My muffin making escapades are legendary – legendary failures! Fiascos! Disasters! But, I keep trying. I AM going to master the art of the muffin! And, when I do, I’ll post an amazing muffin – one that is almost dessert qualify – moist, tender and full of great tastes and textures. In the meantime, these are the 10 Things I Learned About Life from Making Muffins. During the holidays, when we are all in the mood for reflection about life, love, family and relationships, I thought I’d share:
- Read the directions and follow them closely.
- Don’t over mix or your muffins will turn out dry and tough.
- Add-ins make great additions.
- A surprise in the middle is a good thing.
- Sweet or savory – you need a mix of both.
- Mixing the dry and wet ingredients separately results in a better product.
- Grease your pan to prevent sticking.
- Sprinkle the top with something special.
- Fill the muffin tin to the top.
- Make them so tasty that there are no leftovers.
I have worked since I was 14 years old. If you count babysitting, I’ve worked since I was 12. Whichever timeline you choose, I have worked now for more than 40 years, the majority of that time in a full-time position. Wow, this stat is mind-blowing and mind-numbing to me!
Anyway, with all of this work experience added to my life experience, I’ve learned a lesson or two. And, one day while making muffins, it occurred to me that life and relationship-nurturing could be compared to making muffins (stay with me here!).
1. Read the directions and follow them closely.
There are many, many moments in life where you improvise or even throw caution to the wind. In fact, moment-by-moment, life could be viewed as improv. But, oftentimes, it’s necessary to follow directions for several reasons:
A. To achieve the right result
B. To insure safety
C. To learn the task correctly.
So, celebrate learning!
2. Don’t over mix or your muffins will turn out dry and tough
Sometimes we over think a problem, over-manage a situation or put unrealistic expectations on others. Over-mixing anything can backfire and make it tougher. Relax! Take your time with anything worthwhile. To paraphrase Buddha, “if you expect nothing, you won’t be disappointed.”
3. Add-ins make great additions.
Adding people, adventures, opportunities, etc. to your life makes for a well-balanced, fulfilled life. Surrounding yourself with purposeful additions rewards you in countless ways, delivering a lifetime of satisfaction.
4. A surprise in the middle is a good thing.
Surprises keep us flexible and on our toes. And, if they are good surprises, they infuse us with happiness and a feeling of warmth. Not-so-good surprises teach us to think and act quickly and to learn from our mistakes. For example, if we hold our hand over an open flame and get burned, we probably won’t do it again. Embrace surprise!
5. Sweet or savory – you need a mix of both.
We need a mixture of friends for a well-rounded, fulfilled life. One person can’t fill all of our emotional needs, so having friends with diverse interests creates a more varied, satisfied life. Reach out to others – both sweet and savory!
6. Mixing the dry and wet ingredients separately results in a better product.
Compartmentalizing your life leads to harmony. Work/life balance is a continual struggle for most. For example, your family may not appreciate the nuances of your work life and attempting to share those nuances could lead to unsatisfactory family time. When at all possible, leave work at work and “stay in the moment” with your family. Doing so will give better results on both sides.
7. Grease your pan to prevent sticking.
Don’t get stuck in a rut because you forgot to grease the wheels. Learning is a lifelong journey – don’t ever quit expanding your horizons.
8. Sprinkle the top with something special.
Special moments don’t happen in a vacuüm. Your life is what you make it. Be open to change and seek out new people, places and experiences and magical moments will follow.
9. Fill the muffin tin to the top.
Fill your life to the brim. While it may seem to overflow and burst at times, keeping busy keeps your mind and body young and thriving. A life half-lived is a life half-wasted.
10. Make them so tasty that there are no leftovers.
Make your life meaningful to you. Find people, interests, experiences that fulfill you and keep you wanting more. When it’s time to “meet your maker,” you will feel like you are leaving no “leftovers” – no regrets. Isn’t that what we should all strive for?
Pictures #1 and #2: my first attempt to make these muffins. They were absolutely delicious – perfect in taste, texture and quality. A big hit with my family! Unfortunately, they were not “presentable” from a photographic standpoint. They consumed the pan, overflowing the top and were hard to get out of the pan intact. Once out of the muffin pan, the tops were so heavy that they wouldn’t stand up, but leaned sideways!
Pictures #3 and #4: second attempt. Made with cupcake liners. The bottoms burned because the streusel topping (laden with butter) seeped into the muffin tins under the cupcake liners causing the bottoms to burn! And, the white chocolate chips completely disappeared in the baking process! Picture #3 is of the few muffins that were presentable to photograph. But, they were dry tasting.
Pictures #5, #6 and #7: third attempt – they look promising out of the oven! They look beautiful in the pan! However, Picture #5 is of the only salvageable muffins from the batch! Only 4 came out of the muffin pan intact! The remaining 8 came out in pieces (Picture #7) – mostly Muffins Tops (Seinfeld episode #155 – do you remember that one? I’ve provided a link to a YouTube video that highlights the various Muffin Tops scenes in the episode compressed into a 5 minute video; watch it to the end – the end is hilarious!). So, I had a pile of Muffin Tops, but at least they had the white chocolate chips still showing! And, they tasted good.
So, conclusion: while the recipe is tasty, I’m not ready to share it until the muffins “pop” out of the pan – muffin tops and muffin stumps all in one. I know I can master it!
Do you have a favorite muffin recipe that you’ve made often with great success? Please I’m begging you to share because now I’m on a quest – a quest for the perfect homemade muffin! Stay tuned for more Muffin Madness adventures…