Maintaining Your Muchness


I recently got The September Issue from Netflix–the documentary about Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour. It was fascinating on many levels but the thing that struck me the most was how unhappy she seemed. We all know how immensely driven and talented she is, but when she spoke of what her other siblings do for a living and what they think of her work, her eyes would gloss over and she’d become distant. When she spoke of her own work at the magazine, Anna mentioned that it often made her angry and agitated–that she’d know when to throw in the towel when she started getting angrier and angrier throughout the day. I don’t know about you, but I may just settle for quiet, small-scale contentment rather than feeling that way day in and day out.

So then I was running yesterday, and I started to think about a quote from the film Alice and Wonderland. In short, Alice hesitates to help the Mad Hatter in his resistance against the Red Queen. The Mad Hatter is disappointed, noting “You used to be much more muchier…you’ve lost your muchness.” I smiled during this scene and continue to think about it. What does this even mean? What is this muchness? A state, a passion, a spark, a sense of wonder or confidence or fearlessness or comfort with the hear and now. I don’t know. Now perhaps the larger question at hand is what does all of this have to do with Vogue and with blackberry  cornmeal muffins for breakfast?

I think Anna Wintour was realizing throughout the film that she’d perhaps started to lose her muchness. It was a sad thing to watch onscreen, and I’m sure you’ve all witnessed it with real folks in real life. It looks like a dimming, a deflation, or a constant hesitation. I’ve seen it in nursing homes, with marriages that have gone on far too long, or with students who have resigned to be the dumb kid or the one who will never actually get into college. Now these muffins won’t turn any of those situations around. They’re not quite that good. But they’ll help you maintain just a little chunk of your muchness, I assure you. They’ll give you something to look forward to in the morning whether you’re taking on the work commute, finishing up your taxes, or slugging through a never-ending to-do list. I can’t guarantee a state, a passion, a spark, a sense of wonder or confidence or fearlessness or comfort with the hear and now. But I do hope that you’re experiencing at least one of those things right now or that, at the very least, you’re taking stock of your muchness–of where you are currently and where you want to be.  I know that I am.

The great thing about these muffins is that they’re quick. Like fifteen minutes quick. You literally mix the wet and dry ingredients together, throw the muffins in the oven, and have a warm tray of goodness sitting in front of you in no time. The recipe is a huge amalgamation of similar muffins I’ve made since living in Boulder, CO. many years ago. They’ve evolved since then and today I use a mix of whole wheat and white flour, low-fat yogurt, and agave instead of too much sugar. The berries get warm and gooey in the oven, so do plan on having at least one right out of the oven with a little butter. They freeze beautifully as well.

Blackberry Cornmeal Muffins

Blackberry Cornmeal Muffins

  • Yield: 14-16 Muffins
  • Prep time: 10 mins
  • Cook time: 20 mins
  • Inactive time: 5 mins
  • Total time: 35 mins

If you plan on using frozen blackberries, just be sure to toss with 1 tablespoon of flour before adding to the batter — this will help prevent them from sinking straight to the bottom of the muffin and staining the batter.

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp. Agave syrup (or, if you prefer, honey or maple syrup)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 heaping cups fresh or frozen blackberries

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 F, and grease two muffin pans.

Whisk together the first six ingredients in a large bowl. Stir together the yogurt, oil, agave syrup, vanilla and eggs in a separate bowl. Fold wet ingredients into dry mixture with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until combined. Gently fold in berries.

Fill muffin cups to the top and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate pans and bake 10-12 minutes longer or until muffins are slightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center. Cool muffins in pans for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Comments

  1. Heavenly Housewife

    What beautiful muffins, and stunning pictures too. Great blog daaaaaahling. I'll be coming back.
    *kisses* HH

  2. Kate

    I get muchness, almost too well. I understand when it lags, and when it fires up like a blowtorch. And more specifically, how muffins so perfect and tender and chock full of blissfully popping blueberries can be a direct means to finding that muchness once again. These look spectacular.

  3. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite

    These are perfect Megan! I love that they look like they took you MUCH longer than 15 minutes!! And totally agree re: the September Issue - SO SO much unhappiness and anger in one little person...

  4. Evan

    I just found your blog via foodblogs.com and I can't wait to try these muffins! I've been on a muffin kick lately (check mine out any time :) ) and like you I've been trying to use whole wheats and "better" sugars!

