Baking, Breads, Muffins & Donuts

Beautiful Blues

Wild Blueberries

Last week there were reports of ripe wild blueberries ready for the picking in the mountains of Vermont. I had dreams of creating blueberry buckle, cobbler, muffins, pancakes. It was a hot, humid day…but that did little to dampen my spirits as we climbed Blueberry Hill.

Sweet Z and I hunted high and low for those little blue gems… and realized we may have been a few days too late! So we picked what we could find and continued onward to a local winery. Yes, it was the right thing to do. I knew after my hands were stained blue for days on end, I knew I had to step away from all of the blueberry snacking and create something more. I had a moment of inspiration…I wanted to take an old family recipe and update it. Here we go!!!

It all started with a cookbook that my grandmother and her two sisters created years ago.

The basics

This recipe is a basic blueberry muffin recipe (I’ve included the original recipe, with my additions, at the end of this post). The usual muffin recipe suspects were all there: buttermilk, shortening, egg, baking powder, all purpose flour and a tiny addition of sugar. It was simple which was a great place to start. I had to adapt and improvise a bit along the way. I used Earth Balance in place of the shortening. I used vinegar and milk as a buttermilk substitute. I had two major additions to this. The first:

Candied Ginger

This ginger just seemed like the right thing to do. So I chopped about a tablespoon up and added it to the batter. The second change was creating a crumb/ streusel topping. I improvised: a little butter, cinnamon, flour, oats, freshly grated nutmeg and brown sugar got mixed up and sprinkled on. Into the muffin tin the batter went, topped off with the streusel.

Almost there…

I found this recipe made a dozen regular sized muffins and about 6 – 8 smaller muffins. About 15 minutes later the muffins were baked and it was time to wait for them to cool. I tried to wait patiently…really, I did!

Wait for it

At last it was time to break open these beauties and try.

It was studded with tiny blueberries, little bits of ginger with a slight sweetness of the crumb topping greeting you on the very first bite.

I am grateful to have grown up watching and learning in the various kitchens of my grandmother, mother, great aunts and extended families. Naturally, the kitchen is my favorite room of my house. When I take these recipes, adapt them and share with others I am hopeful of carrying on this same legacy. I have a feeling these ladies probably do not know just how much of an impact they have had on my growing up. When I remind my grandmother that she helped instill this joy of cooking and baking in me, she says I have made her day. I remind her often.

When I reflect upon my own legacy one day…the things I want to be remembered for after I am gone…time spent in the kitchen creating dishes with love, care and patience, sharing these with loved ones around the dining room table and treasuring those moments of being brought together by food – sustenance – and savoring every bite.

Thanks for reading and have a great week!!

Jean’s Basic Muffins:
1 egg
1/4 C. shortening (I used Earth Balance butter)
1/4 C. sugar
1 C. buttermilk (I used the vinegar/milk substitute)
2 C. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 cup blueberries
1 T. (or so) chopped candied ginger
Streusel Topping: not measured and done on the fly

Beat the butter, sugar and egg. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add in the buttermilk and flour mixture- mixing lightly! Fold in the berries and ginger. Put in a greased muffin tin (or line with baking papers) and bake for  about 15 minutes at 400*.

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