Cooking at home: Blueberry muffins, a Maine staple

  • Courtesy Nina M. Scott

  • A mid-coast Maine view. Courtesy Nina M. Scott

  • Blueberry muffins. Courtesy Nina M. Scott

For the Gazette
Published: 9/2/2020 11:26:45 AM

This is the 200th anniversary of Maine’s admission to the U.S. as a state. We summer in Maine, in a wonderful mid-coast cottage that has been in my husband’s family for 102 years now. Davis Point, in Friendship, Maine, has many other generations who have come here just as long, of which the Bellhouse family is one.

Nancy Bellhouse May, now residing in Little Rock, Arkansas, is the daughter of a merchant marine captain. Her family moved to Friendship year round when she was 6; Nancy attended local schools, went to Bowdoin right after it became co-ed and graduated from Columbia Law School, where she met her future husband, Walter. She then moved to Little Rock, briefly joined a large firm and ultimately became editor of The Journal of Appellate Practice and Process.

“Your trajectory sounds like Hillary Clinton’s,” I told her.

“Interesting you should say that,” Nancy replied.

One day at the law firm, she entered a room full of senior partners to pick up some new cases and was introduced around. One of the men said, “You should talk to my wife — you’d have a lot in common!” Nancy had no idea who he was but was informed that it had been Gov. Bill Clinton.

During summers in Friendship, Nancy took to baking blueberry muffins and handing them around to friends (like us!). Her recipe is a variation of one published by the now-defunct department store Jordan Marsh. She tweaked the recipe to substitute vegetable oil for butter. Whatever the combination, it is a marvelous recipe for muffins, which simply do not dry out. Fresh wild blueberries are best, but frozen ones will work, too.

Maine Blueberry Muffins

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups blueberries

Directions: Mix oil and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix again. Add milk slowly. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt, then add by halves to the liquids. Beat by hand about 50 strokes. The batter will be stiff but smooth. Fold in blueberries. Line muffin cups with paper liners, and fill about 3/4 full. Sprinkle with sugar (or cinnamon sugar).

Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes, checking to see the muffins don’t brown too much.

Place on a rack to cool.

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