The day I made the muffins was also the day (four days after arriving on a somewhat isolated west coast island) that I settled in. It stopped raining, just like that. The sun, wan in the morning, was due for a starring appearance in the afternoon.
I had been doubting all of my reasons for coming to this little island, but that morning I woke up and I knew I would make muffins. It was a good sign I was over the worst of it. The Anti-Poverty Organizer breathed an audible sigh of relief. I had been ranting and raving quite a bit, about the rain, about missing the big city, and all of my favourite bars and restaurants, with their well-appointed terraces. What. Was. I. Thinking?? APO wasn’t fond of my rants, never had been. And, for someone living in Vancouver, all that Toronto-love didn’t quite cut it.
I. Am. Making. Muffins. I stated with aplomb. The Anti-Poverty Organizer looked up calmly from her book. It was 6:30 a.m. Neither of us seemed able to sleep past six.
Well don’t let me stop you she said and went back to her book.
I haven’t made muffins in ages, it took a long time, and I hadn’t really consumed enough coffee. There was a certain amount of spillage. Still, the muffins were fantastic, we each had three. I completed the requisite amount of writing and then we were off for a walk.
We spent all afternoon exploring this island. We saw hollyhocks, and raspberry bushes, wild rhododendrons, crows and robins and eagles. We peered into the windows of the community centre, and tried climbing a trail to a lake, but I wimped out, even though a young Native man offered us a ride in his truck. We ended up at a beach by the main dock, and that was when the sun came out, hot white along the edges of the water, dappled everywhere else.
And that was when we saw the goat girl.
She was wearing a long green brocade dress with hiking boots. She seemed to float out of nowhere. She looked like a fairy, or a hippie. Following her, with a crooked sort of grace, was a goat, pure white, and munching on tree leaves with enormous satisfaction.
The goat’s name was Leela. The girl had won the goat in a bet, she told us. Forgot she’d won until the next day, when the goat was delivered to her door. She seemed quite good-natured about it all. The goat follows her everywhere she goes.
It made our day, I have no idea why. Later, as we delivered some muffins to our lovely neighbours, we told the story of the goat girl and they laughed in wry recognition.
It’s the kind of island where you can befriend a goat and no one bats an eye. The sort of place where people offer you rides as you pant up a hill, or leave small gifts of garden produce on your porch while you’re out. You have to wave or say hi to everyone, and they have to wave or say hi back, that’s just the way it is. There’s a General Store where everyone goes once or twice a day, and you can get damn good nachos and a decent glass of BC wine. The ferry always comes late (never early) and the bus never quite meets the ferry.
You get used to staring at water, or gazing at mountains, and you learn not to mind.
Cornmeal Strawberry Muffins
I really can’t remember which blog I lifted this recipe from, so if someone reads this and wants credit, let me know! It’s a good recipe, requiring no fine-tuning and what I like is that the muffins are not too sweet….
2 cups flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
In a medium bowl combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In another bowl beat eggs, stir in milk, butter and strawberries.
Make well in the dry ingredients, add the egg mixture all at once and stir until just combined.
Spoon into greased or paper lined muffin tins and bake at 375 degrees F. for 20 minutes. Makes a dozen muffins.