Monday, December 21, 2009

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

55 min | 20 min prep
6 muffins
  • 1 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons SACO Buttermilk powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar with 2 Tablespoons of water
  • 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Coat 6 muffin cups with cooking spray.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and buttermilk powder
  4. In a separate bowl, egg whites, oil, sugar and water until creamy, then stir in the blueberries.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry.
  6. Fold together with a rubber spatula until the batter is moist yet remains slightly lumpy.
  7. Pour into muffin cups and bake 30 to 35 minutes
You could use 1/2 cup real buttermilk instead of the powdered stuff with 1/2 cup water.  You can try 1/4 cup honey instead of the sugar.  The first time I baked this, I used twice as much oil and sugar by accident.  I was adapting a different recipe and messed up the math... See kids! Math IS important!  Fortunately, they still turned out very delicious!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Half 'n Half Sandwich Bread

My adaptation of King Arthur's Classic Sandwich Bread:

1 1/2 cups King Arthur Bread Flour
1 1/2 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup milk (skim, 1%, 2% or whole, your choice)

1/2 cup hot water, enough to make a soft, smooth dough
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) melted butter, margarine or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons instant yeast

Mixing: In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer or food processor, or in a bread machine set to the dough or manual cycle). Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 60 minutes, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

Shaping: Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8-inch log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 60 minutes, until it’s domed about 1 inch above the edge of the pan. A finger pressed into the dough should leave a mark that rebounds slowly.

Baking: Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for about 35 minutes, until it’s light golden brown. Test it for doneness by removing it from the pan and thumping it on the bottom (it should sound hollow), or by measuring its interior temperature with an instant-read thermometer (it should register 190°F at the center of the loaf). Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a wire rack before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature. Yield: 1 loaf.

Notes:  Baked for 30 minutes and checked temperature incorrectly (I didn't wait long enough for the thermometer to get an accurate reading), so it went in for another 5 minutes. At that point the bread was 193 degrees. Turned out pretty good though.  Soft and tasty, I'd make it again.  I've read that the original KA Classic Sandwich Bread is very adaptable to different flour mixes, so it's a good recipe to mess around with.

Moist Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Moist Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Moist Whole Wheat Banana Bread Recipe and Instructions:

Be sure to use ultra ripe bananas for this. Their skins should be mottled black and they should feel soft to the touch. Using what you would normally consider to be ripe bananas will diminish the bread’s rich flavor.
½ cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) unsalted butter
½ cup (3 ¾ ounces) packed light or dark brown sugar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups (~ 12 ounces) mashed ripe banana (3-4 medium to large bananas)
¼ cup (3 ounces) honey (I used sugar – works fine)
2 large eggs
2 cups (8 ounces) whole wheat flour, traditional or white whole wheat (I found that 2 cups was closer to 10 ounces – guess my whole wheat is heavy)
½ cups (2 ounces) chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
Beat together the butter, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth. Add the banana, honey and eggs, beating until smooth. Add the flour and nuts, stirring until smooth. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and let it rest at room temperature, uncovered for 10 minutes.
Bake the bread for 50 minutes. Lay a piece of foil gently across the top and bake until a cake tester (like a toothpick) inserted into the center comes out clean, 10 to 15 minutes more. Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes before turning it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely.
Pretty good for a whole wheat version. I think I'd like to try this with 1/2 white & 1/2 wheat or so.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

You Need A Budget!

If you make money... well, you probably spend money...

And if you spend money, you gotta have some way to manage it. Are you managing ok, or do you think you may be able to do better? If so, read on!

I've been recently using a personal finance software called You Need A Budget, or YNAB for short. It's an envelope based system that is remarkable! I've used quicken, MS Money, My Envelopes, and Mint, but none of them holds a candle to YNAB. There's a ton of helpful info at the website, great videos, and a very supportive forum. There's a new version coming out real soon, YNAB 3. I'm really looking forward to that! It'll probably be out by the time you read this!

If you spend money, do yourself a faver and check it out!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Meatless Monday

Health Care, Global Climate Change... what can we do about it?
You can make a difference. We must try.
This plan was used in WWI and WWII. It was restarted in 2003, and we need it desperately.

Take a look at this video, then visit
Meatless Monday, for more!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Michael Pollan's 20 favorite food rules.

