When I was in our local bank awhile ago, one of the tellers said she liked my column, so I asked what she’d like to see next. The response was a typical one for summer gardeners: what in the world to do with all the extra summer squash and zucchini that are so prolific this time of year. And then one of the bank’s customers chimed in — “muffins, I could live on muffins” — or something to that effect. Thus, this column and recipe.
So, what does a muffin want to be? Tasty, of course, and nutritious without tasting “too healthy” as our kids used to say. Easy, without a lot of steps or hard to find ingredients. Versatile, freezes well, goes in a lunch pail and still looks good at noon. Good for breakfast, good with soup or a light supper ... And lastly, for the way I cook, seasonal. Strawberries and rhubarb in the spring. Squash, carrots, and corn in the summer, and apples, pumpkins, winter squash and nuts in the fall and winter. And, since none of us like to clean up, that should be easy and quick also — just a couple of bowls and your grater or food processor.
Most muffins are pretty simple — flour, leavening, eggs, some fat and sweetener. Fruits, nuts, cereals, and flavorings are what make any muffin special. For today’s recipe, I’ve raided the garden for some summer squash and carrots. Since some guests are allergic to nuts, we’ll use sunflower seed “nuts” for crunch instead of tree or ground nuts.
LOADED SUMMER SQUASH MUFFINS
This is a “multi-purpose” muffin — good for breakfast, lunch, or supper. Use any color summer squash, preferably under 6 inches. If larger, scoop out the seeds. No need to peel. When grating, I use the “fine” disc for my food processor. Makes about 16 muffins.
Prepare muffin cups (I use paper liners). Use a 12-cup pan and a 6-cup pan (put some water in the unused spaces). Set aside. Grate about 3 medium summer squash and one carrot. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix well and set aside:
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil (such as canola)
grated rind and juice of one lemon
1 1/2 cup grated and squeezed summer squash
3/4 cup grated carrots
In a smaller bowl, mix and set aside:
1 3/4 cup unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon each salt and cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ground cloves
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup rolled oats (old fashioned oatmeal)
1/4 cup sunflower “nuts” plus more for topping if desired
Combine wet and dry mixtures and fold together just until mixed. A few lumps are OK.
Ladle into muffin cups; sprinkle on a few sunflower nuts if you want, and bake in preheated 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack.
David and Muffy Vhay own Deer Run Ranch Bed and Breakfast. Contact the ranch at 775-882-3643.