Friday, September 4, 2015

Mea Culpa, Mr. Pate - Fleet Feet Bran Muffins

"Your name is Jim ..."

No, actually it's not.  My husband just informed me that I gave kudos to the wrong person last week, and I feel genuinely compelled to set the record straight. The gentleman, and I mean that in every sense of the word, who sold us my wonderful Ford Escape (and also treated my aging Ford Expedition with kindness and respect) was not named "Jim", but is actually and accurately Mr. Jack Pate of Kisselback Ford in St. Cloud.  If you are in the market for a fine used car, please ask for Mr. Pate. You can preview the available cars at Kisselback's online site, and then call him for an appointment to see the cars in person. As I said then, that was the best car-buying experience of my life.

"Your name is Jim ..."

Yes, yes it is. Brighthouse Network joke, and I have been watching too many commercials. This is what happens when you retire early and involuntarily. My old friend Steve - not to be confused with my cousin Steve (who happened to retire just two days ago) and my nephew Steve (who is a long way from retirement) - has been trying to make me feel good about retirement, which is what old friends do.  Did I mention that he is retired also?  Are you beginning to see a pattern here?  I know Steve since my days at New Paltz; he was a friend of a friend who is also now retired.  If someone had gathered us around in 1971 and told us one day we'd be discussing the finer points of retirement, we would have thought that person was indulging in one of the many pharmaceuticals available for sale on campus. Steve reminds me how nice it is to be off of a schedule and not having to do that which I don't want to do. He's right, of course, but I have a tendency to overthink and guilt-shame myself, which is complicating this thing called retirement. Story of my life. But thank you Steve, for being a good and loyal friend.  I really am listening to you.

Right now I am pretty pissed off at Google.  I admit this blog platform is free, and free is good, but half the time I can't make necessary changes and the other half the damn thing makes its own unneeded, unwanted and unnecessary changes.  Google glitches driving me crazy and we all know that for me, that's not a very far drive.

So yesterday's meatloaf was deemed "very tasty" and "very good" by Robert. I would have liked a "fabulous!" or "the best damn meatloaf I've eaten since the last time you made meatloaf" but I guess I'll just have to settle, and two out of three ain't bad. Cory was much more effusive in his praise. I happened to have tasted a tablespoon of the meat mixture, which I cooked in a pan, before turning it into a loaf, and I have to say it was really good.  One might even say it was delicious. So please try it; besides, it's a sneaky way to get some vegetables into your kids. Leave out the Scotch bonnet and throw in some carrot. Michelle Obama, the First Lunch Lady, could learn something from me, but she's on her way out and will just have to remain clueless.  And no, I'm not a racist; truth be told, the last First Lady I really liked was Betty Ford.

In addition to the meatloaf, my brain is still set on the clam cakes and a real bran muffin, one with rich assertive taste that would make you stand at attention and declare "now THIS is a bran muffin!"  I love bran muffins for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that they are one of the only high fiber foods I can eat with impunity.  My old Weight Watchers bran muffin recipe, which makes a mighty fine muffin, was in need of some heavy updating. Cory doesn't like pineapple and Robert doesn't eat or drink anything with artificial sweetener. That meant I had to start searching through my own cookbooks for an appealingly branny muffin.  Since I have whole books that are devoted to muffins and baking, that took a while. Along the way, I realized that I wanted to try maple syrup as an ingredient and I expanded my search to the internet.  And of course, I am always attracted to muffin and cupcake recipes that include sour cream.

This also took me off on some side research about the use of baking soda as the leavening agent for batters that include sour cream, but it got sort of technical and while I got it, you might be bored.  I am taking a big step and adding some baking powder along with the baking soda, because while I want a substantial muffin, I certainly don't want it so dense that it can be used as a weapon of mass destruction. Although if this chemistry experiment fails, I know exactly who I am throwing them at.

Fleet Feet Bran Muffins

3/4 c. Log Cabin syrup (real maple syrup forms crystals during baking)
2 extra large eggs
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 1/2 cup bran (1 1/2 cup All Bran Buds, 1/2 cup Post raisin bran (hand crushed), 1/2 cup unprocessed miller's wheat bran)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup prunes (dried plums), cut into smaller pieces (dust with 1 teaspoon of flour; will help prevent the prunes from sinking to the bottom of the muffin)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup Cracklin' Oat Bran cereal, crushed with rolling pin, hammer, or cast iron skillet 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, sift together the AP flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs, Log cabin syrup and canola oil.  With a wooden spoon, stir in the 3 brans, and let stand for 5 minutes. Next, stir in the sour cream and let stand for 1/2 hour. Add the flour mixture to the bran mixture. Stir only enough to moisten, then stir in the prunes.

Scoop into a muffin tin that has been lightly wiped with nonstick spray across the top, and lined with paper cups. Sprinkle the crushed oat bran cereal on top of each muffin. Bake in the 400 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool in the muffin tin for 10 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan to finish cooling on a rack.                              

Really good, delicious, etc., but not the dark branniness I was expecting.  And then, it hit me like a fist pounding on a judicial bench: molasses.  If not molasses, then brown sugar. That will have to be another time, place, and blog post, but until then both Robert and I recommend this one. The Fleet Feet Bran Muffin, replete with fruit and fiber. Enjoy!

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