Thursday, 28 May 2015

Rhubarb Poppyseed Muffins

RhubarbPoppyseedMuffins

Yesterday, Scarlett and I went to the park for a play and a picnic.  Summer has arrived and its time to get outside - its the second time we've done it this week.

A neighbour showed up, looking for someone just as we were sitting down to eat.  She couldn't find her friend, but decided to pick up lunch at the bakery around the corner and join us for lunch.  This neighbour is not someone we know well -- we've had a wave-and-"hello" kind of relationship for years -- but I suppose this is how community builds.  I was impressed by her willingness to pause and make a human connection with us, the people she drives by everyday.  She even brought back muffins from the bakery for Scarlett and I.  Of course, as is always the way in a small town, we learned that she went to school with some of my aunts and uncles, and a couple of our relatives are married.  When we parted ways, she referred to my extended family and said something that struck me: "Now I know who you are."

I moved back to my hometown for these moments.  At times, I do not want to be defined by my family names, but for the most part it is really comforting to have deep roots.  It helps me be the best I can be when I know that my actions not only reflect back on my family and community, but also build it.

In case you decide to share the love too, here is the best muffin recipe I've made in a long time.

Rhubarb Poppyseed Muffins
(Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook)

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup plain thick yogurt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1 cm pieces

1. Preheat oven to 375*.  Butter or line 12 muffin cups.
2. Whisk the egg and sugars together in a large bowl.  Stir in the butter and yogurt.
3.  In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (except the rhubarb).  Then stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, until just combined and lumpy.  It will be a thick batter - that is good.  Fold in the rhubarb.
4. Divide the batter into the muffin cups.  Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the tops are golden.  Cool the muffins in the pan for two minutes and then remove them from the tin to cool completely.

(The author, Deb Perelman, had some great advice for making healthy muffins.  Load up on the fruit: the more you can shove into the batter, the less you miss the refined sugar (she used plums, and I have a feeling this recipe will sing with almost any fruit flavour).  Butter is better than oil, for flavour.  You can reduce the sugar even further and keep deliciousness by sprinkling a little icing sugar on the cooled muffins.  She says using sour cream instead will change your life, but I'm a fan of homemade yogurt.)

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