Wednesday, November 06, 2013

It's Fall!  Let's Cook!

"She moved from the window and walked quickly to the kitchen. She would do something that, if only for the briefest hour, had the power to solve everything, to offer certain and absolute consolation. She would cook."- Jan Karon

OK, so I don't think cooking will bring world peace or anything, but it sure is therapeutic to my own heart.  It's a quiet activity that gives me time to think, pray, praise, whatever.  As the days get shorter, I want just a few simple things- lamps lit, candle burning, beautifully calming music, a cup of great coffee, and the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg in the kitchen.  More than a few I guess, but the above combination does my heart good.

With that in mind, I thought I'd share a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe with you that I've been using for years and is absolutely no-fail.  Kathryn requests these year round, so I make a batch once a month and throw them in the freezer.  They reheat beautifully and make for a yummy breakfast or bedtime snack.  And even though I'm not a 'food blogger,' I thought some pics might be fun.  

Wet Ingredients:  4 eggs, 1 can pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling), 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce, 1/4 c. canola oil
Dry Ingredients:  2 1/2 c. self-rising flour, 2 c. sugar, 1/2 c. whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg 
1-2 c. chocolate chips
Makes:  24 muffins (well, today I got 26 muffins out of it ;o)  To imitate me exactly (and of course, get such wonderful results -haha!, see my notes below...)

Dump wet ingredients unceremoniously into one bowl, and mix with a fork.
Dump dry ingredients unceremoniously into second bowl (larger bowl is smart) and mix with a spoon.
Now you will have this...
Mix wet into dry, making sure to SCRAPE THE BOTTOM OF THE BOWL, or you WILL have a flour streak in a muffin, causing a child to weep over such a terrible discovery at the breakfast table. 
Note that it is still lumpy.  Don't mix the daylights out of it, or your muffins will not have very good texture.  Time for the good stuff...
Spray your muffin pan with nonstick spray and bake at 400 for 18-22 min or until toothpick comes out clean (19 mins. for my oven :o)
Take out and make child, mom, dog (if she gets a chance) very, very happy!  Continue reading below...
 For self-rising flour that will make a truly Southern product (I must belabor this point, TRULY SOUTHERN), one must use WHITE LILY FLOUR.  There is no acceptable substitute (otherwise known as a sob-stitute if I cannot find my beloved flour).

I use any and every brand of pumpkin (generic is just as good & and I suspect Aldi's brand to be better than Libby's), eggs, and applesauce.

I used Nestle's Semisweet Chocolate Chips in the big bag from Sam's.  Most cost effective.  

NICE expensive cinnamon is lovely, but I go with cheap.  I will confess, though, to being a nutmeg snob.  The extra zing from freshly grated nutmeg just makes my day (p.s. mace is the outer shell of a nutmeg.  I just grate a happy amount in, so it's officially mace and nutmeg :o)  I order a bag of them off Amazon. 

Whole wheat flour:  This batch was made with the best (see the grainy texture on the top of the finished product!)  That is true gorgeous-ness.  This batch was from Mingus Mill in the Gatlinburg area where I stumbled upon their water powered, stone-ground amazing flour.  I will be very sad when this bag runs out.  I store it in the freezer.  Check out this flour!

I spray my muffin tins with canola oil.  I got a Misto sprayer off Amazon ($10 or so) a while back and LOVE it.  Now just pure oil gets sprayed on my pans without the sticky residue.  I have two- one for olive and one for canola.  So much cheaper, too, as I  just refill it over and over.

One last tip:  clean your oven before doing a food post ;o)  Maybe I'll just look 'real' to all ye fellow moms?  One last, last tip:  Don't toss extra batter.  Pop it in, but put a little water in the empty cups to help the baking remain even.