Cornmeal Muffins . . . and Music :-)

For this week’s suppers, the cousins made a fantastic stew with umpteen vegetables and we are adding fresh steamed veggies as well on the side.  Not to mention thins like green onions and small home-made dill pickles. Mmmm . . . . . . . could there be anything more appetising? Apparently, the answer to that is ‘yes’.

Muffins!

The first night (Tuesday), they mentioned cornmeal muffins simultaneously. I had made some a month or so ago to accompany the chili that was on that week’s menu). Turned out, there had been a sighting of said muffins in the freezer; it only took a few minutes and the microwave and we were all enjoying one with our meal.

There were only six in the freezer, but there are plenty of bags of home-frozen corn kernels and it didn’t take me long to volunteer! I planned to have them come out of the oven just in time for the meal, but my timing was off. I had not allowed for the fact that I might not be able to find all the other ingredients quickly. Around here, things are kept in identical containers (several types, though) with labels on. I am primarily visual and although in my own kitchen I prefer to use containers, they often have an identifying quality and are always kept in the same location. Around here, things ‘migrate’ from time to time to allow room for new supplies, etc.  so, after opening a multitude of containers and not finding all my ingredients, I sought help.

ASK for help 01

Problem solved! I used cousin S’s wonderful Muffin cookbook, but, of course, I tweaked the heck out of the recipe! I like to maximize nutrition and my thinking is that if people enjoy their food, then they will eat it, so the nutrition goes where it’s meant to go. In case you might like to try this,here it is:

Linne’s Cornmeal Muffins

Single Recipe – makes 12 large muffins Double Recipe – makes 24 large muffins
Dry Mixture

¾ c white flour

¾ c whole wheat flour

½ c wheat germ

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 ½ tsp baking soda

¼ – ½ tsp salt

Dry Mixture

1 ½ c white flour

1 ½ c whole wheat flour

1 c wheat germ

3 tsp baking powder

3 tsp baking soda

½ – 1 tsp salt

Moist Mixture

1 c cornmeal

½ c powdered milk

1 ¼ c water

 

1/3 c vegetable oil

2 – 3 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 large egg

 

1 c corn kernels, fresh, thawed or canned

Moist Mixture

2 c cornmeal

1 c powdered milk

2 ½ c water

 

2/3 c vegetable oil

4 – 6 Tbsp. sugar

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 large eggs

 

2 c corn kernels, fresh, thawed or canned

Method

Assemble ingredients. Prepare the muffin tins (I grease lightly with non-hydrogenated margarine).

.Mix cornmeal and powdered milk together well in a smaller / medium mixing bowl.

Add water and mix well. Leave cornmeal to soak.

Combine the Dry Ingredients in a medium / large mixing bowl and mix well. Make a well in the centre.

Set the oven to 4000 F. (This gives you time to make the batter without having it stand too long. And it saves power, as the oven won’t be on for too long while empty)

Beat the egg/s in a 1 c measuring cup. Add the lemon juice and beat again.

Add the egg & lemon mixture to the cornmeal mixture and stir well.

Measure the oil in the same cup. Add to the cornmeal mixture and mix well.

Measure the sugar in the same cup. Add to the cornmeal mixture and mix well.

Pour the Moist Mixture into the well in the Dry Mixture and stir in gently.

Note: Do not over-mix!

Add the corn kernels (if using) and fold in gently.

Use a large serving spoon to fill the muffin pan/s, dividing the batter evenly.

Bake for 15 minutes and test with a toothpick or knife blade. If it comes out dry, they are done. If not, bake for another 5 – 7 minutes. Test again. The muffins should be light golden and the tops springy to the touch.

Options:

When I make this sort of savoury muffin for my family or just for myself, I also like to add from one to three tablespoons of nutritional yeast, Engevita, for example. Women in my family tend to be Vitamin B deficient, but not me . . .

You can cut the sugar further; I will use only two tablespoons in the larger recipe next time. I cut the amount almost in half from the original, but it’s still too much.

If you have honey, that would work instead of the sugar. I’d make sure it was quite runny by heating it and then add it to the wet mixture.

You can substitute liquid milk for the powdered milk and water; I find the powdered is often cheaper and it’s easy to have on hand.

Yoghurt makes a good substitute, too, for the powdered milk and water, but you may need to add some water if your batter is too dry.

Instead of corn kernels, grate some cheese and add to the dry mixture. I like to add a bit at a time, sprinkling it as I stir, thus making sure the cheese doesn’t clump together. These are wonderful for breakfast with a bit of jam or for lunch with a salad. I made some once with a good cheddar cheese and we ate it with jalapeno jelly, which was an amazing combination.

Instead of corn kernels, add a cup of dark raisins. I like to soak them for a few minutes in very hot water, dry them on a towel, then add them to the dry mixture.

