List of Five #8

I’m starting to get a feel for what it must be like in more northern climes: 6 months of snow, resigning oneself to days on end of cold blustery weather. As I sit here on the couch facing our front windows, all I see is white sky offset by black shadows of pine trees. Branches outlined by snow. Cars crawling by, back in cautious winter mode. I am thankful that I have the freedom to sit indoors and write at my leisure, sipping on my warm apple cider vinegar drink and savoring a muffin I whipped up this morning before I dropped the kids off.

Speaking of which, I was quite pleased by the muffins: they came out moist and comforting. Perfect breakfast food, and they took literally 30 minutes, including prep and baking time.


Here’s the recipe and nutrition info. You can whip a batch up literally in the time it takes for your family to get all their crazies out and into the car for school (that’s how it was at my house, at least).

1. Cinnamon raisin wheat germ muffins


Whisk in a large mixing bowl:
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup wheat germ
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg (I actually used a dash of five-spice powder)
1/3 cup raisins (you can always try chopped dried apricots, or dried cranberries, or even goji berries)

Mix in a separate bowl:
3 TBS egg whites
1/4 cup whole milk
1 1/4 cup natural applesauce (can replace part of this with shredded carrots if you like)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix only to incorporate.

Distribute into muffin cups (approximately 2 heaping TBS into standard size muffin cups, 1 heaping TBS into mini muffin cups).

Bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes, till a toothpick comes out clean.

Nutrition info:
60 kcals per standard size muffin (30 kcal per mini muffin).
0.4 gram fat
0.8 gram fiber
11.6 grams carbohydrate (5.7 grams sugar)
2 grams protein

2. Speaking of winter, I sometimes feel (especially this winter) that I went from SAD in Seattle to SAD in Bend – except instead of grey, wet weather, it’s just this endless grey, blustery snow. So I was heartened to read this article:

Keep these 6 points in mind as you go through the rest of winter.

3. Anybody tried dipping Chinese preserved fruits into dark chocolate? It’s sooooo delicious. I’d like to market it some day, if only I had the business mind to do it. The world of Chinese preserved fruits, or 蜜餞, is one that I easily took to after my family moved to Taiwan. There was a little store that had bins and bins of different kinds, all of which they made themselves. I’m sure the quality control was quite poor, as I remember having a severe allergic reaction once to one of the varieties: within a half hour I was wheezing, clammy, and having severe abdominal cramps. Fortunately, it only lasted about half an hour. My family surmised that it was from an overly-generous dose of sulfites in the preserved fruits I was eating just before I had the reaction.

That scary incident aside, my memories are of walking to the little shop with my mom, exploring the bins with wonder and excitement, asking for a few ounces of this, and a few ounces of that, which would be scooped into little clear bags and twist-tied. These we would carry home to sample immediately upon entering our 3rd floor apartment. The varieties are endless, but the flavors are mostly combinations of sweet, sour, and salty. A lot of licorice is used to help flavor the fruits, and to this day, I’m a huge fan of licorice. Which, by the way, is a fascinating subject all of its own.

So one day I was eating a bite of dark chocolate with a bite of one of my favorite preserved fruits – 化合應子 – and Oh my goodness did the flavors sing! Something about the salty, with the sour, with the slightly bitter, with slightly sweet, came together on my taste buds and alchemy happened. Next time you can get a hold of some Chinese preserved fruits, try it. I personally like a smooth 80% or higher (88% was what I just tried as I was writing this) chocolate with my fruits. Let me know what your favorite combinations are.

4. The “Zero Waste” progressive meal:

I would like to have Tamar Adler (author of An Everlasting Meal) over for this progressive meal, her philosophy of eating encapsulated into one meal. What I envision is:

A several-course meal with each subsequent dish scraping the previous one clean, eg soup, then cubes of bread (held with a fork or small tongs) to scrape up the last bits of soup from the insides of the bowl; a main dish cooked in a lovely wintry sauce, with roasted veggies or strips of meat or tofu used to scrape up the last wonderful bits of sauce; pudding for dessert, followed by roasted melon or other pieces of whole fruits (eaten with a fork) to scrape the pudding up. There would be clean plates and bowls at the end of the meal, and absolutely no waste. And diners would get to “lick” their plates and bowls clean in a perfectly acceptable manner. Shouldn’t all meals be like this?
5. Last parting thought:

Parenting : a lifelong course that supersedes all other interests and sometimes makes us much less interesting.

That’s what often (and usually) happens. Let’s try to remember that we had hobbies and interests that we’d pour time and energy into before kids took up most (or all) of that time. There are pockets of time in your life to continue to pursue these interests, and oftentimes kids WANT to see their parents focus on their own interests. They’ll want to jump in and before you know it, you’ll be sharing your joy of (fill in the blank) with your child, at least part of the day; the other part of the day, you’ll be observing the inner workings of an innocent mind, also a joyful experience, one to be cherished and acknowledged.



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