I love to cook. When my cousin, Laura, and I lived together in the 90s, I felt pleasure at her salivating while I stood at the stove whipping up some concoction or another.
I made interesting sauces of mustard, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sesame seeds. I might have even thrown in a spike of rice vinegar. I whisked it up and poured it over chicken, and sautéed it to perfection. I paired my chicken du jour with broccoli, done with a little butter, salt and garlic, and left it crisp enough, but not too raw. Laura lapped my cooking up every time. No matter what mad mix of a meal I came up with, she went back for seconds, then thirds, then sat stuffed on our couch and told me how wonderful I was. It was appreciation at its peak.
Laura’s not the first to think I am a wonderful cook. I have had more than one person tell me, “hands down, you’re the best I know.” Part of my love of cooking involves the freedom to throw anything into the mix. If I follow a recipe it will always be loosely followed.
So when I married my husband in 2002, I had fantasies of standing in our beautiful kitchen with my apron on making us dinner to put on the candle lit dining room table. He would gobble up whatever I put in front of him and ask for more, more, more. He would call me in the mornings to see what I was cooking for dinner that night. My culinary skills would reach new heights from all the cooking I was doing for my husband and me.
Enter the reality of Hubby’s palate. Meat, potatoes and God-forbid anything healthy. Vegetables must be cooked to death, meat must not contain any herbs, and Lord knows he can sniff out flax seeds like a dog finding drugs on the luggage carousel at the airport.
So many meals cooked and the response I get is, “What did you put in here?” And this is not said with a tone of, “Wow, what did you put in here!” It’s done with a look of mistrust, like I’ve hidden poison in it, but the poison might be rosemary, or basil or olive oil.
Then we had children. Again, I had visions of new little mouths to feed. I was going to make them the most delicious meals with all kinds of nutrition packed in. So much nutrition, my kids would never be sick (ha, ha) and love everything I put down on the table.
Turns out, they too have “delicate” palates. I have thrown away more food than I care to admit, or eaten so it would not go to waste. I have also made more Kraft Macaroni & Cheese than I will ever admit (to anyone that can see me in person).
It takes a lot to make me blush. A lot. But I had to when one of the mothers from my son’s school said she sat by him on the bus for a field trip and the entire time they were going to the destination he told her every restaurant along the way and what he ate when he went there. He’s in preschool and can’t read a word on those signs, but he knows every one of them.
Because I try to find a bright and spiritual side of most everything in my life, I ponder my lesson here. Why, oh, why have I born a family that does not appreciate my cooking? A place where I really found joy has been stripped away.
On one hand I feel sad about this subject. On the other, the time I save in cooking for everyone frees me up to do other things. I take this as a lesson in acceptance. I accept that I can cook for visitors. And I have taken a fancy to baking muffins as my creative cooking outlet. I make a really great muffin – apple with a crumbly top, banana with almond extract as a surprise flavor, and my favorite, pumpkin with chocolate chips. I make them gluten free, I make them with all kinds of hidden healthy ingredients, I make them moist and delicious, and I make them for me. And while my husband won’t touch them (too healthy), sometimes the kids will even ask for one.
I have included my favorite muffin recipe below. I freeze mine and use the microwave to heat them up.
My muffins are made with gluten free flour, so that is what I call for below, but you can use regular. Feel free to follow the recipe or throw caution to the wind and use it as a guide. Whatever, I just hope it brings you happiness when you bake them and even more when you eat them.
Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Muffins
3/4 cup white sugar
1 Jar of Organic Apple Sauce, 4 oz.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 can of pumpkin
1 mashed up banana
1/8 cup water
2 cups gluten free all-purpose flour*
1 teaspoon Xathum Gum**
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
1 cup ground up (in food processor) walnuts
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease and flour muffin pan or use paper liners.
2. Mix sugar, apple sauce, vanilla, and eggs. Add pumpkin, banana and water. In separate bowl mix together the flour, xanthan, baking soda, baking powder, spices and chocolate chips, and salt. Add wet mixture and stir in walnuts.
3. Fill muffin cups with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until you can stick a toothpick in and it comes out clean.
* These muffins are good with regular flour too. I went on a gluten free diet once for 30 days and this was the one thing that stuck from my time on the diet. I use Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour. I get it from the organic section at my regular grocery store.
** Xanthan Gum is a powder that you can put into gluten free flour to give it a more chewy, regular flour, texture. I get it at my regular grocery store in the organic section.