With either the cheese or corn kernel options, you can add finely chopped sausage or ham or bacon. Veggie versions of these work just as well.

I had an extra one before retiring to my room this evening, and I had it with the special cherry jam I made just for Christmas. And then we forgot to open it that day.

I forgot to take photos of the  muffins, except for the final treat, so these pictures will have to do. Trust me, this recipe turns out wonderfully delicious!

By the way, the Christmas Cherry Jam was not made with our own cherries, but with Lapins that I bought at the local organic market in early July. They were the closest I could find  to the Bings of my childhood, which I love dearly. My Auntie M used to make her cherry jam from Bings and I wanted to make some for her that was as close as possible to her own recipe. She told me her secret ingredient was lemon juice, but nowadays the recipes all seem to call for that, so I guess the secret is out!

I took her a small jar marked for Christmas back in July and reminded her to open it in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. She loved it!

 

25660367_1963372773985086_2028599284634409508_n

A bit of inspiration for you!

And, in case you are feeling musically deprived, LOL,

Life Is . . . by Runrig (of course) from a concert in Bonn in 1999, shortly after their lead singer left to enter politics and was replaced by a Canadian!!! Bruce Guthro, from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. This is an emotional song, so, as an antidote . . .

Maymorning, also by Runrig. This is from their 40th anniversary concert in August 2013, Party on the Moor, held at Muir of Ord near Inverness in Scotland. There’s a cute surprise at 6.30, too. And I there isn’t praise high enough for Malcolm Jones’ lead guitar, in my not-so-humble-opinion.

and I don’t think I’ve shared this before: The Ghost of Tom Joad, sung by Elvis Costello and Mumford & Sons. Although I like Mumford & Sons a lot, it’s still the only song I’ve heard by Elvis Costello. {the notes say: Bruce Springsteen titled the song after the main character from John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath. He hoped the song would personify or represent the voices of the hopeless, disenfranchised, and invisible as the book was said to do in the 1930s.}

I guess I’d best share something happier, too, eh? How about this?

That Old Time Religion by Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie (son of Woody Guthrie). This is not what you probably expect (unless you are familiar with Pete’s music).

and this caught my ear, too . . . Precious Friend, also by Pete Seeger.

I have found, in my few years in this Virtual Village, that you are all Precious Friends to one another. It gives me hope . . .

Dream another Dream

And here is Pete Seeger again, singing another favourite, The Garden Song, and ‘garden’, in this case, is a metaphor for many things. So I add it for all of you, who, in your own ways, work ‘inch by inch’ to effect change in this world that needs it so much. Gardening, knitting, yarnbombing, cooking & baking, writing, painting, singing, dreaming, protesting, thinking, sharing your thoughts, your actions and your words in so many ways that words fail me . . .

Pete Seeger banjo 01If you don’t listen to the whole thing, at least listen to Pete’s introduction. So true . . . I also love that his banjo had on it these words:

Much Love and even more Light to each of you. Stay warm, eh?

Unless, of course, you live on the downside . . . can I send anyone a bit of this?

Hugs to you all.  ~ Linne

p.s. While getting this ready to publish, the music was still playing and this came on: This is for all of you, as you do what you can to make this a better world:

Garbage by Pete Seeger. Here’s to a better world in 2018!

 

 

 

Three Things / Thankful on Thursday

Thankful on Thursday

I have been sitting here and contemplating what to write about tonight. There are things in the works that I’m not ready to share yet and things I planned and haven’t been able to begin. Still, there is much to be grateful for.

One: I am grateful for the skills that my mother started me on when I was a wee child; hand-stitching from the age of two or so, for one. Knitting and crochet and embroidery for more. I feel so deeply happy when I knit and crochet; I feel connected to such a long line of women in my family who all did the same, either to keep their family warm and cosy or to be creative or, in most cases, both. Last winter i crocheted an enormous throw for my friends in Tacoma. Out of cotton yarn. It began as an idea for a light (ha!) summer wrap, something to keep  one’s back warm when sitting by an evening campfire. And it morphed into this:

crochet spread teal white mango 01

I used two yarns; one teal and the other a variegate with teal, mandarin orange and white. I started in the centre, crocheted once around, then joined the second yarn. I just kept alternating yarns in a lovely spiral. I changed the pattern a couple of times, too, but now I wish I’d written down what I did. I would like to try this again one day, but with three yarn colours. I did find at first that the variegate interfered with the clarity of the pattern. Next time I will choose solid colours only. AS you can see, it’s five feet across or more. I’m still amazed that I created this in about two months, in the midst of other handwork and with only two to four hours a day, some days not at all, too.

