I’m not going to lie, it is hard to get back into the swing of things after the holidays. Here it is Tuesday already and I feel like I haven’t even really gotten going for the week. Yesterday was spent tearing down the Christmas tree and getting my bearings on post-holiday life.
Yesterday I also roasted another chicken, which is something that I am starting to become addicted to. Last time around I ended up tossing the carcass and stinking up my kitchen, but this time I’ve gotten more efficient. I carved up the roasted chicken, pulled all of the viable meat off the bones, then put every other scrap including the bones in the freezer pending a batch of stock. I used the breasts for a nice, simple salad for dinner last night, making a warm vinaigrette dressing from the chicken fat. I’m thinking of putting the remaining meat in or maybe on top of a risotto for dinner tonight. Also, cold roast chicken leg? Best. Afternoon. Snack. Ever.
I want to spend less on food and get more out of it. I also want to waste less food. There will be a worm farm at some point in my future (although it may be a while till I can get that going) so that I have less trash to throw out. Efficiency and sustainability are my watchwords for 2011.
Since I am cooking nearly every day now, I am finding it so much easier to keep track of what we have in the pantry and what needs to be used up. I have been making an effort to keep staples stocked and to use everything that ends up in the fridge so that there isn’t any waste. I’m not being scared of my freezer either; if I can’t finish something before it goes bad, I pop it in the chill chest and use it later. I’ve started keeping an ongoing shopping list on my phone (I use Toodledoo for everything) so when I use up a staple, I simply add it to the shopping list so I can replenish it the next time I’m at the store.
One of the things that has been sitting in my veggie drawer for some time now is a couple of cups of fresh cranberries. I decided to put them to use in some corn muffins. For the most part before I started this whole cooking thing, my corn muffin experience was straight up boxed muffin mix. In other words, simple and easy but very sweet. These days when I’m making corn bread or corn muffins from scratch I forget this. I am always surprised how my corn bread etc is more of a savory thing than a sweet thing. This recipe is a nice middle ground between the sweet sugary boxed muffin mix and savory corn bread. It still has that nice strong corn bread flavor, but also has a little sweetness balanced with the tartness of the cranberries. I’m sure my friends from the south will have some words of wisdom on the topic of corn muffins and corn bread as well.
A final note before I get to the recipe: This is another recipe that sucks if you don’t have a mixer. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, creaming butter and sugar together without a mixer sucks and makes me want to throw in the towel before the recipe is even truly started. However, I persevered and got it done. I’m going to have hands and biceps of steel if I keep this up. One day I will have a mixer and the angels and seraphim will sing down upon me …
Cranberry Corn Muffin Recipe
Adapted from Sarabeth’s recipe
1+ tablespoon butter for the muffin tin
1 1/4 Cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup corn meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) of butter cut into cubes
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cups 2% milk
7 or so ounces of corn (fresh, frozen or canned)
1 cup fresh cranberries, roughly chopped.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees with one rack in the middle position.
Butter a 12-cup muffin-tin liberally including the lip of each cup. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. In a large bowl cream the butter and the sugar until smooth. Add the eggs and mix together (a whisk helps here). Add in the dry mixture and the milk alternating 1/3 of each at a time, mix until combined. Combine corn into the batter. Finally, fold in the cranberries. Be gentle, if you mix too hard at this stage the cranberries will make the whole batter red.
Spoon the batter equally into the muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees for ten minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and bake until nicely brown and a toothpick comes away clean. In my oven this takes about 18 minutes (about a half hour total). Let the muffins cool for a few minutes, then remove from the tin and cool on a rack.
After Action Report
I made a few substitutions from the original recipe: I used regular cornmeal instead of the rougher stone-ground cornmeal, I used kosher salt instead of fine sea salt, I used confectioners sugar instead of “superfine sugar”, and I used 2% milk instead of whole milk. I’m fairly certain that overall none of these substituions had a major effect on the final product. Additionally, Sarabeth uses a fancy dough scoop and yields 10 muffins with cute little round tops. Spooning the batter into the tins yielded me 12 muffins that are a little more rough-looking. Your mileage may vary.
These are damn good. I ate two of them straight from the pan and then had to eat another one that I broke open during the photo shoot. You know, don’t want it to go bad.