Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Muffins Win

I give up. I found the best recipe for Golden Raisin Oat Bran Muffins and the very first time I made them they were to die for. Awesome flavor, tender texture, heady aroma right out of the oven.

And EVERY time I've made them since then, I've screwed them up. Today was no exception.

I ran down the list of ingredients, deliberately checking them off once I made sure I had each item AND in the appropriate quantity. These muffins weren't going to get the best of me this morning, by God!

Everything went perfectly - I even remember to get the melted butter out of the microwave this time. (Last time I made them I only discovered the butter about 10 min. after the pan of muffins had gone into the oven. That batch was a little....rubbery).

Then came my fatal mistake. I thought I could be like Dad and improvise. Dad was a great all around cook and baker. He had many many winning recipes that could never again be duplicated because he had used no recipe or had improvised so much as to have eclipsed the original instructions.

 I live in Dad's house now, keeping Mom company and trying my  best to feed her in the manner to which she had become accustomed when Dad was alive. He's been gone a decade now and lots of stuff remains behind that reminds us all of him...

...including, I suspect, the bag of pecans I found in the back of his flour cabinet which I attempted to use in my muffins this morning. Bad mistake.

Everything had gone so smoothly up to that point that I must have gotten cocky. I wanted to add something "extra" that the recipe didn't call for. I had successfully done this on my second attempt at making these muffins and while they were rubbery from lack of butter, the pecans were slightly redeeming.

I grabbed the bag of pecans thinking they were probably purchased in the past year or two by one of the many family members who regularly use the kitchen when we have holiday get togethers. Just because I didn't personally remember purchasing them sent up no alarm bells.

Neither did the musty odor of the nuts when I opened the bag.

In my own defense I did look at the front of the bag again to make sure it said "pecans" because I didn't remember them smelling like that.

I don't have any self confidence when it comes to cooking or baking, though, and I always think the ingredients know themselves better than I do, so maybe pecans had every right to smell that way.

Turns out that odor carried through the baking process and even blossomed into a more pungent odor -- and flavor.

Mom, bless her heart, was the first to take a bite and, ever the Encourager, she managed a "tastes good!" while she gagged it down.

My son was next and had no problem spitting it out immediately accompanied by an "Oh my gosh, Mom! What did you DO to these?? They SUCK!" He immediately grabbed a handful of graham crackers to get the taste out of his mouth.

I scolded him for being such a harsh critic while I was peeling back the paper to take a bite of my own muffin...which I immediately spit out.

We both tossed our muffins to the squirrels out back who didn't seem in any too big of a hurry to scarf them up, and headed back to the graham cracker box for tongue wipes.

I tried to tell Mom not to eat any more, but someone who lived through the Great Depression has a hard time parting with perfectly good food even if it's "a little off". She ate around the nuts. How you do that is beyond me.

So, if you are in the market for a wonderful Golden Raisin Oat Bran Muffin recipe, here is the link to it:

but it may be a while before I attempt it again. If I keep on screwing these up we will all have a knee jerk gagging response to the very mention of muffins in this house. I knew I should have gone with the chocolate chips over the nuts when I was debating. You can't screw up chocolate chips.

And actually...they tasted pretty good the first time when I just followed the recipe and didn't try to emulate my father. I did NOT inherit his improvising genes or they got severely mutated along the way.



  1. Oh Jeri, I LOVE your reminiscing about your Dad's cooking skills. I remember so well his soups [which always grew to the point of needing a bigger pot] & awesome spaghetti sauce. I don't remember John baking tho'...did he?
    yes, there is a decided flavor to rancid pecans !
    I keep all nuts in the freezer with a cup or two in the refrig. for snacking.

  2. What a crack up! Eating healthy is worth a try!


    ps. I'm on Gilenya too and I LOVE not injecting!

  3. @ Nancy: that is so funny that you mention Dad's need for a bigger pot for his soups. He continued that practice long after leaving Wellsville and I can recall several times on the boat where we were instructed NOT to walk from side to side and make the boat list or dinner might spill.

    It wasn't until we got stuck in Florida that he really became a baker. His breads were to die for.

    Here's another post about the story of Dad's bread making:


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