Growing up our mornings were blissfully uneventful. Monday through Friday Mama would wake us up by throwing open the curtains then at the same time grabbing my big toe and Cynthia’s while singing a voz alto, “Good morning! Good morning! The sun is shining! Good morning!”. We would both grumble and try to bury ourselves deeper into our beds. Knowing the possibility of any bonus slumber to be impossible we would climb out of our beds and get dressed for school. Breakfast awaited. Satisfying but predictable our places would be set by Mama every morning. Her Royal Danish silver on a neatly folded paper napkin would flank our Royal Doulton Bunnykins bowls, each filled with a scant cup of Cheerios. Mama would be close by with a pitcher of cold milk. On our Bunnykins plates would be one of the following: an orange, and apple or a banana. Our egg cups were always empty.:( Weekends, however, were different. Weekends held the promise of flavor. Soft boiled eggs were often an end of the week reward. And we always held on to the hope that maybe, just maybe, our whole wheat toast wouldn’t be charred and blackened all the way through. Teeth thoroughly brushed, hair neatly pulled back in pony tails, little white tennis dresses on, she’d give us each a dime. For a Coke; the word we used for all carbonated beverages. The freshly swept tennis courts awaited. And these were her parting words, “Now I want you girls to have good lessons and pay attention. Both of you are to play several matches so you can move ahead on the ladder. I love you! Fly your banner high!” That last part, about the “banner” was ALWAYS directed to me. She meant make us proud, keep the family name honorable…BEHAVE! Jeepers! What did she think I was going to do? I was 9 for crying out loud! Anyway, off we’d go on our bikes pedaling down Las Olas with our rackets in our baskets and our dimes safely tucked in our socks. After a good four or five hours of CONSTANT exercise we would run into each other at the Coke machine. Cynthia and I would dig around in our shoes to find our treasured dimes. A cold, sugary elixir called “Sprite” was about to come hurtling out of the machine into our hot, tired, little hands. That Coke machine at the tennis courts was one of the best…ever! Why? Because nine times out of ten your beautiful, emerald-green bottle had ice in it!! Sweet, frozen shards of Sprite slowly sliding down our throats seemed like paradise, nirvana, absolute heaven on earth. We never had sugar! We’d sip on our drinks each chatting and gossiping with our friends on the wooden benches outside the snack room. As morning had advanced into noon we disbanded, some girls picked up by their mothers, others swung their legs over their bikes to make their trek back home. Let me tell you that 3 1/2 mile ride home was sometimes agonizing!! Our legs were heavy as lead after all that running and although our hands were calloused from playing so much we could always feel a little blister throbbing its way to the surface. Year after year we stuck to this routine…it’s what we did back then because that’s what our parents told us he had to do. As time marched on those dimes were replaced by quarters. The bikes were replaced by cars. We still had Cheerios, tho. And tennis lessons. Then one weekend morning Mama came in our room singing as always, yanking our toes and irritating us beyond belief. We were older, teenagers, less tolerant and probably borderline rude. ”Mama!! Stop it! Do you HAVE to sing! Jeeze! Stop!” And so she did. She looked at us long and hard and said, “Fine. You won’t hear it again.” And guess what? We didn’t. From then on we still got our Cheerios and fruit. We still got our quarters. And she still woke us up. But she would only pop her head into our room and in a soft voice say, “Girls. Time to get up.” Now in the very advanced stages of Parkinson’s Mama hasn’t spoken in a very long time. I would do just about anything to hear her beautiful, happy voice….just about anything.
These muffins are magnificent! The addition of lemon zest makes them uber lemony and against the sweet crunch of the crumble topping? I’ve not had better. They’re super easy to prepare and quick also. The batter is quite stiff so resist the temptation of over working the dough. It’s fine if there are still some floury patches even after adding the berries. Wonderful hot out of the oven they are even better the next day!
LEMONY BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
yield: one dozen
- 1 tablespoon butter, cold
- 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- zest of 1 1/2-2 lemons, I like a lot
- a pinch of salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup nonfat Greek yoghurt
- juice of 2 lemons
- 1 egg
- zest of one lemon
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 2 heaping cups blueberry muffins
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- In a small bowl mix all topping ingredients together with a fork so that butter is incorporated and topping is crumbly. Taste it, ohmygosh it’s so good! and set aside in refrigerator.
- Coat muffin pan with non stick spray or line with paper baking cups.
- Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- In a different bowl combine the yoghurt, lemon juice, egg, lemon zest, extract and canola oil. Mix well.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and by hand mix until barely combined.
- Add the blueberries and carefully incorporate trying not to overwork the dough. It’s just fine if you have dry, floury areas. It’s supposed to be a very stiff dough.
- Spoon into the prepared muffin pan, high into the tins.
- Sprinkle well with the cold topping mix and bake for 20-23 minutes or until tester comes out clean.