Just plain old blueberry muffins were the order of the day. Nothing fancy or weird or cunning about them. I was craving the true-blue blueberry muffin of my childhood, the square kind that came in the corner of the TV dinners my Mom used to let us have on nights when we had a babysitter. It was a tragedy if the turkey gravy got on the muffin and ruined it, but the parts that were virgin were wonderful.
Blueberries are also my sister’s favorite fruit (always have been) and this is her birthday month. We are in the countdown to her big birthday bash in Chicago in a couple of weeks, so it was with her in my heart, if not in my immediate metro area, that I baked these blueberry muffins this morning.
My other reason for baking today? My kitchen is finally back! I can’t begin to express my relief at having a kitchen again instead of a containment area. I didn’t believe the workmen when they told me they could replace my insulation, drywall, AND paint all on the same day — in spite of 90% ambient humidity — but they pulled it off and did a nice job to boot.
Not only that, Wichita Sims, the renowned Southern writer, was nice enough to come over and totally reorganize the kitchen while she was putting it back together for me. She was worried I would re-break my foot while doing it myself — and she was probably right. What she undoubtedly didn’t count on was how bossy I was going to be, or how geeked I was going to get at the idea that EVERYTHING should be reorganized, even stuff that wasn’t moved out of the kitchen in the first place. These muffins are going to be for her. She is a saint. And also for her husband, The Big Guy, who got a big bag of stuff we broke yesterday, because she says he’s an ace at gluing things. Well, stuff I broke, combined with things the workmen broke when they moved it. Wichita would want me to point out that she didn’t break anything, which is true.
Just Blueberry Muffins (lactose-free)
(adapted extremely loosely from Diane Ratray’s recipe under Southern Food on About.com)
2 1/2 cups Bisquick (I used Heart Smart in the white box)
A pinch of salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar plus 4 tablespoons for the tops
3/4 cup almond milk plus enough fresh lemon or orange juice to get it to one cup
2 eggs, beaten
1 stick (1/2 cup) melted Earth Balance
2 cups frozen or fresh blueberries (rinsed)*
2 tablespoons flour
Preheat your oven to 400.
Sift dry ingredients, including sugar (except the 4 tablespoons for the muffin tops) together into a big bowl.
Squeeze enough fresh lemon and/or orange juice into the almond milk to reach one cup. This is your buttermilk substitute. If you are using regular milk, you can “make” buttermilk by adding white cider vinegar, but I think a bit of citrus is important in a blueberry muffin to point up the tart side of the berries.
Combine melted (cooled) Earth Balance and beaten eggs and pour this, plus the almond milk, into the bowl of dry ingredients. This step is crucial. You must thoroughly combine everything without overworking it. Overworked batter makes a tough muffin! I can’t emphasize this enough. Mix your blueberries with the flour and fold them in quickly.
Pour equal amounts into greased muffin pans (non-stick), filling about 2/3 of the way, sprinkle sugar on each top, and bake about 20 minutes.
Makes 12 – 20 muffins, depending on the size of your pans.
*Frozen blueberries can be better than fresh because, as you probably know, the best blueberries on earth, those tiny, wild Maine ones that Sal was picking with the bears in Blueberries for Sal, are so much tastier than most of the fresh ones you can get locally. The wild berries, alas, are too fragile to ship but flash freezing retains most of their unique flavor. I’m not making this up — I’ve heard Martha Stewart say as much on her show too.