Because I just couldn’t wait…Blueberry Muffins

fresh out of the oven blueberry muffin, Tim Horton's coffee, and making conversions for jam...morning perfection!

I found a bag of frozen blueberries in my freezer downstairs from our adventures in Blueberry Jam last summer.  And then I started thinking woefully about our blueberry bushes out back that don’t seem to want to do anything.  And then I thought about the lavender lemon sugar topping that would be oh so good with them.

And then I stepped outside to let Lucy out, and by a sweet miracle of nature, the oppressive heat/humidity we’ve had since the weekend had broken in the early morning hours.  That’s right, kids–it was a great f-ing day to make some f-ing muffins!

(And yes, MG3LT Ladies, I just went there!)

On the Brink

While the flower beds are blooming and doing extremely well, our vegetables are still on the brink of, well, being vegetables.  But slowly but surely we’re making progress.  Seeds in the kitchen garden are taking off–lettuce and spinach are growing, the dill is starting to look like dill, and the tomatoes seedlings are starting to look like tomato plants.

A trip to the back forty revealed that we did not, in fact, kill our blueberry bushes–they were just extremely slow to show their leaves and look lively again.

Slowly but surely, we’re moving along here at the L. Homestead!

You can’t have blueberries without muffins

It was always (and still is!) such a treat to walk into Gram’s and have fresh blueberry muffins waiting for us in the oven.  And thanks to the power of freezing, it was always possible to have fresh berries year round in their house. It took me years to acquire a taste for  the lemon zest topping she put on top, but even today she’ll make a separate batch without it so I don’t have to pick it off.

That’s love!

So with the abundance of blueberries we have from yesterday’s canning, I made muffins and have plans on freezing the rest of the berries.  I ran out of muffin cups so we cut out some parchment paper squares instead, and that seemed to work even better than the cups or just greasing the pans.   The end result?  If I close my eyes and pretend it’s not so humid, I can almost smell that good old New Hampshire air. 

Gram Farnsworth’s Blueberry Muffins (makes 12 muffins) 

2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted shortening
1 Tbsp sugar
1 cup blueberries
1 tsp lemon zest (about one medium-sized lemon)
  1. Preheat oven to 425, line muffin tins
  2. Mix flour baking powder and salt and sift
  3. Warm milk so that the melted shortening won’t seize up in the mixture (30 seconds in the microwave should do); combine milk, shortening, egg sugar and mix well.
  4. Add blueberries to flour mixture and shimmy the bowl to coat the berries.  Add the milk mixture and stir until the flour mixture has just absorbed the liquid (about ten full stirs around the bowl).  Do not over mix.
  5. Meanwhile take the zest of one lemon and combine in small bowl with sugar.
  6. Spoon batter into the muffin tins; top with lemon-sugar mixture.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool and serve with butter

Grow, Eat, Drink. Repeat.

Let’s face it, we grow food to eat food.  Or at least that’s our plan here in the L household.  And when I say eat, I also mean cook.  Anyone who has known me for any legnth of time knows that I relish in creating meals and goodies that taste good, and hopefully are good for you too.

And while our garden is growing in leaps and bounds, we’re at that stage where nothing new is quite ripe yet–plump tomatoes hang from the vine just basking their greens selves in the sun;  corn is still forming away and popping new silks out every day;  the new beans we planted last Saturday have already poked their way through the dirt, but we have loads of time before they produce anything.  We’re in a gardening (and culinary) holding pattern.

Until today–I haven’t had the chance to can anything yet this summer, and my good friend and collegue LR asked me if I wanted to go berry picking with her and show her how to can.  AMAZING!  Sitting back and reflecting now with my glass of blueberry wine and tired legs, it was a great day mooching off of other people’s gardens 🙂

We started at Hill Top Winery in Nellysford, VA and it turned out to be such an incredible treat–not only were we able to pick some amazing blueberries, they also allowed us to taste some of the berry wines and meads that they hand craft with the fruit they grow.  Personal favorites here included the Blue Heeler blueberry wine and the Lavender Metheglin–LR and I are already scheming on how to incorporate the latter’s flavor into a herb jelly!

From Hill Top, we made our way down to Morris Orchard where we picked up more blueberries and a nice large bag of peach seconds.  As I told LR, buying seconds at orchards is my favorite thing to do–if you get the right ones you get all the flavor at a fraction of the price.  These beauties today were no exception–while they may have been a little funny shaped, they were firm, ripe and perfect for canning.

After picking up the right tools for the job (cans, pectin, sugar), LR and I went straight to work in the kitchen.  I love the rhythm of canning–how there is a set procedure and when you follow through with that procedure you come out with the desired product (if only all things in life were like that!).  And that desired product will allow you to enjoy the ripe, fresh produce today, or tomorrow, or when you’re having a mid-winter blah moment in February.  Today we kept it simple–one batch of blueberry jam and one batch of peach jam.   We have a future date to tackle some tomatoes and blackberries (although not in the same batch!) when they come in, and I think we’ll both be scheming of new and innovative ways to combine some flavors.

Coolest part of the whole experience today?  Passing along a skill–cooking, canning, sharing are all integral in this process and adventure of figuring out where our food comes from.  It’s invigorating and fun to invite someone else onto this fun ride.

And we’re back

I know, I know, it’s been a long hiatus since our last update.  In my defence, I was gone for two weeks, and apparently it rained the good majority of the time I was gone.  But this weekend we tackled the yard with a vengeance, thanks to the added deadline of my folks coming to visit at the end of May (which I’m incredibly excited about!).  There’s still lots to be done today, so I’m making this quick, but here’s the list of things accomplished this weekend:

  • One more truck load of mulch procured and spread on the back gardens and then shared amongst the front gardens.
  • Side “kitchen” garden weeded out, re-edged, and mulched; rogue tomato plants thinned, last of the ‘maters went in there.
  • Blueberry bushes weeded and mulched…we have a few berries poking through!
  • Veggie garden weeded; grass clippings spread on the paths; weed-eated along the edges.
  • Cauliflower, cucumbers, acorn squash, one more row of October beans, four more rows of corn, and three rows of pole beans put in the ground!

In addition to that we’ve decided to move forth with line drying all our stuff (in addition to the added benefit of helping the environment, I’m really hoping this helps my wallet this summer!), and I made the executive decision to start making all the household cleaners.  I know it has nothing to do with gardening, but we’ll let you know how all this goes as well 🙂

The photo album is updated so be sure to check it out, and we’ll update more soon!