Monday, March 17, 2014

More Muffins!

More muffins!
I've been promising to get this recipe up and available for a few people, partly because I'm terrible at remembering to write more than one email, but mostly because I hadn't gotten the recipe actually written down until just now.

Here we go:

  1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  1 cup quick-cooking oats
  1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  2 teaspoons baking powder
  1/2 teaspoon salt
  1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  1 egg, lightly beaten
  1 cup (8 ounces) plain yogurt
  1/4 cup butter, melted
  2 tsp vanilla
  1 cup chopped cherries
  1/3 cup chocolate chips

First thing you need to know, is this turns out somewhere closer to a really sticky dough than a batter. A little like oatmeal cookie dough, if I were to compare it to anything. That's good, that's how it's supposed to be.
The vanilla is a minimum, honestly. My hand slipped the first time, and I'm pretty sure I ended up with rather more than a tablespoon. It was wonderful.
As for the yogurt, I've been using that 0% fat plain Greek yogurt. It works great for the texture, and I think it makes the muffins just slightly tart, which works wonders with the dark tart cherries I've been using. (turns out it works with regular, full fat yogurt, too)
I have discovered that Costco, once a year or so, has frozen cherries in stock. I have a bag of the dark tart ones, and to get them ready I just chop them roughly, the largest pieces being halves. I haven't had access to fresh cherries, but I'm pretty sure they would be tasty, too.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the first six ingredients thoroughly, then mix in the egg, yogurt, butter and vanilla until the mixture is moist. Fold in the cherries and chocolate.
Make sure you grease the muffin cups well, fill each cup about two-thirds to three-quarters full.
They'll need 18-22 minutes, or until they're lightly golden and have no obvious wet spots left on top. You can also check with a toothpick, and if it comes out clean, they're good, or if they feel firm when you tap them.

These come out dense and a little chewy, and transport very well. I bag them up and toss them in my backpack and they don't squish or turn to crumbs before I get a chance to snack.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It's just muffin!

I've been working with this muffin recipe lately... It started out pretty good, I have to admit, but I'm a firm believer in stuffing breakfast muffins as full of tasty goodness as is, well, tasty. So, I've been making batch after batch of these things. Partly because I want to keep tweaking the recipe, but mostly because they keep getting eaten so quickly.

I'm considering that a good sign.

I somehow got it into my head that I really wanted oatmeal muffins, and I had bananas that were...well, only good for baking at best. So I dug through about fifteen or so recipes, and settled on this recipe as my starting point.

After a few weeks of messing about, though, I've made a few slight alterations, though I'm not sure if the adjustment to the moisture content was necessary because I live in a desert, or because I'm not using the quick-cook oats.

Maybe they cook the same as quick-oats, I don't know... I have a terrible confession to make- I hardly ever eat oatmeal. I don't like it. But in muffins, well, that's another matter.

The second change...I added chocolate chips. Who doesn't like chocolate in muffins? I add in a handful of chocolate chips, probably about a third of a cup (I have large hands, so that's an easy scoop) and chop the pecans and chips roughly, so that I get some smaller bits of chocolate and some whole chips. I aim to end up with a heaping cup of the pecan-chocolate chip mix.

After my slight adjustments, the recipe looks more like this:

  3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
  1 teaspoon baking powder
  1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  1/4 (heaping, for me) teaspoon ground nutmeg
  2 egg whites
  1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)
  1/4-1/3 cup packed brown sugar (depending on how sweet you want them)
  1/3 cup milk
  1/4 cup canola oil
  1 heaping cup chopped pecans and chocolate chips

You notice all the 'heaping' measures. It's not a terribly fussy recipe, and you can tweak these around to taste.

1-In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites, bananas, brown sugar, milk and oil. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in pecans.
2-Coat muffin cups with cooking spray; fill two-thirds full with batter. Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
3- let them cool just as long as you can bear before trying one of your delicious muffin creations.

Some tips and why to try them-

Don't try saving bowls by just dumping all the ingredients in and mixing.
There are several reasons: one, mixing the first six ingredients breaks up and evenly distributes the baking soda and powder (and the spices), which otherwise tend to clump terribly on contact with moisture and taste pretty bad when you find a plain lump. Second, beating the sugar and the rest breaks up the bananas and egg whites, and works some air into the mix, keeping what could be a very dense recipe just a little lighter.

