Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cornbread muffins

Surely the Pennsylvania Dutch invented cupcakes. Seems like something genius they would think up. I have five different muffins in my freezer right now: Peanut butter, blueberry, crazy grain, pumpkin, and corn. I make a batch, keep a few out for Sam and me for the week, and toss the rest in the deep freeze. I also have cupcakes - mocha. The thing is, Sam goes through phases where he loves and then rejects the same muffin. PB with jam is good today, whereas tomorrow, he will turn his nose up. Josh asked, "Why are there so many different muffins in here? Why do you make so many?" Your son and his fickle tastes, that's why.

The ones pictured above are the batch that I made using "How to Cook Everything," by Mark Bittman. This was yet another of his recipes that left me wondering why I ever turn to any cookbook except my Best Recipes. The muffins above were disgusting. Inedible and disgusting. There was a sour aftertaste, AND they were like rocks. I thought the dough looked rather thick, but I was like, "Oh, thick is good. These will really rise and ..." Do I even know what I'm talking about? No. So corn flavored hockey pucks. The sourness could have been my doing, I realize. The recipe calls for buttermilk or yogurt or soured milk. I go for the yogurt. I only had a cup of yogurt, but I needed 1/4 cup more. So I figure, Hey, sour cream is similar in texture. Now, if you're a baker you know that this was not an inane pull from the fridge shelves. There are plenty of cakes, cupcakes, and breads that call for sour cream as the viscous fat component. Not weird for me to think of this. Smart for me to think of this. And yet, I can't help but think that my 1/4 cup decision had something to do with the fact that I have thrown out TWO things in the past week. A record, for sure.

Did I mention that this was my first attempt to make cornbread muffins from scratch? I know. I know. I am a baking maven. I bake my own bread, for goodness sake. First time? Yes, friends, yes.

Those of you in the know about the cookbook I used are scolding me right now, aren't you? I hear you: "I saw Bittman on 'Spain: On the Road Again,' and know that he is not a chef." Yes, I saw him, too. He writes a column! It's like Padma Lakshmi having a cookbook (she does). I have, however, found some fabulous recipes in his book: waffles, pickles, and celeriac-potato mash. So, the jury is still out. I won't put him on the trusted list of cookbooks just yet.

So after I ditched the corn pucks I did two things: (1) I bought the failsafe cornbread mix from Trader Joe's. (2) I found a recipe in New Best. Below is the NB, and they are delicious! Funny, though, because this recipe calls for sour cream and, after I used 1/4 cup for the crap pucks, I was just a bit shy. So I used yogurt to make up the scant difference. Ha.

I'm wondering if I didn't make a mistake in taking Bittman's "bread" recipe and translating it to muffin form. But I've done that before, right? You can do that, right? Hm.

All this baking means I've got it together. I mean, if I bake then I am in control of my destiny. I am making It and doing It as a stay-at-home-mom, right? I think these little corn muffins are some sort of outward recognition that I am Okay. Because sometimes you don't feel Okay. Like when your son refuses to nap, so you sit and listen to him cry during "rest time," while you type a blog entry. Because, hey, 30 minutes in the car do not a nap make. And, hey, why fight it? And, hey, Mommy needs some rest, too, and crying in the car for five minutes doesn't count. And, hey! when the house and you look like crap because neither are clean, but muffins are there making the house smell good, then everything is good.


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