Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bran Muffin

     I can see him now, grinning with a twinkle in his eye.  He was like a friendly phantom.  He had lived alone in the small grey house to the left of us for over thirty years.

     His small, bald head, sporting gold rimmed glasses would often poke over our fence.

     “Oh, hi Barb,” he’d say.  He always seemed surprised to see me.

     It was a mystery how he knew I was in the garden.  Our garden faced his windowless garage.

     “Hi, Don. How are you?”  I would reply and this would begin our monthly half-hour visit.

     We were neighbours for ten years. He was like a pen pal.  Our conversations were comfortable. The fence separated our lives.

     He was seventy-two when he passed away. However, from our engaging conversations, he seemed twenty years younger. Slim, shy and single, he had retired at an early age. He committed himself to a wide range of interesting fields: sailing, ham radio, telecommunications and the weather.

     “What’s the weather forecast Don?” was a regular question of mine.

     “Just a second, I’ll get the satellite map.”

     He’d slink away like a cat and quietly return with a computer-generated map, highlighted with fluorescent markings to outline weather patterns.  I learned a lot about the weather.

     Just prior to his passing, he told me he was cutting back on his blood pressure medications.

     “They make me feel funny,” he had said.

     He died suddenly, two weeks later.

     I was invited to help myself to his personal belongings. I naturally gravitated to the kitchen. I found an assortment of “healthy heart” cookbooks. Tucked among these pristine books were three different copies of the same bran muffin recipe. One looked over thirty years old. The recipe card was yellow with age and covered with grease spots. Another was hand printed on an odd-lined piece of paper. The third was in a woman’s auxiliary cookbook from the local yacht club.

     This recipe has become a staple in our house. When I make the bran muffins, I can see Don. It’s a recipe worth sharing.


The Best Bran Muffins

Bran Muffin Recipe
Makes 8-10 muffins

1 ½ cup wheat bran
2 tablespoons wheat germ
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup oil
1 egg
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup raisins

Mix buttermilk with bran and wheat germ. Let stand while mixing oil, egg, sugar and vanilla in another bowl. Mix into buttermilk and bran mixture. In separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Quickly stir into buttermilk mixture. Add raisins. Bake 350 degrees F. for 17 minutes.

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