Monday, October 21, 2013

Addictive Honey Oat Muffins

You know when you want something sweet but not too sweet?

Not a cookie, not a cupcake, but a muffin. A healthy-ish muffin without 14689 cups of sugar. Because muffins are infinitely easier and more forgiving than busting out a traditional Irish raisin scone (though I will have that coming up in a future post). When I studied in Dublin for a semester, muffins from the on-campus bakery and scones from anywhere got me through many a rainy, cold day.

addictive-honey-oat-muffins

Well, Amy over at Fearless Homemaker had a recipe for these quick muffins back in the summer. They popped into my brain over the weekend because I wanted a healthy-ish muffin and had no real muffin-y fruit on hand.

addictive-honey-oat-muffins

Let me tell you, I may make double-batches of these and freeze them. After just two days, only 4 survive from the starting dozen. They remind me of baked oatmeal but are chewier and lighter.

 

Print

Addictive Honey Oat Muffins

Yield: 12

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 13 minutes

Total Time: 28 minutes

Not too sweet muffins with honey, oats, and coconut oil. Adapted from Fearless Homemaker.

Ingredients:

2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar (my brown sugar was lumpy so I didn't bother trying to pack it)
3/4 cup skim milk (or whatever milk or milk substitute you want)
3 Tbsp to scant 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp honey
1 3/4 cups oats (I used rolled oats)
1 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon (I would've used 2 or 3, but the hubs doesn't like cinnamon)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375.

Line or grease a muffin tin.

Using a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together until incorporated. Add the remaining liquid ingredients (milk, oil, vanilla, honey) and beat on medium for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the oats until just combined.

In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients and add to the wet. Stir gently to not over mix.

Spoon batter into the muffin tin. Bake for 13 minutes or until done.

Let the muffins cool for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Then let the addiction begin.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Saturday Snapshot: Fall in Dublin

saturday-snapshot-fall-in-dublin

If you wandered down the side street behind the hotel where TBEX was hosted, you would stumble upon a large house with a vines growing on the side. The bright red leaves resting on their wall really popped on the gray granite.

 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Giant Trees and Fancy Dinners at Bellinter House in Co. Meath

On our last full day in Ireland, my in-laws took us to Sunday dinner at the nearby Bellinter House in Co. Meath. It was just a few miles down the road near the Hill of Tara.

giant-trees-fancy-dinner-bellinter-house-co-meath

The estate dates back to the 1650s, but the current home was built in 1750 in the Palladian Georgian style. It operated as a country home for the Preston family. In the late 1700s, the estate became known for its hunting hounds and hunting parties. It stayed in the Preston family until 1892. After that, it changed hands a few times until the property was ultimately sold to the Irish Land Commission and broken up. The Sisters of Scion took it over in 1965 and ran it for 50 years.

Now it’s a small hotel, spa, restaurant, and wedding venue.

Rocket and duck salad.

Rocket and duck salad.

 

Spinach and ricotta tortellini

Spinach and ricotta tortellini with a rocket and parmesan salad on top.

We ate in the Eden Restaurant which used to be a chapel. The ceilings were vaulted, and it reminded me of a spartan version of the ground floor of Sainte-Chapelle. After all the meat-heavy dishes at TBEX, I was happy to have a salad and pasta. It was a nice, quiet dinner and the portions were not gigantic but more than filling. The fresh bread was ridiculously warm and delicious. I could have eaten a whole loaf.

bellinter-house-tree

The feature the struck me the most at Bellinter House was the gigantic weeping beech tree on the front lawn. I had seen this tree on Pinterest (after searching Navan, Ireland), and I thought it was a fake photo or wrongly attributed. You rarely see trees this large in Ireland, and I had never seen a weeping beech tree before. I thought weeping willows were the only weeping trees. I could totally see a small, intimate wedding ceremony being held under the tree in the summer.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Saturday Snapshot: Dowdstown House

saturday-snapshot-dowdstown-house

 

Dowdstown House is located in Dalgan Park in Navan, Ireland. The current structure was built at the end of the 18th century by a retired British officer. It essentially functioned like Downton Abbey, providing employment for locals by working in the home or on the farm. It now serves as a retreat and counseling center.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

ArtSmart Roundtable: Albrecht Durer’s Works on Paper

Since last month’s ArtSmart, I started a job at a museum (YAY! FINALLY!), so I’ve been a bit busier than of late. And I’m still recovering from TBEX Dublin which is why I’m late.

Self-portrait, 1550, Albrecht Durer. Via Wikimedia Commons

Self-portrait, 1500, Albrecht Durer. Via Wikimedia Commons

This month’s ArtSmart Roundtable is featuring artists. After scanning through my past few articles, I wanted to break away from medieval and Italian art to change things up. So I’m focusing on the prints and drawings of Albrecht Dürer, a genius artist of the Northern Renaissance. I love his INCREDIBLY easy to spot signature as a sort of “logo”. While his paintings may be familiar to you (you might recognize his Self Portrait 1500), I want to highlight his printmaking and drawing skills.

