Best and Easy Blueberry Muffins!

Happy New Year, dear readers!

I have no idea why I thought really good blueberry muffins might be somewhat elusive. They’re not. And, amazingly, this recipe slightly adapted from Joy of Cooking, are incredibly fast and easy! You don’t even need a mixer! Here are the ingredients and what you do.

Preheat oven to 400°. Then grease a 12 cup muffin pan. I use butter.

In a large bowl whisk together:

2 C. all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt

Measure out 1 1/2 C. blueberries. Sprinkle with sugar and set aside until ingredients are mixed.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together:

2 large eggs
1 C. heavy whipping cream
2/3 C. sugar
1 stick melted unsalted butter
1 t. vanilla

Add wet ingredients to the flour mixture, mixing gently only until the the dry ingredients are moistened. You are not seeking a well mixed batter.

Now, using a wooden spoon, fold in the blueberries. Do not overmix. Do only what is needed.

With a large spoon, fill each greased muffin cup. This might feel a bit awkward at first. Use your best judgment. You won’t be disappointed.

Bake 15-20 minutes. I stick a salad fork into the top of my muffins to test for doneness. Note that electric ovens tend to need the lesser time; gas ovens tend to need a bit more time. Timing can also be affected by whether the blueberries were fresh or frozen.

Pull from oven. Allow to cool before removing from muffin tin. Serve when cool. You can also easily freeze and use gradually. I nearly always have some in my freezer!

So easy, right? Enjoy!

Love and kitchen blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Book News: I am loving this quote I pulled from the script of Romance is a Bonus Book (on Netflix). “A book may not be able to change the world, but I’m sure it can still leave something warm inside.” It is my fondest wish that Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden leaves something warm inside. Many thanks to those of you who bought copies during the holidays for your loved ones and who have contacted me directly letting me know you have loved the book. So lovely to hear.

Plant Whatever Brings You Joy has a birthday!

It’s true! Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden was published in July 2010! Gosh! Ten years old! And what a decade it has been!
Plant Whatever Brings You Joy has allowed me to continue to meet gardeners and readers from around the globe for which I will ever be grateful.

Here are some of the highlights of this publishing journey:

*Having my book be carried in over sixty bookstores around the country including at San Francisco Airport!

*Having a chapter from my book be translated into Dutch by Ode Magazine.
*Discovering my e-book was carried by Walmart and bookstores around the world via Kobo books.
*Publishing articles in Science of Mind magazine, Journal for Quality and Participation (reaching the business community!), GreenPrints magazine, Western North Carolina Woman, and more.
*Receiving almost exclusively 5-star reviews on Amazon!
*Doing a booksigning at Readers Books in downtown Sonoma, with wine provided by Frey Winery. To this day I have fans who attended that event!

*Finding a graphic on Twitter quoting one of my lessons.

*Having over 1,200 folks watch my book trailer even though so many marketing people thought it was “too long”. I thought it was nice. 🙂

*Learning that readers of my book were spontaneously using it as an effective oracle.
*Receiving exclusively positive reviews from the media–without exception! You will find a list on Estrella Catarina!
*Doing a virtual book event with a book club in the UK! That was particularly very very fun! (I didn’t want to leave. Trust me.) Here they are. You can see why!

*Earning back what I invested in doing things My Way in the first six months after the book was published–and having Amazon deposit monies into my account monthly even ten years later!

*Having readers tell me over and over again two primary things:

“I love your book.”
“It’s sitting by my bed.”

There is more to come. I know that and welcome that. So many doors open for authors. This is a decision I will never regret.

My deepest thanks to all who have read Plant Whatever Brings You Joy, to those who have purchased it as gifts and to those who will one day buy the book for themselves. I am so very grateful. I hope my writing has touched your hearts and given you some things to think about as you move through your lives.

Love and blessings,
Kathryn XOXO

Baby Dove

baby Eurasian collar dove

“Did you see the baby bird on the ground near our garden fence?” asked a next door neighbor. “Um, no.” He asked if I’d like to see him, which of course I did, and he brought me a small wire basket lined with a dish towel upon which quietly lay a small downy baby bird. He reassured me that he and his wife had googled the bird’s description and were fairly certain it was a dove. Next big question. “Would you like to take him?” Wow. OK.

I gingerly took the basket and brought him home and began immediate research. Within minutes I had transferred him to one of my baskets, lined with long grasses and rose petals. This was a nice photo op, and looked pretty but further research revealed that grasses hold moisture, not what a baby needs. I added a layer of soft white cloth and a knitted piece to keep him warm. I then placed the basket down inside a deep green plastic container I normally used to hold cuttings from the garden. Over the top I placed a large very soft scarf to protect him and I left the entire arrangement on the picnic table for the afternoon and brought him indoors at night. In retrospect I think this was a good choice as it’s possible the parents might well have been watching me.

