Mothering at Mid-Career: Feminism and Baking
At the beginning of the school year I let a lot of things slide. I let the listserv email pile up in a virtual folder, I skim or ignore the blog posts in my feed reader, and don’t even talk to me about the housework.
At the beginning of the school year I let a lot of things slide. I let the listserv email pile up in a virtual folder, I skim or ignore the blog posts in my feed reader, and don’t even talk to me about the housework. It was perhaps that last point that made me click through as I was skimming the feed reader, to glance at a blog post entitled “Why would a feminist be good at housework?” Although the blog post didn’t convince me that I needed to be more concerned with housework, it did make me wonder about something I love — why would a feminist be good at baking? Why, in other words, do I love baking so much? Should I?
Baking is — at least to me — far more pleasurable than housework, of course. But it is equally associated with “women’s work,” and I know many folks who find it too time-consuming, too detail-oriented, too…fussy, perhaps?...to spend much time on it themselves. I would never argue that all feminists must bake — I’m not sure I’d argue that there’s any one thing all feminists must do, other than support the equality of women — but I do think baking is consistent with my feminism. It is, for one thing, something I choose to do with my time, not something forced on me. I can buy cakes, muffins, and pies if I want to; or I can buy mixes to make them; or I can skip them entirely. No one ever died from not eating baked goods.
But by choosing to spend my time on baking I am choosing to stay connected to my food, just as growing food, shopping for it myself (or accepting a share from our farmer), and cooking it also connect me with it. And the more I am connected to those, the less alienated I am from my own body and the bodies of those around me. This, too, seems to me a feminist stance.
In the end, of course, I don’t bake because of my political affiliation, but because I love to. And as the summer winds down I am baking a little more, since it’s no longer unbearable to have the oven on during the day. I’m also trying to capture as much as I can of the sweetness of summer produce. Here’s what I did with peaches the other morning:
Peach Muffins (adapted from this: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/spiced-peach-muffins-recipe)
- 2 cups unbleached white flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- ½ cup wheat germ (or skip it and increase one of the flours by ½ cup)
- ¾ cup flax seed meal (or skip it and increase the cooking oil to ¾ cup)
- 1-1/2 cups brown sugar (not packed)
- 4-1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp allspice
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup cooking oil
- 1-1/4 cup milk
- 2 cups peeled, chopped peaches
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Mix the dry ingredients (flour through allspice) together in a large bowl. Don’t bother to sift the flour, just fluff it with a fork or whisk as you mix the ingredients together.
Mix together the eggs, cooking oil, and milk in a bowl or measuring cup, whisking so the eggs are lightly beaten.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix lightly — you don’t want to over mix, but you do want all the dry ingredients to be well moistened. Fold in the peaches.
Spoon the batter into prepared muffin tins (butter, spray with cooking spray, or line with muffin papers). You should be able to fill 24 regular size muffin cups or 12 large. Since I only have one large tin (and 2 regular size), I made 12 regular muffins and 6 large ones. Sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar or cinnamon sugar if you feel like it.
Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes (25 for regular size, 30 for large). When the muffins are done they will be brown and crusty on the top, but should spring back if pressed with your finger. Or you can insert a cake tester, toothpick, or very narrow-bladed knife into the center of the largest muffin — if it comes out clean, the muffins are done.
Let cool in the tins for a few minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack. Muffins are best eaten the day they’re made, but these were fine the next day — I recommend microwaving them in a slightly damp paper towel for less than a minute. You can probably also freeze them, but we always eat them up before we think of doing that.
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