Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rhubarb Oatmeal Muffins

Yesterday, I stopped by Farmer Jones' place to see what he has on offer right now. If this is the first time you have heard of Farmer Jones, check out the Rhubarb Custard Pie (June '08).

He has plenty of rhubarb ready and we went to his back garden where he pulled a big armful for me. He also gave me a clump of chives, which I have added to the two chive plants I got from him last year. You can never have too many chives. We also picked up a little rhubarb plant to add to the garden. All this, and a large jar of honey (from his hives out back) and three dozen eggs (from his brood of chickens), and I walked away a very happy customer!

There is something so satisfying about doing grocery shopping this way. Walking around his little pond, we were mesmerized by the plump white goose with the bright orange bill, and a pair of ducks, new to the farm. I wish I had taken my camera. The bees were getting busy in the hives, and Mr. Cogburn, the rooster, looked happy sitting in the sunshine.

Farmer Jones came from a family of market gardeners, farming 5 acres of vegetables. He is great for giving little tips and tricks about gardening. For instance, I have been harvesting my own rhubarb patch with a paring knife. He reminded me that if you pull the stalks from the base, the rhubarb will continue to sprout new growth. I think I did know that, but I had forgotten in my excitement at having my own rhubarb patch. We also discussed natural fertilizers, the only kind he uses. These can be sort of mucky, as you would expect, coming from the chicken coop and the rabbit's quarters, but is very effective.

I feel very lucky to have many different food sources practically at my back door. When I told my sister about our trip to Farmer Jones', she reminded me that when you live in the country, as we pretty much do, you have a better chance at finding the local producers as you drive around the countryside doing other things. For city dwellers, farmer's markets are the next best thing.

I have made these muffins several times over the years. They are simple and good for you. I also like having a few muffin recipes on hand that use oil instead of butter. If I wake up in the morning with muffins on my mind, I don't have to worry if I only have rock-hard butter. The pieces of rhubarb will be soft and moist in the muffin, almost custard-like.

Rhubarb Oatmeal Muffins

1/4 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 c. all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. kosher salt
1 c. buttermilk
1 egg
1/3 c. large flake rolled oats
2/3 c. oat or wheat bran
1 1/2 c. rhubarb, chopped into small pieces
Demerara sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper muffin cups.
2. Combine oil, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add buttermilk, egg, oat or wheat bran, and rolled oats. Mix gently. Fold in the rhubarb pieces.
3. Scoop the muffin batter into the 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with demerara sugar. Bake 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the pan and let cool.

Makes 12 muffins.