The road ends, but the journey continues...

Virtual Brownie (Muffin) Sharing Circle: Susan's Single Step

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him
Psalms 34:8

 Some of you may remember my VBSC posts (#1, #2 and #3).

In keeping with the spirit, if not literal brownie connection, of these Virtual Brownie Muffin Sharing Circle visits, today’s installment features a recent post by Chef Susan Nye.
On her blog, Susan freely shares a plethora of tried & true, homey & experimental recipes and meal suggestions along with a huge helping of good storytelling. I often peruse her recipes looking for something new and interesting to try, but more often than not, I find myself drawn to the tales and thoughts she shares along with those recipes.

Begin with a Single Step & Rhubarb-Walnut Muffins

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
From Tao Te Ching by Laozi

I need a new word; one that combines sad and angry. Three mass murders in eight days created this mix of emotions. These most recent crimes are on top of the tens of thousands of annual gun deaths and injuries. Foot-dragging politicians talk about mental illness, video games  and the need for more information. Then, if history repeats itself, they will do nothing. No study group will be formed. No funding will be provided. The outrage will subside. The moment for action will pass until the next crisis.
While I am sure that common psychological or sociological threads can be found, let’s face it – each crime is perpetrated by an individual. Some are fueled by hate, some by despair. Some are part of a larger criminal enterprise; others are powered by extremist religious or political fervor. Some are the product of mental illness, drugs or alcohol abuse. Some perpetrators were bullied. Others are bullies. There is no one root cause, no single, elusive answer. Gun violence is complex. There is a long list of explanations for each terrible crime. However, there is one constant, one common denominator. Regardless of the crime – mass murder, drive by shooting, burglary gone bad or family violence turned deadly – easy access to guns makes it possible.
We will never make any progress, if we don’t take a first step. The vast majority of Americans want sensible gun control. And yes, my definition of sensible may be different from yours. But again, we will never get anywhere if we don’t take a first step. We need to make the effort. We need to try. The step can be small. It can be a compromise. We just need to take the first step … and then another and one more after that. Eventually, what is now very imperfect will become a little less so.
This morning I made muffins. I find peace in the Zen of everyday activities. Simple tasks, done one after another, are grounding. Recipes, no matter how complex, are nothing more than taking one step and then another and another to make something. Something you can share. Something that makes the day a little better or brighter or at least keeps you from going hungry.
I measured flour, baking powder and spices. I preheated the oven. I chopped rhubarb and nuts. I whipped butter and sugar, added eggs, vanilla and sour cream. The dry ingredients gradually joined the wet, followed by the rhubarb. Not done yet, I scooped the batter into muffin tins and then slid them into the oven. All told, I guess it took about a dozen steps.
Fifteen minutes later, they were golden and delicious. However, if you arrived at my door hoping to find a big breakfast, an all-encompassing solution to your morning hunger, it wasn’t there. Only muffins, one piece of what could become a more comprehensive feast.
A friend did come over. I took two more steps; brewed coffee and heated milk. We sipped lattes and ate a few of the muffins. We had a lovely chat about writing and freelancing and making a living as well as life and a few other things. Progress of a different sort was made.
Although some may lead you astray, most steps take you at least a little closer to where you need to be; closer to a more perfect imperfection. If the life of one child, one teenager, one man, one woman can be saved by taking the first step, isn’t it worth the effort? Isn’t it worth a try?

Here’s to a safer tomorrow and bon appétit!

Rhubarb-Walnut Muffins
A neighbor gave me an armful of rhubarb the other day so I made muffins. They are delicious as a little something to nibble with coffee or tea. Or include them in your next brunch – maybe you refer to it as a comprehensive solution to morning hunger. Enjoy! 
Makes 36 muffins

Susan Nye's Rhubarb-Walnut Muffins

Susan Nye’s Rhubarb-Walnut Muffins


4 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream
12 ounces fresh rhubarb, cut into small dice
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
Put the flour, baking powder and spices in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the walnuts and whisk again.
Put the sugars and butter in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue beating until smooth. Add the sour cream and beat until well combined.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients. Gradually add the rhubarb and continue beating until just combined.
Use an ice cream scoop or two spoons to fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full with batter.
Bake in the middle of the oven until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 15-20 minutes. Cool the muffins on a rack for a few minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

8 Comments

  1. Savoring Sixty

    I love to cook as well as bake so I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing Chef Susan Nye’s recipe and story. I have already printed a few of her recipes!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yay! Glad to pass the tastiness around the bloggosphere!

  2. Marty

    From your mouth (and recipe) into lawmakers’ ears, Laura. If sound advice and mouth-watering muffins can’t help sooth our collective worries, then we’re all in big trouble. 😉

  3. Ally Bean

    First of all I adore rhubarb in any shape or form, so thanks for this recipe.
    Secondly, I agree with your plea for the people who can do something to reduce/stop mass murders to do that something. The solution is obvious, yet seems to be insurmountable. I keep coming back to the analogy of someone diagnosed with diabetes who says they don’t know what to do about their high blood sugar– while eating a candy bar and washing it down with a Coke. None are so blind, and immoral, as those who refuse to see.

    • laura bruno lilly

      If we each just do the one thing that we know to do – even if it seems small – it all counts towards making this earth a better place to live…
      (And helps my own personal sanity!)
      🙂

  4. L. Marie

    I admire the fire and passion of Susan’s words and the conviction that change needs to happen. Those muffins look delicious.

    • laura bruno lilly

      She expresses things so well – part of her (he)art along with good recipes!

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