15 June 2010
Cherry Almond Muffins
Last week, there was a large bag of fresh peas in the panier bio. Fresh peas are delicious but rather time consuming and so they sat there, in the fridge, waiting... Then one afternoon, the mom of one of the kids I babysit for called to say that she'd kept her child home for the day and she didn't need me. At first I thought "oh good, I can catch up on the million things I have to do" but these days I spend all my time running around already. So, I decided to spend the afternoon shelling peas instead. Let me tell you, it was one of the best afternoons that week.
I find there's something meditative in those sorts of cooking tasks:
Snap one end
Pull down the fiber
Open the pod
Run thumb down the middle
Listen to the peas fall into the bowl
Throw pod on the pod-pile
My mind just goes blank, or else muses slowly over its thoughts, stopping only shortly on one thing or another. I imagine myself in a time when life was slower, when you couldn't buy everything easily frozen, peeled, cubed in the supermarket, where cooking was what you spent a large part of your day doing (unless you could hire a cook and then she spent her day doing it). I'm not saying I'd want to go back to that. I'm very grateful for a number of time-saving conveniences in the kitchen. Still, there's something satisfying about doing things by hand or from scratch from time to time. It's like taking the scenic route. Sure, it's not the fastest way from A to B, but it does get you there and you're liable to see some beautiful views along the way.
What about muffins?? Yes, I'm getting there (I'm taking the scenic route, see?). Shelling peas reminded me how restful cooking can be and, as a result, I got up early on Saturday morning to make muffins. Well, to be honest, I got up early because the cats wouldn't stop meowing, scratching the door, and then, when I let them in, biting my toes.
I decided to let D. sleep in and keep the cats company while pitting cherries from the panier bio. The cherries we got were not the best for eating (some were too ripe, some not ripe enough), but I thought they'd be perfect for cooking. Don't worry, you can also make this recipe with canned or frozen cherries. But if you need a break from this quick-turn-around-fast-fast world, I recommend pitting fresh cherries by hand and letting the juice run down to your elbows to stain the placemats.
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1/2 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (you can use all white or all wheat, but I like a combination)
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cherries, pitted and halved
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease muffin tin or put in liners. In a large bowl, beat the egg and add the milk, oil and almond extract. Stir well. In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients. Add to wet ingredients and mix batter. Don't overmix! Gently fold in the cherries. In a small bowl, combine the sliced almonds and brown sugar and mix.
Fill each muffin cup to about 2/3 full and sprinkle each muffin with the almond/brown sugar mixture. Bake at 400ºF for 20 min or until the muffins are plump and golden brown on top.