year of their own money to meet the needs of their students, and b) spend an average of 50 hours per week on all teaching duties, including non-compensated school-related activities such as grading papers, bus duty and club advising? 

Teachers have been on my mind a lot lately. Just last week, I graded my first full batch of papers and nearly flew off my rocker at the sheer amount of work that goes into such a seemingly “simple” task.

Probably the only thing we got right about our teachers when we were still little bright-eyed brats was that they basically live in their classrooms. I’m stuck in my office at 9 PM as I type this, but I guess that’s about the same thing. And until I started teaching this fall term, I never really–I mean really–appreciated how much our teachers have done and continue to do for us.

Just this morning, I attempted to channel massive levels of anxiety into productive writing energy for nearly half of my students, whose second paper is due this week.… Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bread, Fruit Desserts

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

“Meltdown” seems to be the word of the week over in these parts.

As a consequence, I’ve chosen to melt down one of my favorite desserts and turn it into a completely acceptable breakfast liquid substitute. This smoothie found inspiration in Erica‘s recipe of the same, but you’ll find that the ingredients are about as similar as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Oscar Wilde.

If you can’t tell, I’m doing a lot of thinking about Oscar Wilde at the moment. I’m doing archival research at the premier Wilde institute possibly the world round and am, in fact, currently demonstrating my unconditional commitment to the process by writing this post in the archival tombs. Again.

Wallflour Power: A great idea for combating the meltdown syndrome is by starting with small reminders about great things that have recently happened to you. Every night before I go to bed, I write a post-it with something that made me smile during the day. When I have a bad day, I take a few minutes to look at my wall-ful of colorful post-its, and it never fails to bring a spark of inspiration back into my life!

More importantly, though, I’m teaching, and the bulk of this current week’s meltdown comes in the form of not having done any of my own work this week…although this may have had more to do with the fact that I went to an epic family banquet all day on Saturday, and spent my entire Sunday at Disneyland rather than with dear Wilde.

I am, undoubtedly, one of the hardest workers within a two-centimeter radius of myself.

I justify my dalliance with the consolation that I really, really needed this break. After spending nearly 40 hours poring over two classes’ papers last week, and after skipping every single one of my extracurricular activities trying to phrase my comments on near-fail papers as constructively (and kindly) as possible, I came charging into this week nose-to-ground first.… Read more

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Filed under Smoothies

Pineapple Custard Coconut “Bun” Breakfast Braid

Before I get started on anything else, I wanted to let you all know for what fabulous occasion I made this (equally fabulous, if I say so myself) breakfast braid. If y’all don’t already know her, Julie from Willow Bird Baking is hosting her first challenge series ever and all of you should join! She’s fantastic. This week’s challenge is breakfast braids. And at the risk of exposing you to yet another countless hours logged browsing awesome blogs, I’m sending you on over there to check it out.

Do it.

Admit it–it sounds better to you than washing that pile of laundry glaring at you from the corner of your room.

So about this pineapple custard coconut bun.

Breakfast braid.

Hybrid thing.

Have you ever had a Chinese pineapple bun before? I’ve always wanted to try this recipe from Christine’s site, but a) I haven’t quite worked up the courage to make “fluffy” pastries yet, and b) I’m scared (read: terrified) out of my size who-knows-what pants even thinking about replicating a food that I grew up eating.

Because usually it ends up with my parents poking at it and going, “Ehhh, why you make this? Give up and buy from store already. Much better.”

Okay no, my parents don’t have absurdly martian accents. I just like to add them in for effect, sort of like I adopt a really corrupt British accent every time I imitate the snooty people I occasionally encounter in my department, even though I’m pretty sure all of them popped out of the womb singing “America, The Beautiful.”

It doesn’t really make sense. Neither do a lot of things in my pell-mell life, and neither do these hybridized, slightly mutant buns/bread that are deliciously awesome.

What’s special (or what I’d like to think is special) about them is that actually combine three awesome foods and jam them into one crazy concoction that actually resembles edible sustenance.… Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bread

DIY: Homemade Plain Yogurt

Guess who’s sitting in the reading room of a world-reknowned research library…

…writing on her food blog. I’m such a great academic, I know.

At least I don’t text while I’m at Disneyland. You know those rumored labyrinth of tunnels that runs underneath the theme park? I have it on good authority that they actually exist and, what’s more, that that’s where Ursula drags all the people who are texting and performs her “Poor Unfortunate Souls” solo. So that the next time you see them, it’ll be with their fins nailed to the floor singing a mermaid rendition of “It’s a Small World” in the infamous ride.

