Rhubarb Cornmeal Muffins and gaining perspective

I almost didn’t post this muffin recipe because they turned out a little flatter and uglier than I had hoped, certainly not ideal food styling material.

I was experimenting with a new recipe, inspired by my thriving rhubarb patch and spurred on by a craving for a snacking muffin with a tender crumb. Of course I was out of muffin tin liners, and so instead of pretty little round tops, the batter spread across the pan and fused together in the oven.

The taste and texture were there, though. Light and airy, spiced and moist, with tangy pockets of rhubarb, and crunchy addicting edges. What could be seen as a mishap could also be interpreted as a triumph.

Ah, these rhubarb muffins were a beautiful mess – and a perfect example of my life these days. With that analogy, I am bringing them to you, along with far more story than most of you probably care to read. If that’s the case, just skip to the recipe at the bottom of the post, because these muffins are worthy of your fresh rhubarb stash.

Rhubarb Cornmeal Muffins | Simple Bites #recipe #rhubarb

This past week I have been wrestling with perspective, circling subjects that leave me feeling helpless and trying to gain an outlook where I have peace, no matter what. It feels impossible, especially as my mind runs every scenario imaginable. Endless clichés comes to mind – just go with the flow, take life as it comes, find the silver lining – and they are maddeningly unhelpful in a world that demands concrete answers and continues to spin furiously fast no matter how we feel.

Three very different, very personal, and decidedly grown-up circumstances collided in my life last week and sent me into such a tailspin, I think I came the closest to a panic attack as I have ever experienced. I like to think that on a normal day, I would have received these situations with calm clarity, but nothing is really ever ‘normal’ around here with three small children, a bustling homestead and another cookbook manuscript taking shape.

So these circumstances. Not entirely mine to share, though they all impact me directly. My feelings on each situation are split down the middle, each part equally terrified and thrilled, conflicted and resolved.

I realize this is all hugely vague. And I am sorry. But I have to share something, because life has shifted slightly for us. My husband and I spent our 13th wedding anniversary fielding calls and texts, and making lists. Then we skipped dessert at the restaurant, hit the pavement and walked in quiet conversation for two solid hours around the streets of Mile End, trying to gain perspective and reach a place of peace. I wish I could say we arrived.

The boys watched some Star Wars movie this past week with Danny, and since then, a quote from the flick has come up more than once, as he reminded them about homework, chores and general productivity:

“Your focus determines your reality.” *

I must have heard Danny say it ten times before I realized it was relevant to me too, somehow. I’m still thinking on that one, and how I can apply it to my various situations.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep on keepin’ on, give one-hundred percent support to those close to me, and be thankful for everything that crosses my path. Here’s hoping I can gain a little more perspective along the way.

Rhubarb Cornmeal Muffins | Simple Bites #recipe #rhubarb

Rhubarb Cornmeal Muffins
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Recipe type: Baking
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Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 8 muffins
Light and airy, spiced and moist, with tangy pockets of rhubarb and crunchy addicting edges, these muffins are a spring delicacy. Use only fresh rhubarb and enjoy them the same day they are made.
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup fine cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup raw cane sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted slightly
  • ½ cup plain yogourt
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped rhubarb (small dice)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with 8 large baking papers.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, ground almonds, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom.
  3. In a larger bowl, beat cane sugar, eggs and coconut oil together until smooth.
  4. Add in the yogourt, followed by the dry ingredients.
  5. Sprinkle in the chopped rhubarb and fold together very lightly until just combined. It's okay if there are a few streaks of flour remaining.
  6. Divide between the muffin liners and place on the middle rack in the oven.
  7. Bake for about 17-20 minutes, or until the tops no longer feel spongy. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then slide a butter knife around the edges and pop them out to enjoy warm.

* It was Liam Neeson’s character, Qui-Gon, who said this, for you movie buffs.

