24: Honeymoon Muffins

24: Honeymoon Muffins

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love

Honeymoon Muffins

When love is not madness, it is not love.

~Pedro Calderón de la Barca

For a teacher, summer vacation is a welcome reward for the many hours devoted to the needs of children. The last day is bittersweet indeed — with joy and anticipation of time off mixed with the sadness of saying goodbye to those who were one’s school family for the past year.

At the end of my seventh year in the profession, I decided to leave my first school, a place where I had forged strong relationships with students, parents and the community. I truly loved my work in that small town so the farewell was especially difficult.

But love does strange things to a man. I had spent each weekend that May transporting my belongings to what would become home for me and my soon-to-be wife, some seventy miles north of that little community. By the last week, all that remained was a cot, a few clothes, paper plates, a towel and a toothbrush. The last day of school, I said my goodbyes at school amidst hugs and tears and then quickly went to surrender my keys to the landlord. I loaded the last few items, hopped in my truck and headed toward my wedding rehearsal dinner.

A few days later we were married, and then off to a little getaway in the Arizona mountains for a week. Alas, we had to return to the real world at the end of the week and begin figuring out this new thing called marriage.

My wife soon returned to her work at the bank, having only received two weeks of vacation. I, on the other hand, still had the better part of my three-month sabbatical. Each morning, she arose at six to prepare for her work as a teller. As much as I hated pulling myself from bed, I got up as well in order to prove my husbandly devotion to my beloved bride. We ate breakfast together and shared the morning paper. Then she was off to work, and I was left to the domestic duties of a vacationing groom.

I washed the dishes, straightened up the house, read a few chapters of the latest book borrowed from the library and then gravitated to the kitchen where I scoured the Betty Crocker cookbook — a wedding gift still in pristine form — for something easy yet impressive for each night’s romantic dinner. My wife was not fond of my bachelor diet of ramen noodles and hot dogs despite the many delicious variations I had concocted using these two delicacies.

Ms. Crocker soon convinced me that with a little patience, practice and creativity, I could transform a few common ingredients into a gourmet dinner. I was extremely cautious throughout the training. My mother’s words from my adolescence helped guide me: You make it, you eat it... no matter what!

Soon my tired wife was being treated to grand meals of baked pork chops and stuffing, homemade lasagna, rice and chicken casseroles and broiled steak with potatoes. I’m sure that a little ramen would have been a tasty addition, but I respected my new bride’s wishes.

One morning, I happened upon a recipe for muffins. Dinner would now be complete. We could even have them for breakfast! The recipe was simple, and I followed it just as Betty prescribed. I added chopped apple pieces to the ingredients, poured the mix into the individual muffin cups and baked for twenty minutes. Finally golden-brown and aromatic, my first desserts were pulled from the oven. I bit into one and found it to be fairly bland. But I did not disobey my mother... I ate four for a morning snack.

I went right back to the mixing bowl. I tripled the required amount of sugar and added an additional cup of chopped apples. When the timer rang, I sampled a muffin from batch two. It melted in my mouth. I was so excited — I baked two more dozen and piled the morsels high on a serving plate.

When my wife arrived home, she complimented me on the inviting bakery smell. I took her to the kitchen and proudly showed off my morning’s work. She looked at the muffin mountain and then at me before rolling her eyes. “Well, at least, we have breakfast for the next couple of weeks,” she said.

Encouraged, I elatedly ran to the kitchen each morning after hearing her car pull away. She liked my muffins!

As any great chef will do, I soon began experimenting with my new recipe. Within minutes another twelve apple muffins were born, this time with brown sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top. The next day I made peach muffins... three dozen. Then there were raisin muffins and blueberry muffins and cranberry muffins — even pear muffins. Two dozen each.

My confidence bolstered, my courage strong, I ventured away from fruit. There were marshmallow muffins and chocolate chip muffins and gum drop muffins and mint muffins. A dozen each. I even considered ramen muffins — but reconsidered.

After a week of indulging my out-of-control culinary compulsion, my wife took me aside and counseled me. “What in the world are we going to do with all of these muffins? Get under control, dear. Read a book! Get another hobby!”

Dejectedly, I looked at the piles of muffins filling every flat area of our tiny kitchen and then back to her. “But I did it for you,” I whimpered.

She kissed me and then grabbed a blueberry muffin and stuffed it in her lunch box. “Thanks. I love you, but please, no more muffins!”

I wrapped up several packages and delivered my treats to my parents and siblings. Then I took more packages out and delivered muffins to my wife’s family. My mother-in-law rolled her eyes, but I have learned over the years that this is what mothers-in-law do. However, she graciously accepted the gift from my kitchen.

Several dozen muffins remained in our refrigerator and kept us from worrying about what we would have for breakfast all that first month of our marriage. Now, many years later, with life a little more hectic, I often turn to store-bought mixes and whip up a dozen muffins every now and then. But they just don’t taste the same as those early honeymoon muffins.

~Tim Ramsey

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