I was at a wonderful little antique store yesterday (called Antiques on State), in Geneva, Illinois, when I came across what looked like a giant salt shaker. Two ladies were working there, and when I asked the younger woman what it was, she said that it was a salt shaker. The large holes made this seem unlikely, though. The older woman quickly noted that it is actually called a muffineer. A muffineer? That was a new one on me. Turns out that in the old days when people ate muffins, which I suspect were a bit plainer than modern muffins, they could shake powdered sugar on it with a muffineer.
Immediately, it seemed indispensable to me, and a few minutes later I walked out with my purchase–the muffineer. I will steadfastly fight the urge to collect muffineers, because something tells me that one will be enough. And immediately I knew that my post today had to be muffin-related. In my files, I found a muffin article from Gourmet Magazine, October 1981, and decided to try its Blueberry Muffin recipe. It’s very good–light textured and moist, verging on being more of a cupcake than a muffin, with bursts of fresh blueberry flavor.
Here is the recipe for Blueberry Muffins:
In a large bowl cream 7 tablespoons of softened, unsalted butter with 2/3 cup sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add 1 large egg and continuing beating. (I used a spoon and gave it 100 wallops.) Into another bowl sift together 2-1/4 cups flour, 4 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. (I also added a 1/4 teaspoon of mace, and this was delicious. If you don’t have mace, try nutmeg.) Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with one cup of milk. (I also added a splash of vanilla.) Begin and end with the flour. Fold in 1 cup of fresh blueberries, which have been rinsed and picked over. Spoon the batter into a cupcake tin lined with paper baking cups. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
Note: In some ways it’s easier if a recipe like this yields exactly 12 muffins, but in this case, it’s fifteen. When the first batch is done, allow to cool for five minutes, remove the hot muffins gingerly, and quickly fill three more cups, and bake. The original recipe didn’t specify using a spice, but mace goes beautifully with blueberries. It’s an old-fashioned spice that was used in New England pound cakes. As notes above, nutmeg would work, too.)
Saturday I went to Cantigny Park, in Wheaton, Illinois. I was in the Idea Garden, when I heard an unfamiliar bird song, looked up, and almost dropped my camera. My eyes could only make out a blue, feathery blob, but when I uploaded the photos at home, I saw it was an indigo bunting.This may be a young bird, but I don’t know enough about buntings to say. I couldn’t have been more excited or surprised than if I had seen the Great Auk!
Meanwhile, back home: I’ve been seeing a lot of swallowtail butterflies lately, and this one fluttered into the garden, to stop at the Joe Pye weed, which is in full bloom now.
Lastly, I noted this monarch caterpillar munching on a swamp milkweed plant (Asclepias incarnata). Namaste. Fran
Almost forgot! The magic lilies (Lycoris) are up!