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Verses from my Kitchen: Savoury Bacon & Corn Muffins with Aged Canadian Cheddar

April 21, 2011

Savoury Bacon & Corn Muffins with Aged Canadian Cheddar

I remember way back to a time when I was just a kid. I was young and small and the pencil marks that adorned the wall had a new line that indicated I was taller than a few weeks previous. I had probably grown but a finger or so but I was adamant it was time for another measurement. And I remember boldly exclaiming, "I'm a big boy now, mom!" Little did I know.

I cherish those memories and remember them as vividly as new ones created recently. I remember thinking how big I was yet still needed a boost when I dragged one of the kitchen chairs over by the counter to watch my mom work. Rinsing and prepping and cooking all under my watchful eyes. She would reach down and pick me up under my arms and fling me on the chair. And I would sit there and watch and watch until my attention span took me somewhere else, doing something else.

Off I went.

I remember my visits to my grandparents the same way. It would be summer and at that age I would be dropped off for two weeks at a time. I would come scrambling through the door and straight for my grandma. My bags would be dropped at the entrance, as if expecting the doorman to bring them to my room. And within minutes she would be cooking something for me. Anything. And my heart was home.

My grandparents had this box inside the kitchen that was filled with toys and goodies. Whenever one of the grandchildren came by they would bolt straight for the box. Not me. I would hang out in the kitchen while Grandma C. whisked up food. I'd sit at the old round wooden table off to the side talking about whatever small stuff I could come up with. And she would cook. And watch with delight as I ate it all up.

Most of my memories connected to my grandfather involved sports, either watching stuff on TV as he described with great detail the intricacies of the game and stories that wove in and out of live play, or at the local games where he knew everybody that crossed his path. Those are wonderful memories. Little me sitting on the edge of my seat and wondering how he knew so many people and so much about sports.

With my grandmother, it was different. I would wake up every morning and sit down as she made cinnamon french toast. Every morning. That was after she peeled herself from the floor, where she slept beside me every summer night. She was older and heavier yet she flung out the sleeping bag and opened up the sliding door and she'd sleep on the hard uncomfortable surface and listen to the crickets playing harmonies outside. And she pretended it was overnight camp. And I soaked it up.

With every camp comes food. And she cooked away like the counsellors in those camp kitchens. Sweets and savouries and more. And although I liked my share of sweet food growing up, I loved when she would make something like corn muffins or other savoury snacks. Moist, tender corn muffins with butter slathered on. It was the best summer camp a kid could ask for.

And so it continued for two weeks. Great food and special life-defining moments. I knew she was special back then. I know now she was an angel. She taught me so much more than a love for food and being in the kitchen. She taught me how to be a kid. A compassionate, loving and sensitive kid. And I picked up all the pointers I could as I ate all that wonderful food.

To this day memories strike down when I least expect them. I'll be eating something and it'll transport me to a time when that feeling first buried itself in my mind. And often I think about those food-related memories and try to create my own versions of them. Just like she did.

I sat down the other day looking through a book she made for me back when she was alive. It was appropriately called "The book of Mike." She did that for all her family memories. It was laden with stories and pictures and poems and it reminded me of those days. Those beautiful summer days. With that beautiful woman.

I don't have many regrets now. One is that she never met my wife. Never got to sit down and say hi and make something delicious like she used to make. Now I try and fill that space. Creating new memories for a new woman. My woman.

And I continue working away in the kitchen with my mind on that small kitchen in that small town with the biggest heart I've ever known. The memories come flooding back.

From my kitchen to yours, happy eating!

Savoury Bacon & Corn Muffins

The Goods:
  • 1/2 package of bacon, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups grated old cheddar
  • 1 cup fresh corn 
  • 1/2 stick butter (basil butter)
  • small handful basil, chopped (basil butter)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, cayenne and baking soda together.
  3. In a large non-stick pan over medium heat, cook the coarsely chopped bacon until brown and crisp, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to paper towel. Reserve about 2 tbsp. of the drippings and cool.
  4. Whisk the eggs, buttermilk and reserved pan drippings to blend. Add in the bacon, 1 cup of cheese and the corn. Stir into the dry ingredients until just blended.
  5. Brush the standard muffin tin with butter or spray and spoon the batter into the cups, filling to a mound. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool slightly and use a butter knife to go around the edges to pop out.
  6. Meanwhile, mix the butter with the basil and season in a bowl. Spread out over parchment paper and roll up into a log and refrigerate. Wait about 5 minutes until it sets and serve with the muffins.

