my parents buy their muffins from a vendor; i always thought it'd be more economical (and more delicious) to bake your own. but the muffins i make are never the same quality as the muffins i buy. store-bought muffins are bigger, more moist, and just taste better. so my mission was to see if i can replicate a store-bought blueberry muffin.

the key equipment i needed was a jumbo muffin tin, which i purchased yesterday from michael's with a single day 60%-off-one-item coupon (originally $9.49, paid only $4.04 including taxes). next was to gather the ingredients. i checked my cupboards beforehand. flour and sugar i had, as well as eggs. i had baking powder was it was old, expiration date may 2001. i proofed it in some hot water and it still bubbled up, but i didn't want to risk creating some bad muffins so i decided safer to get some new baking powder.

i went down to the basement to grab my utility bike. all that junk paul pulled from the basement 2 days ago and left outside on tuesday had miraculously disappeared. the basement - at least the 60% that belonged to steve - was super clean. paul had piled some more stuff in the pathway to my section of the basement and i had to move a few things in order to get my bike out (a cast-iron chandelier, a heavy door). that's when paul came down to the basement as well to do some more cleaning. we chatted briefly. he told me he sold his gloucester house on was relocating some items from storage, distributing most to his children. he showed me an old B&W photo of him back in high school, on some track team, he was quite handsome when he was young.

i went to market basket. i got some canola oil (32 fl. oz. $1.99), a bag of wild frozen blueberries (12 oz. $2.19), a carton of buttermilk (1 qt, 32 fl. oz. $1.59), and some baking powder (8.1 oz. $2.29).


3 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup frozen wild blueberries
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

the recipe i was following comes from sally's baking addiction. up until now i've only made muffins from store-bought mixes. the last time i made muffins might've been back in 2011, using miniature bundt cake molds.

a couple of things: i didn't realize frozen wild blueberries were so tiny. i also used 1 cup when the recipe called for 1-1/2 cups. i might've gotten the wrong buttermilk. i bought a hood brand because it was the only one they had, they didn't carry any of the market basket brand i've used before. i should've realized something was wrong because it wasn't just regular buttermilk, but rather cultured and fat free. i needed milk with some fat in order for better tasting muffins, and i ended up getting the one thing that had zero fat.

i baked according to the recipe: 425° for 5 minutes, the 375° for 25 minutes. i couldn't wait to take them out of the oven. i was afraid the muffins would be sticking to the tray since i didn't use paper, but i applied some canola non-stick spray beforehand and it really works. i simply lifted the muffins out of the tray by hand, super easy.

the muffins looked good, with a high bursting golden crust and blueberries peeking out. the recipe also called for some sparkling sugar sprinkled on top but i'll leave that for when i perfect my muffin recipe. tastewise, it like the crusty sides, but that's the only nice thing i can say. the muffin itself was bland. there was no problem with the texture, it was moist (like a cake), but the flavor was off. i couldn't really taste the blueberries, and the overwhelming flavor reminded me of whole wheat flour.

so what went wrong? my first guess is i used old expired flour, so everything had a weird taste. i probably also didn't use enough blueberries, or not the right kind, next time try fresh farm-raised blueberries which are bigger. the recipe also called for cinnamon, which i added but i never seen in other muffin recipes. perhaps the cinnamon covered up the blueberry flavor, i won't add it next time. maybe it was the canola oil, that could also mask the blueberry taste. another thing i might've done wrong is mixing the batter too much. recipes i've seen called for a lump batter, don't know if mine was lumpy enough. there was also no butter in the recipe. i've learned long ago that if you want anything to taste good, you have to have butter. i'll try for a butter recipe next time.

there is a jordan marsh blueberry muffin recipe that i later discovered that looks promising. this recipe does use butter, and involves 2 cups of fresh blueberries, a quarter of which is mashed into the batter for a strong blueberry taste. it also doesn't use any oil, and calls for regular milk instead of buttermilk.

the FCC voted today along party lines 3-2 to kill net neutrality. i am of course for net neutrality, i don't think it's right for ISP's like verizon and comcast to decide what i can and can't see (block, throttle, prioritize) and to price me into different tiers based on my web surfing habits. seeing the FCC so much in the news these days is especially personal since i've had direct dealings with the FCC myself, which gave me my amateur radio license and call sign. if the FCC is so keen about deregulating the internet allowing big ISP companies to do whatever they want, shouldn't it also apply to other realms regulated by the FCC? they should also deregulate the airwaves, so people can use whatever band they want, without restrictions.

i sent lucas an e-mail in the late morning to check in and to ask him a few questions. instead of ignoring me like before, i received a reply a few hours later. they have all the necessary permits, materials will be delivered wednesday morning at 6:30am and the installers will begin working at 7am. they don't foresee any shortage on LG 335W panels. he will contact me again on the 19th to confirm the install on the 20th. he's confident we will get our PTO before the end of the year in order to qualify for the 2017 tax break. so it looks like it's really going to happen! and the weather forecast from now until wednesday looks good, no rain or now, so no potential weather delays.

my mother contacted me in the late afternoon with word that my father has decided to take my grand uncle to the hospital (mt.auburn) on the advice of his nurse. my father has spent the past few weeks caring for my grand uncle round the clock, sleeping over at his place so he can wake up in the middle of the night to help him use the bathroom. but that level of care is unsustainable , and by putting my grand uncle in a hospital, it will speed up his transfer to a senior home, versus transferring directly from home to a senior care center.

my book from amazon.com arrived today, the bees in your backyard: a guide to north america’s bees by joseph wilson and olivia messinger carril. it's been on my wishlist for 2 year now, i finally got around to buying it with a $5 off any book coupon. it's a lot bigger than i'd imagined, but not as thick. i thought it'd be a detailed field guide but it's more of a coffee table book. i'm not denying it's useful in getting an overall sense of what sort of bees one can find outdoors, but i wouldn't use it for identification. last june i bought bumble bees of north america: an identification guide from a harvard book store warehouse sale. that book is detailed but unfortunately it's only for bumble bees (208 pages, 47 species), which the bees in your backyard spends just 4 pages covering.