Saturday, April 23, 2011

Come see me eat muffins, eat muffins! Muffins, Muffins!

Kudos to you if you got the reference for the title today. It's from, I think, an Indian song that someone made totally fake "English" lyrics for by using non-English words that sound like English words. The fake lyrics make it seem like the woman is singing a really silly song about nipples. Google "Nipple Song" and you'll probably find it.

Now... ah... moving right along: Muffins are what's on the menu today! Specifically: Lemon Blueberry Corn Muffins.

Yummy. Doesn't that look delicious? These muffins are sweet, cake-y and corny. They have a delicate lemon flavor and are punctuated with dots of gently tart blueberries. Muffins are almost always easy to make and these don't disappoint. They're quite simple and you probably already have most of the ingredients already.

Better yet... the batter can be used to make Lemon Blueberry Corn Cakes. Just use the batter like you would for pancakes with a smidgen more oil in the pan so they don't stick. The fresh fruit in them makes for a delicious breakfast and is fantastic with sliced cantaloupe. Drizzle on a tiny touch of maple syrup and you'll be in heaven.

Lemon Blueberry Muffins
Makes 12

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, spooned into the measuring cups and leveled with a knife
3/4 cup corn meal
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup oil, such as grapeseed oil or walnut oil or corn oil
1 cup milk plus 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar to make "buttermilk", divided in half
1 1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1 cup of thawed frozen blueberries, excess liquid drained

*Note: I always try to use organic ingredients when possible but use what works for you.

1. Mix the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl until well combined. Set aside.Preheat oven to 350 F. (Or if your oven is a little cool like mine, between 350 and 375) Grease a regular sized 12 cup muffin tin. Or use cupcake paper cups, if you like.

2. If you haven't already done so... take a moment to get the blueberries from the freezer (if they froze into a clump in the bag just give them a little smack against the counter to loosen them up before measuring them out) and thaw them in the microwave for 30 seconds. Drain the excess liquid off of them and set them aside.

3. Pour the milk into a cup, add the vinegar and lemon extract and give it a quick stir with the measuring spoon. This will make a sort of buttermilk. 

4. In a small bowl crack two eggs and beat them. Add the oil and mix together. Pour the egg and oil mixture into the dry ingredients. Add 1/2 of the buttermilk. Stir for about 30 seconds until the mixture is combined. Add the rest of the buttermilk and stir until the mixture is just combined. Don't over stir. You'll get hard muffins that way.

5. Gently pour the blueberries into the batter and fold them in. Don't mix them in perfectly. Let some swirls of blueberry colored batter remain since you don't want to over mix the batter.

6. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to fill the muffin tins. Leave about 1/4 inch from the top. Bake in the oven, on a well centered rack for 21 to 26 minutes. ~~~ If you're not sure if the muffins are done try sticking a tooth pick in one of the middle muffins and see if it comes out clean. If you are using a new oven or if your oven is crazy like mine and varies, it is best to remove one from the middle and cut it in half to see if it is done.

If you have extra batter remaining you'll have just enough for 1 corn cake. I fry mine in a small skillet, on medium-high heat with butter in the pan instead of oil. When it is getting dry around the edges and bubbles are coming to the surface, use a spatula to flip it. You may need to loosen the edges with the spatula first for best results. Don't try to flip it until you're sure it's not sticking to the bottom. Once flipped, let it cook a couple minutes longer til it puffs up and is done. Serve with a light drizzle of maple syrup, or eat plain or sprinkle powdered sugar on it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring In Full Swing

Here where I live, in Southern California- just north of San Diego, spring is out and sassy. 

Whenever we drive around, we are met with beautiful and glorious flowers almost everywhere. Even the local stores have Birds of Paradise! One of my favorite things about SoCal is the abundance of flora. People tend to plant a lot in their gardens and take a real pride in a colorful array of plants. Aside from these do-gooders there's even more to be seen. I'm not sure if they're wild or resulting from seed bombs or the CA Dept of Transportation is planting them... but I often see amazing and brilliant flowers on the side of the road and freeways. Yellows, bright blooms as well as subdued... Orange paired with deep Purple... Hot Pinks, delicate WhitesFuchsia and an array of Blues. These are just some of the colors that greet us on our travels.

Recently I visited the San Diego Safari Park with a friend. It was gorgeous as always but the flowers were particularly lovely. I couldn't help but photograph some of them. My mission for April is to take my camera out and capture a lot of these natural beauties. 

The day we were at the Safari Park was a bit cloudy since we've been getting quite a bit of rain recently. Not too typical of San Diego but I am loving it! Being from the Midwest originally I'm used to a lot of spring rain and I miss the thunderstorms and powerful torrential rains of my home. I bet the flowers and sunshine will make up for it, though, don't you? I've been keeping my eye on the weather forecasts so I can grab some light and do some photography. Keep an eye out for more floral photography coming your way!

Happy Spring!