Will Found His Book! & Other News

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

So usually blog writing is my activity of choice at the semi-monthly meetings/write-ins with my writers' group. However, on Saturday I couldn't seem to think of anything significant that had happened in my life in the last couple of weeks aside from things that are affecting everyone, like the situation in Dallas, and writing about that ended up being a total bust. Anytime I try to write about something controversial, it seems that I completely change my adamant opinion the next day, so in general I try not to write about controversial stuff---at least not with the intention of posting it on the Internet. But in the last couple of days, I've remembered other significant things that have been happening in my life. Let's wrap up some loose ends from last post!

For starters, Will found his book. He was wrong about a lot of stuff. White was the color mentioned in the title, not the color of the band on the boy's head. It also does not appear to have been published by Scholastic, unless they bought the paperback rights to it later or something.

In other news, I have semi-officially quit learning Japanese. It just wasn't high on my priority list and kept getting pushed to the back burner. I'm not all that passionate about Japanese (though I think that it, like many languages is pretty rad) and I don't think it'll ever be "my hobby." So it's on to the next adventure!

The other day my friend Jamye came over for tea. At her request, we spent some time writing. That is, fiction--which I hadn't done much of in quite awhile. I really enjoyed it. Since then I've been missing it. So I think I'm going to work on getting back into writing--in a no-pressure, just for fun sort of way. I might make something worth sharing, and I might not, but as long as I'm having fun, it doesn't really matter.

I also let Jamye pick the book that I would read next from the selection on my shelf, with the condition that it must be a book that I have not read. She selected Jane Eyre. I haven't had the chance to actually sit down and read (if I waited for that, I might be waiting a loooong time), but I downloaded a free audio book version from Librivox, and I've been thoroughly enjoying it. At the moment I am on chapter twelve, about the time Jane meets Mr. Rochester. I'm already familiar with the plot because K.M. Weiland of Helping Writers Become Authors frequently uses it as a teaching reference for plotting and so on. So if you want to nerd out about Jane Eyre in the comments, go ahead and don't worry about spoilers.

I've also been on a bit of a cake baking spree today. I'm working on converting the chocolate recipe from the Happy Herbivore Light and Lean cookbook for a church event that's coming up in a couple of weeks. The recipe calls for white whole wheat flour, but I'm trying to convert it to gluten free using Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Blend, xanthan gum, etc. At the moment I don't have any chocolate chips, mini or otherwise, but I will definitely be adding them to the finished product for the aforementioned church event.

The large muffins are less than 200 calories each.
The small one is less than 100.

My first attempt (bottom left) was a bit too moist and maybe a bit too chewy. From there I started tweaking some more things.

For batch two (top). I changed the leavening to what the recipe originally called for and eliminated the xanthan gum. Both of changes left them kind of flat. I also reduced the baking temperature and baked it longer...and even longer than I intended, because I shut off the timer and then got distracted by something else, so that batch got kind of burnt. It wasn't overly moist though!

For batch three (right), I added back in some of the xanthan gum, but still less than batch one. I reduced the liquid by a couple of tablespoons, increased the leavening, and since the big muffin pan was still occupied with batch two, I used a standard sized muffin pan. This one doesn't appear to be overly moist/soggy, so I'd say it's my winner so far. They're pretty tasty with nut butter smeared on top too, though that might be a bit weird for some people, since I substituted 1/2 tsp peppermint extract in for the vanilla in all three batches.

 I'm still not quite satisfied with the recipe. The sugar quantity is low in the recipe to try to keep them healthy, but I think some extra sweetness would be welcome. My professional cake-eating opinion is that right now these are muffins, not cupcakes. I plan to add some stevia extract in the future.

I also think that part of the chewiness problem is related to the flour blend. In the future I might try substituting some of the Bob's Red Mill blend out for rice flour or oat flour, because I think less tapioca/potato starch in the flour mixture would be better for the texture, and the xanthan gum seems to be necessary for getting a proper rise. I've successfully made this recipe before with straight oat flour, but unfortunately I didn't write down the amount.

Also I have a confession to make: I write in cookbooks. Just mine though, not ones from the library or anything. And I use pencil. I don't understand people who are adamantly against writing in cookbooks. I mean, if a recipe is nasty, do you want to accidentally make it again? What if you liked it and your husband hated it? What if you need a slightly different amount of something to make it turn out great? I mean, I guess a person could put loose pieces of paper or sticky notes in their cookbooks, but I always misplace those. As you might be able to imagine, this particular page has lots of notes on it from the various idea trails I've followed. When I get it all perfected, I'll erase those and just leave the good notes, but for now, let the experimentation continue!

And do you know what else is wonderful about this? I have muffins to take to a potluck tomorrow. And as this  recipe refining process continues, I'll have lots of muffins. That's lots of excuses to have tea parties. So if you know me, and you live near me, and you want to get together for tea (or just cake), just let me know and we'll set up a time for you to come over and be a guinea pig for my muffins/cupcakes.

Logically the next topic to go to in this post should be diet and exercise, right? I'm still using Cron-O-Meter to track both and still finding it really useful.

Where the cupcakes were concerned, I was surprised to find that they're a pretty decent source of iron (1.8 mg/large muffin), because there's so much garbanzo and fava bean flour in the blend. They're also pretty filling for being a flour product and for how few calories they are. I think maybe part of that has to do with the protein content (3.5 g/lg muffin--again, because of the bean flour. This doesn't sound like much, but it's more protein than is in the hotdogs I grew up on).  I'm thinking that a) this means I should make more cupcakes and b) I should use this flour for other stuff too. So eventually I'm going to try making pasta with it and see how that goes. I've found a recipe that I think will work with my pasta maker.

Speaking of pasta, as I was making my meal plan for August, I found some recipes for vegan stuffed shells:

Now I've never had dairy-laden stuffed shells, so I won't have that to measure it against, but if they're tasty, they're tasty, right? Unfortunately, I can't seem to find gluten free jumbo pasta shells locally, so that makes the whole finding a good pasta maker friendly GF vegan pasta recipe thing kind of important.

I'm also still doing the workout I mentioned in my previous post several times each week, pedaling away on my Fitdesk most of the time when I'm at my computer, and trying to walk for any errands within a mile of my house (unless I would just have to carry too much stuff). I can definitely feel the difference in my body after doing it for a couple of weeks. The exercises are easier for me to do (and to keep up with), and when I'm going about my daily life I just feel stronger and more stable in my movements. I still cannot, however do even a single standard, unmodified pushup in good form, but I think I'll be able to move on from knee pushups to incline pushups soon.

Where the smartypants phone is concerned, my new favorite app is Google Keep. I will refrain from going on about this, since it's similar to other note-taking things and you probably already have a favorite (but if not, you should check it out. It's free).

I'm also still using Learnscripture.net and working through John, though mostly I use the website on my computer rather than the app, since I just have so many verses that I'm working on and I can finish reviewing much faster with a keyboard than a touch screen.

Now let's go back in time! I used to have a prayer board when I lived with my parents (3+ years ago) and found it really helpful, because otherwise I pray for like three minutes and run out of things to pray about. I just never got around to making a new one once I got married--until now. I still need to add some missionaries to the blank spot (and maybe rearrange some stuff so that it all fits), but it's mostly done.

So that's what's been going on with me recently. Leave your questions or comments down in the whatchemawho below, but beware--my hairless ghost lemur may haunt you in your dreams.

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