The second thing I’m grateful for is my renewed love of sock making.  When I was in my twenties, my lovely mother in law gave me a pair of work boots for Christmas. I was living with my oldest son and his dad on one of the Gulf Islands and we walked everywhere. They were wonderful boots that fit me exactly and I have never forgotten her thoughtfulness. But I needed some warm socks to go with them. I didn’t than have the patience for knitting with fin yarns and I had some pure wool rug yarn, so I took a men’s dress sock pattern and did the math. The resulting pattern was a perfect fit and I had those socks for many years.

A few weeks ago my cousin and I were driving to Vernon for some of the weekly sales shopping and he kindly took me to Armstrong along the way. Armstrong is a small town about twenty minutes from here, not far off the main highway. We went to The Twisted Purl Yarn Studio and I bought some Jamieson & Smith pure wool two ply jumper yarn in five colours: black, burgundy, red, pink and a sort of sage green. I had not stopped to think what I might make, so gave the colour selection less thought than usual,; the selection was small for my taste and I simply picked colours that I thought I could use successfully in Fair Isle type stranded knitting. A few days later I decided I needed a pair of wool socks and the adventure began. The colours aren’t quite what I like, but I think they are working out fairly well. In any case, they will keep my feet toasty warm.

IMG_4694

AS you can see, I’ve successfully turned the heel and am about to begin knitting my way up the leg. The other sock is ready to have its heel created, too. There are a few errors in the knitting; While doing the hearts motif I was listening to Runrig on my headphones and lost track of the counting, so some of the hearts aren’t quite right. By the time I noticed it was too late for frogging. And while doing the heel, the pattern required using short rows with a wrapped stitch at the beginning and then picking up the wrap with the stitch and knitting or purling them together. Sounds easy, right? Well, try doing that with black yarn in the late evening and under rather dim lighting. Not to mention that my eyesight is not too good at present. However, I got through rather well, I think and the heel looks fine to me.

Today, with snow coming tonight for the firs time this autumn, we went to Vernon again so that I could buy a pair of thick work socks, some heavy work gloves for shovelling snow and the like and some more candied ginger. My cousin is a very kind man and made time to take me to the Twisted Purl again, where I put in an order for a few colours I feel I need before I begin the next pair of socks and another ball of the black for this pair. The Purl was out of the black but ready to make another order, so I asked for not only the black but also a medium green, a slightly golden yellow and I think another colour. And as long as I was in the store . . . I bought these:

IMG_4763

Two balls of dark green, one of a light blue, one of  a darker blue and one each of the three reds I’m already using in the current socks. We were in a bit of a rush to get all the shopping done and get home before dark, so I didn’t want to take time over the colours and order more. I think I can make these work, though. I have a happy pattern in mind for the legs of the next pair and I’ll share that with you all once I get to that. It’s all part of the plan for next year . . .

The third thing I’m grateful for today is my odd knack for baking ‘on the fly’; adapting recipes that I’ve never made before I make them and then having it all work out so well. Usually, anyway. Yesterday my cousin’s wife, Cousin S, gave me five bananas she had brought home from her work as a school custodian. They had black spots on the skins but were still firm. She mentioned that she had been thinking of banana bread and had Googled for a recipe, finding one for Chocolate Banana Bread. I offered to whip that up, as she rarely has time for baking and after lunch I set to. I added chopped walnuts, whole wheat flour and wheat germ to the original recipe (I like to maximize nutrition as much as possible). I doubled the recipe so that I could use all the bananas and when I found the batter a bit dry I added some yoghurt. In the end, we got twenty four muffins out of the recipe. I chose to do muffins instead of a loaf as it makes it easier to pack one for lunch and, wrapped individually, they keep very well in the fridge. They turned out scrumptious, especially hot from the oven with butter after I split them open. The chocolate chips didn’t hurt, either; they formed wee volcanoes of deliciousness that I’m sure you can imagine.

I will share the recipe here, likely tomorrow. It was very easy and well worth it.


Chocolate Banana Muffins 

INGREDIENTS for a single recipe: makes 12 muffins or one loaf.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4  cup wheat germ

1/2 cup cocoa, preferably not processed with alkali

1 tsp baking soda rounded slightly

1/2 tsp salt (less if you like) The original recipe called for sea salt, but we don’t have that, so I used regular table salt.

3 large brown bananas – 1.5 cups mashed

(I find there is a more pleasant and mild banana flavour if the bananas aren’t too ripe, but I abhor waste, so use whatever you have)  🙂

1/4 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/4 cup oil (I used safflower)

Note: you can use all butter, all oil or cut it back and substitute yoghurt or milk for part of the liquid.

3/4 cup packed brown sugar (if you measure the oil and butter first, then the brown sugar in the same cup, you will waste less oil/butter). This will work with less sugar.

