I don't care what the little numbered squares on the calendar tell us, summer is here. It flooded the yard and seeped in underneath my door yesterday so, you see, I had no choice but to welcome it in. Besides, it brought with it hydrangeas the color of the sky. I can never say no to a guest who brings sky-blue hydrangeas as a welcome offering.
Now that it's here, everything at Freeman House tastes of it... summer, that is. I came home after a few days away to find swollen squash and plump strawberries waiting in the garden. The carrot tops are frilly and bright. The tomatoes are blushing. Grape vines are curling around fences and trees. Soon the kitchen will be full of bubbling pots of spaghetti sauce and jam and honeyed carrots. The oven will be popping out zucchini bread and cheese-covered squash and berry crisps. Oh early not-yet-summer, I love you so. I love even the thought of you.
Tomorrow marks the official opening day of many area fruit and berry farms. Isn't it wonderful? Before I am distracted by all the bright and shiny red, blue and black berries, I decided to use up bunches of 49c bananas and make my Southern Banana Pecan muffins. It's my own recipe that took ten years to perfect. Omgosh, are they wonderful. Actually, no... "wonderful" is almost an insult. They are too perfect for words. Pictures will have to do.
Okay. I'm off to enjoy my early summer. I have clothes on the line that need to come down before the mosquitoes wake...
(Update: The recipe, for Sherry....)
SOUTHERN BANANA NUT MUFFINS
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease a jumbo/six-cup muffin tin.
Using a wooden spoon, stir up:
2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
½ t. baking soda
In another bowl, cream with wooden spoon until light and fluffy:
½ c. shortening
3/4 c. sugar
To that mixture, add:
Now in separate bowl (I use a Pyrex cup), combine:
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 T. cream
1 t. vanilla
Alternately add banana mixture and bowl of dry ingredients into shortening/egg/sugar mixture, beating just until smooth after each addition. Stir in nuts. Turn into greased loaf muffin tin (or a loaf pan). Stir together ¼ c. brown sugar, 2 t. flour, and a small handful of chopped nuts. Sprinkle on top of muffin batter. Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes for muffins, or 45-50 minutes for loaf, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pans and cool. Wrap and store overnight before eating. By the way, these muffins really come into their own after a day or so. They aren’t nearly as good out of the oven as they will be tomorrow.
You should know that I usually put my very ripe bananas in the freezer for a day or two before using them in this recipe. I put them out on the counter to thaw before mashing them. It’s what my Grandmother usually did. And… don’t throw out those banana peels. Cut them into 1-2 inch pieces and bury them just under the soil around your roses. They’ll love you and you’ll be an organic, rose-growing genius who serves amazing banana nut muffins. Clever you.