  5. Barefoot Belle

    Wow, these look beautiful and sound delicious. I've yet to make a muffin with cornmeal--looks like my next baking project! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Barbara Bakes

    What a fun post. I loved the film and since I'm turning 50 in a few weeks, I'm going to have to give my muchness some more thought. Great pictures of the muffins.

  7. Lindsay

    These looks delicious. Love the post too. Great writing...

  8. Maggie

    What a lovely post and what a lovely recipe.

  9. Shannalee

    These are gorgeous. And I'd also say you are very much finding your muchness these days, my friend, and it is wonderful to read.

  10. Asha@FSK

    Love this post!! I suppose we all lose our muchness once in a while and those muffins do look yummy enough to uplift! :)

  11. Manggy

    Ouch :( It's indeed much better to do something that makes you happy, but I have the feeling Wintour thought she was the only one who could do this super-important job of being an arbiter of taste to thousands of minions. (Confession: I read it as "munchness"! I must have gotten hungry at the sight of those muffins!)

  12. Carra young

    These are fab! And talk about easy! Everette and I hopped right to it this morning and ours are currently in the oven baking away! Thanks for yet another inspiring post and as always something yummy to eat! Xo

  13. Janet

    I've been wanting to see both those movies. Now I know what I'll be snacking on during them! (Is it terrible to bring your own food to movies? I may have, um, snuck half a bottle of wine hidden in a Pellegrino bottle into one last weekend. That's normal, right? ;)

    I hope I never lose my muchness!

    1. megang

      Ha ha, Janet. My old running buddy would always sneak a bottle of wine into the Kabuki because she didn't want to buy it there. She said she felt really illicit at first, but then it just became old hat. Sounds pretty smart to me...so yes, totally normal!

  14. Kelsey/TheNaptimeChef

    I swear, you are the Bridget Jones of San Francisco with all this great musing and yummy muffins! I can't wait to see that September Issue now!

  15. El

    Amazing article and delicious looking muffins. Thanks much!

  16. Wizzythestick

    This same quote stuck with me as well except that when I tried to explain it I did not do as eloquent job as this. I also like the quip about munchness in the comments. Fabulous post.

  17. Romaine

    Love recipes with yogurt in them. Just planted some blackberry bushes so will add this to my collection.

  18. A Canadian Foodie

    I have definitely NOT lost my muchiness... but I have MOST definitely lost MUCH of my ability to achieve it. I am not as healthy as I used to be (through nothing I have done), and find myself tired, and not able to accomplish is a day nearly what I used to be able to. I have realized I am NOT going to be able to do everything I thought I was "when I grew up", so I am having to edit my list - while, I find myself, at the very same time - pushing myself consistently past my limits to fit in every thing possible in a day. At the end of the day, I lay in bed aching and so so tired... yet, I have a smile on my face. That MUCH I kow!
    Loved your piece - and your muffins looked MUCH better after reading it.
    XO
    Valerie

    1. megang

      Hey Valerie, to lay in bed with a smile on your face...what more can we ask for?! I hope you have a weekend filled with much muchness :)

  19. Natalie

    I made these last night. But I used blueberries instead of blackberries and honey instead of agave syrup. They taste very fresh. and are very moist- even the next day. Great w/ some butter also would be good with some preserves.

  20. The Diva on a Diet

    What a beautiful and provocative post, Megan. There have been times in my life where I've lost my muchness and its a sad place to be. But I'm feeling very muchy lately and I hope you are too!

    These muffins look spectacular! I love anything with cornmeal, and I really like that you've used some agave nectar as well. I can't wait to try these!

  21. Chez Us

    I have been wanting to see these movies - must add to Netflix!

    We must be thinking a like - wait until you see the post I am working on!

    I love your photos - great framing!!!

  22. Suzanne T-H

    I agree with all above - great muffins. We used huckleberries & honey. Great texture and crunch from the corn meal. Next time I'm using only 1 tsp of soda however. We got too strong a taste of the soda when I used a whole tablespoon.

  23. Denise | Chez Danisse

    I'm always stepping back and taking stock of my muchness. There's nothing wrong with a few warm butter topped muffins while taking stock, right?

  24. kelly

    ah, i just watched the september issue and felt like anna was such a debbie downer... now grace, her vision and resilience made me happy. oh and these muffins make me happy too... can't wait for berry season!

  25. Danae

    What a lovely and thoughtful post! Thank you for reminding us not to lose our "muchness"

  26. Corrinne Toscani

    It's a shame you don't have a donate button! I'd definitely donate to this fantastic blog! I guess for now i'll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will talk about this website with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

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