This year I discovered yard sales. I grew up in the country, where we don’t really have yard sales. We have big rummage sales run by little old fundamentalist ladies wearing seasonally decorated sweatshirts, who put up signs like this:

When I first moved to Portland I was living downtown – no yard sales there, either. But last winter I moved over to the east side, and when we emerged from our damp caves at the beginning of summer to take our more regular perambulations allowed by beautiful northwest summers, I started to see them, tacked on community bulletin boards, lampposts, fences: yard sale signs. I began to wander past a few, and as the season wore on, I started paying attention during the week to sales that would be happening that weekend. Always something new-to-me and unusual to be picked up, almost always for the equivalent of change I can dig out of the couch cushions. I’ve bought a Victrola cupboard, a botanical lithograph, a 50-year-old jewelry box. I went really nuts at one yard sale and spent a whole $19. (I may never move back to the country again.)

I’m always keeping an eye out for sturdy kitchen equipment. Buy what you can afford, when it comes to cooking, but on my salary, I can afford aluminum baking dishes from Safeway. So yard sales are it, for me. A few weeks ago I spied two super high quality muffin tins. Sweet! I said. I need muffin tins! $5 each! For two… muffins-the-size-of-your-head muffin tins.

I figured oversized muffins were better than no muffins. So I stuffed them in the messenger bag, along with a bedskirt (I’d been looking for one of those forever! They’re either expensive or heinous. Sometimes both!), and I pedaled back home. And then I made myself some of Deborah Madison’s quinoa muffins. Some credit goes to my roommate: I stole her quinoa to make these. She didn’t mind. Why? Because they’re tasty, that’s why.

This recipe is made for regular sized muffins, not the behemoths I made, for which I just doubled the recipe and thus put twice as much batter in each muffin cup.

Quinoa Muffins
from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

1 cup cooked or 1/2 cup raw quinoa
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup quinoa flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 c butter, melted, or vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups buttermilk or yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat to 375F. Spray or oil muffin tins.

If cooking quinoa, rinse it well, put it in a small saucepan with 1 cup water, and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes, then drain.

Meanwhile, combine flours, salt, soda, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat the egg with the oil, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir wet ingredients into dry, add the quinoa, and mix with a spatula, scraping up from the bottom so that the flour is mixed in thoroughly. Scoop the batter into the muffin cups and bake until firm and light brown on top, 25-30 minutes.