Earlier this year was a request for people to post their favorite food rules. Michael Pollan, author of the wonderful and important book: In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
, chose 20 of his favorites, from among 2500 entries.

A few of my favorites:
  • If you are not hungry enough to eat an apple, you are not hungry enough. ~ Emma Fogt
  • Eat foods in inverse proportion to how much its lobby spends to push it. ~ Kirk Westphal
  • It's better to pay the grocer than the doctor. ~ John Forti

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Bike Accident

I could've done without the bike accident I had last night. Really, I don't mind a nice boring (safe) ride home.

It was on the way home, about 3 blocks from my house, the bike's front wheel fell into a deep groove in the sidewalk (going downhill fast). My bike spun out into the street, I fell backward's, hitting my helmet and sliding along on my back.

I suffered a severely cracked helmet, tore through my jacket's back, scrapped up both hands, have deep bruise-type pain in my upper back and right hip. I was dazed as i lay there on the sidewalk. As soon as I gathered a few of my wits, I pulled my bike out of the street. I stood up and checked out the damage to my bike. All I could see was a severely bent front wheel. Then I called my wife. Among other questions, she asked where I was. I couldn't answer! I could not for the life of me remember the street names that I have lived by for 20 years. I knew the WAY home and that I was close, but not the street names.

I started walking my bike home and my wife ran down to help. I still felt rather dazed, but getting better. Later on, my wife mentioned that I told her on the phone about a driver who pulled over near where I was lying who asked if I needed help. Weird thing is, I had no recollection of this event! Scary! About an hour later, it came back to me, hazily.

According to what we looked up on the internet, I did not have enough symptoms to warrant an emergency room visit. Short term memory loss is rather common. Still in a good bit of pain today, I decided to stay home and take it easy.

Looking at the EIGHT big cracks through my helmet, it's frightening to think about what would've happened had I not worn it. When I was growing up, no one had helmets. No big deal... right? Well, I'm a believer now!

The offending sidewalk hazard is one I've successfully avoided 50 times or more now. It just took over-confidence and a momentary loss of concentration... From now on, I will slow down a lot to maneuver around this hazard. I'm also glad I had front and rear superbright lights flashing on my bike. I'm sure it helped the driver notice me go down. And had I been really UNlucky and fell INTO the street, the lights would've surely helped to avert a deadly collision.

I got a new helmet this evening, and the bike shop fixed up my bike, so I'm ready to go again tomorrow. Gotta get right back on that horse, ya know...

I'm thinking I might add a helmet mounted light as well. I hear the nice thing about helmet lights is that the light is directed right where I'm looking. I'm going to do some research on that. I don't mind being lit up like it's Xmas. Modern LED lights are bright and energy efficient. I'd rather look like a rolling holiday show than become road kill.

To my fellow bikers: be prepared, wear the helmet, use lights at night, learn your routes and it's hazards in the daytime, and slow down for known hazards, especially at night!

Arrive alive!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I'm 'Normal'

Today, I weighed in at 194.2. According to the BMI charts, this places me, finally, at a 'Normal Weight'!

No longer obese, no longer overweight, I'm Normal. Which means, according to most of my friends here in America, that I'm 'skinny'.

Yup, here in America, overweight is the new normal, normal is skinny, and skinny becomes 'OMG!' Being the contrarian that I am, I'm happy to be 'Normal' in America, that is to say 'skinny' compared to the overweight norm.

In a sense, I feel done now, but I will push on a few more pounds to hit 190, then transition to a maintenance phase.


Friday, September 18, 2009

FOX News, your facts are wrong... (AGAIN!)

We're Number 37!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thoughts On My Bike

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The True Cost of Driving

How much does it REALLY cost you to drive?

Use the True Cost of Driving Online Calculator to find out!

When considering the cost of driving, most people think only about how much they pay for gas. Drivers also pay to buy and maintain a car, including tune-ups, oil and tires, as well as for insurance, registration, and parking. Indirect costs of driving, such as road construction and maintenance, add to drivers’ financial burden through taxes and fees. In addition, there are quality of life costs that drivers and non-drivers alike pay to support automobile transportation. Though challenging to quantify, these added impacts include air pollution, traffic congestion, and health care.


I input a little basic data, and my cost to drive the mere 1665 miles that I do costs: $2,257.74 !!!

