Joni Woolf: Recipes are for sharing

Published 2:53 pm Saturday, July 22, 2017

I am amused when someone refuses to share a recipe because it is a “family secret.” In this age of too much information, most recipes can be discovered on line, or some savvy gourmet cook can taste-test a recipe until he or she has duplicated the family secret. And why wouldn’t we share, anyway? That’s how most of us learned to cook much of what we serve our families and ourselves. And there is joy in sharing with a friend and learning that they can replicate your great family favorite, doing it justice.
Last week I visited former Americus resident, Betty Hewitt, in her new home in St. Simons Island. She has been there a year, though for those of us who miss her it seems much longer. The meals she presented were healthy, delicious and eye-appealing, and we enjoyed talking about all the ways food can be prepared to achieve those ends. For breakfast, she served a Blueberry-Lemon Corn Muffin that was delicious with a serving of fresh orange slices (Betty had sectioned the orange slices so that you could eat them with a spoon) and strawberries. Yesterday I bought the ingredients and plan to make the muffins this week.
I had looked through the most recent Calvary Episcopal Church cookbook for a recipe for a bar cookie that Betty had brought to many events — but could not find it. It was in an earlier Calvary cookbook, she said, and made me a copy. Of all the sweet treats I’ve enjoyed at Calvary over the years (including my own, which I like), this was my favorite. I am delighted to have the recipe, and bought ingredients for this also. So, I have a couple of days of cooking ahead of me. It may get very busy in my kitchen. The Elberta peaches are almost ready, and I am connected to William Brown’s on Facebook, waiting to hear the news that the celebrated peach has arrived at the Montezuma market. Until the peaches materialize, and the figs on my tree ripen (ergo the canning begins) I’ll settle in to making these two recipes — one new that Betty had just discovered, and one tried and true that may be familiar to some of our readers. Good recipes never grow old. They just get better. So, share your favorites with anyone who asks. Recipes are for sharing.

Blueberry-Lemon Corn Muffins
Paper muffin cup liners
½ stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ cup yellow cornmeal
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
½ cup whole milk
2 large egg yolks
½ cup blueberries
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and line six 1/3 cup muffin cups with paper liners. Melt butter and cool. Into a large bowl sift together flour and baking powder and whisk in cornmeal, ½ cup sugar, lemon zest, and a generous pinch of salt. In a bowl whisk together melted butter, milk and yolks and add to flour mixture with half of blueberries, gently stirring until just combined. Divide batter evenly among cups (batter will fill cups) and press remaining blueberries into tops of muffins. Sprinkle tops of muffins evenly with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake muffins in middle of oven about 15 minutes, or until tops are golden and a tester comes out clean. Remove muffins from cups and cool on a rack. Muffins keep in airtight container at room temperature two days.

Walnut-Date Bars
Pastry Layer:
1 ¼ cup sifted flour
1/3 cup sugar
½ cup butter
Combine and blend all ingredients. Pack into bottom of greased 9-inch square pan (8 x 11 pan may be substituted). Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes.
Top Layer:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ to 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 8-oz package chopped dates
Confectioners sugar (sprinkle with)
Combine top layer ingredients and pour over baked crust. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes. When done, let cool, sprinkle with confectioners sugar and cut into squares.

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at