During today’s Media Maker Time at Linfield, students soldered little Halloween ghosts, flew our quadcopter and took aerial photos, and started learning to code with Codecademy.

My project for the day was to try out JuxtaposeJS from Knight Lab. It’s super fun and easy!


Media Maker Time is funded by a mini-grant from Linfield’s current STEM Initiative, and I’m co-facilitating with my Mass Communication colleague Michael Huntsberger. We had eight students attend our first session and will continue to meet every Friday afternoon this fall. This activity was inspired by the rise of makerspaces in higher ed, and partly informed by the great faculty I talked with for this MediaShift story.

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I found a 1973 book called Oregon for the Curious at our local Goodwill store recently. It’s by Ralph Friedman, who I’ve since learned wrote many books of Oregon travel tales and folklore. You can find more about this particular book at OregonLive.

What sold me on the book as I loitered in the Goodwill bookshelves was Friedman’s fun, florid prose. He embellishes his descriptions of landscapes and locales with, well, numerous descriptors — but also isn’t afraid to call ’em as he sees ’em, as in his mention of the homes in McMinnville, where I live: “… the houses have been greatly altered (and often not to the good).” He has little to say about our fair small town, but maybe things have changed a lot since 1973.

But! The delights of other parts of Oregon are even more delightful when viewed through Friedman’s eyes. I decided that this summer, I’d visit a few of the obscure nearby places he covers in the book, and use them as opportunities to practice my multimedia skills, which need a little dusting off as I prepare to teach a new multimedia course next year.

Today I headed out to the Yamhill-Carlton Pioneer Memorial Cemetery, about 10 miles from my house and right between the towns of — you guessed it — Yamhill and Carlton.

Here’s what Friedman says about Highway 47, the major road toward the cemetery:

The beauty of Oregon 47 is chiefly in the imagery the land and its distant vistas will evoke in the poetic. To the east ruffle the whorled fields and family farm orchards that remind a man from Abraham Lincoln’s country of the Illinois prairie. Westward, beyond pastoral scenes of sheer joy, the hirsute hills curl from the far edge of the saucered plain and arch misty green and haze blue into the foam-waves of the Coast Range. On a summer day the sun drips golden shadows on the feathered slopes  and in evening the moon is a brassy gong hung on an invisible peak or a jack-o-lantern rolled into a saddle of the cordillera. Then shards of the wind, splintered by the foothill woods, come lancing into the meadows, gathering capes of dust around them, until they stub their jagged edges in a marshy ravine and fall flat, the last ripple of breeze bending the grass under a drowsy-eyed cow. From the junction to Forest Grove at least a dozen roads venture west toward the foothills. None of them possesses staggering scenery, but all are tonic for sore nerves.

I’m fond of the drive along 47 and regard myself as somewhat poetic, so consider me evoked, Mr. Friedman!

So why the cemetery, among the options in this area? Friedman says of it:

From cemetery ridge, extraordinary view of Coast Range, which sweeps as a tidal wave across the western sky. Cemetery holds graves of men and women, and large number of children, dating back to 1860s.

Friedman was right on all counts. Check out the photos below. It was a fascinating place.

(What did I learn about photography on this little trip? I really, really need a lens hood for our sunny days, rare as they are during much of the year. I spared you the images with the flares. Also, I wouldn’t claim that any of these are artistically impressive, but it’s always fun to practice with the DSLR.)

(And I just learned that Flickr doesn’t allow set embedding anymore. Yet another blow to my relationship with that site. Ugh.)

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I attended the Oregon Lavender Festival this past weekend, and stopped at Willakenzie Lavender Farm to check out their lavender and their adorable alpacas. I bought a bouquet of lavender there and have enjoyed its beauty and scent on our dining table. But I wanted to experience the lavender with another sense: taste!

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I sampled a lavender cupcake and a lavender-lemon shortbread cookie by Luckee Dutch Cookies at the farm, and they were delicious. I wanted to bake something with a little bit of my bouquet. I didn’t get the culinary lavender on offer, but could still use the lavender I had purchased. So: lavender lemon scones, to also incorporate my husband’s love of lemon desserts.

I started with this recipe by Tasha Kaye, and adapted it a bit to use my fresh lavender and to add lemon and a light glaze.

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Vegan Lavender Lemon Scones

Scones:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup Earth Balance margarine (I was a little short on this, so added some unsweetened applesauce to make up the difference)
4 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup fresh lavender buds
1 tsp lemon zest (save the rest from a large lemon for the glaze)
1/2 cup almond or soy milk

Glaze:
Juice of one large lemon
Remaining lemon zest (about 1 1/2 tsp)
Powdered sugar (start with 1/4 cup)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Blend flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor.
3. Add Earth Balance, sugar, lavender, and lemon zest to mixture. Pulse until mixture is crumbly.
4. With processor running, pour milk into bowl slowly until dough is fully moistened and sticky.
5. Scoop out dough by generous tablespoonfuls onto a parchment paper-covered baking sheet. (The original recipe I used describes other ways to shape the scones, but I just did it an easy way.) Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden on edges.
6. Allow scones to cool completely on wire rack.
7. Whisk lemon juice, zest, and 1/4 cup powdered sugar in bowl. Add more sugar and/or water until glaze is at desired thickness and sweetness. (I was winging it on this part, and did not make a very thick glaze — my approach does not look like Starbucks’ scone glaze, for example, but I prefer a less sweet topping anyway.)

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(One scone did not survive to be photographed. Well, I had to make sure the recipe was worthy of the photo!)

