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Rediscovering an old, old favorite: Ralston

Here's an old friend in a new package, ready to play with.
Here's an old friend in a new package, ready to play with.
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If you are old enough, you may remember Ralston cereal, which was treated in its day the same way that oatmeal is now. Ralston isn't around much anymore. It was made by creating rolled wheat, the same as rolled oats. I found it much to my surprise, offered by the Vermont Country Store online. I shop there frequently to get vintage products and foods that are hard to find.

If you are familiar with another product known as Cream of Wheat, you would find that Ralston resembles oatmeal much more than the the well-known baby food. Cream of Wheat makes a delicious breakfast cereal, though, just in case you'd like to find something new for your mornings. But Ralston's appearance is indistinguishable from oatmeal, unless it is just a bit more golden-brown.

The first thing I did when my Ralston arrived today was introduce my husband to it. He makes oatmeal frequently, and he liked it right away. But while we were eating it I got to thinking about my Oat Bran Muffins. Wow--how about using Ralston instead and getting a different spin on the flavor?

So I whipped up a batch and sure enough, they had a very rich flavor when I added just a small amount of wheat germ. No other changes are needed to make a new and gorgeous muffin for your mornings.

If you make these muffins in the large-sized muffin tins that make six coffee-shop-sized pieces, you can go ahead and make your coffee at home and have quite a breakfast whenever you get around to it--on the train or driving or at your desk or the employee break room. Be prepared for the fan club that will appear once your friends get a load of these muffins.

RALSTON BRAN MUFFINS

From Cafe Margot

Put these ingredients together in a small mixing bowl and let them stand for 20 minutes:

½ cup Ralston whole-wheat cereal
½ cup oat bran
1-1/2 cups warm water

Meanwhile, whisk these ingredients together in a mixing bowl:

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon wheat germ
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon powdered milk

After twenty minutes, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your muffin tins with paper baking cups or spray them with cooking spray. You can also use the extra-large muffin cups and they will work fine.

Add the flour mixture to the oat mixture and stir them together. Then add:

1 large egg, at room temperature, beaten slightly with a whisk
¼ cup cooking oil (I use walnut oil)
1-1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup raisins (or other dried fruit such as cranberries or cherries)
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Fill the muffin cups and bake the muffins for 15 minutes, or until they are firm on top and lightly golden brown around the edges.

Remove the muffins from the oven and set them on the stove top to cool. After 20 minutes or so, they can be served warm or frozen for individual use.

I use light raisins for this recipe because I dislike the harsh look of dark raisins in cakes and muffins. However, one thing that is particularly good in this recipe is dried cherries. I also love the combination of dried pineapple and pecans.

But seriously, folks, the muffins came out so good, so perfectly formed and risen, that I urge you to try it. Go ahead and order your Ralston if you have to, or check with someplace like Whole Foods or Sprouts in Tucson, who might take special orders. Sprouts got Mintz's Blintzes for me, for which I am forever grateful.