Home ec. Remember it? If so, you’re probably in at least your mid-30s, or maybe even a bit older. For those of you young enough to be scratching your head in confusion, home economics (“home ec.”) was what girls took in junior high (er, middle school) while the boys were taking shop. (And if anyone knows the official name for “shop,” illuminate me, please!)
Home ec. was invariably taught by an older lady, one well-versed in using paper patterns to make clothes, baking biscuits, and perhaps guardedly revealing a little bit about the birds and the bees: this was, after all, way before boys were allowed into home ec., or girls into shop. Nowadays, home ec. is often called something more all-encompassing, since it can involve up-to-date skills like credit-card management. It’s co-ed. And it’s probably not a required course, like it was back in ’60s.
I’m going to be upfront with you here: I nearly failed home ec. Every crooked seam I laboriously sewed was ripped out. I didn’t have “the touch” for biscuits. And I was bored to tears by the whole thing, preferring to stare out the window, at the athletic fields where I longed to be, while my classmates twittered around their Butterick patterns. When it came to housewifely skills, I just didn’t have the knack. Mrs. Deabler let me slip through, probably because she didn’t want to see me darken her classroom door again. And I thankfully washed my hands (literally) of the whole business.
One thing that stuck with me, though, was blueberry muffins. Once we’d graduated from biscuits, we tackled muffins. And though I never did master the flaky biscuit, I was able to whip up muffin batter with the best of them. My personal goal was to make blueberry muffins just like the ones at Jordan-Marsh, a Boston department store where we’d go once a year to buy school clothes. Big, moist, crumbly, and packed with berries, they were the ne plus ultra of muffin-dom. And their streaky blue signature look, the probable result of frozen berries, made blue food chic well before its “birth” in the ’90s.
The following recipe, Freezer-Case Blueberry Muffins, doesn’t come from my long-ago home ec. class. In fact, it was developed by fellow blogger Susan Reid who, with King Arthur Flour test kitchen director Sue Gray, is queen of all things cakey and muffin-y. I’ve upped the butter a bit, and substituted frozen berries (since that’s what’s always available), but other than that—thanks, Susan!
These are my favorite frozen blueberries: they’re also the least expensive, at least at my supermarket. They’re the ideal size: not the TINY tiny little Maine blueberries, but not the huge fat ones you usually find in frozen form, either. These are about 1/4” across.
Scoop the batter into 12 muffin cups. I like to line the cups with muffin papers, which I also grease; this allows the papers to slip seamlessly off the hot baked muffins—no rips, no tears. I also like to sprinkle the muffins with coarse white sparkling sugar, for a glittery finish.
Note the difference between muffins made with frozen berries that aren’t rinsed and blotted first (left), and the rinsed berries (right). Neither way is more or less “correct;” it’s just a “look” thing, and entirely up to you.
Check out our recipe for Freezer-Case Blueberry Muffins.