Red Currant Muffins

IMG_4799Every year I  race with the birds for the currants on my red currant bush, and weeks ago I noticed the clusters of little yellow flowers on the bush, and then the tiny green fruits. I was darned if I was going to let the birds get all the fruit again this year! Visions of adorable little jars of red currant jelly lined up in the cupboard danced before me.

We grew "Mr. Lincoln," heirloom peas. They were delicious, and even the pod was tender and tasted good.
We grew “Mr. Lincoln,” heirloom peas. They were delicious, and even the pod was tender and tasted good.

Every year, though, the birds seem to exert some kind of avian mind control, and I get distracted. This was the first year I had planted peas, and I was in the midst of picking the pristine pods, in an ecstasy of pea picking, when out of the corner of my eye I noticed clusters of tiny ruby currants hanging on the bush. I had beat the birds!

IMG_4803Not quite. I fetched a bowl and started to pick the currants only to find many of the stems were stripped bare. I was able to gather about half a cup of currants, which didn’t seem enough for making jelly.

IMG_4822Fortunately, I remembered an old Gourmet article on gooseberries and currants, and found a recipe for red currant muffins that called only for a few handfuls of the fruits. So I dragged out the cookbook and made muffins.

Red Currant Muffins

In a bowl work 1/3 cup butter until it is soft. Gradually stir in 2/3 cup sugar and cream the mixture until it is light in texture. Stir in 2 eggs, well beaten, and 1 cup milk. Add 2 cups flour, sifted with 4 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and stir the mixture until the flour is dampened. Do not attempt to beat out the lumps. Spoon a generous layer of the batter into 12 paper-lined muffin tins, scatter a heaping teaspoon of red currants (stemmed and washed), on top of each, and fill the pans with the remaining batter. Sprinkle the tops with a mixture of 3 tablespoons sugar and 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and bake the muffins in a 375 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

IMG_48254832xxThese are tender, moist golden muffins, with a crunchy topping of cinnamon sugar. The currants seem to melt away into the batter, creating little pinpricks of tart deliciousness.

Note: Gourmet’s recipes are impeccable, and there is exactly enough batter for twelve high-risen muffins. Do your best to make sure equal amounts of batter go into each paper muffin cup. Also, if you don’t have red currants, you could use blueberries or raspberries.

IMG_4838Speaking of things bright and ruby red, here is a photo of the cardinal who frequents the garden.

IMG_4840If only we all looked so good with birdseed hanging from our lip.

IMG_4787And here’s a young robin looking for worms.

4809xI know this isn’t the best bird photo, but chickadees rarely stay in one place more than one second, so this is the best I can do now, and I vow to master chickadee high-speed photography.

4837xAnd I know everything that is said about chipmunks is true: that they can undermine entire garages, and have destroyed porches, but I can’t help but think they are cute.

4836x4835x

IMG_4796Lastly, we are rushing into the peak of summer, with daylilies and lilies in bud and bloom, phlox getting ready to explode, and all is green and growing. It’s a party! Hope your week is a good one. Namaste. Fran

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