Saturday, October 2, 2010

Looking Out for My Family

It is Autumn in Virginia. I am most at home during this time of year - crisp days that are warm enough to wear jeans and a t-shirt, perhaps a light jacket, but no humidity. Cool nights that require me to add a blanket to the bed, and may be just too cold to leave all the windows open. These are the days that find me most relaxed and enjoying myself. The only thing that would make it better is if the leaves were to turn (which usually happens before I even realize it) and for my tiny family unit to take a trip to Mill Mountain just to walk through the crunching leaves before heading to a local orchard to obtain our pumpkins and apples.

Days like this, Steve and I usually try to determine how long we can hold out before we HAVE to turn on the heat. We both feel October is too early, but the weather ultimately dictates our actions. In the past, we have turned on our gas heater that is in the basement and left the furnace off until nearly Thanksgiving. However, in the past few days when we've gotten down to the 40s at night, I find that merely turning on the oven in the morning helps heat up the primary living quarters comfortably enough.

How sublime, then, and convenient, that we've made it a habit to have muffins for breakfast at least once during the weekend. In the past, I've kept stock of boxed muffin mix. Allow me to side-step long enough to stress that very seldom does any recipe go unaltered. I have a knack for experimenting with spice and I enjoy tweaking even the "best" recipes that I obtain from people to make them even better. Besides, if Giada uses boxed, why can't I? :-)

That being said, allow me to digress for yet another moment and state that I caught myself flipping through the channels last week while I nursed Sydney. I was snared by a show that had a woman crawling on top of her fridge, emptying her cupboards. With every container she removed, a man standing next to the fridge would read the ingredients list and point out how nearly ever box contained either corn syrup or hydrogenated oils. He then went on to explain what hydrogenated oils were and how they came to be not only in existence and accepted, but also discovered to be falsely healthy for humans.

I was dismayed to realize that my beloved muffin mix had hydrogenated oil in it. The key is moderation, but if I have the resources to make muffins from scratch, why not use them? Why risk the possible health of my husband and son, and myself for that matter, if I am fully capable and enjoy baking from scratch? The answer was simple - we used up the last box of muffin mix during the week (merely an excuse to turn on the oven, but also provided us with a yummy breakfast before running helter-skelter off to work) and I decided that I would make my own "mix."

The first step, of course, is to find a recipe that I really like. I've used a few recipes in the past that I haven't enjoyed all that much - the muffins were dry, or had an odd flavor, etc. So, Kathleen is now my guinea pig :-) I am going to try her recipe tomorrow morning. I've already measured out the dry ingredients into a bowl, sifted them all together, then stored them in a quart-sized freezer ziploc bag. I figured that if I measure out 2 at a time, and write a little note to tape onto the bag with the wet ingredients, I'll have just as easy a time getting my muffins together as I did with my beloved mix. Besides, I can easily alter the recipe this way - add or change ingredients, or even plan out a completely different muffin type. I need to get some chocolate chips and pecans before I can measure out my oatmeal muffins. But those can be pre-mixed, too! Regardless, I walked away from the kitchen this evening feeling content with how I am trying to be a conscientious mother and wife to my family.

So, here's to warming the house without turning on the furnace or lighting the pilot! Here's to making preparations to make life easier! Here's to ensuring our health by eliminating needless additives from our diet! And here's to giving me an excuse to buy new Pampered Chef measuring cups from Kristi! Bon appetit!

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