As I've mentioned before in this blog and in my new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, I was of all people most blessed to be an officemate with Ann Criswell, the legendary and internationally known food editor of the Houston Chronicle. We had cubicles that were adjacent to each other. Many taste-testings for upcoming food-section featured items transpired in our corner of the office. Despite her reknown, Ann was a compassionate, down-to-earth individual who loved to share her knowledge--and her food--with others.
When our garden produced a surplus of pumpkins, I bemoaned the fact that I knew little to cook with them besides bake pumpkin pie. She unfurled her entire pumpkin recipe file on me. I picked up some terrific and inventive ideas for pumpkin dishes. Most of those ideas still are housed in my fall recipe album; I prepare them again and again once we're sufficiently into autumn and always remember this now-retired friend and mentor.
I love this Pumpkin-Bran Muffin recipe because it yields so many muffins (20 or so) that can be frozen to pop out and warm for breakfast or anytime. The combination of pumpkin, bran cereal, and whole wheat flour ranks it high up there on the health-wise list. See buttermilk on the ingredient list but don't have any in the house (or don't want its fat content?) Many people know the age-old buttermilk substitution: to make one cup buttermilk, put 3 teaspoons white vinegar into a 1-cup measure; fill with skim milk until the milk reaches the 1-cup line. Let stand for 5 minutes, then add to recipe. Much better for you, and the taste is the same. Then you don't have an unused container of buttermilk sitting around in your fridge.
Tomorrow morning: Pumpkin-Bran Muffins with homemade peach preserves put by from our peach orchard this summer. Can't wait to get that delicious start on the weekend.
1/2 cup boiling water
1 scant cup bran cereal (recipe tested with Bran Flakes)
1 cup buttermilk (or substitution mentioned above)
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar or brown-sugar substitute
4 tablespoons cooking oil
2 eggs (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)
1 1/2 cups fresh cooked pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt or salt substitute
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped nuts
Pour boiling water over bran cereal; mix well and let cool. Stir in buttermilk. Cream brown sugar and oil. Add eggs and beat well. Add pumpkin and orange juice. Mix flour, baking soda, salt, pumpkin-pie spice, and allspice. Stir cooled bran mixtxure into sugar mixture. Add molasses. Add dry ingredients all at once; stir until just moistened. Batter will not be completely smooth. Stir in nuts. Bake or refrigerate, tightly covered, overnight or up to three days. To bake: fill greased muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake in 425 degree oven 15 to 20 minutes, until muffins spring back lightly when touched or toothpick inserted in center emerges clean. Makes 18 to 20 muffins. This makes a fairly dark, moderately sweet muffin; the pumpkin taste does not predominate.