sandy was already in the bathroom when i woke up this morning at 9:30am. i fed my fish and waited in the living room for her to finish. after she left for work i took care of the leftover corned beef water. it'd congealed overnight and i skimmed off the thick layer of fat floating on the surface. the remaining liquids i poured back onto the corned beef, removing a section to give to my parents to sample. i put the container of fat in the fridge, to be tossed out with the trash next week.

at 11am i began making a new batch of blueberry muffins. i was still going with homemade cake flour but this time i wouldn't forget about the baking powder. i would also add the frozen blueberries directly into the batter without leaving them out to accidentally defrost and leak their staining juices.

cake flour
blueberry muffins
(6 servings)

1 stick salted butter
3/4 cups sugar

2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups flour*
4 2 tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 cup half and half
2 cups frozen blueberries
cooking spray

* cake flour: subtract equal tbsp amount of corn starch from flour. ‡ should be 4 tbsp of corn starch; cake flour is 2 tbsp of corn starch for every 1 cup of regular flour. cream butter & sugar; add eggs, vanilla, juice; mix dry ingredients into batter 1/3 at a time, adding some half and half in between. bake at 425°F 10 min. 375°F 30 mins. + additional 10 minutes

i used a 1 quart plastic yogurt container to mix the dry ingredients. i ended up switching to a bigger container because i wasn't sure if everything was getting properly mixed, as there wasn't very much space left after i filled it with everything. i creamed the sugar and butter by hand with a spoon again. i still wouldn't call it a cream but at least i managed to mix the two ingredients together so i ended up with a soft lump of sugared butter.

by adding frozen blueberries directly into the batter, i still couldn't stop the blueberry juice from staining everything, but it wasn't as bad as last time when i set the blueberries out first while i worked, resulting in them defrosting a bit and leaking even more juices into the batter, turning it almost completely purple. after the 10 minute mark i checked on their baking progress: i don't know if there was any good rise, but at least the batter had settled and everything looked normal. i'm still using an old can of baking powder; i'm curious to know if i'll get a better rise once i start using my new can. i'm also still using old flour but that wouldn't have any effect on the muffin size.

in the end i still made a mistake: instead of 4 tbsp of corn starch (cake flour = 1 cup flour: 2 tbsp of corn starch), i added just 2 tbsp. the muffins came out okay, better than last time because i added the baking powder into the dry ingredients, but maybe it would be even fluffier had i had 2 tbsp more of corn starch. also next time i'm not going to subtract equal amounts of flour, i'm just going to simply add the corn starch in addition to everything else. 4 tbsp of extra flour ingredient isn't going to make much of a difference, and the extra volume might even make for taller muffins.

the muffins turned out okay. contrary to what i saw when i opened the oven, they had a good rise with decent muffin tops. at the time i didn't know i'd accidentally skimped on the corn starch; if i didn't find out, i would've thought these were the best muffins i've made yet.

the muffin i tried was moist and fluffy, with a flavorful crust. despite blueberry juice stains mixing in the batter, the interior remained pale for the most part. some of the larger blueberries melted and tasted more like bitter cranberries. i made some aeropress decaffeinated french vanilla coffee to go along with my muffin lunch.

i ordered the snow joe 18-inch snow broom sunday night during an amazon lightning deal sale for $9.99 (it typically sells for $12.49) and it finally arrived today. from the description it looked awfully similar to the snow pro roof rake we use to clean our solar panels (inaugural solar panel snowing cleaning). the snow pro cost us at least $25 (plus an additional $6.50 for shipping) and after two winters, it's starting to look a little battered so it was time to look for a replacement, or at least a backup. the snow joe snow broom is designed for removing snow from cars. it took features a foam brush head so as not to scratch delicate car paint. i was afraid it might be made from a hard foam but i was happy to discover the foam was quite soft, similar to the snow pro. the thing that i like is the snow broom can be screwed on to any standard handle, so it's completely compatible with our long extensible roof rake handles. the snow broom comes with it's own extending handle but we don't have any use for it since it's far too short. i also like that the snow broom is much larger than the snow pro, better at removing more snow. too bad i personally believe the snow season is over, we'll just have to wait until next winter to use the snow broom.

i went to the cafe after i finished baking the muffins to deliver some for my parents. it also gave me a chance to bring some corned beef for them to try. my mother was just about to leave for ac moore with my sister's godmother. my 2nd aunt had also dropped by, hoping to get some more knitting help from my mother. as the corned beef was cold, it was easier to slice compared to last night. cutting across the grain, i got a chance to see the nice marbling on the inside. everyone tried a piece of beef, although i think it'd taste better if heated slightly. biking home, i saw a turkey at the intersection of huron avenue, first time in many months. if the turkeys are back, spring must not be far behind.

* lecture at the harvard art museum: jenny so – rare and beautiful objects, new and unexpected findings: revisiting harvard’s early chinese jades