Monday, August 24, 2009

Trying to Please

My therapist (well, one of them!) has noted over the past couple weeks that I'm the type of person who aims to please everyone. Apparently, I fill the insecurities that I feel, knowingly or not, by making and giving gifts of the only thing I feel secure in sharing - my food. I suppose I really shouldn't be surprised at this, I know I've always been the Type-A personality that frets over the tiniest oversight on my part, and who works myself into a tizzy at every turn. Cooking is what I know, what I can turn to at the end of a stressful, emotionally uncertain day or week and just let it all go. I don't worry when I'm in the kitchen, just me, my wooden spoon, my mixing bowl and ingredients.

I feel at home with the soft whir of the oven fan, the slowly building aromas rising from the pots sitting on the stove and the emergence of perfectly golden puffs of decadence from within the scorching confines of the appliance. Eggs, milk, fruits and grains seamlessly become cohesive units, forgetting their own identities in the quest to create something greater than any of their individual qualities. And for a few hours, I can forget who I am to the rest of the world. In my kingdom, alone, I am not the unemployed, fragile, scrawny figure that is seen by those outside my walls. I am instead nothing more or less than what my mind can create and elaborate on.

I won't say that the kitchen is a place of constant perfection for me. But in that one room, not even the most charred, hockey puck - like cookies can bring me to the tears and heartbreak that spring from lesser slights during my days. Missing a phone call I was waiting for, or forgetting to take out something from the freezer to thaw for dinner, can de-rail my trail of thoughts. But a batter a bit too thin, cookies browning too quickly, even an all-out failure of quickbread refusing to solidify... they are challenges, not obstacles, for me to face. And like my parents (or Andrew) will tell you should you ever ask them, I face challenges head on... and I don't stop until I've conquered them.

Muffins are perhaps one of the safest things for me to turn to in the kitchen... even if I'm too frazzled to think straight, I can rest assured that a mixture of somewhat milled grains, sweetener, leavening, a binder or two and some liquid can form something akin to a blank canvas, primed to welcome whatever I care to throw at it. The speed that they come together is a gift when time is of the essence, and their portability and sheer enjoyable qualities make them the kind of gift that is always welcome even to the most overburdened recipients of my creations.

Ranier And Oatmeal Muffins
Makes 14 standard or 7 jumbo muffins
1 1/2 cups dry old-fashioned oatmeal
1 packet instant Peaches & Cream flavoured oatmeal
1 cup warm buttermilk
4 egg whites
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
10oz Ranier cherries (or other sweet cherries), pitted and halved (chopped if using regular muffin cups)

  1. Preheat oven to 400F, grease 7 jumbo or 14 regular sized muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oatmeals, buttermilk, egg whites, brown sugar and melted butter. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder.
  4. Add the dry mixture to the soaked oatmeal and fold in until just combined.
  5. Fold in the cherries.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes for regular sized muffins, or 30-35 minutes for jumbo sized.
  7. Turn out of cups immediately and cool on a wire rack.
Amount Per Serving (Based on 14)
Calories: 162.5
Total Fat: 5.4 g
Cholesterol: 12.4 mg
Sodium: 136.7 mg
Total Carbs: 25.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.5 g
Protein: 4.7 g


  1. The muffins look fabulous! I am sure everyone loves these!

  2. Being in the kitchen is an area which is totally under your control ... and if it fails, it's very low-stakes. So, yeah: it makes total sense.

  3. I found that about myself after therapy as well. It's interesting if we really look at the reasons we become consumed by food or cooking. Sometimes it's not just because we love it, but to fuel our esteem or to please others so they like us. Either way, I love that you post what you do, and look forward to more! Happy cooking!


Thanks for the feedback!