Blueberry Muffins with a Song

Perhaps you watched the Disney channel offering of Hamilton released for July 4th, as I did.  I did enjoy it, but was happy not to have spent hundreds of dollars for a ticket.  I also watched an old seventies favorite, 1776, with a young Ken Howard as the tall red-haired Jefferson and Blythe Danner as his wife Martha. Although it may be sacrilegious to admit, I liked the latter better.

My favorite part of the movie is Blythe Danner singing “He plays the violin,” as she dances with John Adams and Benjamin Franklin.  I replayed it several times.

I have a recipe from Blythe Danner, published in one her daughter ‘s (Gwyeth Paltrow) cookbooks.  Since I had all the ingredients, I made the blueberry muffins for dinner.  So delicious – I could have danced all night (but that’s another movie).

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it.  All you need to enjoy them is some butter and a fiddle.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1/2cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2eggs (preferably organic)
  • 1/2cup whole milk
  • 2cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4cup plus 1 tsp sugar, divided
  • 2teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2cups fresh blueberries
DIRECTIONS
  1. Heat oven to 375°. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Whisk butter, eggs and milk in a bowl. Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in another bowl. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients; fold in blueberries.
  3. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups; sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp sugar.
  4. Bake until muffins are golden brown and a knife comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm.

 

 

Is There Still Time?

The opening of Murakami’s short story “With the Beatles,” spoke to me:

What I find strange about growing old isn’t that I’ve got older.  Not that the youthful me from the past has, without my realizing it, aged.  What catches me off guard is, rather, how people from the same generation as me have become elderly…It’s a little disconcerting – sad, even.  Though I never feel sad at the fact that I have similarly aged…

My ninety year old mother liked to say: When I look into my own eyes, I still see my eighteen year old self…” full of dreams and expectations, still hoping for a better world, and for time to do one more thing.

Read the short story with the beatles

 

 

Sheltering in Place

 

 

Today, When I Could Do Nothing

by Jane Hirshfield (for the SF Chronicle)

Today, when I could do nothing,
I saved an ant.

It must have come in with the morning paper,
still being delivered
to those who shelter in place.

A morning paper is still an essential service.

I am not an essential service.

I have coffee and books,
time,
a garden,
silence enough to fill cisterns.

It must have first walked
the morning paper, as if loosened ink
taking the shape of an ant.

Then across the laptop computer — warm —
then onto the back of a cushion.

Small black ant, alone,
crossing a navy cushion,
moving steadily because that is what it could do.

Set outside in the sun,
it could not have found again its nest.
What then did I save?

It did not move as if it was frightened,
even while walking my hand,
which moved it through swiftness and air.

Ant, alone, without companions,
whose ant-heart I could not fathom—
how is your life, I wanted to ask.

I lifted it, took it outside.

This first day when I could do nothing,
contribute nothing
beyond staying distant from my own kind,
I did this.

Just a Spoonful of Water Makes It Better

In this time of separate and distant, as we try to cope with not meeting our favorite person for coffee and cake, or connecting with a like-minded group to discuss a book over food relevant to the plot, I scurried to find store bought cookies to ease me into comfort.

Ah, but to venture into a store was to risk contagion, despite the plastic screens in front of the cashiers at Whole Foods and the yellow tapes marking six foot distance.  Not many millennials venture in, but when they do, their sense of immortality tends to drive them to ignore science-based suggestions.  I could order cookies from Amazon, but then I would need to wipe down the cartons inside and out, and those handiwipes are precious, better saved for my hands when needed.

A friend, noting my dilemma, suggested I make my own cookies.  I always have a stash of semi-sweet chocolate and sugar.  Recently, I had bought a ten pound bag of organic flour on sale – before I knew I would be housebound.  Why not make the most comfort laden food I knew.  And, I could control everything in the process, in a time when control of anything seems almost impossible, from the dough to the oven to the delivery – without packaging.

Toll House Cookies

If you have made the traditional Toll House cookies lately from the recipe on the bag, you may have noticed the teaspoon of hot water has been omitted from the ingredients.  Originally the water was used to dissolve the baking soda, a step most modern bakers no longer use.  Earlier forms of leavening, including baking soda, were chunkier than now, and a little water helped to keep out the granular specks.

I’m not sure when it disappeared from the wrapper, bu I still add it.  Does it make a difference?  I’ve never tried making the cookies without it, so cannot judge, but if you have, let me know.

The Sidecar

Ever since I read Zachary’s favorite drink in The Starless Sea is the sidecar, I’ve wanted to try one. Not complicated to make, the drink has only three ingredients. Zach liked it without the sugar rimming the glass, so I decided I could do without too.

I finally made one and loved it. The sidecar may be my new go to drink. Have you had one?

Have you read the book? Here’s my review:

The Starless Sea

And here’s the recipe I used:

  • 2 ounces Cognac
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice (the squeeze of a quarter lemon)

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