heroes… and muffins

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I have done a great deal of feeling sorry for myself these past few, shall I admit, months. With the chronic sickness under our roof; endless weekends and even workdays in lockdown from society, nursing all kinds of ailments from pink eye to 103 degree fevers. I began and saved countless word documents of blogs posts that began with some melancholy perspective on the plagues of day care and winter and having to care for sick children all the time.

But yesterday, I sat around a table with co-workers for lunch who were all mothers from different phases of life. One was cradling a precious baby in her arms who was merely a few days old. One pregnant with her third child. And there were three veteran moms with kids in elementary school, middle school, high school and soon-to-be-college. I was telling them about my lack of sleep. About how hard it has been. And as I prattled on a table of knowing eyes stared back at me. And it hit me: I am not alone.

It took up until yesterday to understand that my work as a mom – to bleed my heart out over day care, to pick up a puking kid from day care, or one that is stricken with hives from an allergic reaction to a mysterious food, or to pay countless co-pays for doctor’s visits, to cancel plans and to stay home with my children when they are sick or to desperately seek out someone to watch my kids for the day so I can go to work – it has been done. It is being done. And as unfair as it seems, to our children and to ourselves, we persevere.

. . .

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Which brings me to Jared. My even-headed partner in life who graciously endures and meets my high demands daily (he may or may not be preforming a bit of spring cleaning on our cars as I write…). Who can fix anything. ANYTHING. And makes us dinner. He shares this parenting/working load with me and I so often forget that. And he never holds a neon sign over his head demanding acknowledgment.

So as I watched Jared make dinner last night, tossing asparagus in olive oil, turning chicken in the cast iron skillet, then dive onto the living room floor to wrestle with his boys, I began to understand that the true heroes are most often the understated people who don’t demand gold medals for the weight they carry. They just carry on. Doing what they do. They persevere.

. . .

Porter is my picky eater. He will eat two bowls of oatmeal and a whole pint of strawberries and more vanilla ice cream than one deems necessary for a 4-year-old to consume. But green food, or anything that happens to fall under the not-beige category is met with suspicion glares. And usually gaging.

So we make muffins. Because there is grace in a muffin. And you can throw fruit in there and just a bit of sugar and lots of hearty flours and hope he is getting his vitamins in some way or another. Either way. We love these fresh from the oven the day of, or just the day after, with a dab of butter.

Bran Muffins

Adapted from (Deb! Another resounding hero of mine): Smitten Kitchen

Yield: 12 standard muffins

  • 1 1/3 cups (315 ml) buttermilk (you can also use sour cream or yogurt thinned with a little milk)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup oil (such as vegetable, safflower, sunflower or olive oil)
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or a little citrus zest
  • 1 1/2 cups wheat bran
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (preferably aluminum-free)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 3/4 to 1 cup chopped mixed fruit (we have even used chocolate chips!)

Heat oven to 425 degrees F and coat a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick spray.

Whisk buttermilk, egg, oil, brown sugar and any vanilla or citrus zest you’d like to use in a small bowl. Whisk bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir wet mixture into dry until just combined and still a bit rough.

Spoon two 2 tablespoons of batter into each prepared muffin cup. Add about 2 teaspoons fruit (or chocolate) to each and sprinkling the fruit with one of the teaspoons of granulated sugar. Spoon remaining batter (about 1 tablespoon each) over fruit and sprinkle tops of muffins with remaining teaspoon of granulated sugar.

Bake muffins for a total of 16 to 18 minutes, rotating pan once midway through baking time for even browning, until a toothpick inserted into the center of muffins comes out with just a few crumbs attached. Do not overbake. Let muffins cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from tin.

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