Thursday, May 28, 2009

Blueberry Muffin Love

I am not a fan of the blueberry. I know it's really good for you and as Kimball observed, can stop time in its tracks, but I just don't love it in my salads or cereal or by the handful. But put a fresh blueberry into a muffin and I'm all in. Monday morning we were having a lazy morning and the kids weren't clamoring for breakfast at 7:00 am, so I pulled some berries out of the fridge and cracked open my Williams-Sonoma Muffins and Quick Breads cookbook. This is a great go-to recipe for blueberry muffins. One batch makes about 16 average sized muffins or 12 muffins with very tall muffin tops, which is my preference.

Blueberry Muffins
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk (use whole if you have it)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray standard muffin tins.

In a medium bowl stir and toss together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In another medium bowl, whisk together the milk, melted butter, and eggs until smooth. Add liquid to the dry ingredients and stir until just blended. Add the blueberries and stir just until evenly incorporated. Spoon into prepared muffin tins. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes. Eat the moment they won't burn your tongue, with or without butter.

Friday, May 15, 2009

House Guests: A How-To Guide

What should you do if you have house guests coming and you are too lazy to prepare meals, entertain them, or do anything other than lie around the house? I highly recommend that you, most of your children, and your guests all come down with the stomach flu.

It helps if you and your kids can get it first, thus evoking pity and help from said guests. Then, after several hours of that, be sure that they, too, become infected. If you're an A-level hostess, please try to wipe the toilet down with a Clorox wipe just before your guests need to throw up for the first time. It will help them feel loved and cared for.

If you manage to pull this off, your guests will not expect you to plan elaborate day trips, to spend money on restaurants, movies, and other activities, nor even to wine and dine them at home with your Martha Stewart-esque hostessing skills. You can even have a gourmet menu planned out for brownie points, but they won't want you to make the food anyway. They will look the other way as the laundry piles up in mounds on your bedroom floor--they know that you don't have the energy to fold and put away all those sheets, towels, pillowcases, and nearly every blanket in the house that has been barfed on, because they don't have the energy, either. Engaging conversation? Completely unnecessary.

Instead, your guests will want nothing rather than a turn in the bathroom, a couch or bed to lie on, and a little ginger ale to sip when they're feeling up to it. And those are the easiest kind of house guests I have ever had. The bad news? They may never want to come back.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

On Motherhood

The blood of mothers
Coursing through my veins
Is powerful potion to my soul.

Mother Eve, whose courageous choice
Set a precedent for mothers all:
Sacrificing her own comforts and safety,
She bestowed a gift, exquisite and far-reaching;
The gift to be and to have joy.

Pioneer mothers, who never looked back
At the smoldering remains of their past.
Trudging forward daily, they suffered much
For their faith
For their prophet
For their God
For those who would follow:
Generations unknown.

The mother whose womb gave me life
Whose faith made me strong
Whose strength built my faith.
She has given no less than those before her,
And her children call her blessed.

Another mother, whose blood is not mine
Loved me as if,
Without waiting for my love to come first.
Her other priceless gift to me?
Her son, with his steady, unblinking love
For God and
For me.
Now her blood joins with mine
In my children, born of love and covenant.

How can I not rejoice in my destiny, my privilege?
I join these and other noble daughters, mothers,
Who know that greater joy comes from sacrifice
Than is found in seeking pleasure.
I glimpse the vision of that woman, that Someday Me
As this refiner's fire molds and shapes,
Burning, purifying, beautiful.

I see my daughter and I realize
How much I must show her
Teach her
Love her
Nurture within her
So that she, too, will choose motherhood.
The errand of angels, the blessing of God.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sweet Things

Would someone in my town PLEASE open a bakery like this one? I discovered it via Nienie's blog and am drooling with envy (and just because everything looks so amazing). Every town needs a great bakery, and I love the look of this one. If my sister and I lived in an alternate universe (in which we weren't married and raising kids) I can see the two of us doing something like this. But having worked in a bakery for years, I know how much work and time it requires to own one, and thus I would not consider such an endeavor as there are other high priorities in my life who might suffer from neglect. These little people would miss me, and I'd miss them. But oh, can't someone else live this little dream for me? I promise to drop in for a cupcake on a weekly basis, even when I'm trying to drop baby pounds!

In other sweet thoughts, is there anything more inviting in spring than strawberry shortcake? I seriously doubt it; (although anything with lemon curd might come in at a close second). I was taking dinner to some friends the other night--the perfect excuse to make a real dessert in the middle of the week--and as I drove past our roadside strawberry stand, I knew what it had to be. Get your berries at the grocery store if you must, but if you can manage to get them on the same day they were picked, this dish will be elevated from delicious to divine.

Here's my favorite recipe (at the moment) for the cake part of this baby. It's a pound cake with a cake mix as the base, so it whips up quickly and perfectly every time. You can put it in mini-bundts like I did, in one big bundt, or even in a couple of 8 inch layers. It calls for sherry (the alcohol cooks out); as we don't drink and I don't really like to keep liquor in the house, even for cooking, I buy cooking sherry in the vinegar section of the supermarket. That way I don't have to worry about a babysitter trying her first alcohol while she's here:). You could probably also use white wine if you have that around instead (which I don't), and if you want a non-alcoholic substitution, you might try orange juice. It would change the flavor, but I'm sure the outcome would be delicious.

Sherry Pound Cake
  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sherry (or substitute)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Butter and flour your pan, or use Pam with Flour to spray them well. Mix all the ingredients well and bake in a 350 oven. How long depends on what kind of pan you use-- a full-sized bundt will take about 50-60 minutes; the minis will take more like 25-30. Let it cool on a rack. In the meantime, slice up those berries and put just a touch of sugar on them and a little lemon zest if you so desire. Put them in the fridge to get soft and juicy. If you take the time to whip the cream yourself, you won't be sorry, but if you must you can buy the can--just don't use "whipped topping", please. That's not real food, you know!

Now, go track down these ingredients and enjoy some with the people you love most. And please think about opening that bakery soon.