Monthly Archives: May 2016

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Perfect for special occasions, or any occasion! This classic dessert is surprisingly easy to make.

2 ½ C all-purpose flour
1 ½ C sugar
2-3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (or more, if you want!)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggsDSC02237
1 C oil
1 C buttermilk (or equivalent substitute, i.e., milk and vinegar. 1 C buttermilk = 1 C milk + 1 Tbsp white vinegar)
1 tsp white vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
2-3 tsp red food coloring

Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda

Combine wet ingredients: eggs, oil, buttermilk, vinegar, and vanilla.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, mix until smooth.

Add in desired amount of red food coloring until just combined.DSC02245

Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full.

Bake at 350 for 16-18 minutes.

Yield: 24 cupcakes (and a bit extra)

I highly recommend topping these with cream cheese frosting!



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Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

By Newt Scamander

A continually evolving compendium of magical creatures, this book is now in its 52nd edition, having been revised multiple times to reflect current knowledge of magizoology, the study of magical animals. Alphabetically ordered, the descriptions of the creatures address concerns such as the level of threat a creature poses to wizards and muggle alike, as well as information on where they live, usual (or unusual) behavior, magical properties, and a host of other fascinating facts. Each creature is assigned a M.O.M (Ministry of Magic) classification for the dangerousness of each creature, ranging from XXXXX (Known wizard killer/impossible to train or domesticate) down to X (boring). Additional notes are provided to elucidate certain nuances, such as Centaurs receiving a XXXX M.O.M rating not necessarily because of the threat they pose to wizards and muggle, but because of the respect they deserve. Before digging into the classifications, Scamander provides a brief background on how the M.O.M came up with the primary classification system for creatures (beasts, beings, and spirits), and ongoing political struggles with defining the term “beast,” as well as his own background and contributions to the field of magizoology.

“Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them” by Newt Scamander (fine, J.K. Rowling) provides further insight into the wonderful world of Harry Potter. The premise of this book is that of a textbook for students at Hogwarts, providing information that is important not only for academic success but also for basic maintenance of a wizarding household (because who wants a garden full of Horklumps?). Rowling builds on the universe-within-a-universe that she created in “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” and the book is complete with notes and doodles from Harry and his friends (the book is a reprint of Harry’s personal copy). She gives credence to both the wizarding universe by providing detailed explanations of the multitude of magical creatures that show up throughout the pages of the Harry Potter series while also acknowledging the influence of magical creatures on muggle stories. For example, the dearly beloved Loch Ness Monster is actually the largest kelpie known to wizards. In these and many other examples, Rowling grants all readers, adults and children alike, a limitless imagination and boundless possibilities, continuing the reality of the wonderful world of Harry Potter.

I love this book. Not only do I love this book because it is an extension of all things Harry Potter, but I also love this book because the premise is so clever. In fact, I love it so much that I can’t find anything else I need to say about it. Just read it!


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