A Bike Rack Request at the Mall

Emailed to White Flint Mall managers:


Today, I decided to bicycle to the mall. It's a beautiful day for it. I arrived and went to the bike rack that is by the Eatery Entrance. It was full with 3 bikes. Maybe I could've squeezed mine in... but hey, I didn't want to damage my or anyone else's bike. So I proceeded to search for another bike rack. I went up and down ramps, round and round the mall (3 times around!) in a vain search for another bike rack.

So I locked my bike to the light pole to the left of P.F. Changs restaurant. I considered that it was sufficiently out of the way of pedestrians, yet beneficially within view of many coming and going shoppers. I then went in to do my shopping at the bookstore. On the 3rd floor, I once decided to look out the window, to check up on my bike. My bike was fine, but what do you know, 2 young women on bikes were just stopping beside my bike. They looked like they were trying to find a bike rack too...

I bought my books, stopped and got a slice of cheesecake to take home, and then discovered a yellow warning slip from security officer #14. It politely requested that I lock up at the bike rack. Not possible. And apparently from the girls I mentioned above, I was not the only one with this problem. I do understand though, that you want both an orderly appearance to parked cars AND bikes. In addition, you don't want bikes parked willy nilly which might obstruct pedestrian and automobile traffic.

As you may surmise, I'd like to request you add more bike racks. Off the top of my head, let's look at some of the advantages from a shopping mall owners perspective.

More bike racks:
1. Give the mall a greener image. (always good these days!)
2. Free up more parking spaces for automobiles.
3. Provides an orderly, safe, inviting place for bikes to lock up.
4. Reduces pollution (which affects everyone, even mall managers!)
5. Keeps bicyclists feeling welcome. Parking warnings like I got may encourage bicycling shoppers to go elsewhere.

That seems like a decent list for off the top of my head.
I hope you seriously consider my request. Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

- Stephen Starling

I'll post any reply I receive...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jesus studied the ancient Greeks?

I recently finished reading 'The Oresteia' by Aeschylus (c. 525 BC/524 BC – c. 456 BC/455 BC), the ancient Greek playwright considered as the father of tragedy.

In the first play, 'Agamemnon', consider these lines (1556 to 1558), spoken by Clytaemnestra:

Never exult in Hades, swordsman, here you are repaid. By the sword you did your work and by the sword you die.

Sound familiar? Maybe like this?

Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
—Matthew 26:52, King James Version

Strikingly similar, I would say. I conclude there are three possibilities for this similarity.

1. It was an idea completely original both to Aeschylus and the Author of the Book of Matthew. Historians have determined that original ideas can occur in multiple times or places without either party knowing a thing about the other.

2. The Author of the Book of Matthew correctly quoted a real person called Jesus. This Jesus then, may have studied Ancient Greek Thought, possibly Aeschylus and the Orestia exactly.

3. The Author of the Book of Matthew attributed this quote to the character of Jesus, and the Author is the one who studied Ancient Greek Ideas, Aeschylus, and the Orestia.

Anyway you look at it though, the idea itself is older than Jesus/Author of Matthew.

Ancient Greeks: 1
Middle-Eastern desert dwelling 'prophets': 0

Friday, May 15, 2009

Bike to Work Day, 2009!

My local 'start' point rally was across from White Flint Metro. I got my free t-shirt! :)

They had music, breakfast food, coffee, raffle for prizes every 10 minutes, and the final raffle was for a new bike. One of the sponsors who runs a bike shop had 2 electronic assist bikes for folk to try, he wanted our opinion. I really liked the one that had the 'BionX' electronic upgrade kit on it. I'll have to look into getting one and maybe installing on Julie's old Raleigh.
From those test-rides I also found out how NICE saddles with springs are! whoo boy! comfy! :) So now I'm pretty sure I'd like to save up for that Brooks saddle with the springs, the Flyer.