1 large egg at room temperature (I didn’t see this recipe in time to take one out, so I used a cold egg. You could use 2 smaller eggs if you don’t have large.)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 to 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 to 1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 to 1 cup raisins (large are great and for special occasions, you can soak them in rum or brandy first; the alcohol is eliminated during baking, leaving only the flavour)

Optional for topping: chop some chocolate chips and walnuts together. You would need a few tablespoons of the chopped mix.

Optional (if needed): plain or vanilla yoghurt OR milk

INGREDIENTS for a double recipe: makes 24 muffins or two loaves.

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2  cup wheat germ

1 cup cocoa, preferably not processed with alkali. I used a couple of heaping tablespoons more; we like chocolate around here.

2 tsp baking soda rounded slightly

1 tsp salt (less if you like) The original recipe called for sea salt, but we don’t have that, so I used regular table salt.

5 – 6 large brown bananas – 3 cups mashed. I confess I didn’t measure them. Hence the yoghurt added at the end.

(I find there is a more pleasant and mild banana flavour if the bananas aren’t too ripe, but I abhor waste, so use whatever you have)  🙂

1/2 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/2 cup oil (I used safflower)

Note: you can use all butter, all oil or cut it back and substitute yoghurt or milk for part of the liquid.

1.5 cups packed brown sugar (if you measure the oil and butter first, then the brown sugar in the same cup, you will waste less oil/butter) This will work with less sugar.

2 large eggs at room temperature (I didn’t see this recipe in time to take them out, so I used cold eggs. You could use 3 – 4 smaller eggs if you don’t have large.)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 to 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 to 2  cups chopped walnuts

1 to 2 cups raisins (large are great and for special occasions, you can soak them in rum or brandy first; the alcohol is eliminated during baking, leaving only the flavour). I didn’t use raisins this time; cousin M has requested them for next timre, as he loves the large raisins we buy.

Optional for topping: chop some chocolate chips and walnuts together. You would need a few tablespoons of the chopped mix.

Optional (if needed): plain or vanilla yoghurt OR milk

Variation: I think these would be wonderful made with chocolate chips and chopped candied ginger, too. But I love candied ginger! lol

METHOD:

Heat oven to 350 F

Grease one or two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans or one or two 12 hole muffin pans, I use a non-hydrogenated margarine made with olive oil. Safflower oil would likely work, too. I like the margarine because it isn’t absorbed so much by the muffins / loaves.

In a medium sized bowl mix the flours, wheat germ, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl mash the peeled bananas with a fork or a pastry cutter.Add the butter and oil. Stir until well mixed.stir in the brown sugar, egg and vanilla extract. Beat well with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, folding in carefully. I usually add the dry mix in three portions; it makes the folding in easier. Don’t overmix.

IF the mixture seems too dry, add a few heaping tblsp of plain or vanilla yoghurt. Milk can also be used. Use your judgement; less is more sometimes.

Fold in the chocolate chips, walnuts and raisins.

Using a large serving spoon or a tablespoon (a small metal measuring cup would also work, I think), spoon the batter into the muffin cups or the loaf pans.

Optional: Spoon a little of the topping mix onto each muffin or top the loaves with it, if using. I didn’t and they were fine without it. It’s my idea, not from the original recipe; I just thought it would fancy them up for a special occasion.

If making a loaf, the original recipe calls for baking it for 50 – 65 minutes. I’d test them from about 30 minutes on, using a toothpick or table knife. When it comes out clean, remove from the oven, let cool for 5 – 10 minutes, then remove to a rack.

If making muffins, bake for about 15 – 20 minutes and then test to see if they need more time. Every oven is different. I had mine in a 400 F oven for 25 minutes and it was a wee bit too long; the chocolate didn’t burn, but it would have if I’d not checked them.

These muffins are fantastic eaten hot, split open and buttered. You may want to make tea, coffee or your favourite hot drink to enjoy along with them.


I have more to tell you, but it will have to wait. It’s well after midnight now and bed is calling me . . .

Correction:

I didn’t link to The Twisted Yarn’s Three Things on Thursday post. And a good thing, too! I was doing my best to get back to more timely posting and typed that from memory. Actually, the Thankful on Thursday posts belong to Mrs. Snail. My apologies to both ladies.

It’s too dark for me to type properly as it is. I’ll add that tomorrow, too. In the meantime, do share your Three Things / Thankful in the comments, if you feel inspired to do so. Love and warm hugs to each of you. I hope you are all doing well.

A final addition: This is what I woke up to today:

And, as to my Peace Poppies for Kendal; they arrived in time. In this photo you can see two of them quite clearly (the ones with the red bit around their black centre):

The second photo shows the WWI medical tent over which the poppies were draped after being fastened together by some wonderful volunteers.