On blueberry hill

When I was growing up my Mom was the head cook in our house. There was the occasional night when my Dad would take over - usually to make "breakfast for supper" with eggs, bacon and toast - but normally my Mom did it all. Sometimes I got to help.

I loved egg fu yung - a dish with an exotic name and an enormous amount of eggs. I would crack each one carefully on the edge of our large, brown-glassed bowl then whisk the gleaming mass of golden yolks and milky whites together. The wok, battered and scratched, was hauled from its home underneath the stove and soon oil would be spitting, garlic and ginger sizzling. The tangle of tender egg, juicy shrimp, crunchy bean sprouts and sweet plum sauce intoxicated me.

It always seemed like a special occasion when my Mom opened her Best of Bridge cookbook to the tomato-sauce splattered recipe for lasagna. Pots of water bubbled furiously and the irony musk of browning meat filled the air as she measured and minced, sliced and stirred. I assisted with the layering and quality control - snacking on slices of mozzarella, strangely dry cottage cheese curds and spoonfuls of garlicky sauce. I still crave that lasagna.

But when it comes to favourites my Mom's blueberry muffins take the cake. Literally! Sometimes, if a birthday girl (or boy) requested, these muffins would serve as the all-important candle holder in lieu of cake. Mostly though, they were just eaten whenever - for breakfast or as an after-school snack. At my insistence, the recipe was included in my grade two class-curated cookbook Terrific Treats. Just now I slipped the slim, neon-green volume from its place and flipped through the typewritten pages that wear and tear have loosened from the spine. I paused on Japanese chicken wings, Teriyaki mushrooms and there, blueberry muffins, and instantly, in my mind, I am biting into one of those deliciously moist muffins, bursting with gooey pockets of soft blueberries. I am home.

Happy Mother's Day Mom. I love you.

 My Mom's Blueberry Muffins

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk (any percentage will do)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen), divided

Preheat the oven to 375 F with the rack in the middle. Grease the muffin pans.

Using a stand or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until each is fully incorporated.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Whisk the milk and vanilla together. Add alternately to the batter, starting and ending with the flour mixture, and mix well after each addition.

Crush 1/2 cup of the berries, add to the batter and mix well. Fold the remaining 2 cups of whole berries into the batter. Spoon into the muffin pans and sprinkle with more sugar, if desired.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 1 dozen muffins plus 1/2 dozen mini-muffins.

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