For some reason, bran seems to have a bad reputation. When I was young, my mom made these wonderful Raisin Bran muffins sometimes, and I really liked the bran taste of them. I spent some time recently looking for a more grown up version of bran muffins (one in which the raisins were not sugar-coated), and found a good one on the back of the wheat bran package. They are very yummy in that mild, unassuming way that bran has. Also very easy to make.
1 c. wheat bran
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
3/4 c. raisins
1/4 c. chopped nuts
1 c. milk
1/2 c. honey
3/4 c. apple sauce
2 T cooking oil
2 eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 400. In large bowl, combine flour, bran, baking powder and soda. Stir in raisins and nuts. In separate bowl combine milk, honey, apple sauce, oil and eggs. Add to dry ingredients and stir till just moistened. Spoon into greased or paper lined muffin tin. Fill cups nearly to top. Bake 20-25 minutes, till a toothpick comes out dry and clean.
My friend Sheri got a few bottles of Trader Joe's Three Buck Chuck Beaujolais and does not love it. Now she's got two bottles of wine she doesn't want to drink. I told her about this recipe I have that is great for wine you don't love, or any dry red wine. Also it's perfect for Christmas Eve.
2 bottles red wine
10 c. apple cider
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. whole cloves (plus extra for studding the orange)
2 tsp. whole allspice
2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
2 oranges, studded with cloves
Heat wine, cider, sugar, cloves, allspice, cinnamon to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Stud oranges with cloves, quarter the oranges, then add to pot. Remove all seasoning except oranges, serve in mugs. Keep it on a low heat on the stovetop.
N.B. I like to use cheesecloth or a cut off toe of nylon stockings to put the cloves, allspice, and cinnamon in; this makes removing them very easy.
In the past few days I've received two requests from two separate people to do a new blog entry. They even gave me ideas. The first person encouraged me to make cookies so I could blog about it. I did make the cookies, and have decided I do not love the classic Joy of Cooking peanut butter cookie recipe. Not moist enough for me. The second suggested I blog about the experience of being featured on a News 13 story. Ok.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving Phil and I went to Mass Ave Toys. We didn't need any toys, but it's a neat store, and we'd seen a spot on channel 13 about Local Merchant Saturday or something. You know, you've got Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and now Local Merchant Saturday. It's a stupid gimmick of a day, but I do really like the shops on Mass Ave, and wanted to take Phil into some of my favorites. When we got to Mass Ave Toys the news gal and cameraman were headed back into the store. We held the door for them, told them we'd seen them on the morning news, which prompted them to ask us for an interview. Uhhhhh. I shoulda known not to be friendly to TV people... many years ago I saw some TV people I knew at the Festival of Trees. I said 'hi' and they said 'let us interview you!' Don't say hi to TV people. So, they miked Phil, and used a clip of him saying, 'this smells kinda good.' It also happened to be the day winter arrived in Indianapolis, so Phil, having left his winter hat in Illinois, had to use a stupid old baseball cap from my trunk. Before we left the house I told him he looked a little cancer patient-ish. Then he was interviewed on TV. All in all it was super funny and fun and goofy. We got a lot of laughs, watching the video clip about 11 times on my aunt's DVR.
Now I'm sitting here in my cold cold house in this cold cold city, listening to Christmas music. Elvis is singing 'Here Comes Santa Claus.' A few songs ago they played Frank Sinatra. I love Christmas music, and have been listening to it at home and in the car for about two weeks. One of the worst songs is on now... the one that goes, 'HERE come the bells, blah-blah the bells,' etc. That song sounds more like a war chant than a Christmas carol. Oh, and while I was washing dishes tonight they played my all-time favorite (well, one of them)-- that Bing Crosby/David Bowie duet of Little Drummer Boy.
And in closing, I killed one of the worst spiders ever today. I was almost out the door to go to work and saw just a totally disgusting spider, the likes of which I've never seen before, hanging out there on the wall. Grabbed the most substantial shoe I could find, and shuddered as I felt it squoosh (what? I think I'm trying to use a word that doesn't exist). Ugh. I thought about it all the way to work. So horrible. Why are people so afraid of spiders? And mice, and all that stuff? I am really afraid of all of it. I almost called Henry over to eat the spider, but I am proud to say I just sucked it up and handled it like the adult I am.