Assessing the Great Experiment

I thought that I could master that last vintage meal for March, but between the drama that is work and a few personal issues (including a really irritating visit to my doctor’s office – don’t ask), I wasn’t able to even put together a decent menu, let alone do any cooking.

So on a scale of 1 (horrid) to 5 (better than imagined), the experiment ended up being about a 3.5.  (Had I been able to prepare food for each of the five Sundays, per my original plan, then maybe I’d have settled on a ‘4.’)

In short, it was a fun experience and one that I’m definitely hoping to replicate soon.  I learned a lot (specifically, my tendency to push things off until the last-minute is not conducive to cooking).  But if nothing else, it opened my eyes to some good recipes that are just sitting in the pile of cookbooks that I have on the bookshelf.  There’s no reason for me not to at least try to make something from them once in a while.

Some items are now permanent fixtures:  The Little Woman loves the buttermilk biscuits from the first week, and I’ve made so many over the course of the last month that I’ve actually gone through two five-pound bags of flour!  (I’ve just noticed that I have not posted the full recipe for them, so I’ll address that at the end.)  The same can be said for the meatloaf we had – absolutely fantastic, and it’s something that I will definite try again if the opportunity presents itself.  (I’m thinking that it’s a good ‘late spring’ or ‘early autumn’ entrée.)  Other items – like the ham croquettes, also from that first meal – were not as good or as enjoyable as I’d thought they’d be; it’ll be a while before I try them again.  If nothing else, I’m surprised that I was able to prepare as much food as I did in such a tiny kitchen space.  Trust me – I’ve got about enough room to make a sandwich, so that I could do any of this was a pleasant surprise.

Well, that’s the final assessment of the “great experiment.”  I intend to do this again, but only after I create a more coherent plan.  I wonder how it’d be to stage a full meal for guests other than the Little Woman?  Hmm . . .

And before I forget :

Rufus Estes’ Buttermilk Muffins

1.  Pre-heat oven to 400 F degrees.

2.  Mix these ingredients together and sift three (3) times.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/8 cup corn meal
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

3.  Mix these three items together in a separate bowl; add to the dry ingredients.

  • 1 egg, well-beaten
  • 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 cups buttermilk

4.  Beat mixture for two (2) minutes, then pour into a greased muffin pan.

5.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.



This recipe should produce approximately 10 to 12 standard sized muffins.

I know that not too many people sift dry ingredients anymore, but I do in this case because that’s what Estes said to do.  Besides, what can it hurt?  It’s just an extra two minutes that’d be used for pre-heating the oven anyway, as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve used both King Arthur All-Purpose and King Arthur Whole Wheat flours for this recipe, and have had the same results.  That’s not an endorsement, per se, but I do know that not all flour produces the same result.  Nothing special or distinctive about the other ingredients – store brand baking soda, generic salt, and buttermilk from a local dairy.  I’ve used white corn meal, but will likely use yellow (since I’ve got a box on hand) once what I’ve got runs out.

Estes did not indicate how (by hand or machine) he mixed the batter together, so I do so by hand.  I suppose it would be much faster to use a hand-mixer, but again, it’s only a couple of minutes and not that big of a deal.

I don’t grease the muffin tin, either; I use an anti-stick spray (like Pam).  I set my timer for 15 minutes before I check on them.  After that, I’ll cook them further in increments of 5 minutes.  The most I’ve ever used was 25 minutes, but that’s because the oven had not fully heated.  So twenty minutes seems to be fine, but it may vary depending on your appliances.

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