Random Recipe: Baked Apple Cider Mini Muffins

It is hard to believe that we have lived in Portland for 12 years. Before moving out here we lived in Boston, and the last place we lived was in a small town on the outskirts of Boston called Lexington. Compared to anything in Portland, it is old. It was a town involved in the Revolutionary War, and where the Battle of Lexington was fought. That, however, is just a bit of history. We rented the first story of a large house, and 5 women rented the upstairs of the house. Next door, was a farm called Wilson Farms. Next to our house was one of their fields and on the other end of the field was their farm store.

We spent quite a bit of $$$ — as it was so easy, convenient, and of course tasty. In the fall and winter they would have piping hot apple cider donuts and some prepackaged to take home. I think that was probably Chris’ favorite part of living right next door. I loved them too – but what I miss most was the tulips that were the size of my hand. When I recently found this recipe for Apple Cider Mini Muffins I knew we had to try. A bit of Wilson Farms nostalgia. And…they were so good!

Baked Apple Cider Mini Muffins

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup apple cider
  • Cinnamon/Sugar Coating:
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup sugar
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  2. In another bowl whisk together the egg, melted butter, and brown sugar. Then add the buttermilk, applesauce, vanilla, and apple cider.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and whisk together just until combined.
  4. Pour the batter into lightly sprayed mini muffin tins. Fill each muffin ¾ full. Bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees.
  5. While the muffins are baking melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl. In another bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon together.
  6. When the muffins come out of the oven dip the top of each into the melted butter, then dip into the cinnamon/sugar mixture.

We all remember

Last night before crawling into bed after a long day and week I took a few moments to catch up on Facebook. Since my week has been a blur, I forgot that today is September 11th, and maybe it is the emotions and hormones of being pregnant, but I got emotional thinking about 14 years ago today and where I was that morning. There are a few times in your life when you can remember where you were, who you were with, and sometimes vivid details of that day.

I have a bit of an intuitive streak that over time no longer freaks Chris out. Fourteen years ago today, Chris and I worked together, our desks were literally a few feet apart. I remember coming into work that morning in quite a funk. Chris asked me what was wrong and I said: “I do not know why, and I cannot figure it out but something big is going to happen today.” New to my intuitive outbursts, he at the time thought nothing of it. Not 30 minutes later, he saw what happened with the World Trade Center and quickly broke into a large meeting in our big conference room on the floor. The only place that had a television where we could see what was happening live. The rest of the floor proceeded to join us as word got out about the events of the morning. We were literally watching live as the second plane hit.

Now, at the time we lived in Boston and were in a building with 25 floors. We were on the 18th floor with views that looked toward Boston’s Logan Airport, where the planes took off. The building across from us was one of the tallest buildings in Boston at the time. The hijackers originated in Boston and they had stayed in a hotel just down the street from our building. While nothing near the fear and destruction happening in New York, there was quite a scary feeling of is Boston next? What is next?

There may be many of you that are too young to remember what happened that day, and others that have lived through other more traumatic experiences, but for someone my age this was the first time something had happened where I was not too young to understand. It definitely had an impact and, as we all know, still has an impact on the safety we feel in our country. Some Americans may have felt nothing could ever happen to us. We had put our guard down. In other ways it brought Americans together. Regardless, it was a horrible day, and I hope today you take a moment to appreciate the people you love in your life. Each and every day is precious.

Scared shitless

I have a few phobias. Snakes. Bats. And one I will not go into on the Internet involving personal safety. I freeze when I see a snake and depending on where I am and where it is, I imagine every time that I am going to shit my pants. I have not yet, but there are still many years left for that to happen.

Bats. I have a story from about five years ago involving a bat and my house. I was on a conference call with my boss at the time. I worked from home in Portland and my team worked remotely, with my boss in Boston. I am sitting in my office at my desk, with my old school headset (corded) connected to my BlackBerry when I see a black flying object zoom past my head, just grazing me. I screamed (and I have lungs) and jumped. My headset went one way, my BlackBerry went another, and I ran like hell out of there. I run back and decide to try to shut the door to the closet so that I can lock the sucker in the office.

I freak out some more. Try to call Chris on the phone at work and do not get an answer. I go outside. No one was out and we barely knew our older neighbors. I look down the street and see a landscaper. I run down and ask him if he can help me. Shit. He does not speak English. I flap my arms, know I have the most panicked look on my face, and motion for him to follow me. He does.

