I grew up with English Muffins for breakfast. I think I heard it said that my mom used to make them from scratch, but all I remember are boxes of Thomas English Muffins or various other brands in tubular bags loaded with muffins stacked one on top of the other. We cut the treats with a fork and toasted them in the oven until the tallest points were crisp and brown and the rest of the muffin was warm and chewy. Eggs Benedict was a favorite in our house, with the English Muffin as the basis for that whole, yummy egg concoction.
I did a little research, out of curiosity, to see where this muffin originated and got conflicting reports. According to Wikipedia, they originated in England and may have been around as long as the 10th century, however, they didn’t become fashionable until the late 1800′s. It stated that these muffins were and are served as a staple part of “tea”. But according to Foodreference.com The English swear that they never heard of them until these muffins were imported to England from America. It appears that Wikipedia may have confused English Muffins with Crumpets. Crumpets are a flatter, chewier, spongier version and really are a “tea” staple in England.
Foodreference.com joked that perhaps a pitiful English baker named Thomas, messed up his mother’s crumpet recipe – probably added too much flour – and produced the English Muffin instead. Who knows. It makes a good story though!
About a month ago, one of the active participants on the MaryJane FarmGirl Connection challenged all of us “Farmgirls” to a bread baking day. What fun. We were told to make something that we had never tried before. It was a blast reading recipes that were shared and seeing photos of the results. What a wonderful group of women. It was with that challenge, that I decided to try my hand at English Muffins. The following is the result and I must say, “Oh my!!” A pat of butter and some strawberry jam and you might as well leave me to meditatin’. These were very easy to make and I encourage you to give it a try. You will love the results. No more ‘store boughten’ for me!!!!
1 cup water
1/2 cup scalded milk
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp warm water
1 pkg active dry yeast [or 1 tbsp loose yeast]
4 cups flour
3 tbsp softened butter
I don’t care where these precious breads were invented or if they were just a mistake on the part of a bad English baker who immigrated to the US, they are delicious and a real treat. Next post, I’ll show you something that you can do with them that will thrill the kids. Until then….
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Archive for December, 2010
I have decided that every place on earth has its own beauty and every place on earth in any season of the year displays that beauty in many different ways.
Oklahoma is no different. From the “mountains” (hills to you Colorado folk) of the eastern and southwestern part of the state, the rivers and forests of the southeastern and southcentral part, to the wide open prairie and sand dunes of the western part of the state, nature shows herself in glorious splendor each and every season.
Yesterday, my dear husband and I made a day of it heading out to Altus, OK, home of Altus Air Force Base. From our starting point, the route winds through Chickasha, Lawton and Fort Sill, Cache and Snyder (home of General Tommy Franks) past ranches that spread as far as the eye can see.
We started out in cold, brisk temperatures hanging around 32º with a dusting of snow on the ground. As we moved south, the cold air had hit warmer air and we were driving in the proverbial “pea soup”.
I thought that you might like to see what our state looks like in the late Fall/early Winter before the heavy snows move in. I took these from the car as we were sailing along at a 70mph clip!
These are the mountains that are evidently keeping Trader Joe’s from coming to Oklahoma. It seems their trucks can’t make it over our “mountains”? Yes, clerks at two different Trader Joe’s stores in two different states shared that secret with me. I’m wondering how they made it all the way to Tennessee from California!! Some of our “mountains” are leftovers from the Dust Bowl days. Large dunes of sand give testimony to those hare and terrible days. I think the view is spectacular.
We finally made it to Altus to sun and warmer temperatures. We went by the Air Force Base and it was humming with activity. The monstrous C5 Galaxy planes looked like battleships trying to stay in the air. They are so big that it is just hard to fathom how in the world they fly!!!
So there’s a little view into one part of our world on the southwest side of the state. Hope you didn’t get carsick!!
Isn’t it funny the things we say before we really realize how dumb we sound? Like the clerk who recently told my daughter that she didn’t think the grocery store carried poppy seeds anymore because of the opium in them – Huh??
Or how about someone near and dear to me who announced that the IPhone had an exciting new app that turns your IPhone into a walky-talky, allowing you to talk to other people over your IPhone!! Ya think? (Oh and that’s ‘application’ for those of you out-of-the-technologically-advanced-loop kinda fuddy-duddies)
One of the best was stated by a sport’s caster announcing a Denver Bronco’s game, years ago, who marvelled, “He threw it with his left arm!! He threw it with his left arm!! He’s amphibious, you know!!!”
I’ve had my major share of unengaged brain moments myself. There was the time I didn’t realize that I explained to a friend of ours, who had accompanied us to a reunion, not to be alarmed about one of our cousins who suffered from “necrophelia” (attraction to corpses). I couldn’t understand the shock and recoil of our guest until one of our children whispered to him, “She means narcolepsy“(sleeping disorder). Oh yes. I really said that.
And then, there was the awful time that I got frustrated with one of the old timers who loved to kid me in the grocery store meat department where I worked years ago. Balancing a row of packaged chicken breasts, three deep, along my left arm as I was placing them in the bin, I picked up one package, waved it in front of his face and threatened, “Do you want some breasts in your mouth??!!” There was nothing to do but hide in the big cooler between the hanging sides of beef and pork until the coast was clear.
My favorite story of all time, though, involves a very dear friend of mine (whose name I will change to protect the not-so-innocent), Claude. In that very same grocery that I mentioned as my place of employment, there was a very handsome, macho, young man – the brother of my boss and co-owner of the store – who worked the cash register every so often. His name was Gerald. My boss, had a delightful little tow-headed four year old son, who spent many days with us in the meat department. And his name was Jarod. One day, my friend Claude and his wife had come to the grocery store to shop. Seeing Jarod playing in front of the store, Claude’s wife mentioned, “Oh! There’s Jarod. When you get closer to him, be sure to play “Got’cher Nose” with him because he loves it.” If you have no idea what that game involves, it requires the adult to grab the youngster’s nose, and then, sticking the thumb between the index finger and the middle finger to present it as the stolen nose, the adult declares, “Got’cher nose!” to which the youngster screams in terror, “Give it back!! Give it back!!” It is solely for the sadistic pleasure of adults to terrify, frustrate and generally disturb the psyche of young children.
Now Claude, dutiful husband that he was, pushed the cart around the store and loaded it with groceries alongside his wife. In order to pay for their loot, Claude stationed the buggy at the checkout stand manned by Gerald, my boss’s brother. Claude looked a little timid at first, but just as Gerald rang up the last item and stated how much was owed, Claude reached across the conveyor belt to Gerald’s nose, grabbed it and declared, “Got’cher nose!!” Now, Claude defends his actions by explaining that when his wife mentioned “Jarod”, he heard “Gerald”, and disaster ensued. Gerald, every bit the man’s man, stepped back in shock and stared at Claude in total confusion. Then Claude saw little Jarod and realized his mistake. Leaving groceries, cart, a stunned checkout clerk and a wife, who was in hysterics, Claude exited the grocery as fast as he could and waited in the car until his wife made it out with the groceries. It was quite awhile before Claude set foot in the place again, and those of us who worked in the grocery had a story and a laugh for weeks and weeks.
Well, speaking of Claude – Claude, like Ernest in the old milk commercials, used to pop up at our home every morning because he knew that there would be fresh biscuits and sausage for the taking. He loved biscuits and he always made me feel so appreciated as he devoured a plateful. And so, it is in honor of Claude that I thought I’d post my biscuit recipe. Hey, Claude!! Got’cher nose!
2 cups flour (all purpose or whole wheat pastry flour)
2 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp shortening