What are you making with rhubarb this spring?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. These muffins look life life, messy but wonderful too. Praying for you and yours. We are in a similar complicated spot.

  2. I’m making raspberry/rhubarb cream pie. It’s delicious and messy, just like life. Here’s to peace and clarity for you.

  3. Things have a funny way of working out, even when you cannot see how that might happen. Hang in there and take each day as it comes. You’ll get through this.

  4. I’m sorry you’re in a tough situation, Aimée – sometimes being an adult is overrated. Sending love your way. <3

  5. An old friend, long gone from this earth, said something that sticks with me to this day: From the struggle comes the joy. Wishing you find the joy!

  6. Because of circumstances in my own life, this made me cry and so thankful for this internet community. It’s a tough world but rhubarb and movies and time to talk does help a little.

    I need to raid someone’s garden for rhubarb,thanks for sharing.

  7. Sorry for whatever you are going through. Time sometimes has a way of healing or at least making things more clear; if that makes any sense. I wish you peace as you deal with whatever life is throwing at you right now.
    I made some rhubarb muffins this week and hubby inhaled them…men and rhubarb. 🙂

  8. Praying for peace and direction for you and your family, Aimee, and trusting that the pressures of life will push you closer to one another.

  9. Thank you for finding the time to share these perfect imperfections Despite all that is going on for you. Wishing you and your family lots of strength.

  10. That is an awesome quite and so so so true. Thanks for sharing your story. I too have been reflecting a lot on what’s next for me in life and trying to gain clarity. I’ve been a stay at home or self employed mom for over 20 years and considering rejoining the more structured work force. It’s such a huge decision and I’m really struggling with what is best for both me and my family. Hopefully we can both find the right direction and some clarity for our lives.

  11. Here’s to keeping clear perspective (or trying to anyway) in the midst of life’s changes, and here’s to delicious muffins!!

  12. Thinking of you Aimee and wishing you the perspective you crave. I just finished reading the book Creativity Inc, which is the loveliest story of the founding and running of Pixar, by Ed Catmull. What you shared in this post made me think of a part of that book, where, in a tribute to Steve Jobs (who, I learned, helped fund and lead Pixar), Ed writes “…our decisions and actions have consequences and those consequences shape our future. Our actions change our reality. Our intentions matter. Most people believe that their actions have consequences but don’t think through the implications of that belief. But Steve did. He believed, as I do, that it is precisely by acting on our intentions and staying true to our values that we change the world.”

  13. As a control freak (ish) myself, I understand the need to find fast effective solutions and be done with watch ever it is with a good resolution in hand. However, cliche or not, I found that dealing with things one at a time works wonders. On the situation and in me. Maybe it’s time to breathe, have a nice cup of tea and start with #1.
    Good luck!!

  14. Sending love and strength your way, my friend. I’m sure, whatever the circumstances are, you will navigate them with courage and grace.

  15. Aimee, your post resonated with me when I read it earlier today, and I wanted to come back to say that, first of all, your discretion is admirable. Sometimes the things that affect us aren’t our stories to tell. And sometimes the things that are our stories don’t need to be shared beyond the most trusted confidantes. In my life there have been things that happened to those close to me that affected me greatly; some brought upset, others brought joy, but all brought some learning and perspective. And there have been things that happened to me directly, bringing heartache and the change that goes along with it. Again, as you are so wisely doing, I think the answer is to work our way through each day with gratitude, to be kind to ourselves when we feel overwhelmed by it all, and always to be open to the learning that comes. Perspective, indeed. And also to embrace the delicious muffins, no matter their shape.

  16. Aimee, I feel for you and don’t have many words of wisdom to share, other than to say that I will be praying for you and your family– for peace and hope and endurance in the waiting.

  17. Ominous indeed. I just hope everything is OK with you and Danny. You will navigate your way through this time.
    Take Care!

