Video Games, Injured Knees, Neighbors, and Muffins

I will start with the story and end up with the recipe. How else can one go from video games to muffins in just a few paragraphs? Okay, a couple of weekends ago two of the four grand kids came to stay for a couple of days. The nine year old and the two year old. Thank goodness one of each gender! That way we could divide the fun. Anyway, the boy and the husband decided to start a Wii marathon. I’m not so sure marathon is the correct word. It was more like a competition to see who should win a new Corvette. What began as, who could score higher than the nine year old’s 209 in bowling, ended up with Poppy sitting on the couch and the grandson telling me about the popping noise from Poppy’s knee. He couldn’t believe it. He even asked Poppy if that noise really came from his knee. It did. The doctors confirmed it. The x-rays confirmed it. The MRI confirmed it. He has Wii-knee. Nothing a yet to be scheduled arthroscopic visit can’t fix.

As he limps around, not able to golf, play catch, load lawn chairs into the back of the car, cut grass, move patio stuff before the big storm hits, or unload groceries, he is reminded it’s his turn to receive a little help. (We are getting closer to the muffins, I swear) This is where the neighbor comes in. Our next door neighbors are two, very nice people. And, the best part, they are our age. When they moved in during the winter, we were hoping for kids our age to move in. All of the neighbors on our street are the best, but a wonderful “next door neighbor” is the icing on the cake. He has volunteered to cut our grass until the husband’s knee is healed up. How nice is that! We were going to hire a lawn service for the duration, but our “getting nicer by the day” neighbor would not hear of it.

This morning I got up and made my favorite muffins…even before I read the Sunday paper. How’s that for setting a priority? I made them early so I could take them over to the new “lawn guy”, and his delightful wife, while still hot from the oven. It was just a little something to let them know we do not take their help for granted.

Having a reason to cook is what makes us cooks keep on cooking and baking. What good is wonderful food if you have no one to eat it? Even more important, no one to tell you how good it is. It’s much like the old saying: if a tree fell down and no one heard it, did it make a noise. If I made something yummy and had no one to share it with, would it really be yummy? I think not. The list of reasons why we cook and bake is varied for all cooks. But who we cook for is always at the top of that list. So, here’s to you “getting nicer by the day” neighbors…muffins!

Good Muffins

In a medium bowl sift the following:

1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a 2 cup measuring cup (less dirty dishes) mix the following:

1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix just until moistened. It will be lumpy, which is a good thing. Do not over mix or mix until smooth. Not a good thing.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Either spray the muffin pan or use the paper muffin cups. Fill the the muffin cups 3/4 full. I like to use a scoop for this. It keeps the batter from dripping on the top of the muffin tin.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden on the tops. Remove immediately from the muffin pan. Let cool a bit before serving. Makes 6 large muffins or 12 medium muffins.

For Surprise Muffins, which I did for the neighbors, fill the muffin cup half full with batter, drop 1 heaping teaspoon of your favorite jam, jelly, or preserves in the center, then fill with batter to 3/4 full. I did blueberry preserves in three of them and pineapple preserves in the other three. These two are our favorite flavors.

As a finishing touch, just after I have dumped the muffins from the pan, brush or dunk the tops in melted butter and then roll the tops in granulated sugar or cinnamon sugar mixture. Let cool a bit after this step, as they are hotter than heck! Muffins should be delivered at this point for optimum flavor. Nella

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