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Melt Your Heart Blueberry Oat Muffins

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when your parents stop being just your parents, and become something a little bit more. If you’re anything like me, it happened around the same time that you started seeing little bits of Mom and Dad in your everyday motions and movements, in the little things that ultimately make you who you are.

As funny as it may sound, I first noticing these niggling bits of my parents in me when I adopted my cat, Suzie. I would, and still do, run back home after leaving for work to make sure – for the umpteenth time – that I did indeed turn off my hair straightener, lock the door, or put away all the sharp knives. Yes, it’s part OCD, but it’s also done out of love, because I know I’d never forgive myself if something were to happen to my little furry baby.

And because of this, I’ve now gained a new respect for my mom, who countless times throughout my childhood, would turn the car around not long after we left home so she could make sure her curling iron was off. It was annoying and frustrating at the time, but now I feel like it’s a common ground, shared between two very close friends.

My dad and I are two and the same – from the way we bob up and down when we walk to the way we always reach behind the product we want on a store shelf to select the second package in the row. It’s in the way we obsessively fixate on the most benign things, to the point where we bite our nails nervously while standing in front of our dressers every morning trying to decide what to wear. I’ll admit, these were once things that I teased my dad for doing – my teenage self likely made the occasional snarky comment when he refused to grab the first box of rice on the shelf at the supermarket. But now it’s just another quirk that I share with my dad, another reason to laugh when we catch each other doing one of these ridiculous things.

Now, where I once saw two authority figures in my life, I see two people whose words I covet and whose arms I seek the deepest of comfort in. They’re my parents, yes, but they’re also my friends, the people who I know I can always depend on, who see through any facade I try to present and always demand the truth from me.

And I think the real defining moment, when the relationship really started to blossom into what we have today, was when I realized that this dependence and comfort isn’t one-sided. I’m starting to see that just as much as I long for and need my mom and dad, they also lean on me, and depend on me, just like close friends.

I found this recipe in my grandmother’s archive of goodies. I’ve long been a fan of blueberry muffins, and the combination of gooey rolled oats and creamy buttermilk bring these muffins to the top of the recipe pile in my kitchen.

Melt Your Heart Blueberry Oat Muffins
Makes about 12 muffins.

Tools

Medium and large mixing bowls
Whisk
Wooden spoon
Measuring cups and spoons
Rubber spatula
Muffin tins
Wire cooling rack

Ingredients

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup brown sugar or Sucanat
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and well drained

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a medium bowl, combine oats and buttermilk. Let stand until needed.

3. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar until well combined. With a spoon, stir egg and butter into oat mixture and mix well. Add oat mixture to flour mixture all at once and stir until just moistened. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries; do not overmix.

4. Pour batter into greased muffin tins, filling each cup 3/4 full. Bake on middle rack for 15 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center. Remove from oven and let cool in tin for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove muffins from tin and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

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Blueberry Monster Muffins

I was seven years old the first time I went away to summer camp. Other than the constant praying and the kid who ate toothpaste on the bunk above me, I don’t remember a whole lot about that week of my life.

Rather, what sticks out in my mind is a day two months before I left for that dreaded Circle Square Ranch. My mom and I were sitting in the Harbour View Café, a tiny little family restaurant attached to the local convenience store. It’s the kind of place you see in the movies: waitresses wearing rubber shoes and aprons with pockets to hold their notepads. The curtains were outdated (even back then) and the menu hasn’t changed in the last 15 years at best.

Mom was filling out the application for me to attend the summer camp, and was going through a checklist describing my personality. She appropriately ticked off the boxes for “shy” and “soft-spoken,” but hesitated when she came to the final trait.

Sensitive.

“Are you sensitive?” she asked tentatively. I asked her what that meant. She said it meant I got upset easily, bringing up some recent examples in which I ended up crying and storming to my room after my big sister said something silly.

Ironically enough, I got mad. Furious even. I refused to talk to her while we finished up our fries and hot dogs, and I remember starting to cry halfway through the meal, insisting that I was not the least bit sensitive – that my sister was just a bully.

In middle school, I came home from school bawling at least once a week because of something some kid in my class said or did that for whatever reason undermined my own sense of self, replacing it with thoughts of the pimples on my chin or the weird colour of my hair.

I thought it would get better as I grew up, that somehow self confidence was something that developed with age. If anything, it got worse. The slightest criticism from a high school teacher left me silenced and shaken, while anything less than an A in university was a surefire sign that I was a complete failure.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told I’m too sensitive, that I should develop the elusive “thick skin.” At first I brushed it off, again assuming it would come with age. Then I started refuting it, insisting that my sensitivity was what made me who I am, that I shouldn’t try and stifle an integral part of my personality.

Well, I’m on my own now. My parents aren’t going to call someone and make it better, and I can’t just grin and bear it through a semester like I did in school. This is my life, and my sensitivity is beginning to eat away at me.

It’s not okay to come home everyday in knots, and it’s not a normal part of my personality to take to heart every little throw-away comment.

I wish I could brush off the insults. I wish I didn’t care so much about the bad things people say to me. I wish I believed in myself enough to not let anyone undermine my confidence. I wish I wasn’t so sensitive.

I’m trying really, really hard to overcome this. I’m getting better at standing up for myself in all aspects of my life. I’m beginning to see myself as not a victim, but as someone who’s perfectly capable of existing on my own, without the compliments and encouragement of others.

I’m working on it because I have to. Because I know that if I continue like this, I’m going to wear myself down now that I have no one else to stick up for me. I hate it, absolutely hate it, that I have to change, because it’s hard, and it’s a lot easier to fall back into the old habit of beating myself down.

I chose this recipe because it carries a lot of meaning for me. It was the first thing I ever baked, and it’s one of few recipes I’m able to make without having to haul out my hand-scribbled cookbook. It’s part of who I am, but it took a long time for it to get that way. These muffins were originally a disaster when I first made them more than 10 years ago; they were green, blobbish, and emerged from their cups like ghouls retreating from some kind of swamp, hence the name Monster Muffins. But I worked on them, and I kept making them, no matter how weird they tasted for those initial trial runs. Eventually, they got better, and I’m now able to say without hesitation that I’m better for them. Sometimes change is good.

Tools

large mixing bowl
wooden spoon
measuring cups
measuring spoons
muffin tin
muffin cups

Ingredients

1/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup milk
2 cups flour
2 cups frozen blueberries

Instructions

Soften butter in microwave, or leave it out at room temperature until softened. Combine butter and brown sugar until smooth, gradually mixing in eggs.

Add vanilla, baking powder and baking soda and mix well. Pour in milk, then slowly stir in flour. Once combined, add blueberries and pour into muffin cups.

Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the centre of a muffin.