Friday, December 17, 2010

Psychology treats

The day before Christmas break I invited my AP Psychology students to bring in a treat that had a psychology theme. Here are some of the best ones.

Illusion cake - is it a rabbit or a duck?

Scatterplot cookies

Positive reinforcement brownies

Color-blindness test cookies

Gestalt principles of perception cupcakes

Friday, December 10, 2010

Detroit Food Holiday Mart

Heading downtown to the old Tiger Stadium neighborhood for the first food mart. Lots of artisanal and home produced specialities, including our pals' at Gang of Pour cider and wine vinegar and their 22-year-old vinegar mother.

Are you going? If so, please post what you saw/ate/bought.

We'll do the same

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

English muffins

The female half of this blog has sent me to Michael Ruhlman's website for his English muffin recipe. I've tried making EMs before, but never been very satisfied, so trying these seems like a worthwhile hour or two.

They certainly look like EMs, don't they?

The recipe flows as advertised - it's pretty easy to follow and the batter comes out pretty much the way I expected. The cooked product had a decent rise, though I would have liked a little more rise. Lacking an electric griddle, I cooked them in a big cast iron fry pan. The problem I had is getting the temperature right. Ruhlman says to cook on medium to medium high heat. I found that the temperature was too high - the muffins nearly burned before they were cooked thoroughly inside. I tried medium high, medium low and the lowest setting our gas range offers. I finally decided to finish them in a 300 F oven after cooking them to deep brown in the skillet on the low setting.

The making, then, is kind of a pain. But the eating is a different story. Toasted, these muffins are very tasty. Ruhlman suggests using a sourdough starter and that sounds like a good idea to me. I might try buttermilk in place of the whole milk as well, though that make require some experimenting with the baking powder.

Are they worth the effort? (Even Ruhlman suggests that Bay's EMs are a worthy substitute for homemade.) I think so - but let me try them a few more times. We'll see.

Check out the directions and recipe at Ruhlman's website

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hanukkah dinner

We were invited last night to a traditional Hanukkah dinner. Herewith some photos and a few comments.

We started with a lovely French onion soup - sweetly caramelized onions, gruyere cheese and a hearty chunk of good baguette.

Dinner featured a tasty, homemade applesauce with apricot-glazed chicken. We enjoyed both - well-cooked and boldly flavored. The latkes turned out to be an adventure and we love adventures!

Kugel for dessert: M has had it many times, I only a few. It's hard not to like raisins toasted in brown sugar and these were just fine. Kugel is an interesting concept - noodles with fruit and brown sugar. Imagine the Irish making a dessert of potatoes, fruit and brown sugar.

After dessert, E treated us to game of dreidel in which we gambled for our chocolate coins by spinning the dreidel. It was certainly an exciting game - the element of chance was intensified by the fact that only one person knew the rules to the game, and it was possible that her interpretation of the rules was, um, inconsistent.

The Shady Lane "Coop de Blanc" seemed overly sweet to most of us, tho M liked it more as the courses grew sweeter.

The Grand Traverse Dry Riesling was quite pleasant and enjoyed by all.

All in all, it was a most pleasant evening with interesting people and good food, decent wine and, I should mention, a rather assertive Bell's Christmas Ale which I did enjoy after I realized I needed to steel myself before every sip for the malty wallop it gives you.