October 04, 2009

Ping-pong, Muffins, and a not-so spectacular garden

Monsieur Titi took off this morning at 5:15 a.m. to go to his ping-pong competition. The team had to be at the competitors' gym at 8:00. So, we got up at 4:45 this morning. Love it!

Monsieur Titi's team got a new sponsor and I've been kidding him about it ever since. The sponsor is J. Meyer. The company pumps and disposes of sewage, cleans septic tanks and biowaste. YUK!!! And they've all got the logo on their shirts. HA HA HA!

Now, I'm trying to catch up on getting material ready for this week's English classes. I also just finished my TEFL on-line course. Many of you had given me some good advice about whether to take or not to take this language course on-line. You can read about that here. Since I've had quite a bit of classroom experience, this course worked out just fine for me. The only thing I would have liked to do in person was the phonetics part. But I can study that further someday.

We've also been given a ton of apples. The paysan who gives us veggies and especially, tomatoes, gave Monsieur Titi a huge box of little red apples. They are really good. But they take a long time to peel because they are so small.

Monsieur Titi said that we were going on a "cure de pommes", or an apple diet. So I started my diet by making these wonderful Apple Crunch Muffins. I dug out my super-duper muffin pan that I bought on Amazon UK. I used my cool new Maryse to mix the batter. And hooray, I used the muffins cups that my student, Michelline, brought me from the U.S. And voilà! Yummy muffins!

A maryse is what a rubber spatula is called in France. Finding a good one that's really supple is hard! I've looked all over the place, and I only found rigid plastic spatulas. Finally, when I was in Orléans, I went to a kitchen specialty store. There was the perfect Maryse! Guess how much it cost? 8€!!!!! Can you believe it? But it's wonderful and I'm glad I bought it.

Heres the recipe for you:

Apple Crunch Muffins

1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups sugar (brown or half-half)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
2 heaping cups apples, peeled, cored and sliced -- about 3 medium
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts

1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, cubed


1. Preheat oven to 365 degrees F (180 degrees C). Coat top and insides of jumbo muffin pan with cooking spray, or line with muffin papers.

2. In a large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter, 1 1/4 cups sugar, vanilla, and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at time. Mix together the 1 3/4 cups of flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Stir in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Fold in apples and walnuts. Scoop into muffin cups to fill 3/4 full. Lightly sprinkle the tops with cinnamon crumble.

3. To make Cinnamon Crumble: In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, and 2 tablespoons cubed butter. Mix together using a pastry blender, or two butter knives. The crumble topping should resemble small peas.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 24-25 minutes, or until tops are golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If they are browning too quickly, cover with tin foil. Remove from pans, and cool on wire rack.

The last thing I wanted to write about today is my not-so spectacular garden. Most bloggers have written about their vegetable gardens this summer and fall. They are all beautiful with lush plants and huge vegetables of every sort. Well, I planted 22 tomato plants and 10 potimarron plants. We got quite a few smallish tomatoes that weren't entirely ripe, and these poor sad excuses for potimarrons. A potimarron is called a Hokaido Squash in the U.S. They are the size of a handball (European handball). They are bright orange and so sweet.

My potimarron look like little acorn squash! I haven't tried them yet, but I'm going to pop a couple in the oven for dinner.

My sad-ass potimarrons (below)


French Fancy said...

I don't think your squash collection looks so bad - I'd be happy to grow something like that (only I'm much too lazy to even bother).

jadedj said...

This is a yummy post. Headed for the kitchen this very moment. Coffee first though.

Habebi said...

I think your potimarons look great! And if it makes you feel I killed lavender! ;-)

And those apple muffins- holy moly! Delicious! I love crunch on muffins!

Jeanne said...

They're really cute. (I know that wasn't what you were going for, but they're so little and adorable.)

Owen said...

Hi Dedene, those muffins look delicious... could you put a couple in a little barrel tied around the neck of a St Bernard and send them on over ???

PS La grenouille makes potimaron soupe that we all adore !

Erin P said...

They look cute! I love squash, but here we have these bugs that bore into the stems and kill the plants. Ugh.

I think if I had a ton of little apples I'd quarter them and put them in a big pot to simmer for a few hours, then food mill them into applesauce, or applebutter (same thing with a bunch of spices added). You could use them for anything at that point! Wish I had some!

Megan said...

request for real apple cider (non alcoholic) recipe from real apples, not a plastic jug please...

Dominica said...

Put the small potimarrons in a huge bowl ; they look more fab in a second !