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At April 21, 2011 at 3:29 PM , OpenID foodiesonthefly said...

Beautiful narrative, and can't wait to try these muffins! {Emailing to BF now to create}

At April 21, 2011 at 3:42 PM , Blogger A Thought For Food said...

I spent a lot of time with my grandparents as a child... my mom was sick for a good chunk of my childhood, so we would go to their house for a weekend (or longer).

Thanks for sharing this story, Mike! Your recipes are always wonderful.

At April 21, 2011 at 3:45 PM , Blogger Michael Lewicki said...

Thank you Foodiesonthefly! I hope he likes them as much as we did!

Thank you Brian. The same thing happened at one point with my mom. So I spent chunks of time at my grandparents. I'm glad you have those memories too! And thank you.

At April 21, 2011 at 8:03 PM , Anonymous Barbara | VinoLuciStyle said...

I spent as much time as possible at my Grandparents too; though for me it was not 'just' to escape the responsibilities of being the oldest daughter of 6 siblings (believe me that was a lot more work than being the oldest son!) but because I adored my Grandma. And like you Mike...I preferred being her helper (?) in the kitchen than being off with others playing.

I love how our memories are so connected with food and how those foods can take us back in time so easily. Thanks for the memories.

At April 21, 2011 at 9:21 PM , Anonymous Maureen said...

Your post reminded me of baking bread every Saturday with my grandmother. I kneaded til it was black (I'd knead, play with the dog, knead some more) and she'd bake "my" loaf just for me. I didn't know til I was 12 that she was making a different loaf for me!

These muffins look yummy!

At April 21, 2011 at 9:33 PM , Blogger Rosemary said...

Michael, I just told my friend Norma,your story of grandma and camp this past weekend,funny it has come up for both of us.
Love you!
You do get alot from your grandma and she would have been so proud.
keep posting your fabulous versus from your kitchen

At April 22, 2011 at 7:08 AM , Blogger Carolyn said...

Ooo, these look so good and cheesy. Such a sweet post too, I can just picture it.

At April 22, 2011 at 10:46 AM , Blogger Lisa@Pickles and Cheese said...

Your memories of your Grandma had me smiling. Such a sweet thing to ready on a rainy day like today! This recipe looks so good and your photos are so tempting. I added buttermilk to the shopping list and I am planning to make these this weekend. Thanks!

At April 22, 2011 at 11:27 AM , Anonymous Franklin from Dine Delish said...

Grandma C taught you well.. Those corn muffins look so delicious. Real corn, cheddar? I'm sold! The kicker is that basil butter. Bravo!

At April 22, 2011 at 4:05 PM , Anonymous RavieNomNoms said...

Oh wow, those just look amazing!! I love how you have actual corn kernels in there. YUM

At April 23, 2011 at 12:03 PM , Blogger Mary said...

Mike, thank you for sharing your memories with us in such a beautiful fashion. I intend to try your muffins. This is my first visit to your site so I took some time to browse through your earlier entries. I'm so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you feature here and I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

At April 23, 2011 at 2:51 PM , Anonymous My Man's Belly said...

What a great memory. I baked with my grandmother as well, but the baking was only for sweets (not that I complained as a child). Savories were for lunch and dinner (stuffed cabbage and pierogi).

These little muffins remind me of gougeres. YUM!

At April 23, 2011 at 10:20 PM , Blogger Maria said...

They look perfect! Gorgeously golden and moist.

At August 1, 2011 at 3:27 PM , Blogger Dancing Crow said...

You transported me to age 7 8 9 and remembering the beautiful scents and colors of my grandparents home town in upstate New York. Cokes never tasted better, nor did the freshly made ice cream made at a local farmers stand. Thanks for reminding me that kindness and caring are huge memory makers.

At September 5, 2011 at 4:22 PM , Anonymous Rachel @ Bakerita said...

You're an incredible writer!
Those muffins look sinful..I wish I had all the ingredients to make them right now! Definitely being bookmarked.


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