Changing the World Through Muffins (Cookies, Pies, Cupcakes, Bread, etc)
Hi, my name is Emily, but I’d like to be a food blogger and change my name to Julie.
Yes, I am movie-crazed and obsessed. I am speaking of Julie Powell from Julie and Julia, of course. I don’t really want to change my name, I’ve become quite accustomed to “Emily” or “Em” for those I actually like :) But hear me out. I’m sure as you’ve read my blog not only have you gotten a taste (no pun intended) of my love of simplicity, living life, enjoying relationships, DC, Oregon, and of course…FOOD! I’m pretty sure my most detailed descriptions are of the food I’ve eaten or the restaurants I’ve visited. For any of you who braved to read my novel of a post, I’m pretty sure I mentioned that I was getting my kitchen things in the mail, oh, about 4 times. Which is far too many times for one blog entry :)
Ok, so I subconsciously (and even consciously) have a deep love for food and making food. You would think that it began as a child. Most people that love to cook have a typical story about how they grew up in the kitchen at their mother’s (grandmother’s, father’s, aunt’s, etc…) apron. They were never truly taught how to cook, it was just a way of life. While I come from a long line of amazing cooks, I am not privileged to have such a story. For those of you have spent any time with my family, it really only takes about…oh…30 minutes or so with the Blaylocks before you hear one of the Emily-in-the-kitchen stories. Nope, these are not flattering in the least: forgetting to add water to Campbells soup, almond extract rather than vanilla, and my mom’s ultimate exaggeration: “Emily wouldn’t even go into the kitchen to get a glass of water.” Not true, Mom, not true. Although, I’m sure I was just fine if someone else wanted to assist me in quenching my thirst, I had the whole tap water thing figured out. Although I was (and still am) Queen of spilling water. I think that has more to do with being the ultimate clutz than with my cooking/baking/kitchen skills. Seriously, I think that my scars, scrapes, and bruises are another blog in and of itself.
While did not obtain any cooking skills, etiquette, etc through osmosis, I did whip up some prize winning cookies at the Deschutes County Fair. Molasses cookies, anyone? Yup, first prize. I sure could stir. But other than making cookies, I’ve always had a love for eating. This is when my life begins to parallel Julie Powell and Julia Child. In the scene where Paul Child, asks Julia, “What is it you really like to do?” and she replies “Eat!” Somewhere between Julia’s love for eating and Julie’s need for a creative outlet, is my love for baking. There are two main reasons (oh…maybe three) that I see why I am drawn to baking (rather than cooking):
2. I have a true Blaylock sweet tooth. For the most part I am a health nut (granola cruncher, whatever you want to call it), except when it comes to dessert (and french fries, again, another story). My Dad’s side of the family would probably eat dessert for every meal. I remember vividly the night we had doughnuts and popcorn for dinner at Grandma and Grandpa B’s. They try to tell me it was because we had “dinner” after church and that was the Sunday evening snack. Whatever, we ate doughnuts for dinner and popcorn (my 2nd favorite food). I’m sure we ate brownies and cobbler for breakfast too. Sweet tooth is in my genes.
3. Baking is not necessary. You have to cook. But you never have to bake. Cookies, cobblers, pies, cakes, bread…they are not necessary food items. I think that when I began baking (and even as I continue to bake), it is the one thing in my life that I choose to do just because I want to, not because I have to. As much as I love my morning runs, there’s an element of necessity (gotta run off those baked goods). As much as I love writing, again, there’s a bit of obligation to tell my story or to remember and reflect on life. And again, I love chatting with my mom, but if I didn’t, well…you know… (love you, Mom). Baking=desire. Nothing more, nothing less. For someone who has let duty and obligation dictate most of her life, this is quite significant.