This recipe does make one dozen (12) muffins, but with the extra ingredients you are going to fill the cups pretty full. I just evenly distribute the batter with the measuring cup I used on the milk. You have heavy ingredients, so you'll want to keep scraping the bowl to mix things up, even as you're scooping the batter.

They'll be ready when the tops are firm and dry looking, and bounce back when tapped (instead of feeling gooey or sinking) and they turn this lovely dark gold. Or you can use the clean-knife trick, just know the chocolate chips will always be messy and if you leave any chunks of banana they'll stick to the knife no matter how done your muffin is... well, there may be limits to that, too...


(I finally got around to cleaning this post up a bit! Yay!)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Character Design and how bacon saves lives

First, bacon saved our lives this week. Seriously. It was one of those weeks on the semester where everything comes due all at once right after one of those hellish weeks where you slipped just far enough behind to feel like you'll never catch up ever again and all of a sudden you're pulling an all- nighter every other night and it's all you can do to appear mentally stable in class the next day and who can even mention actually turning in homework or taking that test?
...And so we come to bacon. That wonderful little packet of bacon that we bought as a treat a week ago, thinking nothing more of it than 'wow, last week was hectic, but we survived it, here's our reward'. Little did we know that bacon was to be our coping and survival mechanism, emotionally and it seemed physically, for the next week.
I would be up till three and have to get up at six, I would wake up to the smell of bacon frying. Martin would face down a brutal day full of angsty student teachers, pop quizzes and sudden deadlines, and come home to smell bacon.
It doesn't take much to make our whole apartment smell beautifully of frying bacon, and we've made that little packet last... but we just ate the last bite, and now all I think we can do is hope next week is not nearly so hectic.

One of the things that made this week so crazy was the fact that all of my midterms were due... split between only two days. Art midterms are a bit different from what most of you are accustomed to. In most art classes, we get projects throughout the semester, and these projects take anywhere from seven to thirty+ hours to complete. When the project comes due, we bring them into class, set them up for everyone to see, and sit down and spend the next few hours taking turns presenting our work to be analyzed, critiqued, and... kind of torn apart. In a matter-of-fact, my-turn-is-next, I-really-hope-this-helps kind of way, because then you have however long is left until midterms to fix whatever was found lacking in your piece.
You don't get a break in assignments, though. They just keep coming. Which means that uuusually most of the redoes are pushed off until the last few days before midterms and you pull several all-nighters getting all of the touch-ups, repaints, redraws, and overhauls finished just barely in time to turn them in.
Yesterday (or really, last night at midnight) the redraws of all my character designs were due. (That morning at eight it had been two other paintings for my senior studio class)
So, without further ado, here's a little peek at my character designs. Next post I'm thinking of doing a little walk-through of how I did these :)

It'll be a lot less wordy, I promise.

 An aboriginal medicine doctor. His name, we've decided, is Bric.
 A circus stilt-walker.
A villain. His name is Mathis Jostad. The prompt was to create a 'soft' villain. That was the entire prompt. Immediately I knew that for me, the most terrifying villains are the ones that are so soft spoken that the way you know you're in trouble is they get quieter and calmer the more angry or dangerously excited they get...he's one of those.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Things that are happening...

I have some projects in the works. Some you will see sooner than later. Some will take considerably more time :3
As for the sooner, I really am just waiting until I can get a good sunny day or access to a scanner, whichever comes first (though the scanner seems much more imminent at the moment...) I'll be able to get some of my digital work up a lot faster:
A quick color study for a piece I'll be finishing (hopefully next week) in acrylic inks.

My new facebook banner...I've never had one before, ad it was starting to feel a little barren looking...

