Sunday, April 26, 2020

Call to Worship for April 26

Written for the April 26th service of Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church

Welcome!  I am Michelle Paquette, and my pronouns are she/her/hers.

Laurie and I have been effectively on lockdown since March 10, about 7 weeks now.  Yes, we got a bit of a head start on most of you.

We had thought a few months ago that we would be heading off on a road trip this May, traveling across the country to the East Coast, visiting folks from Florida to Nova Scotia, and traveling back home via Pennsylvania and Missouri.  That isn’t happening.  Instead, we’ve become homebodies.

We are older, and between us have medical conditions that put us at risk should we contract COVID-19.  As a result, we shelter in place, order groceries online, and venture out as little as possible.  It’s a strange way for me to live, as I tend to be somewhat social and enjoy face-to-face interactions with people.  Talking to little rectangles on a Zoom display doesn’t come naturally to me, but that is the only outside contact many of us have these days.

We’ve had to change some of our habits.  We can’t run out to the grocery at the last minute to pick up a few things for dinner.  There are no more leisurely late lunches at cafes, no outings to museums or urban treks.  Our lives are very different now.

While I’d like to say “I’m so over it!”, head outside, and just go back to my daily life, that isn’t really practical or at all reasonable behavior.  There are real risks right now, to myself, my partner, and everyone else in the community.  Instead, my partner and I have to persist a while longer.

Persistence is defined as firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.  Now, I don’t think that our persistence is obstinate, and the only opposition we have is within ourselves.  I find that my internal opposition is largely a function of my old habits.  I can’t do this things I used to do, and a little part of me is upset that things just aren’t they way they used to be.

I find that I have to stop and remind that little part of me that this is something we are all doing as part of a greater cause, that others, people I may not have met, are relying on me and many others that they perhaps have not met, to follow these new behaviors, slow the spread of this virus, and make sure that the facilities they need are available for them should they need them.

I try to replace my old habits with new ones.  I read more.  I prepare more complex dishes in the kitchen, and I stretch my cooking and baking skills.  I write more.  I’m trying to get past some anxieties I have over communications and reach out to others who may be in need of support.
We can all find new habits to replace the old ones that are now out of reach.  MDUUC provides a number of new, virtual activities from online Community Circles to virtual lunch meetups, Vespers, classes, and even our Coffee & Connections Hour after today’s service.  (It’s pretty neat, by the way!  Give it a try.)

We each may have something tucked away, a relaxing or engaging activity perhaps, something we can use to quiet that little part of each of us that is upset by these recent changes and help us stay in the moment.  Let’s discover what inner resources we might have as we worship together.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Sourdough Crumpets: A lovely use of ‘discard’ starter

Laurie and I have had a batch of sourdough starter running for about a year now.  It’s nicely matured, active, and makes for wonderful breads.  It also provides us with a regular supply of ‘discard’ starter, flour and water that the starter’s microbes have transformed, no longer all that good as a starter, but very useful in making some other things.  These delicious crumpets are one of my favorite uses, and are very easy to make.  I started with the recipe from King Arthur Flour, and have adapted it for my kitchen and some of my favorite mix-ins.

The sourdough crumpets are made from the ‘discard’ sourdough starter left after ‘feeding’.  In feeding a starter equal weights of flour and water are mixed with a small amount of the old starter.  The remaining starter is ‘discarded’, not great for using to start bread fermentation, but just dandy for cooking up at once.

