the baking anthropologist

Since I can't afford to pay participants, I've started baking to thank those who give me their time. Last week I brought oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, which seemed to endear me to a bunch of suspicious mothers. [I met up with one mom at a park, where she tried to introduce me to other homeschooler moms. So, I can understand mothers' skepticism at a stranger in a park....] They all proclaimed me the baking anthropologist, which isn't really the persona I'm trying to cultivate. Though I suppose nicknames are not usually self-chosen.

Tomorrow I'm going back for an interview with one mother who's been so welcoming and helpful. I decided to bake her muffins. A month ago, I somehow decided I would try out a sweet potato muffin recipe, suggested by my most favorite vegetarian cookbook, introduced to me by one of my dearest friends. This cookbook stands the test of time, and unlike a lot of vegetarian cookbooks I've tried, I don't feel like I'm trying to be self-righteous by cooking vegetarian. Didi [the author] recognizes how much I love cheese, for example, without being too cheese-centric.

I am posting a photo of how I decided to block out the film crew's nightlamps. [This is my grandmother's apron, one of the many odd things I kept from her belongings. I think my aunt gave this to her.]

Anyway, below is the recipe. So, the cooking became an homage to a whole slew of people, TW, who taught me that baking from scratch is always [almost] better than anything out of a box (though my dad is also partly responsible, TW was more inclined to encourage my sweet tooth), HL, for the introduction to Didi, and to my grandmother, whose apron is now serving as a filter.

Baking these to Merle Haggard and other blues music works very well, which is strange, since that's not my usual music preference.

Here's the recipe, slightly amended from Didi Emmons's Vegetarian Planet, though I cut the sugar immensely this time, they still seem too sweet (for my taste):

  • 2/3 c. brown sugar [Didi says 1 c plus 2 tbs, but that's insanely sweet]
  • 1/2 c canola oil [I cut this a little bit, since the first time the muffins seemed a little oily]
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c white flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg [she says fresh, but I'm not fully equipped here in L.A. for such extravagances]
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and finely grated
  • 1/2 c raisins [or just dump, as I do]
  • [she calls for 1 c. walnuts, but I haven't any]

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or oil muffin tins for 12 muffins
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla, and oil
In large bowl, mix together flour, sweet potatoes, baking powder, spices, and salt
Make a well and pour in egg mixture. Stir in the egg mixture with the sweet potatoes. Stir in the raisins [and walnuts]. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until knife inserted comes out clean.
Let cool for about 10 minutes, cut around edges and knock out muffins. Didi says eat immediately, but these hold up for a few days.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i can vouch for the yumminess of the muffins - plus, they travel well!

love the blog - looking forward to more of your merrily misanthropic musings.