13 August 2010

Cheese Muffins, Bag Ladies and a new Cook Book

I've done it again—that bag lady thing. I am having a hard time writing at the moment, and I think that if I write something that's less than purr----fect (like I've never done that) you'll stop reading my blog, nobody will want to have anything to do with me, Dan won't love me any more, and I'll end up living on the streets with all my possessions in a grocery cart. I'll be a bag lady.
I have an amazing ability to do the bag lady thing. Once upon a time I had a boss with whom I rarely agreed. One day I needed to talk to him, and I asked my secretary where he was. “Upstairs”, she said, “with (insert name of the CEO)”. In the time it took her to take a teeny tiny little breath, I had filled in the rest: he was going to fire me, nobody would ever hire me again, Dan would divorce me, my cats would abandon me and I'd end up a bag lady. “...working on the budget”, my secretary finished. I think that's the first time I noticed how skilled I was at the bag lady thing.

I still do it. I no longer have a boss. I don't need a job. There are no bag ladies in Belgium. None of this matters—in my tiny mind I'll still end up a bag lady if (insert the challenge du jour) isn't done perfectly. Sigh. It's a sickness, I know. I'm gonna guess that you won't divorce me if I write a post that doesn't win a Pulitzer prize. (IS there a Pulitzer prize for blog posts? Never mind. It doesn't matter. I still have to win it.) So I'm going to write something that I've been meaning to write for a few weeks. It's just not going to be perfect, ok? I'm all right with that. Really.

Some of you know that I do a little writing for an on-line newspaper. One day recently I was perusing the recipes, and I came upon an article about a cookbook. It was one of those self-published cookbooks, designed to raise money for breast cancer research. What caught my eye (aside from the beautiful cover) was the story of the women who wrote this book. They're not the Junior League, they're not a Church group. They're not parents of kids at a school. They're work colleagues—they all work for Dems Fine Jewelers in Irmo, South Carolina. And there's not a bag lady in the bunch. Of the women who work there, 4 have had cancer. A very high number, I'm thinking. Of those four, every single one has beaten it. An extraordinary number, I'm thinking. No, I KNOW that.

Intrigued, I read on. I really like these cookbooks, full of family-tested recipes as well as the fancy pants stuff we do for company. They don't do these in Belgium, and I had left my collection in the US. I was hoping to find my lost chocolate pound cake recipe, and perhaps some childhood favorites as well.

But wait. Shipping this kind of thing to Belgium is sometimes a problem, so I wrote to see if they could do it. YES! they replied. In fact, it was already on its way. When it arrived, the first thing I did was to check for a recipe for chocolate pound cake. Yep, there was one, but it wasn't the one I had lost. There were, however, some awesome cake recipes: Awesome Cheesecake (see?), Coca-Cola Cake, Rave Review Cake, and even the intriguingly-named Dump Cake (I don't think I want to know).

I spent a day and a half paging through the book, marking recipes I wanted to try. The first one I tried was for cheese muffins. I changed it, of course—recipes for me are ideas, suggestions. I deleted the sugar and added some spices. These were a hit at my house! The recipe makes a dozen, and there are only two of us. I took them to work in my lunch, we ate them for dinner, and there were still two left when Pam arrived a couple of weeks ago. They were a little stale by then, and she suggested cutting them in cubes and toasting them for croutons. A fabulous idea.

I'll make these again. You should make them now. If you don't, nobody will read your blog, you'll lose your job, your pets will abandon you, your loved one will divorce you, and you'll end up a bag lady. Even if you're a guy. Really. I'm not making this up. You don't want to take that chance.

Cheese Muffins
adapted from From Our Table to Yours

240 g / 1 ¾ c flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
120 g / 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 egg
55 g / ¼ cup melted butter
1 cup milk

  • Preheat oven to 200 C / 400 F.
  • Grease muffin tins if you're not using paper baking cups.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, paprika, cayenne and cheese.
  • In another bowl, beat the egg and add the melted butter and milk. Add to the flour mixture. Don't overmix.
  • Fill muffin tins or paper baking cups ½ full with batter, and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.


  • My cayenne was pretty fresh, so I only used ¼ teaspoon. If yours is older you might want to use more. Or if you really don't like that cayenne tang, you can leave it out. But it's really nice in here.
  • If you don't like the cayenne and paprika and you decide to leave them out, you might want to add back the 2 Tablespoons sugar that I cut out of the recipe. If you do that, cut back the cheese to 90 g / ¾ cup as well. Then you have Carol's original recipe, which has to be good as well!

Disclosure: When I found out that the book had already been sent to me, I phoned immediately to pay for it with my handy Visa card. They wouldn't hear of it—they were thrilled that someone in Belgium wanted their book. I tried to explain that I was thrilled to have found it and happy to pay for it. No use. I've donated the price of the book to Doctors Without Borders. When the weather cools off in South Carolina, there'll be a box of Belgium's finest on the way to Irmo, South Carolina.

If you would like a copy of their book, From Our Table to Yours, call the ladies at Dems Fine Jewelers at (001 from outside the US) 803.407.5290 to order one today. Cost is $20, plus tax. They take credit cards. Don't tell them about the chocolate—it's a surprise.


My Carolina Kitchen said...

You a bag lady - no way. You crack me up.

These biscuits are gorgeous. Isn't it nice that they would ship the cookbook to you in Belgium. As you and I know, it's not that easy to ship things overseas. What a nice group of ladies these gals must be.

Indie.Tea said...

At least you have cheese muffins...those things look and sound spectacular!

Kate said...

I had to chuckle when I read your post...I think we will have matching bag lady carts! I do the same thing...striving for perfection can really get to ya.

The cheese muffins look wonderful. I will have to check out the book...

Stella said...

Hey Kate, your'e so funny. And you're a great writer. Even on your worst days, I'm sure you are probably still pretty good...
Yum cheesy muffins too. I love cheesy puff muffins (smile).

Pam said...

You are so silly. Funny. But still silly.

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Kate you know we'll be here waiting until you are having an easier time writing... In the meantime, this is a pretty darned good post for someone who is having a hard time! ;-) xox

Jennifer said...

Those look lovely! And if I had any time to focus on anything other than do I scrub my tub or do I write1850 words on ethical research practices, I could spend time back in my little kitchen! I "cook" vicariously through your blog (and I have the same stress I feel about my own little, dusty, neglected blog, too)!

Hungry Dog said...

These sound absolutely divine! I'll definitely give them a go!

Sophie said...

MMMMMMM,...these cheese & spiced up muffins look like the real deal!!

Lovely pictures too!

Kisses from Brussels to you!

Sweet and Savory said...

I am not sure anyone else is taking you seriously. I am standing, in the middle of my kitchen, checking the ingredients to make sure I get these made before I could possibly become a bag lady.

You are one funny lady, not a bag lady but a funny one.

It is heartwarming to share the story about the cancer survivors and the cookbook. Thanks.

Carol at Serendipity said...


We will not abandon you! I have missed your posts. And by the way, dump cake is wonderful!


Kitchen Butterfly said...

Missing you.....and will send you an email soon. Love the muffins, haven't made savoury ones...ever! And that cookbook sounds like a treasure