One of my most cherished childhood memories is going to visit my great grandmother- Great Granny- in Maine. We would get up at the crack of dawn, and creep away from the sleepy Connecticut town where we lived, then drive all day through the New England countryside. Great Granny’s house was a huge, white farmhouse standing alone on top of a hill, surrounded by acres of woodland and meadows. We would make this trip two of three times a year, and we all always enjoyed it immensely. Maine is absolutely beautiful- thick dense forests of evergreen trees with skinny paths leading down to rocky beaches.
Great Granny was old- she was well into her 90s before my memory started documenting her- her smell, her house, the wild blueberries she continued to pick up until her death, her blueberry gingerbread muffins, lobster fresh off the boat, blueberry gingerbread muffins…
There really is nothing like a wild Maine blueberry- they are tiny but the tastiest thing you will ever eat. Great Granny, age 94, was still picking blueberries. Taking a folding chair out onto the blueberry baron, she would still for hours, folded over, picking every blueberry she could reach, before moving her chair a few feet to the side to empty out another patch. One of our favourite blueberry based treats were these Blueberry Gingerbread Muffins.
Great Granny’s house was a huge rambling farmhouse, full to the brim of ancient everythings. From horse bridles that have seen better days to pieces of furniture a hundred years old. When she died, my family was left with the task of emptying this enormous house of its contents. So much of what we uncovered, her diaries, which she wrote everyday, her box of handwritten recipes, a miniature chest of drawers which contains a note, in her small, neat handwriting: ‘my grandmother gave me this when I was a little girl.’
Yesterday, I stumbled across the recipe box, containing recipes for everything from Blueberry Muffins, Apple Bread, Molasses Cake to the infamous (in my family anyway) Gingerbread! I simply couldn’t resist making a batch! The instructions are sparse- the cards are mainly just lists of ingredients, so it is up the baker to decipher them how they will. I suspect this is because she used these recipes so many times that she knew them inside out anyway. At the end of each recipe, it says ‘salt and spice’- no measurements, no indications of which spice! (In gingerbread muffins I think it is safe to assume that ginger is the main spice!)
Blueberry Gingerbread Muffins
1/2 cup of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup molasses
1 2/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup blueberries
salt and spice (I used 1 1/2 teaspoons of ginger, however I think they could have done with a bit more. Add the spice to taste- this is also a really good excuse to keep trying the mixture, which is, after all, the best thing about baking!)
Cream together butter and sugar, then add egg. Mix in the molasses and milk.
Sift together the dry ingredients, then add to the mixture.
Mix in the blueberries.
Bake in a 180 degree Celsius oven or 350 degrees Farenheit for 30 minutes. They can be baked in muffin cases, or as one cake or loaf.
They are best eaten warm and spread with butter!