It’s strange to consider the things that hold symbolic value in my life, sort of like totems that depict how I see myself at a certain stages. Take, for example, muffin tins. When my husband left me 12 years ago, my world fell apart. I thought that life, as it existed, was no more. In a sense I was right—life changed forever that August afternoon when he drove away in that creepy burgundy Buick LeSabre of his. (It was a stupid-looking, boring old-man car and it made him act just like the car looked. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he started wearing white patent-leather belts and polyester pants after buying that car. But I digress.)
When he left and I was no longer anyone’s wife I thought I would never cook again and so I purged much of my cooking equipment, most notably my muffin tins. I had sets of mini-tins and standard-size tins, jumbo tins, even fluted tins. I gave all the muffin tins to a young woman I knew who was about to get married. Actually I foisted them on her—I wouldn’t let her leave my house unless she agreed to take the entire collection of muffin tins. I don’t think she really wanted them. I think she was just humoring the crazy woman who was losing her mind because she was getting divorced. But at the time I was certain that I would never bake another muffin because I would no longer be a married woman. Had I subconsciously absorbed an image of women from Ladies Home Journal? Did I think I had to be Donna Reed to cook?
I rarely cooked in those early days when I was first separated. I would come home from work and have a beer and microwaved popcorn. If I was feeling particularly strong, I’d have a beer and angel hair pasta with butter and parmesan cheese. All comfort food, all the time.
But now, 12 years later, I’m back into the kitchen with a vengeance and reclaiming cooking has been a symbol of my reclaiming my life. And now I love it more than ever. I don’t have to cook for anyone else. I can cook what I want to cook, when I want to cook, and for whom I want to cook. I’ve reclaimed my life and my cooking on my terms. And I bought new muffin tins.
Here's one of my favorite muffin recipes:
Lemon Breakfast Muffins
½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs (separate yolks)
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (approximately 2 lemons)
1 ½ teaspoon lemon rind
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and beat well. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and add to butter mixture alternately with lemon juice and rind. Blend thoroughly. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry and fold into batter.
Fill buttered muffin tins 2/3 full.
Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes until lightly brown.
Makes 12 to 18 muffins.