I began baking like a fiend this week. Remarkably, everything I've cooked/baked or attempted to do in lieu of checking myself into some place for a "respite" has turned out to be exactly what I needed to function just one minute longer, one hour longer, then an afternoon and finally an evening longer. Because that's how I'm operating here: in moments--with really good food. I stumbled across this recipe for blueberry muffins in a mad search for a morning treat for the workers in the yard and DH and me (because who doesn't love blueberry muffins?). I have dozens of amazing blueberry muffin recipes throughout my collection. But the need to seek and find just the right recipe was urgent and a nice Google distraction. Trusty King Arthur Flour was the answer to my prayers. I landed on the Famous Department Store Blueberry Muffin recipe. If you've got five minutes, cupcake liners and blueberries (frozen are fine), I highly recommend you give these a shot. Mine were made with a flax egg and vegan butter--that's all the substitution needed to re-create the recipe. I know I'll be making these again, possibly adding lemon zest next time, and subbing some whole wheat flour in the mix as well--making a gluten free version would work well, too. It's quite a forgiving recipe: so simple, plain and lovely. If you'd like a taller muffin, you can always up the baking powder by a 1/8-1/4 teaspoon. My kitchen once again became my sanctuary.
Vegan Blueberry Muffins
*Adapted from Famous Department Store Blueberry Muffin Recipe by King Arthur
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 t. baking power
1/4 t. salt (I adjusted down the amt. with salted vegan butter)
1/2 cup vegan butter
1 cup sugar
4 t. ground flax seed with 4 T. water and 2 t. EVOO (flax egg subbing for 2 eggs)
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 cup almond milk
2 cups frozen blueberries
*a little sugar for sprinkling on top of muffins before baking
Preheat oven to 375. Prepare muffin tin lined with cupcake wrappers, spray wrappers with nonstick spray. Measure out flour, salt and baking soda in bowl and sift together. Set aside. In medium bowl, mix butter for about two minutes. Add sugar, mixing until light and fluffy--about a minute longer. Add vanilla and flax egg, then mix a bit more. Then add flour and milk alternately mixing lightly after each addition--just until the dry flour is mixed in. Then fold in the blueberries. Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full with batter, then sprinkle about a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes. *I found baking for a little longer yielded a nice golden brown top. I used a toothpick to test if batter was baked through.
So why all this baking urgency, kitchen therapy? Well, last week this happened: continued treatment for winter poison ivy outbreak, major demolition of yard, my sister scheduled for surgery in a week...oh and there was the mandatory evacuation of our home IMMEDIATELY owing to our gas line being hit during yard excavation--(not owing to our crew, rather something to do with "marking" of line). With barely enough time to spare to grab my purse, phone and two Great Pyrenees--knocking on neighbor's doors to warn them of potential doom--again with TWO seventy pound white Thunder Wolves on my wrists--it's a miracle I've made it to Sunday. ALL this while DH went about calmly managing the entire surreal afternoon as the fire department, gas, water and line inspectors arrived. (Wonder how I held up? Picture exactly what I've described here, sprinkle in screaming, crying, blaming and more crying. Okay, so I'm not exactly Mother Teresa during a crisis.) It's all I could do to keep my heart from simply stopping in my chest. Alas, the crisis was averted, things repaired and life returned to somewhat normal conditions.
Above--as the demolition began. Below, the calm after the "evacuate" storm: Dr. Thyme checking on the progress with the workers. I was inside at this point--rocking back in forth in a chair chanting some illegible crap about "There's no place like home...there's no place like home."
So yes, there be baking happening. All through this, I'm trying to remain calm. Lending positive affirmations to my sister who is about to face a really tough trial (as if she hasn't faced enough already).
It's been one thing after another.
Luckily I have friends (dear, dear friends) who've received texts with probably too-long-while-also-trying-not-to-be-overly-dramatic explanations of all that's transpired. Then there's been two- and three-hour phone conversations with these women and my sister as well. Truthfully, everyone I know has A LOT happening, but I don't know what I'd do without them. I guess we've hit the age in life where the proverbial sh*t hits the fan fairly regularly. But honestly, enough already. "Pass the muffins, please!"
Helping along the way are my needlework projects--working with my hands while my mind tries to make order out of chaos.
Projects I've found incredibly blissful.
The Sunny Spread blanket. Using my stash yarn for this. It's a mandala with a square finish. Such a calm one-mandala-at-a-time escape. I'll need to make about 25 of these to create a nice throw.
Oh boy do I have a long way to go, but my Great Love Cardigan will be SO lovely when it's finished. I can't wait. I've been working on this while listening to an audiobook: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.
This is the Adirondack Wrap crochet project. It's very relaxing to work on. Three triangles sewn together for final assembly. I just love it in my Mandala yarn.