Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Perfectly Delicious Blueberry Muffins

I don't think that the good folks at America's Test Kitchen will mind my sharing this muffin recipe from their excellent general cookbook, The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.  I have never made anything that was other than delicious when using this book.  It is my go-to resource (along with www.allrecipes.com) for baking and cooking.

First, though, if at all possible, collect 1 1/2 - 2 cups of sun-kissed, perfectly ripe blueberries off of your own blueberry bushes at the beginning of July.  Mine are producing prodigiously again this year.  Blueberry bushes just seem to do well up here in the PNW -- in a way, alas, that I fear tomatoes never shall.  I planted 8 more blueberry plants in the backyard.  Not next summer, but maybe summer of 2014, I shall have more blueberries than I'll know how to handle.  But, making these muffins will be a good and rewarding start.  Here goes:

Big Beautiful Lemon-Blueberry Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
Prep time: 5 minutes (yeah, if you're awesome -- it takes me longer)
Total time: 50 minutes (see note above)

3 cups all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur Flour, because it is the best out there)
1 cup sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 cups plain, lowfat yogurt (I use vanilla flavor)
2 large eggs
Zest from two lemons
8 T. unsalted butter -- melted then cooled
1 1/2 - 2 cups of fresh blueberries, tossed in 1 T. flour

Combine dry ingredients (flour, powder, soda, salt, sugar) in a large bowl.  Beat together the two eggs with the yogurt.  Add the lemon zest to this wet mixture -- I add a little of the fresh lemon juice, too.  Fold it into the dry ingredients until just mixed (do not overmix).  Fold in the melted butter.  Lastly, fold in the blueberries.  This batter will be very solid and sticky -- not in any sense liquidy.  Scoop the batter evenly into coated muffin tins.  The batter will be sticking up over the muffin tin tops.  That is OK.  Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes -- muffins will be golden brown and pleasingly uneven looking.  Let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then out of the pan for 10 minutes before serving to delighted and grateful muffin eaters.

For all my strawberries, I usually just serve those washed and sliced with the world's best and easiest fruit dip.  Take one jar of Kraft Marshmallow Creme (7 oz) and beat together with one 8 oz. package of softened Philadelphia Cream Cheese.  Trust me: this is where it is at for dipping strawberries. 

Don't you just love the fresh fruits of summer?  Especially if you happen to be blessed with the ability simply to pluck them from your own garden -- the literal fruits of your labor?

Friday, July 06, 2012

This and That (An Update for Friends and Family) (That's Right, Both of You)

I've been wanting to write a post on a hilarious and disturbing novel I read recently: Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander.  Unfortunately, I returned the book to the library before beginning the write-up, and now I'm not sure if I have all of my points correct.  So, I guess I'll have to re-check the book (or *gasp* buy it). 

I've also been running.  A lot.  A lot and a lot and a lot of running.  And here is something I have learned: do not drink two cups of coffee before you run 5 miles.  Just don't do it.  One cup may be fine; not two.  Wee, wee, wee -- all the way home, if you catch my drift.  Going to do my first 5K tomorrow.  Then, two 10K's in September.  And maybe, just maybe, the Seattle Half Marathon in November.  What do you think?  Am I nuts?

Spent some quality time with my hoe and a stubborn patch of long, prairie grass yesterday.  A good outlet for my inner rage.  Betcha didn't know I had inner rage, did ya?  Yeah, I didn't know it myself until I attacked that grass yesterday.  And, I've got the popped blister on my left thumb as evidence -- and a smooth-ish expanse of dirt, as well.  The ducks just swam about in their pool watching me, being happy duckies, and thinking it strange that anyone would sweat and strain so much when there is sunshine and water to enjoy.

Still homeschooling the Bug.  Found an interesting Elementary Koine Greek curriculum so that we can take the letters we've been learning to the next level.  When time travel finally gets perfected, we'll be able to blend in with the New Testament locals (at least the educated ones), as Koine Greek was the lingua franca of the era -- or so the textbook tells me.  Continuing with Latin, of course.  We have three science curricula for 4th Grade: one Christian-based, one critical thinking-based; one physical science with hands-on experiments-based.  My little girl is a science wiz -- just so long as she doesn't have to do too much math!  Doing a composition course from Memoria Press -- Classical Composition by James A. Selby.  Literature will be one assigned book a month with a book report due at the end.  American, World and Washington State history.  German5th Grade math.  P.E. and music.  Plus, poetry memorization, Bible study and Bible verse memorization.  And Geography with Dad.  Sounds like a full year, huh?  We "do school" over the course of 12 months, so it will be more staggered than it appears. 

I am also in the midst of two very similar books -- at least similar in theme and scope, though very different in structure and style.  The first is The Abolition of Britain by Peter Hitchens.  The second is The Fortunes of Permanence by that sexy, sexy beast, Roger Kimball. Rrrarrrr.  Both books inform me that everything's gone to pot on both sides of the pond.  I already knew this, but it is rather fun to revel in the utter swirling-pits-of-hell-ishness of it all.  Both men are superb writers -- Mr. Hitchens is a Brit, so, of course, you already know they're the bomb-diggetty of the writing world; Mr. Kimball is American, but he writes like a Brit (meaning: well) and is absolutely super-hottihot to boot. Rrrarrr. 

They say -- and this is an unconfirmed rumor -- that there will be sunshine for the next five days at least!  Can summer have finally come to the PNW?  Instead of making hay while the sun shines, I'll be going to the water park.  Toodle-oo!