We’ve been enjoying some absolutely gorgeous Autumn weather here in Virginia. The alphabet soup kitchen helpers and I are especially excited about all the different apples available at the farm market.
About 25 varieties are grown here — I commonly see Rome, Winesap, York, Golden Delicious and Red Delicious. I miss the apple tree we had at our old house; I think they were Staymans. Made many an apple pie and crisp with them. Whenever I think about that tree, I also miss our neighbors. During the Spring when it was full of blossoms, dreamy-eyed Derrick would wander over to the tree just to take in the scent, and of course it was always lovely to have a fragrant carpet of petals on the grass.
Over the weekend I was in a cozy muffin mood. Do you ever have those? All I wanted to do was relax with warm muffins and tea and read. Compared to cupcakes, muffins are relatively guilt free, and I love their association with nursery rhymes and songs. Who doesn’t love a small, round bread you can hold in your hands and caress before eating it? Have you ever held a warm muffin against your cheek and made a wish?
I decided to try a new recipe from an old cookbook I’d found at a clearance sale decades ago, The Old-Fashioned Cookbook by Jan McBride Carlton (Weathervane Books, 1975). It contains 700 easy-to-make traditional American recipes with spot illustrations by Alice and Martin Provensen.
Spicy Apple Muffins call for a cup of chopped apple and pumpkin pie spice in addition to the standard flour, sugar, baking powder, eggs, milk and butter. With only 1/4 cup of sugar, these are less sweet than store-bought muffins and are perfect with butter, your favorite jam, or that beloved Fall favorite, apple butter. Yum!
SPICY APPLE MUFFINS
2 cups sifted flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chopped raw apple
Sift first 5 ingredients together into bowl. Combine remaining ingredients. Add all at once to dry ingredients and stir only enough to moisten dry ingredients (do not overmix). Fold chopped apple into batter.
Fill greased muffin pans two-thirds full. Bake in hot oven (400 degrees F) for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Tips: Check for doneness at 18 minutes. As with other muffin recipes, it’s crucial not to beat the batter or overmix, since the muffins will be tough rather than have a nice tender crumb. Don’t be afraid to add a little extra cinnamon or freshly ground nutmeg. Channeling the Muffin Man at Drury Lane while mixing will add a decidedly nostalgic flavor to the batch. ♥
While your muffins are baking, pour yourself a nice cup of tea and enjoy this poem:
by Joyce Sutphen
The kitchen is sweet with the smell of apples,
big yellow pie apples, light in the hand,
their skins freckled, the stems knobby
and thick with bark, as if the tree
could not bear to let the apple go.
Baskets of apples circle the back door,
fill the porch, cover the kitchen table.
My mother and my grandmother are
running the apple brigade. My mother,
always better with machines, is standing
at the apple peeler; my grandmother,
more at home with a paring knife,
faces her across the breadboard.
My mother takes an apple in her hand,
She pushes it neatly onto the sharp
prong and turns the handle that turns
the apple that swivels the blade pressed
tight against the apple’s side and peels
the skin away in long curling strips that
twist and fall to a bucket on the floor.
The apples, coming off the peeler,
Are winding staircases, little accordions,
slinky toys, jack-in-the-box fruit, until
my grandmother’s paring knife goes slicing
through the rings and they become apple
pies, apple cakes, apple crisp. Soon
they will be married to butter and live with
cinnamon and sugar, happily ever after.
“Apple Season” by Joyce Sutphen, from Coming Back to the Body. © Holy Cow! Press, 2000.
Have a beautiful day and don’t forget to smile ☺!
Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.