That afternoon I looked carefully for a nearby nest, searching trees with binoculars. Nothing made itself known. To my knowledge there was no bird rehab center going on in this county. This little guy was dependent upon me. I took this task upon myself quite willingly, feeling humbled and deeply moved by the unexpected arrival. It was not without feeling simultaneously what I would come to describe as “the need to replicate a mother or father dove’s skills based on the genetic memory of thousands of years.” No small task. Thank goodness for Google, though we all know those rabbit holes can be treacherous, rife with misinformation and bad advice. I found the International Dove Society and another similar site and watched vid after vid. A FB friend hooked me up with some women in the UK who sent me another link about feeding baby doves.

What one needs to know about baby doves (and pigeons) is that they do not feed as songbirds. The archetypal peep peep peep I’m hungry cry and willing mouths spread open is not what you are going to get with a baby dove. No. They rely instead on pushing their beaks (and thus their heads) down the throats of their parents to garner a sort of milk in the parents’ throats. Learning this tasked me with needing to find what felt like a reliable formula I could feed my new charge. Using research and intuition I ended up mixing in my blender boiled chicken, hard boiled egg yolk, brewer’s yeast, a bit of Vitamin B, a teeny bit of yogurt and a bit of warm water. If you ever find yourself in this unlikely situation look for the recipe of something called MacMilk online–created by a veterinarian. I adapted my mix from that. And he began to thrive.

Baby Eurasian collar dove

Had I been trained I would have gotten a proper syringe and filled it with formula and pushed it gently into the crop of the baby dove. Since you can asphyxiate a dove if you do this wrong I opted instead to take my time (meaning 20-30 minutes) and give him the formula drop by drop in his mouth. And there is a trick to opening that mouth, which I learned after finding a vid of a guy in SoCal who showed us that you have to gently pinch the far back of the beak and this (more or less) gets the baby to open enough to feed him. Though it’s messy no matter how you do it (and some techniques are very messy!), and you have to actually clean him up with a soft warm wet cloth so he does not have formula in his feathers. Oh, my goodness. I fed this little one every two to three hours throughout the day and let him (and me) sleep at night, though I did get up a few nights to change out a hot water bottle I had placed next to the nest to be sure he maintained body temperature he needed. Dove parents keep babies warm until they can manage their own body temperatures and then they basically decide they are ready to fledge. I had that in my favor, as I knew he would mature quickly and be ready to fledge within the week.
Here he was after a few days indoors.

Yes, this was a LOT of work. But I loved every moment and regarded it as an exceptional deeply rooted spiritual experience. #HashtagMothering

At some point I rang a bird rescue center in Sonoma County, and later one in Marin, which was helpful. I knew what I was doing was “illegal” but as I pointed out, we are in the middle of a pandemic. The Sonoma Center only takes native birds and getting in the car and driving to Marin for a near hundred mile trip was not happening, especially as I was confident the parents were nearby. The Sonoma center had me text down a vid and confirmed this little one was a Eurasian collar dove, who has not been in the States as long as the more common mourning dove, and that it was their opinion he was a fledgling. I took that to heart, and was encouraged, actually, but I wanted some reassurance he was strong enough to maybe make the transition on his own. Though I could hear the parents nearby I had no guarantee they might take over the job, though I did entertain a possible co-parenting arrangement. Haha.

As baby dove became stronger I began to take him out of doors. On one of those occasions the parents showed up–one on the roof of my house, one in a large tree close by. I repeated this the next day and the doves reappeared, first one parent, then the next, and landed in one of my butterfly bushes in the garden. It was an extraordinary almost mystical moment–one I will never forget. I decided then that baby was ready. Early the next morning I fed him and carried him in the basket to the picnic table. I set him down, and walked away, and within a couple of minutes he flew off into an heirloom walnut tree in the garden. Once he had flown I really could not see him again.

Here are his final moments with me.

Over the next few days I watched for him, knowing that was about me, not about him. And listened carefully to the comings and goings of the parent doves, tracking their moving about the neighborhood, hoping they had, indeed, taken it upon themselves to resume feeding their fledgling.

This was a most extraordinary experience that I am most grateful for. Have you had an experience like this?

Love and garden blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Book Notes: Many thanks to any of you who bought copies of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy as Mother’s Day gifts. Appreciated! Amazon noticed and ordered extra copies. Perhaps you have a father who would also enjoy? Father’s Day coming up!
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