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Lucky Orange Muffins?

February 13, 2011

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)

Lucky Orange Muffins? Maybe. Then again, maybe not. =)

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!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 13, 2011 1:24 pm

    I slept in late and haven’t had breakfast yet – so reading this recipe and seeing those pics of such tangy sweet muffins has my stomach growing so loud – seriously. Love your post, and these look like a fantastic “Lucky” tradition to start.

    • February 13, 2011 3:32 pm

      Sorry about your rumbling stomach! But I can assure that these are absolutely perfect for a late breakfast.

  2. Better Crocker Mom permalink
    February 13, 2011 1:25 pm

    Well it looks like a winner too me! I think that I would even enjoy them. Very colorful and look like they are very light. But don’t take jut my word for it (cause I is Mom) but cause Steff is a Damn Good Cook to boot!!!!

  3. February 13, 2011 1:47 pm

    oooh, love those flavor combinations: orange and cranberries. And the picture looks YUM! So glad you decided to post :)


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