Napping with Aunt Ethel

My friend Mary has many fond memories of her Aunt Ethel. Ethel was, in fact, not her aunt, but her neighbor in Haverford PA who helped Mary's mother care for Mary and her sisters while their father was fighting in WWII. During these tough times Ethel and her husband, Hamilton, who had no kids of their own, would frequently cross the street to Mary's house to happily help out and teach their mother how to cook.

The fact that these days Mary is an excellent cook is due to Ethel's expert tutelage. Ethel not only taught Mary's mother the ways of the kitchen, but instructed Mary as well. Luckily, Mary has preserved many of her beloved neighbor's amazing recipes, many of which have become family favorites in her household over time.

Last month Mary dropped off a fresh batch of blueberry muffins that were so delicious my mother and I were speechless after just two bites. They were perfect. Unlike so many muffins I find today, these didn't have a sickly sweet cake-like texture, and they were the size of a small apple - not a softball. Mary's muffins were light and a little flaky, with just a hint of sweetness and lemon. In fact, if they had a little more butter and less sugar they would probably be considered a scone.

Naturally, I asked Mary for the recipe and she was more than happy to send me a copy. Even better, she sent me the original copy in Aunt Ethel's handwriting (pictured below), along with a picture of Aunt Ethel herself (pictured above, she is on the left). I loved the personal story that came with these tasty treats. Discovering this recipe only furthered my conviction that tried and true home cooks often possess some of the best recipes of all time.

I am excited to share these muffins with you because they really are as delicious as they sound. They also are a snap to prepare. I make the batter in one bowl and can do it easily while my daughter naps, or on a Sunday morning when we are the mood for fresh baked goods. I have already tried these once with cranberries and they are delicious, I bet they would be great with raspberries, too. Whatever fruit you choose I hope you enjoy them. I didn't know Aunt Ethel personally, but I know enough about her to guarantee that she would be happy to know you are cooking with your family, too.

Aunt Ethel's Blueberry Muffins

an original recipe from Ethel Wolf
2 c. all-purpose flour
6 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
4 t. baking powder
1 t. lemon zest
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1 c. blueberries
1 egg
3/4 c. whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a bowl. Cut the butter into chunks and pinch it into the dry ingredients with your hands. This takes a few minutes to do, but make sure the butter and dry ingredients are fully combined.
3. In a separate bowl lightly beat the egg and milk. Pour them into the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until fully combined. Note, the mixture will look odd and a little gluey, but this is totally normal.
4. Stir in the blueberries until just combined.
5. Pour batter into a 12-cup regular sized muffin tin. Make sure each cup is about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until tops are golden.

Naptime Notes:

Naptime Recipe Props: Muffin recipes that are not too sweet are hard to come by and this one fits the bill. I love that I can substitute almost any kind of fruit for the blueberries and they still taste delicious.
Naptime Stopwatch: The batter is a snap to prepare and takes less than 10 minutes. Then, after a brief 20 minutes of baking time, the muffins are ready to eat!
Naptime Reviews:
Everyone loves muffins that aren't overly sweet which is why we've been devouring these in our house. I highly recommend you serve them to guests soon, they will love them.


  1. That's a fabulous story- don't you love those old, old recipes? Those are absolutely the best ones, I think. Forget the fancy, schmancy new creations... the classic recipes from grandmothers & other older people who truly cooked homestyle meals for their families are the best! Handwritten? That's precious!

  2. Recipe Girl said it all! This is fabulous, heart-warming and delicious. Thanks for sharing this great story.

  3. wow this is such a special story and recipe wish i could taste them but I guess I can if I make it lol