Old Friends, New Passions

A few days ago, I was treated to several significant pleasures, one fully expected, but the second was a total surprise.  The expected pleasure was a tour of the facility, ARC Jacksonville, of which I was executive director for some 12 years when we lived in Florida.  The current exec, Jim Whittaker, is an old friend and fellow exec, who I often worked alongside of while I was active – it’s great to see an old cohort doing so well, and equally great to see him doing his magic in my old stomping ground.

I am also pleased to see that another of my fellow staffers of old, Pat Goff, is now Jim’s key assistant in the effort of running this now larger and more complex operation.  The amazing thing to me is that Jim is doing his exec duties as a split responsibility – he is still the exec of Putnam ARC in Palatka, Florida as well, and therefore only spends part of his total work time each week in Jacksonville!  With such a workload, one might expect a lighter application of effort, or at least, a diminished attention to future planning – but neither is evident here – Amazing!

My suspicion is that Jim is a master delegator – how could he not be?  And that Pat has grown into a super administrator.  Old bosses always love to see that their key people are quickly recognized as vital by their successor, and then even more when those folks do well – Both Jim and Pat deserve much congratulations for their successes – and I personally thank them for bringing me such pleasure during my visit here.

We slipped off to lunch and an old friend and fellow exec, John Conneely -now retired as well- joined us.  Fact was, all three of us had at one time been executive directors of ARC Jacksonville, and that’s an interesting perspective to share.  As we talked over lunch, our discussion turned to our current pastimes, and it’s always interesting to see what kinds of activity makes up the life of folks who retire – it’s surprising to see what finally rises to the top when a person is finally able to choose whatever they wish to fill their time.  I mentioned my passion for baking and sourdough, and I was quite surprised to hear John say that he too had taken up baking in retirement.  Of course, we spent the next five minutes sharing our baking experiences, while Jim patiently sat silently awaiting our discussion’s end.

I’m sure John and I will have many opportunities to continue our discussion over time – but immediately we both determined to share our favorite morning muffin recipes, which we have now done.  John’s being a Yogurt/Oatmeal Muffin, and mine a Bran/Banana Muffin – I was surprised to see that I had not already posted my favorite muffin here, but somehow I have missed doing that – I’ll remedy that today by posting both.

John Conneely’s Yogurt/Oatmeal Muffins


  • 1 1/4 cup of raw (old fashioned) oatmeal
  • 1 1/3 cup of low-fat yogurt (I prefer the vanilla)
  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1/2 cup of raisins (or one small box of raisins)

1.  Mix the yogurt with the oatmeal and let stand for 1/2/ hour.
2.  In a separate bowl, mix the egg, canola oil, banana, brown, sugar, homey and vanilla.
3.  Add the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and egg mixture to the
yogurt and oatmeal mixture.
4.  Mix all of the ingredients in bowl
5.  Stir in raisins
6.  Spoon into 12 muffins coated with nonstick cooking spray
7.  Pre-heat oven and bake at 375 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes.

If you’re tired of the same ol’, same ol’ morning muffin, give this delicious and different one a try for a unique treat.


And here’s my absolute favorite muffin, a Bran/Banana one – quite honestly, I seldom make it the same way twice, and therefore I can attest that it’s quite adaptable – and it always satisfies!  I must admit that for years I had a fixation with the idea that I wanted to -one day- be able to simply walk into the kitchen and put together a batch of muffins from memory, just like Granny did in the old days!  Well, this is the muffin that allowed me to reach that goal, because I’ve now made it many hundreds of times (one would have to be an idiot to follow a recipe a hundred times and not have it imprinted on one’s brain!).  And being adaptable only makes it easier still.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

My Bran/Banana Muffins
(12 large muffins)

Heat your oven to 400 degrees at least a 45 mins before you put muffins in.

  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1 1/2 cups raw bran (the “fluffy” stuff you see in Health Food Stores – it’s very cheap!)
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 -2 tsp salt (to your taste)
  • 1/2 cup of raisins (optional, but I always put ’em in – dried cranberries are good too)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped nuts (optional too)

Mix all the above in a bowl and set aside.  The flour and bran can be adjusted up/down; ie, I often make it w 2 cups bran and 1 cup flour.
In a 2nd bowl, mix the following and set aside:

  • 1 – 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (you can use reg milk, but buttermilk gives it a more interesting taste)  You want a fairly stiff dough – not runny, but    if it’s too stiff after adding all other ingreds, add a little more liquid.
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 over-ripe bananas, mashed (I keep a supply of these in the freezer)  You could also sub a 1/2 cup of applesauce instead.
  • 4 Tbs melted butter
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of molasses

When oven is nice and hot, grease a 12 cup muffin tin generously.
Mix the two bowls together, and immediately fill the muffin tin.
Put the muffin tin into the oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes (at end, test with toothpick for doneness).
When done, remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes before trying to remove from muffin tin.

These stay nice and moist for a long time, and they freeze very well.


About drfugawe

I'm a guy with enough time to do as I please, and that my resources allow. The problem(s) are: I have 100s of interests; I have a short attention span; I have instant expectations; I'm lazy; and I'm broke. But I'm OK with all that, 'cause otherwise I'd be so busy, I'd be dead in a year.
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