Sometimes when I’m faced with a chore I don’t want to do, or a task I’d rather avoid, I can convince myself to do it by looking at it as a gift to my future self. For instance, Thursday night me definitely does not want to do the dishes, but I know that Friday morning me will hate it if she wakes up to a messy kitchen. So, as an act of kindness to Friday me, I clean up the mess, and if I’m in a really benevolent mood, I’ll go ahead and set up the coffee pot, too, so the following morning will be a breeze.
One night last week, I decided to take it one step further by assembling the ingredients for muffins the night before I wanted to make them. Few things are better than a fresh-baked muffin first thing in the morning, but all that scooping, sifting, and measuring–and all those floury cups and spoons–are not appealing in the early hours of a new day. So I did all the dirty work the night before. You’re welcome, future self.
I am a big believer in self care, as evidenced by the fact that I keep bringing it up on this blog. I’m very fortunate to have a lot of other people who are willing and able to care for me (especially over the last couple weeks, in the aftermath of a bike accident– yikes), but it’s still important to me to be able to tend to my own needs when necessary. Besides the practical reasons for that, I think practicing self care builds self confidence. If you’re in the habit of caring for yourself, then you’re equipped to deal with the problems that only you can handle, like the little monsters inside your head that creep up from time to time and tell you that you’re not good enough, that you’ll never amount to anything. If you have the confidence that comes from treating yourself with love, then you’ll find it much easier to tell those monsters to stuff it and get on with your life.
One of the things that made this particular batch of muffins so great was the jam I stirred into the batter. When I made these muffins, I had just returned from the Vermont Cheese Festival with a bag full of goodies, including a jar of this Cherry and Black Pepper Jam from Marsh Hollow. I’d had to fight a pretty impressive crowd just to reach Marsh Hollow’s table, and once I got there, I could have easily emptied my wallet and filled my entire tote bag with their wares. But I managed to choose just this one jar. The pepper is so subtle, adding a hint of complex warmth and offsetting the sweetness of the cherries. I’d highly recommend adding a few pinches of black pepper into the muffin batter to replicate the flavor of the Marsh Hollow.
Of course, once the muffins were made, I ended up throwing at least half of them into a bag to distribute to coworkers and friends. Self care that benefits other people, too? Win-win.
Cherry Raisin Bran Muffins
recipe from Oakview Farms Granary, in Wetumpka, AL
1 1/2 cups fresh wheat bran
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup cherry preserves or jam
a few pinches freshly grated black pepper (optional)
1/4 cup canola oil
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large mixing bowl, cover the bran with 1/2 cup boiling water. Stir with a fork until moistened; set aside.
In another large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Stir in egg, milk, raisins, jam, pepper and oil; mix gently until just combined. Gently fold in the bran.
Spoon batter into a muffin pan lined with baking cups; bake in preheated oven for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.