Cooking with a Nine-Year Old: Snuffleupamuffins

One day this week, in a fit of domesticity, I put my favorite I’ve-Got-Kids-Who-Think-Cordon-Bleu-Is-A-Funny-name-For-A-Crayon stew  in the crockpot and stated that I would also make the family’s favorite corn muffins.

Janie asked if she could help and I couldn’t think of a Good Mommy reason to say no.

The results weren’t . . . quite as expected, but they were Janie’s first muffins, which should be celebrated.

So here we go:

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Ingredients

1 c. all-purpose flour (bleached, unbleached, whatever)

1 c. yellow cornmeal (because white cornmeal muffins are just wrong)

4 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

¼ c. sugar

2 eggs

1-¼ c. milk (we use 1%, but whatever you’ve got)

2 Tbsp. oil (the recipe says canola, but I use olive because I think it tastes better in this)

1 c. cream-style corn (from the can, baby)*

One Janie (as usual, a generic nine-year old can be substituted**)

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Procedure:

Set the oven to 425F°, or whatever you set your oven to when recipes ask for 425F°.

Have Janie measure out and dump the dry ingredients in a bowl—or in our house, the 2-quart Pyrex measuring cup with the handle—hand her a whisk and tell her to hold the handle with one hand and gently combine the dry stuff until everything turns a pale yellow, which is another reason to leave the white cornmeal to the nouveaus.

Break the eggs into a small bowl—or catch the tossed whisk as Janie hollers, “I’ll do it!” and get out of the way because she hasn’t taken off her heavy  boots like you asked her to do—add the oil and beat with the wisk until just after the yolks take over.  Add the cream-style corn and mix it in with something other than the whisk, unless you enjoy picking wet corn bits out of a wire cage, because I don’t.  Add the milk and give it another mix.

Give Janie a rubber spatula and show her how to make a hole in the dry stuff, explaining how the wet stuff would otherwise float around on top.  Once she has it arranged to her satisfaction, dump in the wet stuff yourself—unless cleaning something that looks a lot like . . . look, just be careful—while ignoring Janie’s cries of yuck.

Let Janie stir them together until it gets too difficult or spattering seems imminent, then take over until the dry ingredients are just moist.  Try not to overmix, although it might be too late.

Let Janie spray your muffin tin or let her put paper cups into it, which is probably the safer option.  Spoon the mixture into the center two cups and let her put a spoonful into each of the others, turning the tin to help, though she’ll most likely just reach across anyway.  Distribute the rest of the batter yourself once she gets bored.

Bake for 18-22 minutes—because the original recipe is clearly joking about 25 minutes, unless someone accidentally switched titles with the recipe for charcoal hockey pucks.

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If you follow this recipe exactly and thoroughly mix the dry ingredients and set the oven at the right temperature, you will get twelve somethings with a tender moist inside and a light, buttery skin that  probably won’t look like this:

Which, as it turns out, will seriously disappoint your kids, because they will fight over the deformed muffins and ask you why they all don’t have trunks.

So if anyone’s interested, there appears to be  a ready niche*** market for any cook who can figure out what went wrong and consistently repeat the “mistake.”

We even came up with a name for ’em: Snuffleupamuffins!^


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*If you’re worried about what to do with the scant cup of  leftover cream-style corn—and you will be because no one in their right mind would eat this stuff by itself—you have three options: double the recipe; make slightly less corny muffins before it starts to harbor things that are too bacterial to be in their right minds; or dump it (I won’t tell).

**Though if she doesn’t get moving on her Academic Fair Project instead of diddling around and complaining that I’m making way too big a deal of a project that is a third of her grade and is due Monday, I will gladly loan her out for extended periods of time.

***Neesh? Noosh?  Lyra?

^When I told my kids that when I was their age, everyone on Sesame Street thought Mr. Snuffleupagus was Big Bird’s imaginary friend because he always wandered off before Big Bird could get anyone to come meet him, they were stunned.  “Whoa, Mom.  How long ago was that?”  For those of you keeping score, Snuffy was finally revealed in 1985, when I was fifteen. For those of you who might wonder if I saw that particular episode when it aired . . . keep wondering.