I've been bitten by a muffin bug. I like baking bread but don't always have the time necessary to do a yeast bread. So, how to satisfy the desire to bake? Muffins are a source of almost immediate baking gratification. But I've noticed it isn't as transitory as it might seem to be at first glance. There is a rhythm that quickly becomes mindless, opening the mind to other observations.
First, all the dry ingredients are combined and set aside. Then all the wet ingredients are whisked together. All of this while the oven is preheating to 400 degrees. Then the two sets of ingredients, wet and dry, are combined by folding the dry into the wet and stirring until everything is moistened. Watching the flour, sugar, baking powder and other "drys" disappear into the egg, butter and milk is strangely appealing. They spiral in clockwise with each turn of the spoon, utterly incapable of avoiding their fate and becoming more than the sum of their parts.
This is followed immediately by the filling of the muffin tins using the old reliable two spoon approach. Scoop up a spoonful, push off into the pan with the other spoon. Repeat until done. Then straight into the oven for a 20 minute tantalizing wait. The smells of the muffins waft through the house making the 20 minutes seem endless. Then the little tempters have to cool for 10 minutes before you can eat them.
So, I ask myself, what is the nature of this satisfaction I get from this small, perhaps insignificant, task of making muffins? The rhythm of the measuring and the mixing allows me to notice things and wonder about them. "Oh, look, I didn't expect it to turn that color." "I must scrape the sides of the bowl, some flour is attempting an escape." "Gee, grating carrots by hand is hard work." "Why does purple batter turn into brown muffins?" "Is the duality of wets vs. drys a metaphor for anything?" And on it goes.
And, given the fact that these muffins will last me 3 or 4 days, in each bite I re-live the satisfaction. Reveling in the knowledge that there is a bit of me, my thoughts, my effort, my spirit; in each one of the them.
They also taste good.
Teacher Voices: Stewart Matthews - Here's another post in my continuing series on teacher voices. I'm interviewing some of my former students who have gone on to become teachers. In this po...
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