|Emmy and Cortney Hann make cranberry muffins. (Photos: Aaron Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune)
Not long ago, Emmy Hann's 17-year-old granddaughter, Cortney Hann, suggested "that it is time for Grandma to compile a collection of her favorite recipes to pass on in the family."
Which got Grandma thinking something else: "It's time for Cortney to learn the muffin-making process from scratch."
The perfect recipe for both projects, they agree, is the family's long-beloved cranberry muffins.
"Growing up in New England, I was very fond of cranberries, and they were a big part of our Thanksgiving feast," said Emmy, a native of Pittsfield, Mass. "We had cranberry jelly, whole cooked cranberries, and raw cranberry-orange relish.
"My step-mother also served squash pie, mince pie, and plum pudding with hard sauce, which spoiled my husband for my attempts to cut the calories in later years!"
She first came across this week's Cook's Corner recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, © 1941.
"As a new bride in 1953, I selectively purchased cookbooks, and was delighted to find a recipe for cranberry muffins, but soon realized I needed some kind of 'machine' to grind the berries."
The blender the couple had received as a wedding gift just didn't "cut" it.
"My aunt supplied an old-fashioned meat grinder, which we used until 1995, and our children are full of stories about the mess, the red juice dripping all over newspapers spread on the garage floor, and the back-wrenching labor they endured grinding ten packages of berries to make enough muffins for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, as well as some cranberry-orange relish."
The Hanns' four children left home in the early 1980s, and the grinding job became Emmy's again.
"My friend, Jane Robb, came to my rescue in 1995 when she suggested a mini-food processor, and four packages of berries became enough for our year's needs, without a single drop of juice to stain the counter. This year we found an even smaller, more efficient processor, and the work was done in less than 30 minutes."
These days, when it's time to grind up cranberries she freezes them in two-cup amounts and then makes a double batch of muffins.
"The biggest nuisance is having to go out and buy the buttermilk," Emmy noted. "The original recipe does say either sour milk or buttermilk and in 50 years I've just always used buttermilk."
Other changes she's made "over these 55 years" of baking cranberry muffins are switching canola oil instead of "melted shortening," improvements in the design of rubber spatulas - "spoon-shaped instead of flat," spray shortening to grease the pans, and even better muffin pans that are easier to clean.
"The old round eggbeater changed to a flat whisk, and now I use a computer instead of a typewriter to share the recipe."
Emmy Hann's first job right out of college was as an Army dietitian at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C., during the Korean War. She quit the job in 1956 when her oldest son, Alex, was born. Susan followed in 1958, Randy in 1960 and Christine in 1963.
"I took in typing in those years while my husband, Bill, was working on master's and Ph.D. degrees in microbiology" at George Washington University. Word processing, she says with a laugh, was done on a reconditioned Underwood typewriter with an original and five carbons.
Meanwhile, she earned her own master's degree in library science at Catholic University of America.
After the family's move to Bowling Green she began teaching foods and nutrition in the home economics department at Bowling Green State University in 1969 and left in 1975.
She became the first registered dietitian at Wood County Hospital in 1970, holding that position until 1987.
"Now I do quilting, miniatures, I write family history, and I particularly love delivering Wheeled Meals." She's in her 23rd year with the program.
Cortney is nearly as busy as her grandmother.
She has a black belt in karate, delivers the Sentinel-Tribune in Weston, and is active with Horizon Youth Theater. She was Louisa Mae Alcott in the group's production of "Little Women" and most recently served as stage manager for "Anne of Green Gables."
She enjoys 4-H cooking projects and eagerly accepted her grandmother's offer to teach the muffin-making process.
After the cranberry muffins were cooling on the counter, in fact, "she helped me make cranberry whole-wheat bread."
Their shared love of baking is clearly in the genes.
"Cortney's dad used to do a lot of baking at home. One year both he and I entered the fair at the same time," Emmy recalls, "and his blueberry muffins got first place to my cranberry muffins, which were second!"
Combine in a small bowl:
1 cup raw, chopped cranberries
½ cup sugar
Sift in large bowl:
2 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon soda
¼ cup sugar
Mix in separate bowl:
1 beaten egg
¾ cup buttermilk
¼ cup oil (I use canola)
Add liquids to dry ingredients; stir until just mixed. Add cranberry-sugar mixture, mixing slightly. Fill large greased muffin pans two-thirds full. Bake in 400º oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
* It is important to stir these muffins as little as possible - 16-18 strokes at first, and about 6-8 more to add the cranberry-sugar mixure.
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