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Kids will be proud — and moms will be prouder — of these homemade Blueberry Oat Muffins, a from-the-heart Mother’s Day treat. The recipe and photo are from “Country Cooking Made Easy.”
It is one of those historical ironies that the woman who most championed our modern Mother’s Day died poor, childless and feeling like a failure. West Virginia native Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis —herself an activist who helped organize mothers to promote peace after the Civil War — campaigned tirelessly for a national Mother’s Day.
In 1914 she succeeded, and President Woodrow Wilson set aside the second Sunday in May. But soon, to Anna’s dismay, the intimate and personal Mother’s Day she had envisioned became a marketing opportunity for purveyors to sell flowers, candy, cards and gifts.
“A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world,” Jarvis is quoted as saying. “And candy! You take a box to Mother — and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.”
She went to her grave certain that the forces of commercialism had taken over Mother’s Day. And, according to The National Geographic Daily News website, she was right. Mother’s Day, the site reports, is now the busiest day of the year for U.S. restaurants. It is the third most popular holiday (after Christmas and Valentine’s Day) for sending cards. Spending for Mother’s Day in 2012 was expected to reach $18.6 billion. The average American adult spends $152.52 on Mother’s Day each year.
While, as a mother, I am not strictly opposed to being lavished with gifts of flowers and jewelry or taken out to dine, there’s a part of me that yearns for the Mother’s Day that Anna Jarvis envisioned. Mother’s Day is a perfect day to teach children about gifts from the heart. Hand-drawn cards (sorry, Hallmark), picture frames made of Popsicle sticks and cheery “bouquets” of dandelions should be the order of the day — along with a meal the child helped cook.
Cooking teaches kids all sorts of skills. Even very young kids will learn how to follow instructions, develop their hand-eye coordination (peeling, mixing, pouring) and enhance their math skills (measuring). Older kids can improve their reading and appreciate some kitchen science. But most of all, on Mother’s Day, cooking for Mom teaches generosity of spirit.
Mother’s Day is the time for an adult relative or older sibling to step up to the stove, take the little ones in hand and get to work. They’ll be amply rewarded with a proud, beaming child and a proud, beaming mom.
When working in the kitchen with young children, baking is often the way to go: Kids love the mixing and measuring, and most baking projects do not involve sharp knives or splattering hot oil. Start with something simple, like muffins. They can be healthy, are relatively quick (no waiting for dough to rise) and are something that mothers and children both find appealing.
This recipe for Blueberry Oat Muffins comes from “Country Cooking Made Easy” and makes a perfect start to Mother’s Day.
A side of scrambled eggs and a fruit salad would please any mom. The supervising adult should get the oats and buttermilk soaking early, so the young bakers don’t lose interest.
Using average prices for the ingredients, I figure these muffins cost about 25 cents apiece. If you are an “average” American adult, that gives you $152.27 left over for jewelry and gifts. Be my guest.
BLUEBERRY OAT MUFFINS
Yield: 12 regular muffins
1 cup regular rolled oats (not “instant” or “quick-cooking”)
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour (see note)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
4 tablespoons melted butter (see note)
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, thaw and allow to drain)
In a bowl, combine the oats and buttermilk and let stand for an hour.
Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners, or lightly grease them with butter, vegetable oil or coconut oil. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.
In a cup or small bowl, beat the egg and melted butter together with a fork and add to the dry ingredients until just mixed. Fold in the blueberries. Fill the prepared muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Note: You can increase the fiber in these muffins by using white whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. If Mom is avoiding butter, substitute 4 tablespoons coconut oil.
(Recipe from “Country Cooking Made Easy”; Firefly Books, 2013)
Marialisa Calta is a syndicated food writer who lives in Calais.
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