  18. It seems in my community of friends, that a number of people had the kind of weekend you had. At times like these, I try and do some meditative walking (just as I’m getting from Point A to Point B), and I try and keep Julian of Norwich in mind as I go : “all will be well, and all will be well and all manner of things will be well”. It will be, for all of us as we wrestle. Sending lots of positive energy in your direction.

    Rhubarb at our house has been going into Smitten’s oatmeal breakfast bars with the last of last year’s frozen cherries. Hoping to make some of Marisa’s rhubarb vanilla jam this weekend.

  19. Aimee – I am sorry to read about your heavy heart and challenges this week. The usual platitudes seem off… but, I will say this: have faith. You WILL get through all of these hurdles. Seek normalcy, eat well, try to rest (if not sleep) – that’s always helped me ’til I can get some distance and clarity. And, in the experience of my police officer brother, go and have some quiet coffee with your chickens. He swears that a good session of chicken kaffeeklatch & backyard fireside reflection gets him through the worst : )
    Peace to you all.

  20. A highlight of my weekend was receiving your cookbook (a belated birthday gift that I’ve been looking forward to). It is gorgeous and evokes memories of the Little House books (which I often re-read when I need some perspective). Wishing you peace!

  21. I very much relate to that twisty feeling of facing decisions that just don’t have clear answers. We wrestled through a year where such decisions kept popping up and, honestly, sometimes I just wanted SOMEONE ELSE to be the grown up and tell us what to do. But, we are the grown-ups now, and we need to make our choices and then live into those choices. (Ironically, after a few years of wrestling with decisions, we find ourselves in a season of waiting on the timing of others. It’s a strange change and one with it’s own frustrations!)

    Praying that you will reach clarity… or at least muddled direction… to move forward and find life giving decisions in these next days, weeks, and months.

  22. I feel your struggle. It’s not easy to wrestle with choices and change. I nearly had a panic attack sitting on a bumpy Porter Air flight back to Boston last month realizing that we really are moving to Toronto and uprooting our family. We did the lists and finally realized that if we stick together as a family, we can handle the highs and lows before us. Thinking happy thoughts for your family.

  23. Aimee, I hope you are doing well today.
    While reading through all the lovely comments above it is wonderful to see that you have such wonderful support from your readers. I have only recently discovered your blog in the past couple months and it is lovely. Your recipes are scrumptious, simple, and beautiful.

    We all have our struggles that we go through in life, and I am so sorry that you are having things come at you from what sounds like many different directions. You are in my thoughts and prayers and I hope you have found the clarity you are seeking.

    • Thank you so much, Lauren. I’m taking things one day at a time – and we are all well.

      I really appreciate you joining our community here, and your kind comment.

  24. Hi Aimee,

    Just wondering if this recipe can work for a loaf as well. I need to bring something for work tonorrow for both the day and evening teams. I was just thinking 2 loafs would be easier to transport than 2 dozen muffins. I tried this recipe last week. I have a muffin tin for 12 as opposed to 6 jumbo muffins. The taste was amazing. A bit greasy undernneath the muffin liners, but I thought maybe it had to do with the 6 jumbo versus 12 moderate size conversion. Thank you for this recipe :).

    • Hi Ginette,
      I think it would work better as a cake, say in a 9″ round pan? I haven’t tried it though. Glad you are liking the recipe!

  25. Denise Duclos says:

    life does have a way of keeping you on your toes. A few months ago my husband and I were involved in a very serious car accident. It is my children whose world was turned upside down………I watched helplessly from a hospital bed and saw them sink to their lowest level when they thought they had lost us both. We are both home now and doing well……A broken neck is keeping me from doing my usual thing. I have always been one to say just put one foot in front of the other and you’ll get there,but, having a goal to reach is also necessary. My remaining life will be so much better because of the ordeal we are going through.I hope you can say the same down the road as well. I think all your readers consider themselves to be part of your family……………so if you need an occasional vent……..give us a holler and we’ll come a running.

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