...but I've been taking a head painting class, and the required medium is oil, which is a bit more difficult to digitize than other media. Also, apparently really difficult for me in general.
It feels like it's fighting me tooth and nail, but I really feel like I'm making great strides in a lot of ways, artistically, as I work out my problems with oil paints. And with each success I'm coming to love these paints more and more.
I've also recently discovered acrylic inks, and I've decided those are the best thing since toast. And I love toast. As soon as this piece for my senior studies class is done I'll see how it scans. ...And how it turns out before I scan it.
Anyway, as for the later, I can start sharing some teasers right now. Martin and I are working on a super-not-quite secret project that we have yet to decide how many details we will divulge about later. Here's some of the initial concept items, though-

One more big thing! I am starting an Etsy store! I've started carving small shell pendants, and I'm going to be selling watercolor and ink drawings. This week I'm going to be stocking the store, and next week it goes live! I'll be posting with the name and address of the store, so be sure to check it out. Initial proceeds go towards a scanner (so that I don't have to hunt down a functioning scanner on campus anytime I want to show anyone anything) and then to fixing my printer.

See you all next post!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

'Quick' study

It was supposed to be a quick warm-up sketch before I got to my homework... but then I started noodling. Ah well. Didn't turn out to badly :)
Reference photo found here on pinterest...

Oh! Also, I'm still alive ;)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A brief feature...

I have a piece I've been wanting to show the in-progress of so bad, but my professor hasn't given it back to me yet, so I don't have a good picture of the final product. I think it's going to be another few days before I can get that post up.
In the meantime, for my folklore class, I'm writing a sort of investigative paper on webcomic artists, and how their fans and admirers affect their experience as artists. A few of these artists I've been following for years, (since high school, even) and they've had quite a hand in influencing where my art is today.
Interviewing them has just proved to me that they are as awesome, grounded, and excited about life as they'd appeared through their blogs and comics. These guys are great.

So, continuing my comic feature from ages ago, here's three more amazing webcomic artists (who I now know more about than ever before and are way cooler than I'd ever thought!)

Based out of Finland, University student Minna Sundberg somehow manages to create a page a day of this beautifully crafted multi-media webcomic A Redtail's Dream. 24-year-old Hannu and his dog, Ville, are enlisted by the great and powerful spirit Puppy Fox to fix a grievous error on his part before the council of elder foxes gets out and notices how badly he messed up in watching the Northern Lights while they were away. 
...I'm really not doing this any justice. The art is breathtaking, the story absolutely wonderful, and it is a definite must read.

Second for today is Nimona

Written and drawn by Noelle Stevenson, Nimona updates on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It has already won a couple of awards, and is slated for publication by HarperCollins in 2015.

"Lord Ballister Blackheart has a point to make, and his point is that the good guys aren't as good as they seem. He makes a comfortable living as a supervillain, but never really seems to accomplish much - until he takes on a new sidekick, Nimona, a shapeshifter with her own ideas of how things should be done. Unfortunately, most of those ideas involve blowing things up. Now Ballister must teach his young protégé some restraint and try to keep her from destroying everything, while simultaneously attempting to expose the dark dealings of those who claim to be the protectors of the kingdom - including his former best friend turned nemesis, Ambrosius Goldenloin."

Noelle's terrifically unique art style is completely charming, and belies the careful and deceptively solid plot and complex characters. The totally anachronistic world is hilarious and whimsical, and feels like you can read whatever sardonic social commentary you would like into it, but on the surface is just funny and entertaining.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


And a long weekend! Yay!

Also, I really need to clean off my desk. I'm sitting here with my elbows in trying not to lean on anything or bump anything over as I move about. It's been one of those weeks.
...After lunch. I'll start then.

Anyway, yesterday I woke up really early. That doesn't mean I actually got up that early, but I woke up then. And that's where the problem started. When I wake up early but don't get up, it does really funny things to me and I typically end up getting nothing done at all for the rest of the day. My surefire trick to breaking free of that funk, though, is sketching. Figure drawing is my favorite. Really fast gestures, no longer than thirty seconds, typically. On Fridays at my university there's an open draw session where they have live models come in and you can go sketch for free, but I'd already bummed around the apartment long enough to miss that (sad day) so I went to my favorite fallback, the figure and gesture drawing tool over at pixel lovely.
I spent a good long while making completely unintelligible scribbles all over my new sketchbook with my copic markers, which have hardly seen any use of late. I'd forgotten how great those things are.

Later that night, I was still kind of in the swing of things, so I decided I wanted to try my hand at something a little more finish. There's this model on deviantart, Devin Willow who does modeling and photography, and is just always inspiring to me, so I pulled up one of her latest portraits and did my best with it...

Not a terribly good likeness, but not a very bad drawing...

And there's my day. :)