Americana: Blueberry muffins

The night before I flew out of LAX bound for Budapest, I asked my dad to pick up a blueberry muffin for me on his way home for the long plane. “Isn’t there anything else you’d want to eat? Anything better?” he asked. My dad doesn’t believe that muffins are “real” food. But I believe that muffins can be everything. They can be savory, they can be sweet; they can be gooey and half done, or moist and ready to eat. Muffins satisfy all kinds of cravings with their almost cake-like texture, endless combination of flavors, and the individualized muffin cup that says me, Me, ME! They assuage all kinds of doubts or apprehensions. Just one poorly pinched corner of a warm, moist, buttery muffin is enough to make me think that some day, muffins will save the world. Not that I advocate emotional eating.

Anyway, I had to have that blueberry muffin.

I had this vision that it would give me unparalled peace as I squirmed uncomfortably for 14 hours in the leather, supportless, bad-tv airplane seat. That poor muffin had high expectations to fulfill. The thing about muffins that I’ve found, though, is they’re a bit like a comfortable, wrapped up nap after an early, hectic morning and an awfully late night: easily satisfying.

So I waited until the bad airplane movies started to get even staler as they began to be replayed over and over. Until the illusions that I was even sitting in a chair gradually fell away as the circulation in my lower body started to grow frenetic. Until the small well of beverages and services began to dry up because I was 20 feet outside of business class. Then, and only then, did I take out the moist blueberry muffin. I was comforted by the known: what it would taste like, the store it came from, that nursery song, the fact that ever since I could remember, blueberry muffins were part of my American life, and a food I associated almost entirely with the old U.S of A. I didn’t know what to expect in Budapest. But I wouldn’t have to think about that until I was done with the muffin.

Recipe (adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook):
6 tablespoons butter (3/4 stick) softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 extra-large egg
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/3 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries (tossed in 1 tbsp flour)

1. preheat oven to 375 degrees. prep muffin cups or grease muffin tin.
2. cream together butter and sugar. add milk, egg, and vanilla.
3. in separate bowl, mix flour and baking powder and salt.
4. add dry ingredients to wet.
5. gently fold in blueberries.
6. scoop batter into muffin cups, about 1/2 to 2/3 full.
7. bake for 20-25 minutes.

Makes 12.


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