Remember yesterday when I said there wouldn't be any schmaltzy Valentine posts? That was before I had a day off. And time to make muffins.
My Mom used to make these "French Breakfast Muffins" for special occasions growing up. They were from a Junior League cookbook of hers. I can still see that recipe on the page--green font, butter stains around the edges. And there were lots of special occasion breakfasts in our house. Birthdays, of course, but also St. Patrick's and Valentines Day, first day of school, May Day. She is a master ambiance creator. I don't share that talent, but at least I clear the clutter off the table (you're welcome, Yancey).
This morning when Yancey got off shift, the kids had been waiting by the door for an hour, anxious to open their gifts. Wyatt got a graphic novel, and Loretta, a ladybug umbrella. I started reminiscing about past Valentines Days, which precipitated a string of storytelling. The kids were enthralled.
In third or fourth grade, I was smitten with a pair of shoes at Hilton's Shoes. Most our clothes came from thrift stores or KMart (pity mothers 30 years ago who didn't have Target!), so these shoes were out of my league. They were varsity. Rainbow canvas, covered toe and heel, with ties up the ankle. I drew them, imagined myself making an appearance at school, and was certain they would make me feel beautiful forever. Unbeknownst to me, my mom saved up some extra money and rode her bike downtown to make the purchase. When she got to Hiltons, the cash had fallen out of her pocket somewhere along the way, and I never got my shoes. I teared up recounting it, and Yancey said, "Why did your Mom even tell you that story if you never got the shoes?" I said I didn't know, but that I had always been glad she did. It's one of the many, many things in my life that's told me I'm loved.
Emily always says that Valentine's Day is a time to celebrate love in all its forms. Though she's been single for much of the time I've known her, she's always the one sending pink cards or calling to say she loves me. I'm soaking it up today, from every little nook and cranny. I hope you are, too.
P.S. Soaking it up from my sweetheart, too. Sarah Murphy, Yancey Kangas, Junior Prom, 1991. If it's true that all you need is love, we've been very rich for a very long time.
I got so carried away with nostalgia that I've forgotten to talk these up properly. Every mother should have these up her sleeve. One bowl, pedestrian ingredients, but a child's delight. I almost made a cranberry Irish soda bread this morning, but remembered that my goal was so see the kids wolf something down. If your children are anything like mine, they're not big on texture. These are buttery, sweet, yielding pillows--nothing to get in the way of appreciative grunts. This recipe makes only 8 muffins, which I like. If you're serving a crowd, though, you'll want to double it.
1 1/2 c. + 2 Tb. flour
3/4 c. sugar
2 ts. baking powder
1/4 ts. salt
1/4 ts. nutmeg (freshly ground, if possible)
1/2 c. milk
1 beaten egg
1/3 c. melted butter
1 ts. cinnamon
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. melted butter
Preheat oven to 400.
Combine first five ingredients. Add milk, egg, and 1/3 c. melted butter, mix gently to combine. Butter a muffin tin, and fill muffin cups 1/2 full and bake for 15-20 minutes, until tops are light brown and springy to the touch.
While muffins are still warm, dip in butter and roll in cinnamon and sugar. Serve warm.