In the mid 90’s I came to Australia for a yearlong ‘working honeymoon’ and was absolutely determined to make the most of that one year. The lack of a work visa didn’t hold me back and I landed some quite interesting cashola jobs along the way. The ones I loved the most gave me the freedom to get creative in the kitchen.
Am I a chef? A cook? Nope and nope, but I love food and come from a long line of amazing cooks, my accent led people to believe that I was a bit exotic (oh, so untrue) and I basically bluffed my way into jobs where I made some good food and made even better friends. I cooked my way around the Whitsunday’s and Sydney Harbour on the charter fleet and private yachts. Did I know anything about boats? Nope again, but fake it until you make it right?
I cooked for a Saudi Princess, for Japanese executives and their concubines, for a couple of movie stars and other famous types. Most of all I enjoyed cooking for regular people, from all over the world, on a holiday of a lifetime to beautiful Australia.
Twenty-three years later I’d like to think I am still making the most of my time in Aus. Do people remember the fancy food I made? Probably not, but in some boating circles I’m still known as that ‘yank muffin lady’ because of one simple recipe from Nantucket, Massachusetts. Now the muffins are a regular feature on our Embrace Escapes women's adventures and hikenics. And yep, they always want the muffin recipe….xSharon
3 ½ cups plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 ¼ cups milk
2 large eggs
1 cup butter melted
1 cup blueberries
1 cup diced strawberries
1 cup raspberries
1 cup sugar
1. Preheat oven to 160 c or 375 f. Place paper liners in 20 muffin tins.
2. Stir all dry ingredients, except sugar, together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Add the milk, eggs and butter to the well and stir only a few times until just combined. Add fruit and sugar and stir again until just mixed in.
3. Spoon the batter into the cups, filling each cup almost to the top. Bake until brown and crusty, about 20 minutes.
Makes 20 Muffins
Note: I substitute whatever fruit might be in season or hanging around for the berries; sliced apples, pears, plums, peaches, nectarines, a few bananas, even drained tinned fruit, anything really. Sometimes I use ½ wholemeal flour and half plain, sometimes all wholemeal. If I am too lazy to make muffins, I pour all the batter into a greased and floured loaf tin and bake for close to an hour. Do the toothpick test to see when it’s done. The key is to add the sugar at the end with whatever fruit you are using making a delicious crunchy top.
From the Nantucket Open-House Cookbook, Sarah Leah Chase, 1987, published by Workman Publishing Co, NY