Not too long ago, while I was busy tap tap tapping on my keyboard, I picked up the divine scent of raspberries.
They beckoned like shamelessly seductive sirens from a far-off fairyland: "Come, come to us! We're mingling with flour, sugar, eggs and buttermilk! We can make you happy! O come, and bring your butter knife!"
You can see I had no recourse but to investigate. The aroma of something wonderful baking in the oven is what I live for, and I absolutely love love raspberries! It wasn't coming from my kitchen, sad to say; the resident bears were all napping. So where? I clicked through to a few of my favorite foodie websites. Dorie Greenspan was busy baking thousands of gourmet CookieBar cookies, and CakeSpy was happily working on her new book, due out this Fall!
Weakened by longing, desperate with curiosity, I briefly closed my eyes and let the rich raspberry rhapsody wash over me. I had to find those vixens! Aha! I should have known. Those ruby red rascals were right here on LiveJournal! My highly trained olfactories led me straight to Jeannine Atkins's blog. Yes, she had just set out a plate of freshly baked Raspberry Muffins. Oh my, what beauties! Big, bumpy, bursting with berries. Taunting and tempting, even contaigious, since it didn't end there. Within
Just as big, bumpy, berryful and beautiful.
You can see I had no recourse but to bake some myself. But before I tell you about that, a raspberry poem in honor of Jeannine and Jo (the nicest people have names beginning with "J").
When writers grow up, they long for, find, make and/or thrive in rooms of their own. They are seduced by their muses in these self-styled sanctuaries. Though they often long for society, they scribble in solitude day after day with no promise of glory or reward. But sweet imagination makes a glorious bower, providing refuge from an outside world too large and too loud. I wish you all a small, safe, quiet place to dream and create. A finely crafted piece of writing is worth all the scrapes and scratches.
THE RASPBERRY ROOM
by Karin Gottshall
It was solid hedge, loops of bramble and thorny
as it had to be with its berries thick as bumblebees.
It drew blood just to get there, but I was queen
of that place, at ten, though the berries shook like fists
in the wind, daring anyone to come in. I was trying
so hard to love this world—real rooms too big and full
of worry to comfortably inhabit—but believing I was born
to live in that cloistered green bower: the raspberry patch
in the back acre of my grandparents’ orchard. I was cross-
stitched and beaded by its fat, dollmaker’s needles. The effort
of sliding under the heavy, spiked tangles that tore
my clothes and smeared me with juice was rewarded
with space, wholly mine, a kind of room out of
the crush of the bushes with a canopy of raspberry
dagger-leaves and a syrup of sun and birdsong.
Hours would pass in the loud buzz of it, blood
made it mine—the adventure of that red sting singing
down my calves, the place the scratches brought me to:
just space enough for a girl to lie down.
~ from Crocus (Fordham University Press, 2007).
Jeannine has graciously allowed me to reprint her muffin recipe here. It's a family favorite, much enjoyed through the years (often by her daughter's sleepover friends), and enthusiastically vetted by her husband Peter. It's a healthy recipe as muffins go, requiring very little sugar. I also like the option of using either fresh or frozen raspberries. Jo considers these muffins "poetry," and I wholeheartedly agree. You've got beauty, texture, an appeal to the senses, and it prompts an emotional response.
(makes 9 of hefty size)
Two and a half cups flour
One Tablespoon baking powder
One third to a half cup sugar
One cup buttermilk (or add one Tablespoon white vinegar to one cup milk and let sit a minute)
Four tablespoons vegetable oil
One cup raspberries – may be frozen
Preheat the oven to 400. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Mix dry ingredients. Beat the eggs with milk and oil. Add this to dry ingredients and blend quickly and lightly; do not beat. Fold in the berries. Spoon into pans and bake about 20 minutes until golden-brown.-ish.
*Jama's note: If you like a wetter batter, add another egg. You may wish to spray your paper baking cups with Pam for easier peeling.
Thank you, Jeannine!!
♥ Liz at Liz in Ink is our Poetry Friday host this week. Please take her some muffins and enjoy all the delicious poems being shared around the blogosphere. ☺
Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan's alphabet soup. All rights reserved.
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