I love searching for the perfect the recipe, measuring sugar, melting chocolate, dusting flour, and whisking eggs accompanied by a Pandora station. Yet the joy would be incomplete without the end result. No, not just eating it. In fact, I may even forgo eating it altogether so long as I can see it bring joy to another person as it touches their taste buds. This is where my life and love for baking encompasses a second movie: Stranger Than Fiction. One of the main characters (the one who receives a box of flours that I mentioned in my Novel Post), she was headed to law school to go and change the world, but then falls in love with baking. She opens a bakery and decides that maybe she can change the world through cookies. As much as my heart identifies with this line, my intellect rolls its eyes. How in the world can you change the world through cookies? Really?! But as I work at Mobilize.org (which I really do enjoy, and think I am starting to develop a real passion for the work), I am surrounded by people in the office and in the non-profit field who have a deep passion for their work. At first I felt so behind (and I still do sometimes…ok…a lot of times), but then I began to think: what is it that I am so passionate about that I want to spend even my spare time doing it. It comes back to baking. Not necessarily baking, but feeding. I love to bake things that are challenging: I can make french baguettes, peanut butter chocolate cake covered in ganache, red velvet cake truffles, homemade fondant (that actually tastes good), but barely know how to boil an egg. I think I like the challenge, but I especially like being able to feed someone something unique. Something that is made with fresh, healthy ingredients (yes, I am the one who uses non-fat yogurt and whole wheat flour) that you may not have known could be made at home. I love to see people enjoy food from a kitchen, rather than out of a plastic bag or box from the grocery store. I think baking may be my passion…maybe…but only if there was a way to change the world through cookies…
Last Thursday, Mobilize.org along with NCoC and ServeNext went to volunteer at DCKitchen. This place really is changing the world through cooking. They have been around for about 20+ years and have been feeding the homeless people of DC. They also have a school in which they teach previously incarcerated people to cook. They then becomes the cooks at DCKitchen. They also recently received a $10,000 grand from Top Chef (anyone watch Bravo?). Their founder, Robert Egger, whom I was privileged to meet (would love to sit and chat with him for a few hours), also shared that they were recently selected to make made from scratch meals for the DC public schools! Oh, and final thought on this amazing organization, they buy all their food from local farmers. All the produce that is still good, but less than perfect, is bought to make all these meals. Seriously, an incredible organization. I guess I share because they really are changing the world through cooking.
Maybe I could bake unique treats for those who could never have it. Like baking Birthday Cakes or Cupcakes for children who never would receive one. I guess that is something I can do now. Hmm… just thoughts.
So, now that I have my own place, my own kitchen, and YES my own kitchenware (it all arrived on Friday!) I’ve had the opportunity to bake! On Sunday I made Lemon Blueberry Poppyseed muffins. Then Nick and I made homemade pizza which was incredible, but unfortunately it did not photograph well.
We ate it while watching Julie and Julia–I swear I was giddy the whole time, I just love that movie.
I must add that while I love baking, the manner in which I bake, I believe is an authentic reflection of my personality (all masks put aside). I realize that I am not as detail-oriented as I think I am. I don’t mind making a mess, I will clean it up (but I sure would rather someone else did). I also can never, ever do something right the first time. Ever.
Lemon Blueberry Poppyseed Muffins:
Adapted from For the Love of Cooking
- 2/3 cup of white sugar
- 1 large lemon, zest and juice
- 1 cup of whole wheat flour
- 1 cup of flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 cup of low fat sour cream (I used yogurt)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 tbsp poppy seeds
- 1 1/2 cups of fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a muffin tray with cooking spray.
Mix the sugar with the lemon zest with a fork until the zest infuses with the sugar. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda with the sugar, mix well.
In a separate bowl combine the eggs, sour cream, cooled butter, vanilla and lemon juice, mix with a beater on low until smooth and creamy. Combine the egg mixture with the flour mixture until well combined. Add the poppy seeds and 1 cup of blueberries and gently mix, making sure not to pop the blueberries.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tray. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of blueberries to the top of each muffin.
Place in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown and a tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the tray and let cool on a rack. Slice, slather with butter and enjoy.
I followed the recipe almost word for word. I did double this batch, though. That is why I have two lemons, four eggs, two sticks of butter, etc. I also made them in the mini muffin pan. They only take about 10-ish minutes to bake. But don’t take my word for that. I didn’t actually time them. I also did not think they had enough lemon zing to them. But that may have been because I didn’t follow the directions precisely (Like I said, lack of detail-orientation [word? I dunno…] and my method of mistake first, then get it right by the third, fourth, sixth…or never time).
I decided to make a lemon glaze to zest it up a bit. Since I was going to bring them to our staff meeting on Monday morning (yep, I proudly walked twenty five minutes with my pyrex dish full of 30 or so mini muffins…my arms were sore by the time I got there though…), and I didn’t have time Sunday evening (pizza baking, movie watching night). I decided to go to Giants earrlllyy before work and get another lemon and some powdered sugar.
So TA DA: one lemon and some powdered sugar did the trick. Lovely lemon glaze. And I got to feed some happy coworkers on a very early Monday morning. Love baking :)
Ok, it apparently doesn’t matter how long it has been since the previous blog. I still manage to write a novel. There will be another coming soon. Potentially food related: Red Velvet Cupcakes ahead.