Need to get a sourdough starter?  You can make one from scratch!
King Arthur Flour Sourdough Starter Recipe

Sourdough Crumpets (From a King Arthur Flour recipe)

  • 227 g discard starter
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/8 tsp baking soda
  • Oil to grease up the crumpet rings


  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup berries or raisins


  • 4 each 3 1/2 inch English muffin or crumpet rings.  (Tuna cans with the top and bottom removed work, and I’ve even seen canning lids used!)
  • 10-12” griddle or large flat pan


  1. Oil or lightly grease the crumpet rings and griddle.
  2. Start heating the rings and griddle at a medium low heat.
  3. Weigh out the starter in a bowl.
  4. Sprinkle the other ingredients on top of the starter, baking soda last.   (The baking soda will react with the acid starter to make it rise.)
  5. When the griddle is hot, quickly fold the starter and other ingredients together.
  6. Spoon about a quarter cup (1/4 of the batter) into each crumpet ring.
  7. The crumpets will rise in the rings to about 1” high, start to bubble, and pull away from the ring very slightly as they cook.  After 6 to 10 minutes, you should be able to lift the ring off from around the crumpet (use tongs!).
  8. Turn the crumpets over and finish on the other side 3-4 minutes, til golden brown.
  9. Split the crumpets apart by repeatedly piercing around the edge with a large fork.  (Trying to cut with a knife will be very messy!)

I like to split mine, lightly toast to crisp up the inside, and enjoy with honey or jam.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Victory Bread: A simple sourdough bread with no store-bought yeast

Victory Bread is a really simple bread, leavened only with a sourdough starter.  The name comes from a cookbook from The Great War, when flour was rationed.  The idea was that bread would be only half white wheat flour, and something else would substitute for the other half.  Recipes used whole wheat, corn, potato, rice, and other flours for that second part.

This bread was made with all-purpose white and whole wheat flours, and has a nice nutty and sharp taste.  Great with butter and marmalade!
No starter, and no yeast?  No problem!  There’s yeast everywhere, including on your flour, and the lactobaccillus that make sourdough... well, sour... are also very common.  You can start a culture and refine it through steps to just have the most active yeast and lactobacillus strains in it, over about a week.  Then you can maintain it and start making breads.
King Arthur Flour Sourdough Starter Recipe


  • 45g whole wheat flour
  • 10g sourdough starter
  • 45g warm water


  • 250g all-purpose white flour
  • 250g whole wheat flour
  • 400g warm water
  • 10g salt


  1. Preferment: 45g whole wheat flour, 45g warm water, 10g sourdough starter, stirred together and covered, allow to work 12-24 hours.
  2. 250g all-purpose white flour, 250g whole wheat, 350g warm water, and the 100g of preferment above are combined in a bowl the day after the preferment is started.  Mix together so that no dry flour remains, and let stand covered for 20 minutes to rest.
  3. Knead dough together, adding 10g salt, and another 50g of water.  Let rest 30 minutes.
  4. Knead dough for a minute, and let rest 30 minutes.  Repeat this knead and rest two more times.
  5. Gently form dough into a loaf, in lightly oiled loaf pan, cover and let rise at room temperature until ‘fluffy’, about 1 1/2 times the original size.   This takes 2-3 hours for my starter.
  6. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.  Tent the pan with aluminum foil, leaving room for the bread to rise while baking.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes covered.  Remove the tenting foil, being careful of hot steam, and bake another 25 minutes, until center temperature is 200 degrees F, and the crust is a nice dark brown, like an old penny.
  8. Remove from the oven, and let cool on a wire rack for a few hours before slicing.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Whole Wheat Greek Yogurt Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

Blueberry compote:

  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 tsp sugar

Combine and simmer in a covered pan for about 15 minutes, while making the pancakes.

Greek Yogurt Pancakes:

Makes about 10 pancakes, or 2 servings.

  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or any other variety of milk)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plain 0%/nonfat Greek yogurt

  1. Whisk together in a larger bowl the whole-wheat and all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, egg and vanilla extract. 
  3. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mix in the larger bowl and stir just until combined. 
  4. Add the yogurt and stir.
  5. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat.  Oil or spray with cooking oil. Spoon a quarter cup of the batter onto the pan for each pancake, a few inches apart, and cook just until bubbles form around the edges of each pancake, about 3 minutes. 
  6. Flip and cook for 90 seconds more.
  7. Transfer the pancakes to a warm plate.
  8. Repeat with the remaining batter.

