I’ve been avoiding the kitchen for some time now, mainly because it’s so damn cold in our house (we don’t have heating and the only room we bother to heat with a portable heater is the lounge room). I’ve also lacked motivation, perhaps because it’s winter, or perhaps because our new home is getting closer to being finished and I’ve been dreaming so much about our gorgeous new, spacious kitchen that cooking in our tiny rental only serves to frustrate me!
This time last year, I would have been beating myself up for leaving such a gap between blog posts; angry at not being organised, motivated or creative enough to plan, cook and photograph something worthy of sharing. However, my leave of absence over the last couple of months has given me the time and space to concentrate on some other projects that were long overdue. I’ve been dipping my toes in some other creative writing waters, exposing myself to new opportunities. While I don’t expect things in my life to change drastically overnight, this time away from cooking and blogging has been a breath of fresh air and time for contemplation. I’ve realised just how much pressure and expectation I put on myself; with the blog, my “day job”, family, friends and any other spare time I might come across. I usually try and fill every hour with some activity or project, rather than just taking time to veg out and relax.
It’s amazing how simply acknowledging this in myself has given me the power to get over it. Suddenly, it’s dawned on me that we don’t actually have to fit into a certain mold or someone else’s idea of what makes a successful, happy and fulfilling life. As long as what we do continues to make us happy, then I consider that a success.
So, for the first time in a long time, I got back into the kitchen and baked. I didn’t set out to create some amazingly unique, deliciously appealing and envious dish. Rather, I kept it simple and baked muffins. Safe, easy and satisfying.
If there’s one thing I can say about muffins, it’s that they are very forgiving to bake. Muffins are the type of baked goods that don’t rely heavily on accurate measurements and complicated steps to present a perfect end result. While they can be flavoured to preferred tastes and the level of sweetness may be a point of contention between individuals, generally you can get away with a bit of extra density, easily substitute flours, remove the eggs in favour of mashed banana and use water or non-dairy milk for the liquid.
When I make muffins I always take a look at my notes from a previous batch and start with the same quantity of flour, and then go about swapping and adapting depending on what I have on hand and what flavours I am craving. I find that as long as there is enough bi-carb soda to help activate the rise, a binding agent and enough liquid to create a smooth batter, the rest is up for negotiation.
- 10 medjool dates, pitted
- 1 cup warm water
- pinch murray river salt flakes
- 2 overripe bananas, mashed by hand
- 1/2 cup non-dairy milk of choice
- 1.5 cups spelt flour
- 1 cup wholegrain gluten free flour
- 1/2 Tbsp bi-carb soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup macadamias roughly chopped
Soak the dates and salt in the warm water while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Whisk together the dry ingredients (excluding the macadamias).
Blitz the date mix in a high speed blender or food processor until it represents a thick paste. Add the dates mix to the rest of the wet ingredients and beat together until smooth.
Fold the dry mix into the wet until smooth and then fold in the chopped macadamias until just mixed in.
Bake in the oven until the kitchen smells of baked goodness (about 35 minutes in 200C non-fan forced), or until the muffins have risen and are starting to turn a golden brown, and the tops feel firm, not doughy, to touch.