Muffin Mania

Muffins are the perfect food. I’m talking here about real homemade muffins, warm and melty from the oven, with crunchy tops and moist middles bursting with good things such as blueberries, apples, raisins and nuts —  then torn in two and reverently topped with your spread of choice. (Do not try this with anything you have to tear the plastic off of.) In my former life as the mother of teenagers, I was a master muffin maker, but I gave it up as my nest gradually emptied and friends started taking their hamburgers out of the buns. But a recipe in this cookbook inspired me to try again. Martha Foose is the author of “Screen Doors and Sweet Tea” and owner of famed Bottletree Bakery in Oxford, Miss., (go to www.oxfordcvb.comisfor Bottletree  and other Oxford info, especially if you’re headed there for the first Presidential debate on Sept. 26). She’s the best kind of Southern woman: Smart, funny and strong — the kind who can feed a sweaty park full of hot and hungry people while wearing an adorable sundress with coordinated espadrilles. That’s what Foose did when she was the guest chef recently at the Spring Park Farmer’s Market in Tuscumbia, http://www.cityoftuscumbia.org/Latest_News/index.html, Ala. (This link is from 2007 but the information is still correct.)  The audience at Spring Park demonstrations always is a tough crowd — they know what good food is — but Foose charmed them, deliciously. She made me believe that even after a couple-years’-break, I too could turn out to-die-for blueberry muffins. And she was right, although it took me a couple tries to get my rhythm back. (Click here to read the rest of the story: http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20080822/ARTICLES/808220302)

If you value food, family and friends, Foose’s cookbook is a must-have. The photography’s gorgeous, and Foose adds tips and suggestions in her own Mississippi style — you can almost hear her Delta accent. Almost all bookstores and online booksellers have this book. Visit http://www.marthafoose.com/ for a list of stores that sell autographed copies.

Here’s the Blueberry Muffins recipe:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon each baking soda and salt

Grating of nutmeg

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (do not thaw) blueberries

2 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Spray 18 muffin cups or line with paper baking cups. In large bowl with a whisk, combine dry ingredients. Toss in blueberries to coat and evenly distribute. In separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients. Using rubber spatula, combine wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir until just moistened. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full. Bake 15 minutes or until tops spring back lightly when touched. Let cool 5 minutes then turn out onto rack.

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