For today’s celebration, I turned to to the authority on oats for my recipe: Quaker Oats. Seemed logical. When I think of oats, I think of the man on the iconic package smiling back at us. In my head, he has the voice of Wilford Brimley too which is a sign of good advertising because I am not sure the last time Wilford did a commercial for them or actually the last time Wilford even took a breath of oxygen (I just checked, he’s still alive and kicking). In any case, when I see that cardboard cylindrical can, I hear Wilford’s deep and folksy voice telling me I’ve picked the right oats. I always listen to the voices in my head. ALWAYS.
I looked up a recipe for Oatmeal Muffins and one popped up from Quaker that was called Quaker’s Best Oatmeal Muffins. Couldn’t argue with that, so I had my recipe. I also had mostly everything I needed right on hand. It called for canola oil which I was out of so I substituted vegetable oil and it also said to use skim milk which I also did not have, so I used whole milk. I’m not sure if that made a difference in the cooking, but I just wanted to confess my slight alterations. The recipe was easy. The most tempting thing about this recipe was that it had a streusel on top and I love a good streusel. I made that first with some flour, brown sugar, oats and butter which I cut together using a tool that I have never used before: a pastry blender. Seemed easy enough to use, I just rocked it back in forth. The butter started to break up a little but it also clumped to the pastry blender. Is that normal? It looked good in the end and it was crumbly like the instructions said it should be.
After that, I mixed the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another and then poured the wet into the dry. When it combined so that the whole batter was moist, I scooped the batter into muffin cups filling each cup most of the way up. Then I topped each muffin with the streusel, packing it down slightly. It went in the oven for about 20 minutes and it made the house smell great which I’m pretty sure was the brown sugar cooking. That’s a delightful smell and gave the house a warmth. When they came out of the oven, they looked pretty good. I caught this image as the sun was coming in our kitchen window.
I let them cool for about an hour before I dug in (they didn’t need that long to cool, I was just not ready for them). Here’s my verdict: they were good, although not as great as I was hoping. First off, the streusel was good as all streusels should be, but it was especially crumbly. I wanted it to stick together more like the streusel on a good coffee cake. The muffins were good too. They were not dry and combined well with the streusel for a nice little sweet taste. But in general, I don’t think they were all that flavorful. It was like a hint of great taste, but no big pay off. I feel like I just missed it.
I will say that our house was loaded with good sweets today. I had my peppermint patty chocolate cookies from yesterday, still had some lemon cupcakes and peanut butter balls kicking around, Becky brought over some fantastic new cookies for us to try including a chocolate/peanut butter pinwheel cookie and some chocolate covered corn flakes, plus Jeanie had brought over her famous carrot cake on Sunday (which is one of our yearly most prized and delicious sweets to have). This was what was on our dining room table which has become a makeshift dessert landing area. I was surrounded by sweet temptations. When I bit into the oatmeal muffin, I didn’t have much of a tolerance for anything that wasn’t awesome because why should I? I am not sure if I gave them a fair analysis. When Becky was dropping her cookies, she was intrigued by my tray of oatmeal muffins sitting on our counter, but I told her they weren’t worth it. I should have gotten her opinion. I should have got Lola’s opinion but I talked her out of them too. I think I spoiled them for everyone and I don’t think they are that bad. They just weren’t up to the contemporary standards of our dessert zone.
Nonetheless I got to spend my morning with Wilford who was telling me the health benefit of oatmeal. Did you know eating oats boosts energy, protects your skin, supports weight loss, prevents diabetes, boosts heart health and reduces colon cancer? That’s some kind of miracle grain! So even though it might not have the legs to stand amongst the heroes of the holiday dessert feast that is happening, we must respect the practical and simple pleasure of our oats and of course, we must always respect Wilford Brimley (because if you have ever watched The Firm, you’ll know why). So thank you oats! You are celebrated today and we appreciate you for the joy you bring to our muffins (in your own special way).
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