Even when I'm sick, just being in my kitchen seems to make me feel well again. Maybe it's because it is warm and comfortable in there. Perhaps it's because the my sweet boy tends to want to be in there with me, "helping" and generally mucking around. Most likely, it is due to the fact that I still, after all these years, associate homemade food with comfort, my mom and her taking care of me when I've been sick.
As a youngster I had many of the standard childhood infirmities -- chicken pox, various colds and flus, allergies, broken bones, accidents, German measles, bee stings (more allergies!), leeches on my feet from the lake -- I could go on, but I won't. Anyway, through all of these times, my mom was there. And not long after I'd had a cool hand brush across my forehead and been tucked under some warm covers along came The Tray. And The Tray was always the conveyor-belt of some sort of curing, comforting, warming or cooling substance.
Tea. Hot Cocoa (with tiny marshmallows!). Cookies. Oatmeal. Orange Juice. Soup (my mom makes the ultimate cream-of-broccoli soup). Peanut butter sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Ginger Ale (with a bendy straw, of course!). Grilled cheese and soup (and the grilled cheese has to be made on WHITE bread). Home baked bread. Ice cream (Rocky Road or vanilla only, please!). Toast...Toast-Sticks (toast, with peanut butter, cut into strips...a specialty made famous by my grandfather). The list goes on.
These types of delicacies were brought to me; in bed or on the couch in the living room, and even more than a few times to a hospital bed -- on a tray, with the nicest plates and glasses available. They were on cotton placemats with linen napkins and shiny cutlery (the cutlery that sits in my own kitchen drawer today, in fact). The food was always hot (or cold, depending on it's preferred state) and along with it came a glass of ice water and probably a book or magazine she'd found on her way home that she knew I wanted, as well as an assortment of tylenol's, cold pills and vitamin C (a family cure-all)...and for a long time cough syrup, mixed in with a little hot water, in a tiny apéritif glass.
These memories have as much to do with my love of food and of cooking as anything. Which is why, even though I felt like warmed up squeegies last week I still managed to put together a batch of Kitchen Sink Muffins...which will serve as breakfast all this week for the wee beastie and myself.
(And I do feel much better now, thanks!).
Kitchen Sink Muffins
(Everything BUT the kitchen sink, really)
These muffins are delicious and deliciously simple. Using up remnants of different ingredients inspired the "kitchen sink" madness to them, which personally, I love.
2 cups whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 large overly ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup currants
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Vegetable-oil cooking spray & flour for dusting pans
Oat and bran cereal for topping
1 tablespoon demerrara sugar for topping
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 8 custard cups or large muffin tins with cooking spray and dust with flour. Set aside
2. Combine flour, brown sugar, cocoa, and baking soda. Add bananas, yogurt, egg whites, vanilla, pecans, currents and coconut. Stir.
3. Pour batter into prepared cups and top with oat & bran cereal and a small sprinkling of demerrara sugar. Bake until a tooth pick inserted into the middle comes out clean - about 30 - 35 minutes. Cool."