11 March 2009

Trail Mix Muffins and Sloe Gin

In preparation for a late-winter snowstorm (and we former scouts have learned to always be prepared), we holed ourselves up with some Trail Mix Muffins, a hike-worthy muffin variation from Baking Bites. It's a different flavor than some of the more ordinary muffins.
Trail Mix Muffins (yields 24)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup rolled oats (plain oatmeal)

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt
2 large eggs

2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups trail mix
*You can use any kind of trail mix you want, so we used a combination of three.  That means our muffins are full of peanuts, almonds, cashews, cranberries, raisins, golden raisins, chocolate chips, yogurt chips, and sunflower seeds.  It's a mouthful, but we like being inclusive.  Coconut would also be pretty delicious here.

Preheat oven to 400F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. 
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
 In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract.  Pour into dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Stir in trail mix.
 Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups. Each cup will be about 3/4 full.
 Bake for 15 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean.
 Cool on a wire rack.
These would be perfect to make for a quick breakfast treat, since we usually have most of these ingredients in our kitchens anyway.  They're extremely unique, with a different flavor in every bite, and we really like that.  Even the sunflower seeds don't get lost in the taste.  It's a little like eating bird food, and we mean that in the best way possible. 
If by some chance we can't finish all of these before they get stale, we're all set to turn them into muffin biscotti, also courtesy of Baking Bites.
(We meant to illustrate how the muffin explodes with Trail Mix flavor, but doesn't it just look like it threw up?)
While we were baking, outside the apartment the snow started falling for what we'd been warned would be New York's worst storm of the winter. Sloe Gin Fizzes may not seem apropos for a blizzard, but Shake would disagree. A few years ago, before the cocktail obsession, he waited out a storm at a Park Slope bar with a friend, drinking what the bartender had testified were "Sloe Gin Fizzes" -- a highball made of gin, Rose's Lime juice, and soda. They were good drinks (more like a Rickey) to have while contemplating the white streets outside, but nothing like a real Sloe Gin Fizz. Unlike regular gin, flavored with juniper and other herbs, sloe gin is a liqueur flavored with sloe (blackthorn) plums. With the snow coming down outside, it seemed like a good opportunity to correct that old error.  
We picked up a bottle of Plymouth Sloe Gin at the closing of the beloved Red Hook liquor store LeNell's. The first thing to try, of course, was the true Sloe Gin Fizz: combine 1 1/2 oz of sloe gin, 1 oz lemon juice, and 1 tsp sugar. Shake with ice and strain in a highball glass (or a mason jar, if you're classy). Fill with ice and soda. 
This goes down like a Jones Soda on a summer -- er, blustery March -- day.  Very light and sweet, it could almost be a brunch drink. The low alcohol content -- just 52 proof, not the usual 80+ of most spirits -- means you could be looking into a very long brunch.
The Sloe Gin Cocktail is just the opposite -- sweet and thick, with more of an alcoholic taste.  The taste isn't bad in and of itself, but the drink overall seems a bit like cough syrup.  If you've got a scratch in your throat and want to try it: 2 1/4 oz sloe gin, 1/4 oz dry vermouth, dash orange bitters, stirred with ice and strained into a cocktail glass.
Similar but better is the Tip Toe Cocktail, which is helped by a bit of lemon juice.  Mix 1 1/2 oz sloe gin, 1/2 oz dry vermouth, 1/2 oz lemon juice with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

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