Creative Side Project - Tovah Cooks bing cherry muffins

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After my mother-in-law passed away last July, I kept her recipe cards and cook books. The paper is yellowed and the corners are curling up. Some of the pages fall out if you aren't careful. 

Her favourites have handwritten notes where she changed a little of this or added a little of that. A few loose pages document decades of dinners she hosted for birthdays and Rosh Hoshanah and Passover.

Forty years of recipes.

Not that she was a gourmet cook - when you read through them you find many ingredients that live in the inside aisles of the grocery store with all the other processed foods. Cake mixes and pudding mixes and Shake-and-Bake. Nothing fancy. But still made with love.

Tovah was a creative, fun, loud, artsy woman who always had something on the go. Up for anything. At age 8 our girl is her doppelganger.

This is a woman who decided to start acting in movies when she was in her sixties. She never was a leading lady but filled various bit parts playing the ethnic mother-in-law. She only stopped when she was too old for the long days on set.

One of my creative side projects this year uses these recipes as a jumping off point. I asked the man to make a short list of his favourites - the recipes that meant a lot to him as a kid growing up.

Every few weeks I'll take one of these recipes, update it and share it with you. And of course there'll be photographs. Once I've done them all I'll put them together in a bound book for us and for the girl (hello Blurb!). 

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First up is the wheat germ muffins. The man loved these growing up. There were bags of them in the freezer, ready to go. (I don't know if it's a generational thing but Tovah certainly froze everything). After school, on the weekends - it was a go to snack for many years. And handy too for those long days on the movie set.

I like muffins but they are deceptively easy - easy to make but not easy to make well. Forget about those crazy greasy commercial huge muffins that are more like cake - these are the real deal.

Like cookies, a good muffin is all in the technique.

(I used Mark Bittman's recipe below and modified it with the addition of some cinnamon and frozen bing cherries).

Another recipe soon!

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Bing Cherry Muffins

(print recipe here)

Makes: 12 medium muffins

Time: About 40 minutes

(recipe from How to Cook Everything)

3 tbsp canola oil

2 c all-purpose flour

1/4 c sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

3 tsp baking powder

1 egg

1 c milk

1/2 c frozen bing cherries

1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper muffin cups.

2. Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat together the egg, milk, and oil in another bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Using a rubber spatula, combine the ingredients swiftly and stop as soon as all the dry ingredients are moistened. It'll be lumpy, not smooth, and thick but quite moist. Quickly stir in the frozen cherries.

3. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling them about two-thirds full and handling the batter as little as possible. Bake for about 20 minutes until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before taking them out of the tin. Serve warm.