Being: Conscious, mortal existence; life.
Every month we welcome two families, two people, two voices to share their stories in whatever way they chose. We hope that you find joy in their daily lives, and their simple habit of just being.
Growing up I learned that baking was love. You baked to show love. And as soon as I was able, around age eleven, I began the weekly baking of sweet treats. Usually chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and eventually working my way up to cakes. In college I began working at a bakery and learned the ins and outs of bread, bagels, and pastries. The students at the nearby herb school and massage school, they bartered tinctures and massages for day old breads, bagels, and soups. I loved their gifts, they loved mine.
Years later, the kitchen was still my quiet space. Working at a writer’s workshop in Montréal, I often brought in the fruits of my evening hours in the kitchen. I’d like to think I was beloved for my razor sharp wit and sense of humor but I’m pretty sure it had more to do with the baked goods I brought in. Baking had become a way of life for me, a way to be creative, a quiet place to think.
Fast forward and this mama of five still finds herself in the kitchen. In between the prep and clean up of meals, I find myself in the kitchen with the baby in her wrap searching out a little quiet time. And now, I’m shadowed by my young apprentice, my ten year old daughter. She has begun with the basics: cookies and muffins. She watches me as I make brownies, knead dough for bread, asks questions, quietly storing the information away for the day that it is her turn to slowly melt chocolate and butter in a bain marie. She stands at my elbow as I knead dough by hand, frequently touching it, testing it, trying to learn when it is right and ready to rest.
Our family has recently begun the transition from a traditional foods based diet to a Paleo diet. Just because we’ve cut out grains and sugar doesn’t mean my daughter and I are ready to give up our baking. We made brownies a few weeks ago for my husband to take to the office. He came home happy to relay the kind words of his co-workers who had never experienced a homemade brownie before. We didn’t get to enjoy any of those brownies (unless you count the wonderful aroma of baking brownies and we do count that as a good thing) but my daughter and I were giddy to know that our efforts were appreciated.
Because those brownies were met with such enthusiasm and because we both still have the itch to bake regularly, we have found a new way to enjoy our time together in the kitchen. We make time together in the kitchen one afternoon a week and bake for someone else, we spend time creating a sweet something that says, “We are thinking of you.” After the success of the brownies, we have made lemon cake, muffins, and bread. We have delivered these carefully created messages of love to an elderly friend who recently suffered a fall, a family we hold dear, a recently widowed friend, a family struggling with illness. With each session in the kitchen, I see my daughter mastering the art of carefully folding fruit into batter rather than stirring willy-nilly and crushing delicate berries. I see the the attention she pays when tapping on the bottom of a loaf of freshly baked bread, testing for doneness. I see the love she puts into wrapping cookies in parchment paper and closing the parchment packages with Washi Tape. And I smile, knowing that I’ve not only passed on my love of baking but have, in the process, taught her a lesson about loving people.
Yields approx. 32 muffins
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (we have also used a combo of whole wheat pastry flour and spelt)
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 cup buttermilk (or plain yogurt)
2 cups cane sugar
6 large eggs
zest from 1 or 2 large lemons (we use 2 as we like the zing!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup butter, melted
juice of 1 or 2 large lemons (again, it is a matter of taste)
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
Preheat oven 350°F. Line your muffin pan with muffin cups.
Mix the flour, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Add the wet mixture to the dry, mixing by hand until just combined. Fold in the butter.
In a bowl, sprinkle a small amount of flour over the raspberries and gently toss to cover the raspberries. Add raspberries to batter and gently incorporate them into the batter. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake 18-22 minutes.
This month we are so very pleased to be welcoming Amanda as a contributor to the Being series. Amanda is a homeschooling mother of five who lives in the deep south and writes with wit, humor and honesty on her blog, The Habit of Being. We hope that you will stop by each Thursday to share in Amanda’s reflections.
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