Food, Recipe

dacie’s beer muffins

There’s one smell at the house I live in–besides cookies–that is instantly recognizable. It’s the yeasty, rich smell of beer muffins, a recipe that’s been around since Dacie lived here. There are a few foods that have been constant through-out the years at Sunday brunches. Cookies, egg bakes, and beer muffins are among them. Alumni always ask for the muffins freshly hot from the oven.

We make a large batch of beer muffin mix and keep it handy to feed the 40+ hungry people that show up to brunch. There used to be cans of cheap beer stocked in the kitchen for these brunches–but Dacie’s is an open house, and eventually local teenagers figured out, hey, there’s not only cookie ingredients here, but beer as well! Now we use non-alcoholic beer. Either one works. Just make sure it’s cheap.

Dacie’s Beer Muffins

For the mix:

9 cups sifted flour

1/3 cup baking powder

1 cup + 2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk

1 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cup vegetable shortening

For the muffins:

3 cups mix

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

3 tablespoons sugar

1 cup beer

Sift together dry ingredients. Cut shortening into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Bake in muffin tins at 350 to 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.

DSLR, Musing

my summer home

I’m living in a very special house on my campus–once, an older woman lived here who constantly baked cookies, entertained students and community members, and welcomed a capella groups in to practice with the upright piano. She has since passed away, but her legacy lives on, and my college kept her house and its purpose running. A capella groups can be found practicing at all hours of the day, and there is an open kitchen with tea and a constant supply of cookie ingredients. My friend and I are house residents for the summer, and our job is to keep the house running, clean it, garden, and bake for brunches held every Sunday.

Food, Recipe

almond vanilla pound cake

Almond is a flavor missing from mainstream American desserts. In Scandinavia, I fell in love with the taste of almond, especially in baking. In cakes, Scandinavians use marzipan (almond paste) like one would fondant–covering a cake for a smooth outer layer. Marzipan is baked into the center of croissants, drizzled with chocolate, sandwiched with creme. It’s a popular candy at Christmas time, when my host mother rolled thin tubes of marzipan filled with raisins, wine-soaked nuts, and chocolate, slicing them into bite-size pieces.

When I cleaned the house I will live in for the rest of this summer, I found a single vanilla bean tucked inside an unmarked jar. I wanted to bake with it (vanilla beans produce a flavor unmatched by extract) and knew immediately what I would include–almond. We didn’t have any marzipan, but I found almond extract. I that thought a poundcake, simple and buttery, would best show off the flavor. Drizzled with a glaze as soon as it comes out of the oven, it has a crispy crust and beautiful pale yellow color, flecked with vanilla.

Almond Vanilla Pound Cake

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.)


1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 sticks butter

4 eggs, separated

3/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp almond extract

seeds from 1 vanilla bean


1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

4-5 tablespoons milk

1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a loaf pan with butter/cooking spray and flour. With a whisk, combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. In a mixer, beat egg whites until they form hard peaks. Beat in 1/2 cup of sugar a little at a time. Remove from mixing bowl and set aside. With the mixer, cream butter and add remaining sugar (1/4 + 2 tbsp). When the butter and sugar is well combined, add yolks one at a time, followed by the almond extract and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture, being careful not to over mix. Finally, fold the egg whites into the batter until just combined. Pour into pan and bake for 40-45 minutes. It will be done when a toothpick comes out clean, but be sure to err on the side of moist (avoid dry poundcake!) While the cake is baking, combine glaze ingredients in a bowl. If needed, add more milk to get desired consistency. Once the cake is out of the oven, immediately pour glaze on top and drain any excess. Let cool for 10 minutes, and you’re ready to go!


your rainbow panorama//olafur eliasson

Two weeks ago, back in Denmark, my class was lucky enough to attend the premiere of “Your Rainbow Panorama”, a permanent installation on the roof of the ARoS Museum of Modern Art in Arhus. The artist, Olafur Eliasson, has done a lot of large-scale works, including “New York City Waterfalls” along the East River and “The Weather Project” at the Tate Modern.

“Your Rainbow Panorama” is breathtaking–as you walk around the installation, you are provided with a 360 degree view of Arhus which is literally colored by the spectrum of glass panels. You encounter both the inside and outside of the exhibit differently–to city viewers, it looks as if ARoS has a rainbow crown. On the inside, you can gaze at the industrial neighborhoods, the harbor, through burnt reds, vibrant aquas, etc. Experiencing other people and the perspective within the installation was most fun for me: the colors seep through at the corners like sunsets, the people become shadows and shades. None of these images were edited for color.