Remember how my oldest does the pleading eyes and asks me to bake something for breakfast? Well, her sister has joined in with a vengeance, and her pleading eyes are even bigger. I baked Thursday and they were at it again by Saturday; I put them off both Saturday and Sunday because I was up with kids during the previous nights and was just too exhausted, but I promised them on Monday I’d bake.
That, of course, was today.
We were out of syrup and I was NOT in the mood to make more this morning, so I opted for these Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins. And while it was an awfully warm morning to be heating up the oven to 400 degrees before 8, I did quite enjoy them. I must confess, though. It calls for unsweetened applesauce, yes, but I had homemade applesauce in the fridge. My homemade applesauce has a lot less sugar in it than the store-bought stuff–I like things tart, as a rule–but it does have liberal amounts of cinnamon and nutmeg and (often) a touch of cloves. I sure used that instead, and it added to the flavor quite nicely. And since I have a passionate obsession with nutmeg in general, I cut the cinnamon to 1/2 teaspoon and threw in a slightly generous 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg. (I also subbed in 1/4 cup wheat flour.)
The end result was tasty, and very hearty. Anytime you have that quantity of oats in a quick bread, it’s going to be chewy, but no one complained; it took fewer muffins to fill them up, though. (Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.) I refrigerated the leftovers and am enjoying them as I type; weirdly, I think I like them even better cold. (This is unusual for me.) Bottom line? I think it’s a keeper, although it usually takes a second tasting to be sure.
I promised a tribute as well, but it’s never as easy to write one of those as you want it to be. One of the first things I saw on Facebook today was my 12th grade English teacher’s obituary. I went to a small school–there were 84 kids in my graduating class, and 81 of us graduated–and most of the kids knew most of the teachers, because that’s the way it worked. You always knew who people liked, and who was good, and who you wanted; you also sometimes knew things about the teachers’ personal lives that probably didn’t come up in larger schools. I don’t think I ever heard a student say anything negative about Mrs. Mumford. She was a good teacher and expected her students to work; she was also professional, gracious, and kind. She taught me how to respect literature that I might not enjoy personally; she taught me to stay focused on my thesis all the way through a paper; she taught me to use the subjunctive tense properly; and she taught me how fabulous and (sometimes) laugh-out-loud funny Shakespeare can be. When I came back to see her after my first year of college she had taken an early retirement to battle colon cancer; she did so with courage and grace and then opted to enter politics. (She was proof that it was possible to be intelligent, honest, and fiscally responsible and still get elected in Rhode Island.) I’ve lived in Utah full-time since I was a junior in college; for years, whenever I returned to Rhode Island to visit, she would take me to lunch. We ate Italian food and talked about the college paper I wrote about Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre, and what books we’d read and enjoyed recently. We exchanged Christmas cards. She sent baby gifts for my children.
How do you draw a portrait of a life fully lived? There are never enough words. Carol Mumford was a truly great lady, in every sense of the term. I am not the only one who will miss her.