Episode Two: Space Quest, and Bran Muffins

The thing with Frasier is that it wasn’t afraid to get dark, just in a matter-of-fact, quiet, day-to-day kind of way. Space Quest is really by and large a rehash of the pilot, as many second episodes are, but moved slightly further along. Basically, Frasier is continuously butting heads with his father and struggling to come to terms with the fact that his privacy and the titular space have been compromised. The episode appears rather gloomy on paper – Frasier spends most of it highly frustrated, and it culminates in he and Martin reaffirming that they’ve got a long way to go. Frasier literally confides in his father that he had suicidal thoughts after his marriage broke up. But the acting is so good and not a moment is wasted. Martin’s discomfort with displays of emotion, Frasier’s blustering, and Daphne’s cheerfully baffling manner all come together beautifully. It makes the small, low-key ending, with the olive branch of a beer offered from father to son, oddly satisfying.

This episode also establishes Roz as a gal who gets what, and who, she wants, with us overhearing a phone conversation about a guy who is bad in bed (and then it turns out she’s talking to her mother), and introduces the oddly charming hard-headed bozo that is sportscaster Bulldog Briscoe. Daphne and Niles still haven’t met yet, that’s a treat to be reserved for the next episode.

In the opening scene, Frasier laments that his usual coffee isn’t as it should be and his desired breakfast – a bran muffin and some yoghurt – has been replaced by eggs in a basket (as I understand it, some egg-in-bread fried concoction that he shudders at.) I decided to make him the bran muffins he missed out on, although I was determined to make them luscious and tender, rather than the somewhat punishingly bland start to the day that he speaks so fondly of.

The trick here is to let the bran soak in the buttermilk for a few minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients, to prevent the resulting muffins from being dusty and unloveable. I used buttermilk leftover from making the cultured butter for the previous blog post and spread the muffins with the remaining butter, it was all very pleasingly symbiotic.

Bran Muffins For Frasier Crane 

Adapted from a recipe on geniuskitchen.com

  • three quarters of a cup of wheat bran
  • 125ml/half a cup buttermilk
  • one egg
  • two tablespoons golden syrup 
  • 60ml/half a cup plain vegetable oil
  • one third of a cup of brown sugar, tightly packed
  • three quarters of a cup of plain flour
  • one teaspoon baking powder
  • quarter of a teaspoon baking soda
  • one teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt     

Set your oven to 200C/400F and set out six paper muffin liners on a tray (or grease a six-hole muffin tray)  

Mix together the buttermilk, egg, golden syrup, vegetable oil and sugar, then stir in the bran and let it sit for five minutes. Gently fold in the remaining ingredients, being careful to not over mix. Divide the mixture between the six muffin papers, and bake for 20 minutes, although, check at around 18. Best eaten while still hot. 

As I said, I smothered these in butter in a manner that possibly would have scandalised Frasier. But then! It was the cultured butter from the Atelier Crenn cookbook, so perhaps his reverence would have gotten the better of him. I can only but imagine his fluster-ment at trying to work out which angle meant the most to him.

Favoured quote: “Oh what fresh hell is this,” says Frasier upon seeing his brother Niles at Cafe Nervosa, an immensely quotable line.  And Daphne gives us what will be one of many wonderfully unintentional innuendoes when she tells Frasier that she has to get up early because one “can’t very well be a good healthcare provider if you’re not up with the cock.”

Em-Maris-meant of Riches: Sadly, Maris is not mentioned at all in this episode, but we can only assume she’s doing something ridiculous and expensive.

My usual, please: Niles orders a Caffe Latte, with his please and thank you both in Italian.

When you’ve been told to “close that barn door, we got a lady in the house now”

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