Growing up I spent a lot of time cooking and baking with my grandmother. I almost always think of her when I am working in the kitchen, certain that she is quite responsible for my love of food and the making of it. She had an instinct for cooking. A good sense for spices and the use of herbs. A smidgen, a dollop, a pinch were often the measurements she used. Cooking was for her, and for me by being present and helping her, an art form. Even her grilled cheese were the best, made on homemade pumpernickle with extra sharp cheddar cheese oozing out the side. Weekly shopping meant a trip to the butchers, the fish market, the italian bakery, and to ” Ollie’s”, the market from where she bought most everything else. She had her hamburger ground fresh after selecting a piece of meat out of the case. Fish was most fresh if it didn’t have too much of a fish smell. At the bakery, a certain sourdough that she herself didn’t make at home. This was our routine.
I loved it all and I can still see her standing at the counter of one of these shops, wearing her long wool coat and carrying her pocket book with the big clasp. ” Hello Mrs. Edwards, what can we get you today and how’s your neighbor Chris doing?” one of the shop owners might say.
Her refrigerator was never without pounds of real butter, sour cream, or buttermilk. The cupboards were stocked with flour and oats and bran and wheat germ. You would not find a box of cake mix in her cupboard. “Cake Mix” was not a word you’d use at my grandmothers house. If you wanted to bake a cake, you had better start hauling out the butter to soften and make sure there were plenty of eggs and some good chocolate to melt for frosting. Another thing I remember is her quest to find the perfect bran muffin recipe. I ate a lot of them as a result of this. Some had raisins, some did not. Some called for buttermilk, others requested apple juice or sour cream. Some used all bran, another recipe called for bran flakes, and then there were the oat bran/ wheat bran/ bran and something-or-other combinations. She tried them all. Some were deemed too dense, too dry, not sweet enough, too sweet, and so on. Slathered with real butter, I thought they were all pretty delicious ( butter tends to help everything).
I have not made bran muffins in a long time. Today, I will. I will also share a recipe with you….just don’t forget the butter! I’ll be thinking of my grandmother as they bake.
Oat Bran Muffins
1 cup oat bran ( can substitute wheat bran)
1 1/4 cup flour
1 Tbls. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbls. melted butter
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 cup muffin tins. Combine oat bran, flour, baling powder, salt in bowl amd whisk together. Add brown sugar and mix around with your fingers to distribute. Stir in remaining ingredients. Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 cups full. Bake until golden anf firm, about 15-20