Secret confession time.

My camera these days is my iPhone 4S, and frankly, Siri is no help to me at all taking pictures. I realize that photos are important to blogs to capture interest but I don’t buy that you need to have one of those fancyass $600 digital SLR cameras to take decent photos for the web. It all comes down to the person taking the picture, their sense of composition, and…well, the camera is only maybe 10% of a successful image.

I’m not claiming that my photos are the best in the world of blogging–far from it: I am constantly disappointed with the quality of my images but it has little to do with my camera, it has to do with my rushing too much and that the light in my kitchen is absolutely the worst for taking photos. At night its dark, usually when I shoot most of my pics, and the shadows from the track lighting above play havoc with how things look.

Moreover, I don’t believe in hiding failures or imperfections. My bakeware is old and permanently stained, my kitchen is reasonably tidy but folks–its a working kitchen and will never be ready for Architectural Digest or Fancy Show Off A Home You Will Never Want To Live In Quarterly. Its clean (mostly) and you’ll never see anything but a kitchen that probably looks a lot like yours. I’ll still try to take pretty pictures, but if you see a bag of oats in the background or a can of imported Italian tomatoes, well…that’s my reality.

Having been an eBay seller for nearly ten years, I do know how to take decent pictures and resolve to apply said knowledge in the future to my photos for this blog. Errr…not this blog entry, but the next one. Promise.

Last night I came home with a nice, heavy piece of swordfish which I considered pan frying and serving with a quick caponata side but decided to save it for a possible Friday night with a couple of dinner guests to wrap up an evening of cheese and wine tasting–a sort of fishy capper to a cream-filled cheesy evening. Instead, I dropped in at Casa Latina down the street from us and ordered a couple of takeout tacos for my wife and I. At $2.50 a pop, the pricing is simple and the food quite tasty. Unfortunately, they were out of lengua for my wife, they forgot to add the guacamole, and it was probably my own fault because in the middle of making it I talked to my wife on the phone who reminded me to leave off any salsa on hers, so the guy had to remake it and it threw him off his game. And when my wife is hungry and her food expectations aren’t met, she goes to her quiet, broody place and politely ignores my offers to make something else for her.

Consumed with guilt (ok, I exaggerate), I did the dishes, tidied up, and immediately set out to make something nice for our breakfast the following morning. Megan Gordon’s Whole-Grain Mornings had been a sort of hit and miss with her IHHO (in her humble opinion) so I hoped for a solid win this time out. Turns out her recipe for Pear Hazelnut Muffins was spot on.

Not too complicated and sporting a lot less sugar than similar recipes that might call for at least a cup of white sugar, this one only asks for one-third cup of white sugar. The recipe also called for toasted hazelnuts which wasn’t difficult, shredded pear off a grater, and the blending of sugar and butter together to which the dry ingredients were added (oats, white flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, etc.). I had to do a bit of substitution as the instructions called for cardamom (substituted ginger) and buttermilk which, as many of you know, we might buy in anticipation of using for baking…but end up using only perhaps half a cup worth, only to see the rest of the quart-size container ultimately turning to solid curds and stink a couple of weeks later. How to replace buttermilk? Rather than add some vinegar to regular milk, I mixed yogurt and milk together which provided a perfect substitute.

As a matter of fact, as yogurt gets purchased more regularly than even milk or buttermilk in this house, I think I’ll simply continue to use yogurt and milk to substitute for the occasional muffin-like recipes I come to use. Buttermilk is all well and good, but I’m really tired of seeing the waste of most of a quart of buttermilk.

They came out marvelously. Moist, crunchy, and the shredded pear flavor and toasted hazelnut combo was delicious. Wife thumbed up on the recipe, even suggesting that I somehow sell these, they were that good. Hmm.

The recipe allows for 12 muffins but I often put these in six-muffin tins so that one muffin can prove substantial enough for a breakfast, rather than nibbling on two…or maybe three, as appetite pushes us. Of the six muffins, two are in the freezer, two on the counter for the next morning, and two in the refrigerator for use in a day or two. As regular followers of this food diary know, I’m eschewing as much as possible the use of sugar in our diets. As this recipe had about 5 tablespoons of sugar, then each muffin had a little less than a tablespoon of sugar in each. That’s not bad, particularly if I only partake of these muffins occasionally. In the future, I may even attempt to substitute the white sugar with maple syrup or agave syrup.

Here’s another shot of the muffins. They look damned pretty. Go visit here to learn more about Megan Gordon and her cookbook, Whole-Grain Mornings.