Anyway, from there I went south to Bethesda metro like I've done in the past. Then onto the Capital Crescent Trail for a beautiful ride into DC. From the end of the CC Trail, I had a bit of trouble finding my way to the Lincoln Memorial, but from there I went along the mall to the National Gallery of Art, then North a couple blocks to work. Wow! I did it!!!! 19 miles. I enjoyed EVERY mile! I'm going to have to do that again!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Novara Fly-By Product Recall

Dahon (manufacturer of the Novara Fly-by folding bike) has issued a product recall. So, I'll have to take my Fly-By into REI soon. Luckily, my old but upgraded Nishiki Meridian is serving me well.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bike upgrade update

I finished installing the 8 speed Shimano Hub a couple weeks ago. I didn't find it very hard at all... but then most folk would say I'm rather mechanically minded.

So, how is it? Well... the gear range is great, 1st gear is as low as I need it for hills, and I don't think I've ever needed 7 or 8. I just don't prefer to go that fast. On the down side, the shifting is not quite as perfect as on my Novarra Fly-By. On the Novarra, I can shift literally whenever I want: at a stop, or even while grinding it up a hill. But on my Nishiki, it often just won't shift while I'm pedalling. I just have to stop pedalling, then restart, then it shifts fine. I consider this just a minor annoyance considering all the benefits. Overall, I'm very glad I undertook this upgrade. I learned how to build a wheel, and install an internally geared hub. :)

Next upgrade? I probably should replace those original tires with some quality Schwalbe's.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rolling Stop, Idaho style

The early part of this video explains why most bicyclers do the rolling stop. The idea for a law change should be adopted by more states!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bike upgrade project.

Now that I have a new bike, the Novara Fly-By Folding bike, I can afford to have my old bike 'in the shop' for an upgrade. I'm going to try to do this by myself:

The plan is to install an internal-gear hub in place of the worn out damaged standard gear system on there now. I've been really impressed with internally geared hubs in every bike I've tried. So far, on my Fly-By, I've used gears 1-6. I can see going to 8 very very rarely.

I've allready ordered a Shimano Nexus Inter-8 hub. That's the most expensive part. I'm going to try my hand at wheel building with it, and I hope to use the existing rim. We'll see. So I still need: spokes, shifter, crankset, chain. Should be a fun project!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Darwin Day!

Today is Darwin's 200th birthday celebration, and 150th anniversary of the publishing of 'Origin of Species'. Darwin is one of a handful of great scientists that have altered humanity's entire view of the universe.

It is already being celebrated internationally, informally. And it looks like there's growing support for making it an official holiday in the UK.

If you understand Evolution, then you can really begin to appreciate the beauty of all life. We are all related! Every, and I mean EVERY living thing on the Earth, past and present, is related to each other. Quite amazing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Malcolm X

"I've had enough of someone else's propaganda. I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I'm a human being first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole." - Malcolm X
Was Malcolm X a humanist? Maybe not, but he definitely had strong humanist tendencies.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Miracle on the Hudson! Oh, Really?!?

Miracle: An event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God.

Let's take a look at this amazing incident. The evidence is still being examined, but it seems quite clear that both of the planes engines were hit by birds. (Poor things!) This was a really unfortunate incident, that is not unheard of, and entirely explained in naturalistic terms (no suspension of the laws of nature is needed to explain how jet engines quit when struck by birds).

Fast forward a few minutes and we come to the actions of the amazing Captain Chesley Sullenberger. A man who has logged massive flight time in both military and civilian aircraft. A man who has spent 30 years or so studying and training flight safety. This highly trained, experiened, and talented pilot 'ditches' the plane in the Hudson river so gently, that the plane suffers almost no damage, the passengers no serious injury. Again, no laws of nature were suspended, the laws governing aerodynamics, fluids, friction, etc. were intact, everything can be explained.

Finally, we can look at the aircraft itself, an Airbus A320. Upon being ditched, it did not crack up into many parts. And it floated. The doors opened just fine. Everything worked fine. Let's hear it for the amazing engineering feat of design that this plane represents! Countless HUMAN hours invested in the many fields of science and engineering allowed such a craft to be built. Do I have to mention that no laws of nature were suspended for this craft to have been designed and built?

Could things have gone differently? Of course, they could've been much worse, that's obvious. Or they could've gone better (could we do more to keep birds from the area?) But this was simply not a Miracle. It was an unlikely event that had a very positive outcome. Congratulations are due to many people, from Captain, flight crew, and rescuers, to the scientists, engineers, and manufacturers of the plane. No God needed for explanation.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Enjoy Today!

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift, that's why it's called the present.
- Master Oogway