2: Hockey Pucks

2: Hockey Pucks

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love

Hockey Pucks

A hundred hearts would be too few
To carry all my love for you.

~Author Unknown

My husband had only two culinary skills — coffee and tuna salad — and although he did those both very well, he was terrified to take things any further.

He broke into a cold sweat if I so much as asked him to take something out of the oven. He required detailed instructions when asked to pick up an onion or a dozen eggs. The good news is that cooking was such a complete mystery to him, he thought I was brilliant because I could transform raw chicken into dinner. The bad news is that left at home with a little girl to feed, he was utterly helpless.

But early on, my husband committed a deed of culinary derringdo, when he set aside his fear of anything involving food preparation because he loved me so much.

I had just returned from the hospital with our new baby girl. She was not sleeping and neither was I, and between hormones and sleep deprivation, I was a wreck. The baby cried. I cried. I was also hungry and not up to doing anything about it. He looked on, worried and desperate to help.

“What would you eat if you could eat anything?” he asked, nervously. We both knew that unless it was take-out, whatever “anything” was would be beyond his capabilities, probably involving an oven or stovetop and baffling ingredients from little jars. But even his wanting to try helped. I dried my eyes and considered.

“If I could have anything I would want some whole grain applesauce muffins,” I said, with no hope that there would be any until the baby permitted me fifteen minutes to bake them. (I figured sixteen years, give or take.) He sat on the edge of the bed for a moment, thinking hard, and then vanished into the kitchen.

An hour of banging cabinets and refrigerator doors later, he walked in, flushed and sheepish, carrying a steaming mug of perfect decaf... and a plate of hockey pucks. I bit into one. They were warm and cinnamon-y and odd. I am not sure why they turned out that way — the recipe is foolproof — but they were half an inch tall and rubbery. “They’re awful, aren’t they?” he said, defeated. He didn’t get it.

I started to cry again, because of hormones and sleep deprivation, but also because I had a plate full of the most wonderful muffins that I would ever eat, a husband who loved me so much that he would crack raw eggs for me, and the baby I had dreamed of. I was the luckiest girl on earth.

People like to say that food made with love tastes better. We know that’s not necessarily true. We’ve all choked down Grandma’s stringy pot roast or Aunt Rachel’s parsnips and prayed for a reprieve. What is true is that sometimes food is made with so much love that the taste is irrelevant. When my husband made the applesauce hockey pucks he overcame fear and insecurity because he wanted me to feel better.

Sometimes the best dish that you ever had is a transcendent blend of tastes and textures and beautiful presentation. And sometimes it is an even more transcendent blend of courage and dreams and love.

Whole Grain Applesauce Muffins

2 cups of multigrain flour (whole wheat works fine too)

2 eggs

1 cup of milk (soy or rice milk works fine too)

1 cup applesauce

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup raisins, walnuts, or a combination of the two (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients with the exception of the optional nuts/raisins in a large bowl.

Beat the eggs lightly and stir in the milk and oil. Quickly stir together the two mixtures until just combined and then add the nuts and/or raisins in a few quick strokes.

Spoon into greased muffin cups and bake 15-17 minutes.

~Jacqueline Rivkin

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