178 cookbooks

Yes boys and girls, that’s how many cookbooks I have. I finally counted them, out of curiosity, because I was supposed to go to a book signing last night for Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day, which would have become number 179. Heidi also has a fantastic food blog, 101 Cookbooks. Thus my counting.
This is a lot of cookbooks, it’s true. I am reminded of the scene in “Sex and the City” when Carrie Bradshaw counts how many pairs of shoes she has, multiplies that number by the average cost, and realizes she would have had enough for a down payment to buy her apartment, which was turning condo. My cookbook collection cost me nowhere near that much.
I can count on one hand how many I paid full price for (and those came from purchases made at book signings). I often ask for cookbooks for Christmas, so many were gifts. I’ve also belonged to cookbook-of-the-month clubs more than once, for those great 10-books-for-a-dollar introductory offers. Then there’s the books bought for about 40 percent off (Amazon, Costco, Borders Rewards coupons). Some were bought from used bookstores, or at Goodwill, or at garage sales. I have some free advance copies from my days working in a newsroom.You get the idea.
Alas, I missed Saturday’s book signing due to a combination of a broody hen and the realization that the event location was two blocks from a Seattle Sounders game (read: traffic and parking nightmare). Until I get my paws on the new book, I will content myself by delving more deeply into Heidi’s previous book, Super Natural Cooking. It features one of the best muffin recipes ever created, IMO. It has 3/4 cup sugar, which sort of puts into “treat muffin” territory for me, but that’s less sugar than a lot of muffin recipes have! If you aren’t familiar with “white whole-wheat” flour, it’s main benefit is that it offers the nutrition of whole-wheat flour, while being less heavy. That’s super for people who have trouble transitioning from refined white flour, but I don’t have that problem, so I always use regular whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour, and the recipe turns out just fabulous!

Espresso Banana Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:
2 cups white whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 tablespoon fine espresso powder
1-1/4 cups chopped toasted walnuts
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup natural cane sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup plain yogurt
1-1/2 cups mashed overripe bananas (about 3 large bananas)

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F, position the racks low in the oven, and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, the espresso powder and 3/4 cups of the walnuts in a bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. In a separate large bowl or a stand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the sugar and then the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla, yogurt and mashed bananas, then briefly and gently mix in the dry ingredients; overmixing will result in tough muffins.
  4. Spoon into the prepared muffin tin (an ice-cream scoop works well), top with the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts and bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Fill the cups two-thirds full for regular muffins or to the brim for a big-topped version. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.