Let’s talk food, okay? Tuesday I made up a big batch of this Pasta, Sausage and Bean Soup. I’ve made it twice and, to my mind, it’s the perfect hearty wintery soup with a little kick to it (I use spicy ground Italian pork sausage) and it reheats well. I just keep ladling bowls out and it never ends.

Then Tuesday night I mixed buttermilk and oatmeal to sit over night, so that I could make oatmeal muffins in the morning. Oh, lacto-fermentation, how I love you! By the time the muffins were baked, the oats had turned into lightness and air and they were the most delicious oatmeal muffins I’ve ever had. I used, of course, the recipe from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion.

Edited to add:  I forgot to mention that I threw in a dash of nutmeg, and that has made all the difference.  If you like nutmeg, I recommend it. 

OATMEAL MUFFINS

  • 1 cup (3 1/2 ounces) quick-cooking or rolled oats
  • 2 cups (16 oz) buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz) butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • dash of nutmeg – my own addition since I’m addicted to nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (6 oz) raisins (optional) (I put chopped up dried cherries in half the muffins)

In a small bowl, combine the oats and buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 F. In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk and the oat mixture, brown sugar, butter, egg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gently stir in the flour and raisins. Scoop into 12 greased or lined muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes, until the tops are light golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes on a rack, then turn out of the pans to finish cooling.

Makes 12.

Seriously, this is a fabulous muffin. I think you could easily add any fruit/nut combination you like, and the plain ones are good, too.

Then, midafternoon yesterday, I got a terrible chocolate hankering. I know it was national pie day (according to babelbabe) but what I wanted were chocolate mint brownies, the ones I made for New Year’s. They’ve got a minty frosting and a chocolate drizzle and they’re rich and fudgy and they’re just so good.

While I did all this baking (and the cleaning up that came afterwards) I finished up listening to Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, written and read by Jack Gantos, which was just a great example of what’s right in the world of children’s books and audio books. Then, when Joey was over, and because I was too lazy to go out in the cold and fetch the second Bartimaeus from the car, I popped in the audio version of Austenland, which I’ve already read. Audio books are a powerful, powerful addiction, I tell you.

Last night I picked up The Exception, by Christian Jungersen, when I came home from work, and suddenly hours had passed and I was a third of the way through it. (The copy I have is the one that with my very own hands, I barcoded and labeled and added to the library system – I love it when this happens.) It came recommended by…oh great, I don’t know who. SOMEONE recommended it strongly. I really need to keep better track of these things. Anyway, while it’s a bit cool to be a page-turner, I am gripped all the same.

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