Back in my house, I open the door and basically lock him in the office and then go outside to show him through our sliding glass door how to open the door to let the bat out. It takes a while of back and forth and he eventually does. I am petrified and wonder how the bat got in so I, being so scared shitless, bring the man around the house and upstairs through the different bedrooms to see if he can figure out where it came in. We are not communicating well and I start to realize I have just brought a strange man into my bedroom! I realize I need to thank him and get him the hell out of my house. Hoping there are no more bats where that came from, I finally breathe, and realize I was on the phone with my boss. About 15 minutes have passed and I call him back. He was so worried that he had not heard from me and due to the loud scream followed by the disconnected call, he was in the process of calling my local police to have someone sent out to my house. Wow.

What scares the shit out of you?

Boston Marathon admiration

It is hard to believe that my day yesterday was so crazy that I missed the entire Boston Marathon coverage. After living in Boston for 4 years, I got addicted to the camaraderie and dedication of Bostonians for those running the marathon. In Boston they have an entire holiday (Patriots Day) where you actually get paid to take the day off and if you feel so inspired go and watch the marathon. Of course Patriot’s Day has nothing to do with the Boston Marathon, but it does have a nice way of working out for Bostonians. We did it a few times. If you get there early enough there are actually restaurants on Boylston Street (where the finish line is) and you can have food and drinks and sit on the sidewalk patio of a restaurant and watch the race in style. I can remember in the early days of Chris and my life together (maybe before we ever really knew where we would end up) we sat together, had brunch and watched the race.

Regardless of whether you are in Boston or not, or whether you watched the race or not, there is a charged excitement and energy around races like the Boston or New York Marathon. Just as there is with the Olympics or World Cup. These are races that show the triumph, drive, and legacy of professional and everyday runners that give it their all either year around as they train to medal in such races, or for those that are trying for their personal best. For me there is something gratifying about someone who works so hard to compete or even try to finish running 26.2 miles. When I saw that the man who placed first was just over 2 hours, I was reminded that he ran 26.2 miles in just over the time it took me to run 13.1 miles. He can run the same amount of miles in half the time that I can – AMAZING!

What inspires me about races like the Boston Marathon is the amount of hours of dedication it takes for these runners (elite or not) to prepare for such a race. Hours, days, weeks, months, maybe even a year back to last year’s race. It might mean giving up on drinks with friends, time with children or other family members. Possibly it means very early mornings to get in those long runs, or being outside in rain, snow, or sleet, or maybe if you live in a warmer climate dealing with extreme heats and dryness. Whatever the weather situation, the time of day, or the toll it takes on your body, training for a marathon is a dedication that not everyone can or wants to do. We are all capable of more than we do, but sometimes there are moments in life when we show that we can push ourselves beyond limits we never were thought were possible. There is also a kindness that other runners spread during a race – see this link for stories of how runners went above and beyond during or after the Boston Marathon.

Running is a sport like no other. This year’s race was cold and rainy. It shows how many people will come out and support you rain or shine while you spend from 2 (elite athletes) to 6 hours to finish running 26.2 miles. Dedication. Perseverance. Friendship. I admire everyone that ran Boston yesterday.

Being Seen

Happy 2015! It is a new year, a new day, a new perspective. I have started this year off in a mellow way. For some reason (maybe having the flu) I have a very laid back view on this year, and maybe my engine just has not revved up yet.

I have been reading and just finished a book: “The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help” by Amanda Palmer. An interesting book for me, as I hate asking for help from others. Yes. I am more of the do-it-myself variety. Asking for help means I have to trust others, and from past experience “others” can let you down, and not be there with what they said they would do. So I rarely ask. I am a product of my childhood where individuals often did not come through for me. Alas, I do not often ask. So I thought this book would be a good one for me to read.

I had an aha moment. Asking and being seen. One of my life pet peeves is not being seen. Somehow feeling invisible for much of my life (remember my dad felt that children should be seen and not heard) has been a pain point for me. I want to be seen and heard. Thus this ideas from Palmer especially resonated with me:

“There’s a difference between wanting to be looked at and wanting to be seen. When you are looked at, your eyes can stay blissfully closed. You suck energy, you steal the spotlight. When you are seen, your eyes must be open, as you are seeing and recognizing your witness. You accept energy and you generate energy. You create light. One is exhibitionism, the other is connection. Not everybody wants to be looked at. Everybody wants to be seen.” Page 201

I crave connection. To me there is no point in a relationship if there is no connection. While I have not told you much about Palmer’s book, I highly recommend her story. It is a long read, but she takes you through her triumphs and setbacks as a street performer, musician, wife, and friend. She easily is able to ask total strangers to crash at their home, but has a hard time asking her husband for money. I am the complete opposite. I can ask Chris for almost anything, and have a hard time asking friends, colleagues, and strangers for help. I know that 9 times out of 10, Chris will be there for me (no one is perfect). Yet, I do not know if I have those odds with everyone else in my life. Sad I know, but it is how I feel after being burned.

What do you want most? I do not want to be looked at, I want to be seen.