These came out just right, with a subtle lavender flavor (not like a mouthful of perfume) and a fresh lemony taste as well. I think I’ll look forward to lavender season now, just as I look forward to other fruit and vegetable seasons.

Gratuitous alpaca photo:
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Swirls of deliciousness.

Another recipe! My mother-in-law has a great recipe for a cinnamon swirl bundt cake that my husband adores. Now that we’re vegan, though, it needed some adaptations. The original recipe uses a boxed cake mix and eggs. Here’s what I came up with for the vegan version, using The Misfit Baker’s Cinnamon Bundt Cake recipe as a starting point for veganizing. I changed The Misfit Baker’s recipe to decrease the fat, make the “swirl,” and keep the flavor of my mother-in-law’s original recipe.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp imitation butter extract (OK, this is not the kind of all-natural ingredient I usually would use, but it’s in my mother-in-law’s recipe!)
  • Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare bundt pan with cooking spray.
  2. Mix flour, 1 cup sugar, salt, and baking soda. Combine cinnamon with remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and set aside.
  3. Mix water, canola oil, applesauce, vinegar, and extracts. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  4. Pour half of batter into prepared bundt pan. Pour half of sugar-cinnamon mixture on top of batter. Use a butter knife to swirl the sugar-cinnamon mixture into the batter. Don’t combine it completely or you won’t have visible swirls!
  5. Pour second half of batter into pan, top with remaining sugar-cinnamon mixture, and swirl again.
  6. Bake for about 50 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Cool in pan for 15-20 minutes (or forget about it for an hour or so like I did), then transfer to wire rack.
  8. Sift powdered sugar over the top if desired. (It nicely covers any imperfections in the cake surface.)

Probably should have taken the picture BEFORE sampling a slice. This cake is going to work with my husband, though, so I was anxious to exact my “baker’s salary” of a slice before it leaves the house! Oh, and obviously, this is pre-powdered sugar.

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So I had resolved to try to use this blog to post interesting stuff, as I do on Facebook, but in such a way that I controlled my data and had a permanent record of these things — as opposed to the ephemeral-yet-eternal Timeline of Facebook. Well, Facebook’s ease-of-use just beats the blog. But I’m going to try harder. Back to the Press This! bookmarklet…and some original posts, I suppose.

To get things off and rolling, I thought I’d share a recipe I worked up tonight.

I love chiles rellenos, especially those from the Chuy’s Tex-Mex restaurants in Texas. I wanted to try to veganize them and do something other than just filling them with Daiya vegan cheese. I also wanted to use Chuy’s approach of panko breadcrumb breading, as opposed to a flour-based breading, to retain some texture. I used a ground flaxseed-water mix instead of an egg wash to hold the breadcrumbs in place, which was pretty successful.

I made an approximation of the Chuy’s Deluxe Tomatillo Sauce to put on top. (I halved the recipe, and still had enough to use for a full pan of enchiladas, too!). I just made the regular tomatillo sauce in the recipe (very easy, with my trusty food processor) and then made vegan sour cream with cashews that I simply spread on top.

All in all, not too bad! Quite a bit of effort, but easier than a trip to Texas to satisfy my craving.

Vegan Chiles Rellenos a la Chuy’s

  • 4 large poblano chiles
  • Relleno filling of your choice: veggies, Daiya cheese, crumbled tofu or frozen soy crumbles with taco seasoning, soyrizo, spinach and mushrooms…
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • A sauce of your choice, such as tomatillo or ranchero — homemade or canned

Optional toppings: vegan cheese, cilantro, guacamole, salsa, and/or vegan sour cream

  1. Preheat broiler. Place poblanos on foil-lined baking sheet. Broil for 5-7 minutes per side or until partly blackened and soft. Remove from oven and cool.
  2. Meanwhile, cook filling for rellenos as needed.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  4. Cut a slit down one side of each poblano. (It looks like a pepper autopsy.) Remove seeds. Don’t worry about getting every single one out.
  5. Stuff each poblano with filling. Use a toothpick to hold closed if necessary.
  6. Whisk flaxseed meal with water in flat bowl. Spread panko breadcrumbs on plate. Prepare foil-lined baking sheet, maybe with a little cooking spray.
  7. Brush flaxseed mixture on top surfaces of stuffed poblanos. Pick up each poblano carefully and dredge bottom side through flaxseed mixture, then press into panko breadcrumbs on plate. Place on baking sheet. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of each pepper and press into place on bare spots if needed. Repeat for all peppers.
  8. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are golden.
  9. Top with chosen sauce and other garnishes as desired.

Sorry there’s no photo — clearly I need to work on my food blogging skills. Enjoy the chiles rellenos!

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Aardvark Map Test

29 Nov 2011

Testing this for my class…



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It Is Not Safe to Break Up in a Burger King Any More.

Wow. Great use of Storify here, and interesting debate in the comments about whether photographing the couple and tweeting their image was appropriate. Should people now adjust their public behavior to accommodate the potential for being photographed and reported upon at any time? (I tend to think yes…)

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Omni Magazine Online – Tribute Website.

This is a research project waiting to happen.

Omni was actually one of my favorite magazines as a kid. That probably explains a lot.

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Yelping with Cormac

07 Nov 2011

What if Cormac McCarthy wrote Yelp reviews?

My favorite so far: the Apple Store.

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I wrote a new blog post over at my other site about using technology in teaching (and reading, and multimedia)…in case you like those things too.

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