A stack of 5 pancakes, half the batch, alone will have 277 calories. With the blueberry compote this  will come to about 320 calories.

Light Spice Cake

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. Bake: 30 min. YIELD: 4 servings, 155 cal/serving
  • 1/4 cup Splenda baking sweetener
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup 0% Greek Yogurt
  • 3 tbsp EggBeaters
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup milk (or buttermilk, and omit the vinegar!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cider vinegar

Medium bowl, whisk, baking sheet, three English muffin/crumpet rings

  1. If using milk, add the vinegar to the milk, to make a mock buttermilk.  Let sit a few minutes.
  2. In a bowl, cream sugar, Splenda, and yogurt. 
  3. Add EggBeaters; beat well. 
  4. Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk or milk with vinegar. Mix well. 
  5. Pour into three greased and floured English muffin/crumpet baking rings on a baking sheet, only about halfway up at most.
  6. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until the cake tests done. Cool.

Maple Frosting
This frosting adds about 100 calories to each serving!  I need to work on this...
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp 0% Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  1. In a bowl whisk together the butter and yogurt
  2. Add in the maple syrup and whisk
  3. Add in half the powdered sugar and whisk til smooth.  It will be runny at this point.
  4. Add in the remaining powdered sugar a little at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.

Apple Cinnamon Popovers with Brown Sugar Butter

Apple cinnamon popovers for breakfast!  And with brown sugar butter, who could resist?   These treats are about 160 calories each without the butter.  And, Laurie likes them!

The recipe is adapted from the venerable Betty Crocker cookbook, adjusted for portions and what I actually tend to have on hand in my kitchen.

Apple Cinnamon Popovers with Brown Sugar Butter

  • Prep 15 MIN
  • Total 1 HR 10 MIN
  • Servings 6


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped peeled apples (1 Granny Smith will do)

Brown Sugar Butter
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2  tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


  • In large bowl, stir together all Popover ingredients except apples just until smooth. I use a blender to get the batter smooth and aerated. The batter should rest 30 minutes or more to fully hydrate the flour.
  • Heat oven to 375°F. Generously grease 6 (4-oz) heatproof pottery ramekins, or 5-6 regular-size muffin or popover-pan cups with butter. If using ramekins, arrange on cookie sheet. Heat cups in oven just prior to adding batter. 
  • Toss the chopped apples with 1 tsp of cinnamon.
  • Place half of the apple in the bottom of the heated cups
  • Stir the remaining apples into the batter. Pour batter into hot cups, filling almost to top. 
  • Bake 50 minutes. Do not open oven door during baking. 
  • After 50 minutes, remove popovers from oven; cut several slits in top of each. Bake about 10 minutes longer. 
  • While baking the popovers, in a small bowl, mix Brown Sugar Butter ingredients until well combined. 
  • Immediately remove popovers from cups. Serve warm with Brown Sugar Butter.

No-egg Chocolate Mug Cake

I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen again, coming up with interesting baked goods and such with low calorie profiles, suitable for inactive periods spent doing our “shelter in place” thing.  Here’s one fast dessert goodie!

No-egg Chocolate Mug Cake

This cake is less spongey than most mug cakes, and is actually quite low in calories, at 123 per serving.  This recipe makes two servings.

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp Splenda baking sweetener
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp 0% Fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 tbsp semisweet chocolate chips
  • Cooking oil spray

Equipment:  Small mixing bowl, whisk, rubber spatula, two 3” ramekins or coffee cups
  1. Oil ramekins or mugs with cooking oil spray.
  2. Blend flour, cocoa powder, Splenda, and baking powder in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add in Greek Yogurt and milk, and whisk into a smooth batter.
  4. Pour equal amounts of the batter into the two ramekins or coffee cups.
  5. Place 1/2 tbsp of chocolate chips in the center of each batch of batter.
  6. Place a paper towel in the microwave and set the ramekins or cup on it.
  7. Microwave on HIGH for 80 seconds.
  8. Remove and let cool.
123 Calories each
Serve alone or topped with ice cream.