Lucky Orange Muffins?
My contribution to #LetsLunch comes a little late this month. The week got away from me and, before I realized it, Friday had come and gone without a backward glance or even a peek at the review mirror. So rude.
Anyhow, this month’s #LetsLunch theme was lucky foods for the Chinese New Year.
Now, let’s take a moment to step back and examine this theme in relation to me.
First, my familiarity with Chinese New Year’s traditions wouldn’t even fill a thimble. Heck, I’m not sure it would fill the dimple of a thimble.
Second, my family doesn’t really have any lucky food traditions. We eat black eye peas on New Year’s Day for luck, but – in all honesty – that feels like a repatriated tradition rather than an actual family tradition, if that makes any sense.
Combine these two things together, and you get one seriously stumped Steff. Honestly, what was I going to make for this holiday that is not mine, but that is very important to folks that I consider to be my friends?
Well, the answer is simple. I went to Google, which was so kind as to provide me with links to several, relatively authoritative sources on lucky foods for Chinese New Year. And then, I did my own thing so that I could tie these lucky food ideas to my own family history.
Totally reasonable, right? (rhetorical question folks, but feel free to answer it if you like)
So, thanks to Eatocracy, I decided to focus my efforts on oranges. I learned that the Chinese word for “orange” sounds like “wealth” and that oranges (and other citrus goodies) are considered to be a must-give gift during the Chinese New Year.
Fixated on oranges (and wealth), I decided to rely on a cookbook my Mom and Dranny loaned to me. “Granny’s Muffin House” is a collection of muffin recipes for every season and just about every holiday (except, apparently, Chinese New Year). Mom and Dranny used this book extensively when they ran our family’s Bed & Breakfast in Maine, and one of the recipes they starred as a winner is for Orange Date Nut Muffins.
After nixing the dates (I don’t like ‘em) and adding dried cranberries (I like those), I got to work making this simple dish that features the fun (and shockingly messy) step of grating an entire orange, peel and flesh and all. The result was worthwhile and even worth repeating. Does it bear any relation to a traditional Chinese New Year food? I’m betting not, but I’m okay with that. Next year, I can use the recipes shared by the #LetsLunch bunch (links below!) this month.
A Tiger in the Kitchen: Lo Bak Go (aka Steamed Turnip Cake)
Can It You Nit!: Asian Stock
Chez Us: Lucky Beef Noodle Soup
Dreaming of Pots and Pans: Korean Rice Cake Soup
Free Range Cookies: Gluten-Free Fortune Cookies
Hot Curries & Cold Beer: Long Life Noodles
Show Food Chef: Yu Sheng
Orange Cranberry Nut Muffins
Makes 12 to 18 muffins
(recipe from Granny’s Muffin House cookbook, circa 1983)
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup milk
1 orange, grated – use it all, juice, peel and fruit
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cups chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together.
Stir in the egg, butter and milk just until blended together with the dry ingredients. Don’t overmix it. Overmixing is bad and creates tough muffins.
Fold in the grated orange, cranberries and nuts.
Fill muffin tins lined with paper liners or sprayed with PAM. Bake for about 20 minutes.
Slather with butter and enjoy!