Growing up in my tiny little mobile home with 3 siblings gave us many reasons to play outside in the woods and not be all squished up inside. I was the oldest full of the crazy ideas – I’m just so thankful for my younger two sisters and my brother who followed my instructions so well to help me implement those crazy ideas. Well, they followed my instructions *fairly* well. 🙂 One of our favorite things to do was to cut down trails in the middle of the woods and get rid of all the briars (which, now that I think about it, were probably the most awesome blackberry bushes ever….oh well. Saving bike tires at that point was way more important to me at 12 years old).
When we needed a break though, we’d blaze a trail to my sweet neighbor’s house. Nana and Grandaddy we called them. Not our grandparents, but because we lived in the middle of nowhere, they were the ones we saw most often for sure. They always had a candy jar that could be opened with a kiss on the cheek. It was such a small price to pay – for us and them.
They also had a huge front yard full of very mature blueberry bushes. Maybe 3 dozen of them? They’d get gallons and gallons of berries. No matter what time of the year we showed up to say hey we’d give our kiss, get some candy, then sit at Nana’s big table and she’d have blueberry cobbler and vanilla ice cream on the table in a matter of minutes.
As they got older, we’d pick more berries than them. Sometimes, Grandaddy would just sit in a lawn chair and listen to our laughs and watch us run back and forth between bushes trying to find the biggest blueberry ever. Or at least one bigger than anyone else found that day.
They came to my wedding – and walked down the aisle as my grandparents. Looking as beautiful as ever. I just loved them. And I’m so thankful they were there for me for all of my growing up years.
My Nana and Grandaddy at our wedding in August, 2004
And now, as they’ve been gone for years from my life here on earth, I still think of them year round. Because, my mom still gets access to their bushes – and she picks and picks faithfully and brings me bags of the yummy berries everytime she comes up for a visit. They stay in my freezer and come out year round.
My kids love them most in our morning oatmeal (they stay frozen, so when I put them in the hot oatmeal, it cools it off pretty quickly for them!) with a tad bit of local raw honey.
Our second favorite way to use them is in these muffins.
You know those perfect muffins. The ones with just the right amount of berries (that don’t sink to the bottom!). They don’t end up tasting (or feeling!) like sweetened cornbread. They are just as fluffy as the packaged “just add water” mixes we all resort to at times because we just can’t get them perfect without them, right?
Thanks to “Muffingirl” on allrecipes.com, I found a recipe that just worked. And I couldn’t mess it up. And the only problem I had with them was keeping my family’s fingers out of them. So here you go – bake some muffins and enjoy those summer berries!
First, take out your stick of butter and sit it up on your window sill in the sunlight or somewhere kinda warm – it’ll start to soften to room temperature and you won’t have to use your microwave. (But if you wanna hurry things up a bit, go ahead and put it in for 15 seconds – but shhhhh! Don’t tell anyone I told you that!)
Next, preheat your oven to 395 degrees. Not 400. Not 375. 395.
Take your 2 cups of flour, 2 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp of salt and sift them together into a small bowl. Note: Sifting here is an often-skipped step in many busy mom’s kitchens. BUT, if perfect light, fluffy, moist, no-fail, etc, etc, etc muffins, don’t skip this step. If you don’t have a sifter, no worries – I don’t either. I just put my flour, baking powder, and salt in a colander I have with small holes and shake it a few times against the mixing bowl. This gets air in the flour which makes your muffins lighter and fluffier in the end. You’ll notice once you get it sifted all through the colander that it’s much lighter than it was when you scooped it out of the flour bag. <—– this step is a big deal. Don’t skip it. At least when you’re making my recipe. 🙂
In a larger bowl, beat your stick of butter until it’s light and fluffy. Then, add your 1 cup of sugar. Don’t add the eggs quite yet!
After mixing it for a bit, it should look like this:
Now you can add in your two eggs – just one at a time. Beat it well after each egg – you want this mixing to be really good because once we add the flour, we’re gonna go real gentle-like on mixing the batter.
You can also add in your 1 tsp of vanilla at this point too. One word to describe what this mixture will be? Gloopy.
Now for the fun part. Measure out your 1/2 cup of milk. (I love Happy Cow milk for my recipes! For all of those not local to me – sorry you have to miss out on this awesome-ness!)
Now for the fun part. You should have three bowls. One with your butter/sugar/eggs mixed up real good-like. One with your flour/salt/baking powder sifted real good like. And one small 1/2 cup size one with some milk in it. You’re gonna alternate putting the flour and the milk in and mixing in between. I start with 1/3 of my flour, then 1/2 my milk, then another 1/3 or so of flour, then the rest of my milk, then the rest of the flour. Mix on medium low speed – and mix it well, but as soon as the mixing looks good for each little step, stop and move on to the next addition. Too much mixing will make your muffins tough. No matter how good your intentions, how much good luck you generally have or how much sifting you did.
Once you get all that mixing done it’s time to turn off the mixer, and pull out a spatula. And your blueberries. I’ll be posting Nana’s blueberry cobbler recipe shortly. But it’ll be awhile – I’m still trying to re-lose the 4 pounds I gained from the last time I made it and couldn’t stop eating it.
Go ahead and dump in your cup of blueberries – they can be fresh or frozen.
And fold those pretty little morsels of summer juiciness right in your batter. Ever so gently. Remember – we’ve worked hard for these light and fluffy muffins. We don’t wanna ruin things by being hard on those berries!
Because this is a somewhat thick batter, the berries won’t sink to the bottom of your muffins. I promise. 😉
Fill up your muffin pan cups about 3/4 full. You can use liners if you want to. I do. When I have them.
Now bake them in that 395 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Stick a fork in ’em when you think they’re done to see if anything sticks to it. If not, pull them out – don’t over bake them!
OK, now I’m hungry again for 2nd breakfast.
Ain’t she pretty? 🙂
Here’s a closeup so you can see the inside texture – ahhhh, these are so good with a little butter. 🙂
Thanks, Nana, for the amazing blueberries – I’ve enjoyed them literally, my entire life!
Me and my sweet Nana in 1984.