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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Mothering at Mid-Career: Muffins
November 22, 2010 - 8:36pm

Sometimes teaching is a lot like baking. It helps to have a goal, and to have the basics down, but then it also helps to be flexible. Sometimes you just don’t have the necessary ingredients (the motivated students? The right mix of readings?), but you still have to teach the class. Baking’s often a lot like that for me.

Here’s what I mean. Saturday morning I wanted muffins. (Actually, most mornings I want muffins, but since I need to be out the door at 7:45 to get my son and his buddy to school I save that desire for the weekends.) I knew we had some leftover oatmeal in the fridge — steel-cut oats that I’d cooked a big batch of to reheat for quick breakfasts. Somehow that seemed like a good base for a muffin. I thought maybe some bananas would be good, or apples, along with that.

So I started googling. (Note to my students, though you probably aren’t reading: there are better ways to start your academic research than google, but for recipes I’ve found it works ok. Actually, for recipes it works just as it does for research — if you have the background knowledge to judge the results of your search, you’ll do just fine. If not, not.)

I googled “cooked oatmeal muffins” and came up with a long list of possibilities. But I quickly rejected some for requiring ingredients I didn’t have, others for ingredients I didn’t want. Finally I settled on this: “Leftover Cooked Oatmeal Muffins.” (Why, yes, that is the first recipe on the google page—but I did check out many others, trust me.)

So, that recipe has neither apples nor bananas, but I had to be flexible. It didn’t call for any ingredients I didn’t have, such as buttermilk, or didn’t want to use up before I had my coffee, such as milk. Still, I also wanted mine to be a little healthier than these, which have ½ cup of butter and a full cup of sugar. If I’d had it in the house, some applesauce could maybe have subsituted for both—but I didn’t, and I didn’t feel like making applesauce just so I could put it into muffins. I checked out the reviews and got a few more ideas from others who had made the muffins, and ended up with these. I hope you like them:

Oatmeal-chocolate chip muffins

Preheat your oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, melt ½ stick (1/4 cup) butter in the microwave. Stir into the melted butter: ½ cup flax-seed meal, 2 eggs, 1 cup leftover cooked oatmeal, 1 tsp. vanilla, ½ cup brown sugar. (If you don’t have any flax-seed meal, you could use a whole stick — 1/2 cup — of butter.)

Once the wet ingredients are pretty well mixed together, add the dry ingredients: 1 cup flour (I used unbleached white, but you could probably use half and half white and whole wheat if you want them even healthier), 1 tsp. baking powder, and 1 tsp. baking soda. Add spices if you like—I used about 1 tsp. cinnamon and ½ tsp. ginger.

Stir in ½ cup chocolate chips and ½ cup dried cranberries. Or use a full cup of raisins, omitting the chocolate chips. Or mix and match to your own taste. (Yes, I'm aware of the irony of adding chocolate chips when I just said I wanted healthier muffins. I'm willing to give up some butter and sugar if I can have some chocolate, is all I have to say about that.)

This is a very stiff batter — it takes more stirring than most muffin batters and it can be scooped, not spooned or poured, into muffin cups. This should make 12 muffins, or 6 extra-large ones, if you have an extra-large muffin tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. When done, the tops of the muffins should be golden brown and should spring back when pressed. Mine may have taken a minute or two longer than 20 minutes .(I made the extra-large ones.)

Turn out of the muffin tin onto a cooling rack for a few minutes, until you can eat them without burning your mouth.

As you can see, I never did get the banana or apple into there. But I did have muffins less than an hour after deciding I wanted them. So I met my goal for the hour — flexibly.


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