Coffee Time Gems

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt.
Mix these dry ingredients and whisk together.
In a separate bowl add,
1 beaten egg
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
4 TBLS. melted butter
2 tsp. powdered espresso or powdered coffee
Combine these ingredients and whisk to dissolve coffee.
Add all at once to dry ingredients. Don’t over-beat.
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Fill greased muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Growing up, my Grandma, whom I adored, was always on a quest for the perfect bran muffin, the perfect coffee cake, and the perfect banana bread. She was a fine baker. A really wonderful cook. And, she was always very generous when it came to her kitchen, allowing any of us grandchildren to rifle through her cupboards, pull out her ample stash of muffin tins or bake-ware, and have a go at creating recipes. She was (and still is) my biggest inspiration in the kitchen. Not a trained chef, no top-notch culinary background, but boy could she cook! A few things I learned? Patience, accurate measuring, and always, always, select the best ingredients. Butter and good chocolate could always be found in her larder. An excellent selection of spices and herbs were lined up and sealed tightly in their glass bottles just waiting to become a pinch of this or a pinch of that. You could always count on finding buttermilk and sour cream and freshly squeezed lemon juice in her fridge.
When it came to ingredients for a recipe that we kids were determined to try or if art materials were needed to draw, sculpt or paint something, we had full access to her shelves and cupboards for supplies. Thank you, Grandma, for your grace and willingness to encourage all of us to ‘make things’. I think all of your grandchildren have a knack for creating, thanks to you! I’m still using many of her recipes. Those large index cards all hand-written and often smudged with some of the choice ingredients. I love all the side notes she added, “add a pinch of lemon zest” or “include a dollop of sour cream” or “don’t over-beat the batter”. When I am creating something, for the table or in the studio, I always think of my grandmother.
I just made these little yummy muffins the other day. Not her tried and true bran muffins but a favorite from my Gram’s recipe book. So glad I remembered them! Chock full of raisins, just the right amount of chopped walnuts, and a strong coffee flavor. Delish! Give them a try, really you should! Do you have any recipes that have been passed down from a special cook in the family?

Making Time This Month

Picture 363December? Every year before I know it, it’s December. Christmas is right around the corner, sneaking up just beyond our day of turkey and giving thanks. I always feel some disappointment if I can’t find ( make) time to do something in honor of the Christmas holiday. I don’t mean buying gifts or shopping online. I don’t mean jumping on the commercial band wagon of Christmas. I mean taking some time to celebrate friends and loved ones. Creating ceremony and celebration. Pausing this last month of 2014 to reflect, to find something each day to savor and give my thought to. So, this is my goal. To do at least one thing each day during this month that recognizes, celebrates, and honors the family and friends that I am blessed to have in my life. This could mean baking special loaves of holiday bread to give out, some hand made chocolate truffles, and of course, something knitted. It could mean having a friend over for tea and scones, or taking a walk with someone I don’t see very often, or dropping off a plate of cookies to a neighbor. And to indulge in my own love for making things, there is always a long list of hand made – hand crafted gifts to choose from. Mostly, I want to make time…..not get whipped up in the hustle and bustle of holiday hoopla so much that Christmas passes before my eyes. I would like to savor this last month of December, and pay close attention to this very good life, which truly warrants bearing witness to. Today, I will send some notes to far away friends that I don’t get a chance to connect with very often ( not often enough). Not just a Christmas card…..but a note. And tonight, a special dinner with my brother coming over. An opportunity to catch up with him and have some real conversation. The gift of time, that’s a good one. What are some of the special ways you celebrate the season? Hope you’re enjoying the everyday of this holiday season and remembering also to take time……for yourself and for others.