But really–who pays $100+ to walk into the happiest place on earth, plop down on the nearest bench, and have blase conversations with people hundreds of mile away about the recent film “Looper”?

I mean, it was a good film, bub, but let’s face it–it can wait. And frankly, nobody really cares if you thought there was a major flaw in the time warp logic, because time travel has nothing on JGL’s badass-ness…if that’s a word. It will be in four years when I come out with my doctorate. That’s the first word I’m going to coin. Badassness, read: JGL.

Speaking of acronyms, the world is chock full of acronym-based crazes these days–some great (like DIY) and some not so much (YOLO, anyone?). I’m personally a huge proponent of DIY, not least because:

a) it’s easy on the pocketbook,

b) it’s fresher (if we’re talking about food–I’m not sure whether a homemade sweater is any “fresher” than a store-bought one unless you shear the sheep yourself or something), and

c) it makes you feel like you actually possess some semblance of control over your otherwise untameable destiny.

Flour Power: There are plenty of DIY projects out there that are waiting to be created!
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Filed under Breakfast & Brunch, Homemade/DIY

“Sorry–It’s Still Summer!” Cinnamon Rolls (Raspberry Cheesecake Rolls with Lemon Icing)

With the plethora of pumpkin and autumnal recipes hitting the web these days, I thought we all needed a little reminding that it is not, in fact, autumn everywhere in the world. In some places, it’s legitimately springtime, and in others, it’s legitimately autumn but actually not because it doesn’t feel like autumn. It feels, in fact, like summertime. Still. In October.

So I say…

Why fight it? And if anyone says otherwise, you can just say what I say–

“Sorry–it’s still summer! And summer says I’m making these rolls.”

There are some bloggers who say, “Oh look, the calendar says it’s autumn–I guess it’s time to make autumn recipes! Hooray!” Don’t get me wrong–I love pumpkin and apple and cinnamon and pecan and the list could go on and on of recipes. I love them all; I’ve even posted my own fair share of them recently, like this pumpkin spiced granola or this delicious pumpkin pull-apart bread.

But if summer wants to overstay its equinox and beat me on the brow with high-90′s weather as I trudge to my classroom with enough brick-like books for a mason to build a house with, I say we fight back.

With…cinnamon rolls. Raspberry cheesecake ones, more specifically.

And tangy sweet lemon glaze. Very importanto.

Funflour Fact #6: Speaking of made-up sort-of-sounds-legit words (“importanto” is not, to my knowledge, a real word), did you know that the Spanish word for “pelican” is “pelicano,” and that words with the same etymological origins are called “cognates”?

What’s also very importanto is trying your hand at new things, like this fun challenge Julie is hosting over at Willow Bird Baking!

Flour Power: Feeling up for a challenge? Don’t forget to head on over to Julie’s blog and check out all the entries, and submit one of your own, too!
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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Fruit Desserts

Mediterranean Couscous and Kashk E-Bademjan

Happy belated Mid-Autumn Festival!

To celebrate, we went Greek. Which makes no sense if you don’t think about it–but if you do think about for just the teeniest bit, it starts to make a little sense.

…And if you do happen to find that nugget of sense, please let me know what it is, because I haven’t thought of it quite yet.

Last night I invited over the new recruits for our program (hooray, fresh blood!) who live in the same graduate student complexes as me. Mind-melting weather aside–a whopping 95 degrees in the dead of night–our motley crew really was a melting pot that made me glad I’d pulled my dishes so many different cuisines. We chatted over couscous and Kashk E-Badjemajan (a Persian eggplant and fried onion dip), Chinese garlic eggplant and honey “walnut” tofu (I used tempeh because one of the guys had a nut allergy), homemade sweet bread and cucumber salad. And of course, we had moon cakes.

Flour Power: I first ran into Kashk E-Bademjan in a Persian restaurant and just needed to make a copycat recipe…and now that I’ve done it, it feels great eating this scumptious dish in the comfort of my own kitchen! Next time you go out and have a great dish, go home and do some research, or go straight to your kitchen and give it a try if you’re feeling bold. You never know what you might come up with!

Do you know how absolutely terrifying it is cooking for somebody with nut and dairy allergies? I wouldn’t touch anything with nuts in them for the entire day (ever hear the story of the guy who died kissing his girlfriend, who had eaten peanut butter the day before? Holy. Cripes.), and I shoved anything with dairy in it to the wayyy back of my fridge so I wouldn’t accidentally, you know, use it.… Read more

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Filed under Appetizers, Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian