Will and Kate, plus eight… scones. Half of which I already ate.

it's scone-a be amazing.

Getting up at 5 a.m. to watch strangers get married is an opportunity that comes along once every, oh, 30 years. Seriously. Charles and Diana got married in 1981. The next direct heir to the thone isn’t even born yet. And I’m the kind of person who feels the need to participate just because it’s there.

I’m even sleeping at my mum’s tonight so we can get up and watch together. (That’s not pathetic by the way, that’s bonding. Like the time we spent two full days watching the last Liberal leadership convention. I still give Gerard Kennedy a big frigging F for that one.)

However, I figure I’ll still need a little incentive to shake off the sleep deprivation and get excited about who designed the dress. Hence: scones for breakfast.

This was my first attempt at scones and they were magnifique. Thank-you, Joy of Cooking. Apparently scones are easy. Who knew?

Preheat oven to 450. Sift together:

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp sugar (half that if you don’t like sweet scones)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Add:

  • 1/4 cup cold butter

Cut in that butter until the mixture resembles large-ish crumbs. Use two knifes, a fork or a pastry cutter. Or your hands (but try not to let your hot little hands melt the butter).

In a small bowl, whisk well:

  • 2 large eggs

Remove 2 tablespoons of the eggs and set aside for your glaze, then add to the remainder:

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (or, since I didn’t have cream, 1/4 cup milk topped up with yogurt to make 1/3 cup. And maybe toss in a little extra butter during the previous step.)

Pour your wet mixture into you dry and stir together with the minimal amount of strokes. This is where I would add lemon zest or currants or some delicious surprise. I’ll experiment and get back to you. Add more milk/cream if necessary, but only so it JUST sticks together. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and flatten it out until it’s about 8 inches round and 3/4 inch thick. Cut it into 8ish pieces (triangles, squares), place on an ungreased cookie sheet, and brush over the remaining 2 tbsp egg. Or if you don’t have a pastry brush, your fingers will work just fine. Sprinkle with:

  • sugar or coarse salt

Bake 15 minutes. Serve with butter, more butter, and jam. Or marmalade if you’re into that kind of thing. OR! Devonshire cream.

Fly that Union Jack high, put on a British accent, and remind yourself that Harry’s the good-looking one, anyway.

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The Ultimate Muffin Champions

good for the guts.

These are my muffriends. I spend a lot of time with them. They’re low-fat, high-fibre, all-delicious. Brantastic, one might say.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line or grease a muffin tin (12 normal-sized muffins or 6 behemoths). In a large bowl, combine:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups wheat bran
  • 3/4 cup yogurt + 1/2 cup milk (OR: 1 cup buttermilk) (OR: 1 cup milk with 1 tbsp lemon juice added, allow to sit for a few minutes before you add it)

As you can see this isn’t very precise… basically you just want the wheat bran to get all damp and delicious. Allow the bran/dairy to sit for 10 minutes. In a second bowl, combine:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup applesauce (most muffin/loaf recipes call for oil… use applesauce instead! Vegan, fruity, moist. Triple threat.)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

In a third bowl, sift together:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Add the wet mixture to the bran/dairy and stir to combine. Then fold in the dry mixture until just combined. (Do not overstir! This is the trick to fantabulously light muffins.) Now, add whatever treasures you want to find inside your muffriends:

  • 1/2 to 1 cup: raisins, small chunks of fruit, berries, nuts, etc.

I usually use apples and strawberries, deeeee-lish. Blueberries would also be bomb. Stir to combine, with as few strokes as possible, and then fill your muffin tin (you can fill each cup basically to the brim), and add toppings. I covered mine with flax seeds, since I have a kilo of them in my pantry. (The bag was only $1.69! I couldn’t resist! And now everything I bake for the next month will be high in omega-3s!) You can use any nuts or other seeds. Or nothing. Whatever man.

Bake 15-20 min for 12 normal-sized muffins and 20-25 min for 6 giant muffins. When a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean, they’re done (but make sure you’re inserting into batter and not fruit, since cooked fruit mush can look like uncooked batter).

Eat for breakfast, snacks, even dessert. Give them to your kids for all-day energy, so that they fight less like this…

…and more like this:

The next Georges St. Pierre? Bien oui!

simulated realities

Here’s my item from CBC’s All in a Weekend. Many thanks to Tanya Birkbeck and Dave Bronstetter for being charming colleagues.

If you want more, there’s also a documentary from last year’s sim (in which I was the UN’s special rep), made by TV McGill.

And this year, McGill public relations is making a documentary, too… I’ll try to post it when it’s done!

Clearly the use of simulation in the classroom — and beyond — is starting to catch some attention. If you’re interested in the topic, Dr. Rex Brynen (my thesis supervisor and Brynania’s referee/Dungeon Master/god) runs a blog called PaxSims.

I never thought I would be the kind of person to enjoy simulated role-playing games, but clearly we can surprise ourselves. ‘The sim’ remains one of the highlights of my university career… I get an unshakable urge to flip open my laptop and send some orders whenever I’m anywhere near the 5th floor of Schulich Library.

shameless self-promotion pt. II

The war in Brynania is over but the conversation continues. I’ve hung up my flak jacket, and I’ll be on All in a Weekend with Dave Bronstetter Saturday a.m. at 7:40 EST (88.5 FM in Montreal, or listen online elsewhere on the planet). We’ll hear the voices and thoughts of 2011’s Brynanian civil war veterans.

If getting up before 8 a.m. on a Saturday seems unlikely to you, I should be able to post a link to the item after it airs. Check back.