Monday, September 08, 2008

Back to School


A heat wave descended upon San Francisco and the rest of the SF Bay Area earlier this week. That could only mean one thing…our "summer" was finally here. San Francisco's summer weather is best in late August / early September (aka Indian summer). It always seemed to coincide with back to school time which makes sense since we always went back to school the day after Labor Day which is in the beginning of September.

I am no longer in school but this weather always brings back memories of parochial school. I can recall many first days of school carrying home a backpack full of heavy textbooks in the hot afternoon sun, sweating in my new wool school uniform, and complaining about how my new shoes hurt my feet. As part of our uniform, girls had to wear soft soled non-sneaker shoes that were brown or white. I usually wore Famolares since they had the big wavy soft soles and they came in many shades of brown. Hard soled shoes would scuff the pristinely waxed floors in the school hallways and the school janitor Vittorio hated cleaning the scuff marks. I don’t know why our shoes had to be brown or white. Our cardigans were green and our skirts were gray. Knee socks had to be white or green. I think that black shoes would've been a better match.

Why was I carrying home all my textbooks on day one? It wasn't because of homework. It was because we had to cover all our textbooks. On day two the nuns would check to see who covered and who didn't cover their books and I never wanted to be in the latter group. At the time I didn't really know or care why we had to cover the books. I just did it without question. In hindsight I realized that the school wanted us to cover the books as a protective measure since we were borrowing the books for the duration of the school year. But honestly, how much protection can a thin sheet of butcher paper, brown grocery bag paper, or gift wrapping paper provide against the wear and tear that a child can do?

I wanted to make something to celebrate this time of year. A lot of schools no longer allow peanut butter since so many children seem to be allergic to peanuts, but a peanut butter and jelly sandwich always says childhood to me. So I decided to make peanut butter and jelly muffins. I had printed out this recipe a while back and I can’t remember where I found it otherwise I would be giving "you" the credit.


Whole Wheat Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins
(makes 12 muffins)

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour *
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup natural peanut butter **
6 tbsp (3 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
Approximately 1/3 cup fruit jam (I used strawberry)

Preheat oven to 375F. Line 12 (4-fl.oz. capacity) wells of your muffin pan with paper liners (or butter and flour each the wells).

In a bowl, sift together all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside dry ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl, mix peanut butter, butter, and brown sugar. Mix in egg and vanilla. Mix in buttermilk and stir until evenly mixed. It should become smooth as you stir but it's also okay if the mixture looks a bit curdled.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix gently until just moistened. You don't want to over mix the batter.

Spoon in about 2 tablespoons batter into each of the 12 wells of your prepared muffin pan. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of jam in the center (do not spread jam over the batter). Cover the jam with the remaining batter.

Bake at 375F for 15 – 18 minutes until muffins spring back when touched lightly. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then remove muffins from pan and let them cool on wire rack for about 20 minutes before serving.

* If you don't have whole wheat flour you can use all purpose flour.

** I used a natural peanut butter instead of a commercial one like Skippy or Jif, but if you decide to use a commercial PB, the muffin will end up a bit sweeter and maybe even a bit softer since they have added sugars and oils to prevent separation.



VeggieGirl said...

I love reading about your school memories :0) So fun!!

Hooray for PBJ muffins!!

So glad to see you posting!!

Rachel said...

loved reading about your school days....the socks, the shoes and all :)

long time since I saw you post..and this is a geat way to come back.

Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog: said...

These sound wonderful! Thanks for sharing :)

Claire said...

Mmmmm...looks good. I've tried to make something like this and the jelly/jam sank to the bottom. Ugh!

What interesting memories. I remember in elementary school how much fun it was to decorate the book covers. In high school I got these cool stretchy covers.

Anita said...

Cute muffins!
I remember covering my books with grocery bags as well...they always got torn up by the end of the year!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Ah, those memories! You made me travel back in time...

Those Muffins look scrumptious!



Peabody said...

Yes, Seattle gets the Indian Summer as well. We are just now getting consecutive days of sunshine.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Good grief I remember all the time it took to make covers for each book. What a hoot.
The cupcakes are totally perfect except there isn't one here next to my computer.

Patricia Scarpin said...

We don't hear much about food allergies here in Brazil. I'm glad about that, so we can eat whatever we want, yay!
I love peanut butter, Mary, and these muffins would disappear in one second around here. :)

Anonymous said...

So glad you're back blogging again. Yummy looking muffins.


PoPo said...

so glad to know that you start to blog again.

thanks for sharing your lovely recipes and memories.

take care.

Amanda said...

Oh it's so nice to see you back! I've been keeping your site in my Favorites, hoping you'd make a comeback, and I was so happy to see your post. Hope everything keeps improving for you.

Elle said...

I had to cover my books, too. Books were not replaced with newer versions as often as they are now (at least now in public schools), so whatever slight protection the paper afforded helped. Also remember having to use an eraser at the end of the school year to clean up the page sides of the books. ICK.
The mummfins sound wonderful! PB & J sandwiches were such a tradition for school lunches. Too bad everything is so PC these days.

Fairy Telltale said...

These sound totally yummy! :D

Thank you for posting the recipe :).

veron said... day memories are always fun. I think I was in an Indian summer a couple of years ago in SF , it was about late September. Beautiful weather though...I don't really know what you all call a heat wave...definitely not the 100F hot and humid weather of Virginia :)!

Haley said...

I can't believe some school don't allow peanut butter anymore! It's the lunch box staple item! The muffins look fabulous. If I were in school I would sneak those into my lunch box :)

We would love to feature your pbj muffins on our blog! We realize that this recipe isn't original to you, and will gladly give credit to whomever it belongs to (if you ever remembered where you got it from). If interested email

Bakers are born, not made. said...

yummy these look delicious!