Posted by: barn owl | January 12, 2009

Buttermilk Excess: The Dilemma

This weekend I decided to try a recipe for buttermilk oven-fried chicken, from the latest issue of Cooking Light. The recipe turned out quite well; from about $4.50 worth of chicken breasts, I got enough meat for two dinners, and two lunches (chicken salad sandwiches). The problem, as with any recipe that requires low fat buttermilk, is that the smallest container available at the store always holds more than needed for the recipe. So I baked Irish soda bread, for the sandwiches and for garlic toast, and I STILL had another cup and a half of buttermilk remaining. My grandmother would have said to “just drink it”, preferably right before bedtime, but I don’t like to drink even regular milk. Blecchh. It’s a mouth-feel thing, not lactose intolerance.

I hate wasting food, of any sort. I’m certainly not poor, as described here by GrrlScientist, and I have ready access to excellent grocery stores and farmers’ markets. On the other hand, I’m not exactly rich, either; I would describe myself as middle-class, with a frugal and thrifty streak. So I’ll post a recipe for Dated Bran Muffins, from Jane Brody’s book Good Food Gourmet, which I often employ to use up that excess buttermilk in a delicious way. The name is amusing … are they out-dated muffins? Have they been on e-Harmony? Has their carbon-14 content been measured?

Joking aside, this is a great recipe, and unlike those posted by Dr. Isis and the Recipe Wars, does not contain expensive ingredients, or require special fancy kitchen equipment. Here are a few of the ingredients, photographed with a vintage tea towel (it covers the toaster), inherited from my buttermilk-drinking maternal grandmother:


See? Nothing fancy-schmancy, nothing expensive like freakin’ mascarpone cheese or lah-dee-dah macadamia nuts. All-Bran cereal (generic will work fine), pitted dates, buttermilk, sugar, egg, flour. I particularly like King Arthur brand flours, as they use US-grown wheat, the company is employee-owned, and the price is very reasonable. Nor do you need any fancy-schmancy kitchen equipment to make this recipe: just measuring cups, bowls, large spoon for mixing, a muffin pan, and a basic oven (the kind that comes with generic suburban McHouses, such as the one in which I live).

1 cup buttermilk
1.5 cups shredded bran cereal
0.5 cup chopped dates
0.33 cup butter or margarine, softened
0.25 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
0.75 cup whole-wheat flour
0.25 cup all-purpose flour
0.25 tsp. salt (optional)
2.5 tsp. baking powder
0.5 tsp. baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 400F
2. In large bowl, combine buttermilk, cereal, and dates, and let mixture stand for 5-10 minutes.
3. Add the butter, sugar, and eggs, and mix the ingredients well.
4. In a small bowl, combine the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the cereal mixture, and stir the ingredients until they are just moist. Divide the batter among 12 greased (or lined) muffin cups.
5. Place muffin pan in the hot oven, and bake muffins for 18-20 minutes.

These are great for breakfast, or to bring to lab meeting (instead of the usual crappy doughnuts or whatever).


  1. I think that the leftover buttermilk freezes pretty well, so you can save it for a later endeavor.

    “Dated” bran muffins sound weird, but delicious once you get where they’re going with that.

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