The other day I got an alarming series of texts from my friend Camille. She had just baked a batch of muffins, cooled them, and set them on the countertop in ziploc bags while she stepped out to run some errands. Upon returning home, she entered her kitchen and glanced around. Something was wrong. Granola crumbs littered the floor. She heard a rustling, and surveyed the room. It was then that she locked eyes with her intruder— a fat squirrel, having entered through the open window, now huddled under the kitchen table, seemingly trying to calculate the probability of successfully dragging a Ziploc baggy full of muffins and a package of sprouted chia-goji berry granola out the window without being eaten/killed/captured and/or losing his loot.
After a tense moment of deliberation, the squirrel decided none of it was worth risking his life (maybe scones, or croissants, but not muffins), and the li’l’ guy dropped his bounty and darted back out the window. Camille stood in the crumby aftermath, stunned. Of course Greenpoint squirrels want to munch on whole-grain muffins and sprouted chia seed-goji berry muesli. It’s a wonder Mr. Squirrel wasn’t doing a juice cleanse, or perhaps he was trying to squeeze in a grain binge before an upcoming detox. Camille was only more stunned to find him BACK on her windowsill a few days later as she ate her morning toast at the kitchen table, his paw pressed against the glass as though to say…Hey pretty lady, you got any more muffins?
Hey—Squirrel’s gotta look out for number one. Winter’s coming, and if you’re a forager (like our neighbor, Mr. Squirrel) you know it’s time to store a little extra energy for keeping warm. It’s also time to turn on the oven and make your home smell like toasted wheat. I asked Camille to share the recipe that Fats Squirlio couldn’t resist. A timeless classic in the world of muffinology—The Morning Glory Muffin. We used to get these at the grocery store all the time when I was a kid. Much like carrot cake, these muffins are a sweet and irresistible treat, but also have some real nutritional goodness, like vitamins A and C (thanks to the carrots, apple, and OJ). She found her recipe in the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Book. If you make them, then you can share them with friends, or squirrels, or squirrely friends. Whatever you want. They’re your muffins!
(Squirrely) Morning Glory Muffins
Makes one dozen
1/2 cup raisins
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour (or a 50/50 mix of white and wheat if you want them a little less hearty)
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups peeled and grated carrots
1 large tart apple, peeled, cored, and grated (or leave the peel on; your choice)
1/2 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sunflower seeds or wheat germ, optional
3 large eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup orange juice
1) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin, or line it with papers and spray the insides of the papers.
2) In a small bowl, cover the raisins with hot water, and set them aside to soak while you assemble the rest of the recipe.
3) In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt.
4) Stir in the carrots, apple, coconut, nuts, and sunflower seeds or wheat germ.
5) In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and orange juice.
6) Add to the flour mixture, and stir until evenly moistened.
7) Drain the raisins and stir them in.
8) Divide the batter among the wells of the prepared pan (they’ll be full almost to the top).
9) Bake the muffins for 25 to 28 minutes, until they’re nicely domed and a cake tester inserted in the center of one of the inner muffins comes out clean.
10) Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes in their pan on a rack, then turn out of pans to finish cooling. Wrap any leftovers airtight, and store at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.
Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour
Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg