Sunday in my Town, Murphys California

The rain’s been sniveling all day after screaming with passion throughout the night. Nature’s begun her unimaginative winter rut of rain, rain, rain, tiny glimpse of sun, more rain in Northern California. We’re not allowed to really complain with the threat of drought always on our horizon. For those of us lower than snow levels, the end of December through March means cold damp rain (as opposed to May through November – then we might not see a drop). When the sun does peek out, we all understand Shakespeare’s analogy “Love Comforteth like Sunshine after Rain” (Henry VI). Those glimpses of sunshine are coveted and seem to warm to the bone. Made an effort earlier this week to capture a few of my glimpses on film for Sundays in my town (or city). Above you see some folks around Murphys are not yet blessed with the cessation of rain for the evening.

Love the play of light on clouds. My meager efforts were able to capture a few visions I’ll keep. Composition may not be perfect as I’m working with the limited venues available from the back deck.

The touch of light on the trees lets you know dusk is near.

Still playing with light.

So yes it’s clichéd, and yes regardless I lit a nice fire and have been humming about the house “Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful”. What can I say – I like a good fire, I like to sing while I work. It’s a perfect day for having the oven on and staying inside – in honor of my “more good grains in 2011” resolution, I threw together a batch of my favorite cornbread muffins (blogged with recipe here– note in the large muffin tins it only makes 6) and curled up with a my fav bev – halfway between a latte and cappuccino (more milk than one and less than the other). Once this is posted, it’s off to a corner with a blankie and a good book.

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Mmmm, a bit of Chai tea, jam and homemade cornbread

Recipes for cornbread and corn muffins vary widely in ratios of flour to cornmeal, from grainy dense very little flour recipes (being a New England gal, I’d liken these to what those dog biscuits that clean their teeth must be like) to the light and fluffy “New England” cornbread recipes with significantly more flour than cornmeal. They also vary widely in amounts of sugar with many restaurant cornbreads, like Marie Callender’s very very very sweet (to my tastes).  Given my own preferences, this is my all time favorite corn muffin recipe.  Sometimes I do butter, sometimes oil in the recipe below. Martha’s recipe had said yielded 24 – I get 12 regular size muffins using my little Wilton 12 square pan. The picture shows you the largest of the 12 squares I baked. Just whipped up a batch as I’d been craving them lately. Ahhh, a bit of Chai tea, jam and cornbread – my breakfast and my late afternoon snack. I feel so cozy and nurtured J.

My Favorite Corn Muffins

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, Sep 2007

Vegetable-oil cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup oil or melted butter

Oven 375

Lightly coat a muffin tin with cooking spray. I open the dishwasher, place the pan on the open door and spray there (next wash and the inside of that door is cleaned off).  I then tip it over to let any excess oil drain while I mix the recipe. Saw this tip on NordicWare’s site.

Combine dry ingredients well ( flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt). I always put baking power and baking soda through a small sieve (some tea strainer designs work) as there’s nothing worse than getting a little bit of that bitter bite if either goes into your mix with any lumps.

Fork beat the egg with buttermilk and oil in a small bowl. (i.e. don’t get out the hand mixer but do break up the yolk and be sure the wet are well incorporated with each other before you add them to the to dry). Add to dry ingredients, and stir until just combined.

Fill muffin cups about three-quarters full. Bake until tops are golden, about 18 minutes (Start checking at 15). Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove from pan to cool on racks.

This post has been added to the party Make it with Cornbread Monday: