Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fabulous Fall Fare/Fair

Ah, fall! My favorite time of year! We didn't have much of a summer, but all that cool and wet seems to have been setting us up for a most glorious and colorful autumn! Last weekend, I had a nearly perfect day, taking in one of my favorite annual events, the Peru Applefest--a tiny little church fundraiser with carnival games, crafts, baked goods, and live music. On Sunday, the Catholic menfolk do a great BBQ, too. You get a half a chicken, corn on the cob from Rulf's Orchard just down the road, a baked potato, cole slaw, a dinner roll, all the milk you can drink, and ice cream for dessert, all for nine bucks!

I showed up around 1pm, and first cruised through the annex to look at the crafts and bake sale items. I'm sad to report that I was too late for the infamous beer bread, but I did manage to snag a jar of dill pickles that this one young fellow makes every year. (They are ALMOST as good as my own! Tee hee.) Then I headed out back for the BBQ lunch, and when I was done eating, I was going to head down the road to Rulf's, like I typically do, to get apple cider donuts and take a horse-drawn wagon ride through the apple orchards. But as I was walking back to my car, a local band started playing, and I decided to stop and listen for awhile. Two hours later, I was still sitting there! They were pretty good, playing lots of country rock covers and a few originals; but mostly, it was just nice to sit out in the warm sun for what will surely be one of the last few days that one could do so comfortably.

After the Applefest, I skipped my Rulf's visit and headed over to my friend, Lee Ann's. It was her husband's Steve's birthday the day before, and I wanted to drop off some special treats for him. In the past, I have made him lemony things, but I knew that Lee Ann would be making a key lime pie (as requested) for dinner. With the citrus quotient covered, I decided to make something somewhat chocolately. Of course, I am still playing around with my Amish friendship starter, and I found a recipe for some tasty-looking streusel muffins. They are meant to include some sort of fresh or dried fruit, but I thought chocolate chip walnut muffins with the sourdough tang and the sweet, crispy tops would be delish. Plus, they would make a good grab-and-go breakfast item for the family during the school and work week. For my pains, I got invited to stay for a terrific, seasonal dinner (penne with chicken and homemade pesto and tomatoes from the garden), and even better, to play Beatles Rock Band with the birthday boy (it was his present) and daughter, K. Naturally, we rocked, as do these muffins. ;-)

Amish Friendship Muffins
(Source: adapted from

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup Amish friendship bread starter
3/4 cup oil
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup nuts, chopped (I used toasted walnuts)
1 cup raisins or blueberries or chopped apple (optional--I used chocolate chips instead!)

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, slightly softened

Preheat oven to 350. Liberally grease muffin tins if not using liners.

Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt,cinnamon, and sugar. Stir in the starter, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. Add nuts. Mix in optional ingredients, if desired. Fill lined or well-greased muffin tins 2/3 full. Sprinkle each muffin with topping and bake for about 20 minutes. Makes about 22 regular muffins.

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