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Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD

The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

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Feedback and suggestions--printable and otherwise--always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Modifying a decadent recipe for chocolate cupcakes

By Shannon K. Johnson

April 22, 2009 | During my flight to Mexico, the tiny TV inset in the headrest in front of me gave me limited television choices. One of them was the Food Network. I think the name of the program was the Barefoot Contessa.

During the course of the episode she demonstrated how to make the most delicious-looking chocolate cupcakes.

I wiped away the drool and I pulled out my laptop and jotted down the recipe.

This cake had a low rise, allowing me to convert the recipe to a gluten-free version quite easily.

The cake looked so decadent. I soon discovered that this cake was creamy and soft.

But just a warning: this is one of those cakes that once you find out what is in it you may not like it as well.

The key to ensuring that the mix is well blended is to get all the ingredients at room temperature. Since I first started cooking I have always been frustrated by the butter problem -- if you put it in the microwave it melts, and I have even tried to put butter in a sandwich bag and running it under hot water.

But when you are making a cake or anything with an oven you always have to preheat the oven. So I tried balancing the stick on top of the stove while the oven heated, but the butter usually drips.

Instead, unwrap the butter and drop it in the mixing bowl and set the bowl on the stove while the oven below heats it softens the butter. Leave the eggs out at the same time to allow them to warm to room temperature.

Cream the butter and add one cup of sugar, then add four eggs one at a time and one tablespoon of vanilla.

Finally add two cups of Hershey Chocolate Syrup (the kind you put on sundaes) and then gradually incorporate one cup of flour into the batter.

Be sure not to overbeat this batter. I should also mention that the batter is very tasty but don't eat too much because the cupcakes are even better.

If you are gluten-intolerant, this cake is an ideal candidate to substitute one cup of gluten-free flour mix instead of your traditional flour.

This mix will usually make about 16 cupcakes. Be sure to fill the cake mix almost full because this mix doesn't rise much while cooking


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