Wallow in your own misery or make the most out of what you have. Which one do you choose?
The latter, I suppose. I am no stranger as to how hard that can be. It is so easy to just fall in a funk and blame everyone around you for your current miserable state. That’s where I was a week or two ago. I whined and cried about everything. There are spiders everywhere. My friends and family are all on the other side of the state or the world. Everything in Maryland is expensive. I can’t find bulk products within decent driving distance. The roads are full of potholes and the drivers are rude, rude, rude. You name it, I despaired over it!
DFJ is truly a sweetheart. He is still my only friend here, but he sure is worth a million friends. These past few weeks, he has been so patient with me but he also firmly yet gently kept reminding me that there is no other choice but to give this place a chance. So, I did. It started with a long walk… we live by the bay and the water is a mere two miles or so away. The view is quite lovely. Living here reminds me of being back in my hometown in the Philippines. It is very green everywhere… lush trees, green grass, corn fields, and so on. The air is different. In Washington it is very dry and you don’t feel hot even if you’re standing under the blazing heat. Over here, it is pretty humid and it took a while to get used to especially since it’s still so hot. There are frogs that hop around at night and we fall asleep to the sound of weird insects. No matter how many spiders I kill (karma will bite me in the butt someday), they keep showing up. I’m not sure if I will ever be friendly friends with them. Ants also come and visit me in the kitchen every few days or so. In these ways, it really feels like I went back to the Philippines.
We also live close to some creameries and have had some local cheese and ice cream. There are farm markets everywhere… on the side of the highway, down the hill, next to the gas station, everywhere. It’s awesome! I also discovered that obscure Middle Eastern spices and products that could only be found in specialty stores in big cities back home can be found at not-so-great grocery stores here. Very interesting.
I started practicing yoga again after a long hiatus due to our cross country trip. We designated one of our rooms upstairs as a yoga studio. It is a big room with beautiful hardwood floors and is pretty much bare, save for my yoga mat, a shelf, a mirror, and a red exercise ball. It’s my new sanctuary. I also got brave and started driving around. This is an accomplishment, ok. I was deathly scared, still am, of driving here… but I’m easing myself into it. I have driven myself to a lovely yoga studio a few times and have enjoyed the classes there.
When we first got to our house on a rainy Tuesday night a month ago, we were dead tired from driving from Ohio that morning. All we wanted to do was lay our sleeping bags on the floor and sleep. So, we did a quick walk through with our landlord and signed the lease. Little did we know that the house was filthy as heck. We cleaned and cleaned for days and I cussed and swore every time I discovered something gross. Then I’d fall into a heap and start crying. DFJ told me that things will be better soon, especially once our belongings arrive and we start cooking again. You know what? He was right! Every sweep and scrub made the house sparkle a little bit. It’s still not perfect nor is everything fully put away… but we are getting closer each day.
I started cooking and baking again and it feels good. We have made fresh tomato pasta; beef and mushrooms with go chu jang; skillet potatoes; shakshuka; stir-fried corn; eggplant and beef ragu; kale fajitas; grilled lemon chicken; granola (recipe share soon); and peach muffins.
We went to the local farmers market a few weekends ago and got there super late. The guy who sold peaches gave me two baskets for five bucks. Can’t say no to that! They were so delicious and we started off just eating them fresh. But we were still left with a lot. Fortunately, DFJ had a potluck at work, so I made some muffins for him to take. With peaches in them, of course!
This is a recipe that I got from the King Arthur Flour website. I adapted it a bit to make use of what was available in my kitchen. The recipe was quite large too, so I cut it in half. My adapted version of this recipe yielded 12 small muffins and 6 regular sized ones. I baked the first dozen in a 12-cup mini bundt cupcake pan and the other 6 in a regular muffin tin.
I loved how these muffins turned out! They are delicious in the simplest of ways. These muffins are dense to the touch. Don’t be fooled by the feel of it because as soon as you bite into one, you will notice its softness inside. Then there is a nice and tender sweetness that slowly creeps up on you. The whole wheat flour gives it a slightly nutty and a very wholesome taste. Every so often a juicy piece of peach pops in your mouth, pleasantly filling it with its bright and fresh flavor. And just right above the surface is a subtle hint of fall from the cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.
Hurry and make these before peaches are gone!
Spiced Whole Wheat Peach Muffins (Makes 12 large muffins/24 mini muffins)
Adapted From: Spiced Peach Muffins, King Arthur Flour Recipes
2 and ¼ cups (9.5 oz, 270 g) whole wheat flour
1 cup (6.5 oz, 185 g) sugar
2 and ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice (1 whole allspice, ground)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2/3 cup (5 and 7/8 oz, 168 g) plain soy milk
¼ cup (2 and 1/8 oz, 62 g) olive oil
3 cups (14 and 5/8 oz, 414 g) fresh peaches, diced (peels on!)
some room temperature butter (for greasing the muffin tins)
Use your fingers to grease the insides of the muffin tins with a tad of butter at room temperature. Place an oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the flour in a large bowl and use a whisk to aerate it (I needed to do this because my flour travelled a long way). Add the sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg into the large bowl. Combine everything using a whisk and make sure to mix everything well together.
Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl. Add it into the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Pour in the soy milk and olive oil. Stir everything together with a flexible spatula until just combined. Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure that those dry ingredients are incorporated. Don’t overmix though, there should be a few streaks of still dry ingredients left in the batter.
Gently fold in the diced peaches using a flexible spatula. Again, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well-combined.
Use a ladle or a big spoon to scoop the batter onto the greased muffin tins. Fill the tins about 2/3 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the tops turn into a nice golden brown. (I baked the muffins in the 12-cup tin for 25 minutes and the muffins in the 6-cup tin for 30 minutes). Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the middle of a muffin. If it comes out dry, your muffins are done.
Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove the muffins from the tins and allow them to cool on cooling racks.