Two things I love: books and nature. You too? Then you’ll get as excited as I did over hearing about The Rocky Mountain Land Library, which was profiled in the New York Times yesterday. As the reporter writes:
The project is striking in its ambition: a sprawling research institution situated on a ranch at 10,000 feet above sea level, outfitted with 32,000 volumes, many of them about the Rocky Mountain region, plus artists’ studios, dormitories and a dining hall — a place for academics, birders, hikers and others to study and savor the West.
It is the sort of endeavor undertaken by a deep-pocketed politician or chief executive, perhaps a Bloomberg or a Buffett. But the project, called the Rocky Mountain Land Library, has instead two booksellers as its founders.
I love the idea of residential libraries—who wouldn’t want a getaway that involves long walks, long reading sessions, and wide views? Read more about the project here!
It was Jarrett’s birthday this past weekend, and he got spoiled big-time with this breakfast tray of mini breakfast sandwich sliders (with homemade turkey sausage patties!) and pancake muffins.
I have to admit, I got way too much of a thrill out of prepping this the night before, squirreling it away deep in the fridge, then putting it all together and surprising him in the morning. Does this make me uncool? Maybe. But it was such a cute tray!
Then we headed out to Charlottesville, Virginia for the weekend so he could nerd out with his BFFs (which in his world, stands for Best Founding Fathers) at Monticello and Ash Lawn Highlands.
I adore Charlottesville–the mountain views are incredible, and the wineries aren’t too rough either.
But let’s get back to those Pancake Muffins. Yes, they are exactly what they sound like: pancakes in muffin format. And they really are the best of both worlds–you get the fluffiness of pancakes with the portability of muffins, plus they freeze so well that you can make a giant batch of them and keep them as a grab-and-go breakfast.
Jarrett called them the best thing I have ever made, but he is very prone to hyperbole, so I’ll be conservative and rank them in the top 10 best recipes of the year so far. Seriously, try these. They are so worth it!
Makes 12 regular muffins or 24 mini muffins
2 cups of pancake mix (recipe here)
1 cup milk
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional toppings: blueberries, apple butter, cooked and crumbled bacon, chocolate chips, cinnamon sugar. You can really put anything breakfast-y on these and people will be happy and forever in love with you.
Whisk the milk, buttermilk, butter, egg, and vanilla in a large measuring cup. Add the pancake mix to a large bowl, then add the liquid ingredients. Stir until uniform (but it’s fine if it’s still a bit chunky).
Spoon the mix into a muffin tin (or mini-muffin tin, if you want pancake bites), then top with whatever toppings you’d like. Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes for full-size muffins.
To serve: These are amazing dipped in warm maple syrup, or you can top them with a simple glaze, like I did. To make the glaze, simply add a few drops of milk to powdered sugar until you have the consistency needed for drizzling.
To freeze: Wrap them individually in plastic wrap then place them in a large Ziploc in the freezer. You can pull them out the night before to defrost in the fridge, or just reheat in the microwave the next morning, for those of us who always forget to defrost things (me, me, me).
Don’t have powdered sugar? I never do either. You can make your own by putting regular granulated sugar in your blender and blending until it becomes, well, powder!
Don’t have buttermilk? Who does? You can make your own by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to regular milk and allowing it to sit for 15 minutes, until it thickens.
Don’t have an egg? It’s probably time to get yourself to the store.
Over to Jarrett for some drink talk:
Ever tried to make a quick stop at a liquor store on your way to a party, only to find yourself completely overwhelmed by the bourbon selection? (It’s not a party without bourbon. Fact of life.) You just want to bring something decent but have no idea where to start. You stare up and down the shelves, and you’re soon lost in the seemingly infinite sea of brands. Sure, price point helps sort them out to a degree, but not much. You think to yourself: If only there was an easy, unpretentious guide to bourbon. One that would tell me how, say, Buffalo Trace stacks up against Jefferson’s Reserve. If only…
(I hope you can see this is leading to a book recommendation.)
And here it is! Finally, there’s hope for the casual bourbon imbiber. American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation’s Favorite Spirit, which I just received as a birthday present from my mom, is a guide to the buffet of bourbon brands on the market.
It describes them in sufficient-but-not-overwhelming detail, and then gives each brand a rating from 1 star to 5 stars. Each listing also has a small picture of the bottle, which is helpful since most non-connoisseurs tend to remember label designs more than names. I love that it’s not too intense — it’s really meant for the everyday bourbon drinker who just wants not to embarrass himself by what he brings to the party.
Take a look inside the book here!