Warning: Don’t Talk to The Chef

29 Dec

My favorite muffin recipe lends itself quite easily to experimentation, which is why it has long been my most oft-used recipe.  I frequently mix and match ingredients, making spontaneous changes to the fruit and nut properties.

While originally calling for zucchini and pineapple with raisins, the recipe has also worked with various combinations of bananas, peaches, carrots, applesauce, strawberries, raspberries, pears, and orange juice.  Sometimes, leftover peanut butter, sunflower seeds or wheat bran have been involved.

In spite of all my baking whims, the only time the recipe didn’t turn out well is the time I had altogether forgotten two crucial ingredients… fruit and flour.

Without flour, the end result was more of a brittle than a bread.

What can I say?

I was distracted…very distracted, and not for the first time.

I am a good cook, but I am not a good multi-tasker. I am not able to divide my attention that way.  In fact, I recently hung a small sign over the stove-top reminding my family members not to speak to me (and most especially not to ask me any questions) while I am cooking.  My high susceptibility to distraction has led to various kitchen calamities and this warning must be heeded, for the protection of innocent foods.

The ever-changing muffins are frustrating for one of my boys.  He doesn’t share my appreciation for the element of surprise, at least when it comes to baked goods.  He likes a muffin to taste the way he expects it to taste.  I know this, but I can’t stop playing with the recipe, so it’s almost never what he expects.  The poor kid has to live with disappointment, batch after batch.

I almost accommodated him this week.  I was sticking to my basic banana bread formula, the one he likes.  Suddenly, I was overcome with a strong desire to add plump, frozen blueberries; I succumbed once again to the sweet temptation of recipe tampering.

As I folded in a big gob of the half-thawed berries, the blueberry juice seemed rather…aggressive.  I added another banana to try to balance the color of the batter.  No change.

The batter was such a solid, deep blue-green, I honestly feared that these banana-blueberry babies would come out looking like they had been baked from Play-doh. Worse yet, no one had distracted me, so it would be exclusively my fault.  Uh oh.

To my relief, the muffins came out a perfectly normal color, and were quite delicious, if a little flat on top.

One of these days, I might try adding pumpkin, or lemon, or dried cherries and chocolate…and I’m sure the muffins will be delicious, as long as nobody talks to me while I make them.

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13 Responses to “Warning: Don’t Talk to The Chef”

  1. bigsheepcommunications December 29, 2010 at 6:20 am #

    Like you, my brain is not wired for multi-tasking and any distraction while I’m using a sharp knife is a bad idea. For instance, each morning for breakfast, I must slice my daughter’s gluten-free frozen waffle in half lengthwise because that is the only way the middle actually cooks. If she talks to me while I’m slicing (a delicate operation), there’s a good chance I will cut my fingers. I’ve done it often enough that as soon as I drop the knife and grab my finger, she runs for the bandaids. You’re to be commended for homemade muffins no matter what color they are!

    • acleansurface December 29, 2010 at 10:21 am #

      Big Sheep, maybe your daughter has a future as an EMT. Yikes!

  2. LaShanta December 29, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    I had an image of Barney-colored banana muffins. Lol that would’ve been weird looking.

    • acleansurface December 29, 2010 at 12:01 pm #

      Yeah, LaShanta, I was worried…I knew they would taste good, but sometimes if a food looks wrong it’s hard to enjoy it.

  3. Magnificent Minimalist December 29, 2010 at 12:20 pm #

    It’s so true! I’m a quite ambitious cook, and when I’m flailing about with pots and pans simmering away in a timing-and-fast-movement-are-critical fashion it’s really important that people NOT take away from my brain-power.

    • acleansurface December 29, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

      MM, can you believe The Pros do it in a small crowded room with a bunch of people running around and shouting orders at them? Actually, that sounds a lot like my kitchen, now that I think of it. =)

  4. mjcache December 29, 2010 at 3:54 pm #

    You can’t mulit-task. My condolences…hang on, it is totally overrated -multitaskers invariably die of a heart attack or some stress related disease.

    Saw your ‘Baaa’ comment on BigSheep and had to cruise on over.

    • acleansurface December 29, 2010 at 6:35 pm #

      I’m glad you cruised over, Mjcache! I’m definitely not Type-A…
      BigSheep is cool. =)

      • bigsheepcommunications December 30, 2010 at 4:38 am #

        Big Sheep thanks you both! Can’t wait to tell my kids that I’m cool (wait, I can feel the eyes rolling already)…

  5. Linda Paul December 29, 2010 at 3:54 pm #

    I adore your confession about NOT being a multi-tasker! For years I’ve been saying this about myself. People look at me funny…what? How can you survive in the 21st century w/o multi-tasking?

    But it is true. Whether driving or cooking, I need to focus. I’ve blamed it on the fact of never having had kids to force me into multi-tasking. Maybe it goes deeper.!

    • acleansurface December 29, 2010 at 6:38 pm #

      Thanks, Linda! Yes, you are not the only one. I tell people I am a “slow processor.” I honestly suck at multi-tasking, and my husband loves to tease me about it. It’s funny because it’s true.

  6. Simply Diane... December 29, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

    I’m an excellent multi-tasker, but not a very good cook though I come from a long line of excellent cooks. The cooking/baking gene passed me by, sigh. Your muffins look great. Glad they tasted that way too. Diane

    • acleansurface December 29, 2010 at 6:40 pm #

      That’s what restaurants are for. =) Thanks for stopping by, Diane!

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