Cooking With Myra: Do you know the muffin man?
Jan. 31, 2011 at midnight
Updated Jan. 31, 2011 at 8:01 p.m.
ENGLISH MUFFINS 1 package active dry yeast
1 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. warm water
1/2 cup scalded milk
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 cups all purpose flour, sifted
3 Tbsp. softened butter
8 English muffin rings (purchase at most kitchen shops)
Dissolve 1 package of active dry yeast in 2 Tbsp. of warm water. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of warm water, 1/2 cup scalded milk, 2 tsp. sugar and 1 tsp. salt. Gradually beat 2 cups of sifted flour into mixture. Cover the bowl with a cloth and place in a warm dry place that is about 85 degrees. Allow to sit for 1½ hours. Beat in 3 Tbsp. of softened butter. Knead in the remaining 2 cups of flour.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease inside of muffin rings and cookie sheet. Place rings on cookie sheet and fill with dough about half full. Allow the dough to rise and fill the rings (about 30 minutes in a warm kitchen). Cook for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Remove rings when slightly cool. The rings will be very hot.
If you have purchased only four rings, then chill half of the dough before it rises and bake in two batches.
*Small tuna cans with tops and bottoms removed work well for metal rings. Make sure to thoroughly wash each can.
By Myra Starkey
I often have great trouble sleeping soundly. I realize that this is probably the case for many women who are at the relatively young age of 50 that I am. I assume it has something to do with hot flashes and my hormones playing out.
Lots of women actually begin to sleep less deeply once they have kids. It is part of that protection thing where the mom sleeps "with one ear open" to listen for any sounds of distress from her new baby. And that vigilance doesn't seem to change much as new kids come along. They continue to grow in years until they are teens and finally one listens for the noise of the last one quietly tip-toeing in just past their curfew. I don't need to listen for kid noises anymore because our kids have all flown the coop.
For some reason though, I still don't sleep that well. For the last 10 years, I have blamed it on the fact that I have been taking the estrogen blockers that my oncologist prescribed to reduce my chance of having a recurrence of breast cancer. I guess they worked for that because it's been 10 years, and I'm still here (thank God)! I am now off those pills and think I am sleeping a little better. Of course, it could also be because I had quit drinking any caffeine after my morning mug of coffee. The problem with my decreased caffeine was that I felt like I was dragging around like a zombie all day. My husband, who thinks he is a doctor (really, he is a doctor), told me that caffeine drinks, such as coffee and tea are actually beneficial to one's health and that I wasn't gaining anything by giving those up. So, now I am back to drinking tea, as long as I don't have it too late in the day.
The doctor that sleeps next to me (my husband) also told me of a study that was recently completed that said vigorous exercise works as well as sleeping pills for a good night's rest. Perhaps that would be common sense: If a person is physically fatigued, they would sleep better. I tend to be more mentally fatigued or "stressed out" from my office work by the end of the day. Exercise also helps a person relax and gets their adrenaline level to decrease. So, I have been exercising more, and I think my quality of sleep has improved. One important thing here is that you shouldn't exercise vigorously before bed because that might just wake you up.
There are still nights that my eyes seem to just pop open about 3 a.m. I find that very frustrating, because I know I need my rest for the next day. And the harder I try to fall back asleep, the longer I stay awake. Sometimes, I find if I pray, especially for my kids or other people who I am concerned about, then I lose myself and my worries, and I am soon dozing peacefully again. That is, of course, unless I hear the "friendly ghost" walking around upstairs, and that absolutely freaks me out. Our house is more than 150 years old, and I know that lots of people have no doubt taken their final breath within these walls, and so, although I don't exactly believe in ghosts, this old, wooden house can make some very strange creaking noises in the middle of the night. But I do not believe in ghosts . do not believe in ghosts . "Taylor, wake up! Did you hear anything?" And he rolls over, murmurs and pulls the covers on his side of the bed and falls back asleep.
I seem to be getting my best sleep about the time that Taylor shakes my shoulder to awaken me the next morning. He says that the first thing I usually do when I wake up is smile, so if I am happy that early, then maybe I am getting enough rest. Or maybe I am just joyful that I've been given one more day.
My recipe for the week is for English muffins. Most of us remember the nursery rhyme, "Do you know the muffin man, the muffin man, the muffin man? Do you know the muffin man, That lives in Drury Lane?"
This nursery rhyme was first found in a British manuscript around 1820. Many Victorian households had their fresh breads delivered door-to-door by a muffin man. This muffin was a bread product like these English muffins, not the sweet cupcake like bread we associate with the term muffin today.
Homemade muffins tend to have fewer "holes" than their store bought cousins. These are worth the effort.
Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or e-mail email@example.com.