Fact of the Week: September 30, 2013

Quaking Aspen, Populus tremuloides, grows in clone groups, all connected by their roots. In fall each clone changes color at the same time,  allowing people to identify a grouping.

Cite: The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada,  by John Muir Laws


Fact of the Week: September 22, 2013

September 16, 2012 holds the all time low in minimum Arctic sea ice  since the start of  satellite record, and reinforces the long-term downward trend in Arctic ice extent. The low was 1.32 million square miles (3.41 million square km) in arctic sea ice area. 



Fact of the Week: September 16, 2013

Lizards can break off their tails when threatened by a predator;  it then twitches causing a distraction and allowing the lizard to escape.  The lizard can grow back its tail with a cartilage rod instead of bone. Much of a lizards excess fat is stored in the tail, so a lizard who loses its tail may not be able to reproduce that year. 

Cite: The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada, by John Muir Laws


Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcake

So this is a pretty standard Chocolate cupcake recipe, however mine are gluten free. But I am letting you all in on a secret to make super moist chocolate cake that my mom taught me! 


3 eggs, separated
4 tbsp butter (1/2 stick)
2 cups Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup  chocolate pudding mix (make sure gluten free) 
1/4 cup cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350°.

Separate eggs. Whip the whites until stiff.

In a separate mixing bowl, soften butter, add Pamela’s Mix and white sugar. Mix until the butter is creamed. Add 1/4 cup milk with the vanilla flavoring and almond flavoring, mix for 1 minute on medium. Add the remaining 1/4 cup milk with the egg yolks. Then add in cocoa powder, and pudding mix and beat till well combined. Fold in stiff egg whites.

Pour into cupcake tins lined with wrappers. Do not fill more than 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes. Do not open the oven door while baking. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch. 

Pour the cupcakes out and let them cool on a wire rack. Frost with whatever frosting you want. I always love to use cream cheese frosting. 



This a favorite at my house.  The orginal recipe was found the cookbook The Abundant Table which are recipes from the Bishop Ranch. But my roommates and I added peaches and use almond milk instead.

3/4 cup unsalted butter  (1/2 cup cake and 1/4 cup topping)
1 1/4 cups sugar (3/4 for cake and 1/2 cup for topping)
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour  (2 cups for cake and 1/2 for topping)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup almond milk
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup peaches
1/2 cinnamon

Preheat oven to  375 degrees fahrenheit
Cream butter and sugar together. Add in egg and mix well.
Shift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Then slowly add in the butter sugar mixture in. Then pour in the milk,  and mix till well combined. 
Butter or grease a pan (a 11 by 7 by 11 1/2 glass pan works best)
Pour blueberries and peaches on top.
For the topping mix the 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cupof flour and cinnamon.  Cut in the butter until the stick together in pea sized balls. Evenly spread over the furit layer. 
Bake for 1 hour or until the top springs back when pressed on and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. 


Fact of the Week: September 9, 2013

The combined average temperature  for July 2013 was the sixth hottest July on record (for the last 134 years)!  It was  0.61°C (1.10°F) above the 20th century average of 15.8°C (60.4°F) for July temperatures. 

Cite: NOAA


Fact of the Week: September 1, 2013

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the U.S. publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone; which scholastic changed the name from the British version because philosopher has a different meaning in our culture. 

Well anyway happy anniversary of your introduction to our American culture Harry! I've enjoyed your time with us!