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Oct 26, 2012 11:18 AM

All-American treats for kids!

So I'm an American student currently living in Ireland and I work at an after-school program a couple days a week. The kids there are pretty intrigued by the fact that I'm American and so I thought it might be fun to bring in a homemade American treat for them. The idea came when I was baking cornbread--after doing a fair amount of searching for cornmeal (or "maize meal" as it is here) to make it with. Cornmeal-based baked goods definitely do not seem to be a thing here and they're easy to make and so tasty, so I thought corn muffins might be a good idea.

Then the question was sweet or savory. Although I prefer savory, unsweetened cornbread myself (I thought of making cheesy corn muffins) I figured that sweets are always a winner with kids. Plus, although I have some Kentucky ancestry (that comes through in both my own and my father's cooking at times), I'm a life-long Northerner myself and have been a New Englander for the past 6 years, so I figured that they might like it better if it's something from my own (adopted) region, which sweet cornbread definitely is. Now I'm trying to think of things to make sweet corn muffins even more appealing--blueberry corn muffins perhaps? That could be good. I'm also throwing around the idea of making apple butter to go with them, but I don't know how difficult this is. I have a full kitchen here but not the full array of kitchen supplies and tools that I'm used to--no crockpots or foodmills or anything. Any apple butter-makers that could give me insight into whether this endeavor would be possible?

And any ideas in general for my muffins? Other suggestions of kid-friendly American treats are welcome also.

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  1. Blueberry corn muffins sounds great - how about honey butter?

    Peanut butter cookies might be a good one, as well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sandylc

      yum, honey butter sounds good. I'm guessing it's just some kind of mixture of honey and butter? lol. They outdoor market here has some good-looking honey and Irish butter is delicious.

      1. re: Lady_Tenar

        Just soften and whip the butter, then stir in honey to taste. If the butter is unsalted, stir in a bit of salt as well.

    2. How about Apple Pie?

      Nothing screams All-American like homemade apple pie.

      3 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        We Americans seem to think of apple pie as quintessentially American but, actually, apple desserts are common enough around here--they're very much a part of British food, which has a lot in common with Irish food. You can go to a bakery and find apple baked goods. Cornmeal is a genuine new-world food and I doubt the kids will have ever had anything like corn muffins. It's the most novel thing I can think of and they're also quite easy.

        Apple butter, though--that is a very American thing, which is why I'm intrigued by the idea of trying to make some. Again, just don't know if that's possible with the basic gear that I've got. Also does anyone know if it has to be canned if you're going to consume it quickly? I'm not looking to make a large amount for long-term preservation, just a little to bring in. Any apple butter info would be appreciated, although I might just decide to go with the blueberries.

        I also thought of making both savory cheesy muffins AND sweet berry muffins but I'm a little worried that all the kids might like one kind more than the other and there'd be fights! Maybe if I just make plenty of each

        1. re: Lady_Tenar

          No need to can apple butter - you can refrigerate it for a good long while, or freeze. If you have a slow cooker, I understand they are ideal for the long slow cook required to make good apple butter.

          1. re: biondanonima

            No slow cooker, but a large pot, an oven, and the ability to cook things slowly. lol. Would that be sufficient? Do you have a recipe?

      2. I would let the kids try plain corn muffins first, then introduce a variation next time. Blueberries sound great. Can you let the kids make butter for their muffins? You just pour some cold heavy cream into small jars and shake like crazy. A few clean marbles in the jar help bring the butter.

        Is popcorn considered an American treat? Chips and salsa?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Tara57

          haha, I think popcorn is pretty well-integrated. Actually, one of the first questions a kid ever asked me (with a mouthful of bagged popcorn) was "Do you have popcorn in America?" Chips and salsa they also have. I thought of corn muffins because cornbread etc. really does seem to be virtually unheard of here. You can't even buy cornmeal at regular supermarkets around here, even big ones. I had to go to a specialty health food store to find it. Which is funny, because I can't think of anything made with cornmeal that's actually all that healthy! lol

        2. Cobblers
          Brown Betty
          Apple Fritters
          Buckeyes - peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate
          Chess Pie
          Toll House Cookies
          Monster Cookies
          Lava Cakes
          Dirt - (pudding, oreo cookie crumbs, gummie worms)
          Mississi Mud Pie
          Texas Sheet Cake

          You can make a familar treat to them, but don't be surprise if they way you make it is different than how they are use to it.

            1. re: KSlink

              You beat me to it--that was my first thought!