Visit the New Site!

Click here to visit my expanded site at mary-making.com!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Muffins and a Good Friend

I woke up one Thursday morning with the happy prospect of four days off and a weekend trip to an amusement park with one of my best friends.  My bags were packed and the car was all gassed up for the trip ahead.  After having realized that my friend's plane was taking off at 11:55am instead of landing at 11:55am, I suddenly found myself with an unexpected hour to kill.  Would I do laundry, get some work done, put my office area in order, or any of the other multitude of chores that could and should get done?  Nope!  I pulled my recipe book off the shelf and open it up to my new favorite muffin recipe, Sarah's Do-It-Your-Way Muffins from the Healthy Oven Baking Book.

I love these muffins because all of the ingredients are things I generally have on hand and the add-in can be changed to suit whatever is handy or in season.  I used some of the blueberries I had in the fridge.  This recipe makes the moistest, tastiest, easiest muffins you'll ever make.  Definitely a keeper. 

In my world, no matter how much they may look like cupcakes, muffins are a health food.  And so, the only change I made to the recipe was to use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour, boosting the health factor.

Pretty soon, my muffins were baked, (mostly) cooled and sitting in a ziplock container in the back seat and I was on my way to the airport to pick up my friend, Gina.  After waiting at a Denny's near the airport for the delayed flight to land (it was delayed, I later found out, because they said the windshield was too hot to take off!), her "just landed" text came through and I jumped in the car, giddy with anticipation.  We greeted each other with a hug that melted the distance and time our friendship endures and very soon were in the car laughing at anything and everything.

Friends are food for the soul and I always feel blessed after having spent some time with a good friend.  But good friends don't come along every day, so when a kindred spirit comes into your life, do whatever you need to to keep them in your life.  Gina lives over 300 miles away and we don't see each other very often.  We don't get to have those pizza-and-a-movie nights on a moment's notice.  We don't get to grab lunch at the latest burger joint.  We don't get to get a drink and talk after a hard day.  We see each other a couple times at year best, but the strength of that connection is so powerful that when we do get together, it's like we were never apart.

We spent two of the hottest summer days on record walking around an amusement park, battling heat, sun, headaches, and roller coaster motion sickness.  We watched the park emergency golf carts zoom around rescuing heat stroke victims.  We waited in line for a popular ride despite the fact that every indication pointed to the fact that it would be a painful one. (It was.)  By the end the of second day, the kiddie car ride was all we could handle, and that night we laughed over our adventures.

I enjoyed every hot, headachy, motion sick moment of that trip.  Thank you, dear friend, for being you.  Thank you for coming to see me.  Thank you for your friendship.  Thank you for your efforts to keep in touch.

And to all my dear friends, thank you, thank you, thank you!


Sarah's Do-It-Your-Way Muffins

Non-Stick canola oil

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup raisins (I substituted fresh blueberries)

1.  Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350.  Lightly spray twelve nonstick muffin cups with oil.
2.  In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until well combined.  Set aside.
3.  In another medium bowl, using a handheld electric mixer set a high speed, beat the buttermilk, applesauce, brown sugar, egg, oil and vanilla until frothy, about 2 minutes.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk mixture.  using a spoon, mix just until moistened (there should be a few traces of flour remaining).  Gently fold in the raisins until the flour is incorporated.  Do not overmix.
4.  Divide the batter equally among the prepared muffin cups.  Bake until the tops spring back when pressed gently in the center, about 20 minutes.  Do not overbake.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before removing from the cups.  Serve warm or cool completely on wire rack.