This week's blueberry obsession continues, as do looming deadlines for real work. So, mindful of my duties to both the world's editors and you, dear reader, I'm going to cannibalize the archives and reprint a piece written in June 2001, for the Gay Pride issue of the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Happy muffining!
Is this really June? These blazing blue days, these whipped-warm winds and fleece-free nights? Coming out of the dark cave-coolness of the Roxie Theater at six o'clock, girls were spilling out into the streets everywhere you looked, wading through the heat in their apricot-tinted sunglasses like they were dipped in butterscotch. We're here, we're queer, it's hot outside and the Go-Go's have a brand-new album out. How cool is that? Belinda, Jane, Kathy, Charlotte, Gina: You're beautiful, we love you, you rock!
Maybe it's this summer flashing me back to high school (Republicans! Camouflage pants! the Go-Go's on the radio!), maybe it's all the lines --for movies, for popcorn, for beer and Skyy vodka martinis and chicken-on-a-stick--but this Pride frenzy feels like prom night as it should have been. Fabulous outfits, lots of flirting, all your friends in one place staying up all night. And once you've stayed up all night, there's only one place to go: out to breakfast for French food--French fries, French toast, and endless cups of coffee.
Of course, this is also the month when all your friends and lovers (current, ex, or most likely, some messy combination of the two) hop in the car and road-trip to your door. This is as it should be: part sleepover, part 24-7 party, equal parts high drama and low camp. Or it might be high camp and high drama--it just depends on the trouble-making potential of your friends. But no matter what's happened the night before, everyone needs breakfast. Just pointing your friends in the direction of the bagel shop and java hut may work for a day or two, but why subject them to commerce (and yet another line) so early in the morning? No, what you want is everyone in various states of deshabille, lounging in the kitchen or smoking on the steps, passing along juicy gossip while you pump up the coffeemaker and fill the whole house with the sweet, buttery scent of baking muffins.
This recipe came from a morning like that, back when Sunday morning meant three pots of coffee and a dozen eggs scrambled with leftover shrimp, half a package of cream cheese and a bunch of scallions, dished out not much before noon for four roommates, three sleepover girlfriends, two cats and always a couple of houseguests. Two of the women who lived there were bakers at Sally's over on DeHaro, so crumpled white bags filled with cookies and crumbling brownies were always there for the taking. The first morning I woke up there, the girl I'd gone home with brought me a cup of coffee in bed. It was strong and hot and dolloped with half-and-half. After six months of dating another girl who never drank coffee, I was primed to fall in love at that very moment. It was a good place to wake up.
Well, girls [and boys--it's equal-opportunity here at PQ Castle] come and go, but the really good ones leave recipes for remembrance. Heartbreak heals, t-shirts fade, but a good muffin recipe lasts. I know this first recipe came from Denise, one of the bakers. The other one is evidence of years of recipe sluthood. Like a mysterious pair of pink panties lolling unclaimed under the couch, this one appeared one morning, neatly copied into my recipe notebook under the heading "Very Best Blueberry Muffins." Whose best? Who knows? But they'll both make everyone happy to wake up with you.
Chase the Blues Blueberry Muffins
3 cups unbleached white flour (or a half-and-half combination of whole wheat pastry flour and white flour)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup orange juice
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup blueberries, rinsed and patted dry
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease the cups of a 12-cup muffin pan. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat eggs, honey, orange juice, and melted butter together. Add to dry ingredients and stir lightly until just mixed together. Batter should look rough and lumpy. Don't try to beat the batter smooth; just make sure any very obvious patches of flour are mixed in. Add blueberries and stir in lightly. Drop spoonfuls of batter into muffin cups, filling each cup 3/4 of the way. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until muffins are round and golden. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then loosen from the cups, let cool briefly on a rack, and serve with plenty of butter to whoever's sleeping in the living room.
Very Best Blueberry Muffins
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries
2 tablespoons sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease 12-cup muffin pan. Mix dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla together. Pour wet ingredients into dry, and stir lightly until just mixed together. Batter should look rough and lumpy. Stir in blueberries. Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way. Sprinkle each muffin with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes before serving.