By SHANNON WATKINS
So the Day of Bountiful Turkey is almost upon you, but you’re perfectly alright. Let’s change tack from a couple of weeks ago and assume you are indeed hosting (because some of you are), but you have your recipes ready and your early prep done. You look around your kitchen and feel like Patton reviewing the troops.
It’s around late afternoon, you’re putting together a makeshift supper to get everyone through until the big day tomorrow, you’re tired but satisfied, and by the way, Thanksgiving dinner won’t be ready until midafternoon, so what are you going to feed everyone for breakfast in the morning?
Oh. Oh, no. There’s nothing like that moment when you’ve climbed almost to the top of a mountain only to slip on a pebble. Well, for Pete’s sake, what now? You are NOT going back out in that freezing weather to battle every other person in four counties to pick up oatmeal or cereal or (Lord forbid, given how little cooking space you have to spare tomorrow morning) bacon and eggs.
On the other hand, the thought of watching a houseful of people moping and whining as their stomachs get emptier and emptier while you run around chopping and sauteing and peeling and stuffing and roasting isn’t really isn’t doing a lot of good for your nerves, either. You don’t need breakfast angst on top of everything else.
I’m pleased to report that in all likelihood, you have most of the ingredients to make a luxurious, surprisingly delightful morning meal tonight, before you go to bed.
Haul out a couple of muffin tins. You’re making nine to a dozen of these, depending on how generous you are with the batter. If you only have mini muffin tins, that’s fine, but you’ll want to skip the filling and just serve it alongside. Get out your nonstick spray, too.
Everyone is in the den, watching TV and speculating about which side dish you’ll be working on when you finally snap and threaten to order a pizza and eat it by yourself if everyone doesn’t shut up and get out from underfoot, even though the pizza places are closed. They’ll smell what you’re cooking and just think it’s another part of tomorrow’s dinner you’re getting out of the way early.
There are two ways you can make these; but the main one involves having a cup of blueberries. Unless a half pint of fresh ones is mysteriously parked in your fridge, or you like to keep frozen ones around, you’ll have to make these the second way – and if indeed you do have blueberries, skip the filling. If you’re using frozen berries, rinse and blot them off first. (Incidentally, if your pieces of whatever kind of fruit always sink to the bottom of whatever kind of batter you’re putting them in, especially cake batter, roll them in flour first.)
If you don’t have blueberries, grab a jar of jam or jelly. The only kind I can think of that I’d be hesitant to use here is grape; but pretty much any kind of fruit jam would work fine. This is adapted from a couple of random recipes from the internet.
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup white sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 tsps. baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk (approximately; see directions)
1 cup blueberries or fruit jam or jelly
¾ tsp. almond extract or zest of one lemon (both are OK if you like)
½ cup white sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
¼ cup cubed butter
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 400F and spray muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients. Put vegetable oil in a 1-cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill cup. Mix with flour until just combined (muffin batter, like brownie batter, will produce bread-flavored rocks if you overwork it).
Now, if you’re using blueberries, fold them in and fill the muffin tins close to the top.
If not, fill the tins not quite halfway and then plop in about 1 measured teaspoon of jelly or jam (use a teaspoon cookie dough scoop if you have it), then fill the tins with batter until they’re not quite to the top.
Mix together the topping ingredients (I just mash them up with a fork) and sprinkle evenly on the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Let them cool in the tins for about 5 minutes before flipping them out onto a wire rack. By the time you wander off for a shower and wander back, ready for bed, they’ll be cool enough to tuck into a basket lined with a tea towel to wrap them up.
Tomorrow morning, everyone will sort of slump into the kitchen (evidently, watching TV is hard work) and expect to have to get by on stale cereal. You’ll be in there, mincing and mashing, and there will be a plate of lavishly appetizing muffins, along with fresh coffee. “How did we miss those before?” your loved ones will wonder to themselves. Then they’ll bite into one and stare at you like you’re some kind of wizard.
Modestly, you’ll shoo them into the living room again and get back to what you’re doing. There’s the turkey, roasting away, there’s the stuffing, which will be fine, there’s the fried onions for the casserole topping. You’ll lean back and smile fondly at the sounds of your nearest and dearest watching the Macy’s parade in the other room without you and think to yourself, “You know, I could really go for a supreme thin crust right about now.”