The Large Passion: 9. Last Supper, circa 1497, woodcut, by Albrecht Durer via Wikimedia Commons

The Large Passion: 9. Last Supper, circa 1497, woodcut, by Albrecht Durer via Wikimedia Commons

His printmaking is kind of a big deal. He was able to introduce midtones to his woodcuts creating 3 shades instead of just 2. The above woodcut has cross-hatching to add depth and add a gray shade to his black and white image. His engravings became incredibly detailed because of his use of the burin, a chisel like tool that can add fine lines which create depth and mood to a piece. Rather than simply carving a shape into a plate or piece of wood, he mastered a more painterly look in prints with his skill at adding tones and depth.

Adam and Eve, 1504, copper engraving, by Albrecht Durer via Wikimedia Commons

Adam and Eve, 1504, copper engraving, by Albrecht Durer via Wikimedia Commons

Having taken a printmaking class and been a member of a printmaking studio, woodcuts are easier to wrap your head around when creating a design. The parts that you cut away remain white (or whatever color the paper is) while the areas at the highest point are the color of the ink used. Like a rubber stamp. Depending on the kind of wood, it can be an easy enough process to pick up. You just have to remember that the image on the block will be reversed on paper. Engraving on copper is much more sophisticated. The lines carved into the plate are what will transfer as the ink color on paper. You’re essentially drawing into the plate with various tools. I never moved on to metal plates (they’re expensive to experiment with), but I can tell you the engraving a curve on plexiglass is not the easiest task in the world. Copper is relatively soft, so an engraver has to be careful that their engraving lines are not too deep (resulting in a very dark color or even punching through the back of the plate). Drypoint is engraving with a needle rather than a burin, etching is engraving into a chemical ground and immersing the plate in acid which eats into the engraved parts, and mezzotint is creating a background of dots to add tone to the image. You can also add tone to an engraving by not wiping away all of the ink from the plate, but mezzotint creates a more uniform tone.

The Rhinoceros, 1515, woodcut (based on an illustration in a German book) by Albrecht Durer via Wikimedia Commons

The Rhinoceros, 1515, woodcut (based on an illustration in a German book) by Albrecht Durer via Wikimedia Commons

 

Melencolia I, circa 1514, engraving by Albrecht Durer via Wikimedia Commons

Melencolia I, circa 1514, engraving by Albrecht Durer via Wikimedia Commons

Dürer’s prints also helped spread his reputation around Europe. The printing press had been invented years earlier in Guttenberg, and prints were being added to illustrate books and papers. These prints were the same in each book rather than hand illustrating. Dürer was able to use current technology to get his work out there in a way other artists hadn’t been able to before thanks to his skill as a drawer/engraver and his location in Germany where presses were more available.

A Young Hare, 1502, gouache and watercolor on paper by Albrecht Durer via Wikimedia Commons

A Young Hare, 1502, gouache and watercolor on paper by Albrecht Durer via Wikimedia Commons

 

Praying Hands, 1508, gray and white ink on blue paper by Albrecht Durer via Wikimedia Commons

Praying Hands, 1508, gray and white ink on blue paper by Albrecht Durer via Wikimedia Commons

 

Paumgartner Altarpiece, after 1503, oil on panel by Albrecht Durer via Wikimedia Commons

Paumgartner Altarpiece, after 1503, oil on panel by Albrecht Durer via Wikimedia Commons

Dürer’s unique style was influenced by his travels. He was able to travel to Italy twice and see the works of Italian Renaissance masters such as Mantegna, Bellini, and Raphael. The emerging humanism in Italian art coupled with a new focus on perspective and anatomy carried over into his paintings and prints. He was also able to travel to the Low Countries and Switzerland which showed him other Northern styles of late Gothic and early Renaissance art. He synthesized these various influences into his own style rather than continuing the tradition of the local master painter that was common in many areas where travel was much harder for artists. His paintings favor dark backgrounds which is common in Northern art, but his proportions and perspective are closer to his Italian contemporaries.

You can find Dürer’s works all over the world such as the Louvre, the Uffizi, London’s National Gallery, various German museums, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (when it reopens…). He enjoyed continued patronage and popularity throughout his career, so many of his works survive compared to other German artists of his time.

This Month’s Fellow ArtSmart Roundtable Articles:

Christina of Daydream Tourist: Jacob Lawrence

Jeff of EuroTravelogue: Aert van der Neer: Dutch Painter of the Moonlight

Jenna at This Is My Happiness: Romero Britto and Art around the World