Part of it is an accumulation of failed recipes, which always knocks the wind out of my sails. But I think that I’m being impacted by my environment, too. My days are very routine, and they’re peaceful in many ways, but there’s still the weight of changed lifestyle and reality to cope with. When I focus on simple household tasks, I feel calm, but there’s always a lurking anxiety about the current circumstances—worry for my mom, worry for loved ones—and so many questions about when and how we’ll start to recover as a society.
Given that I’ve had essentially no human contact in eight or nine weeks, my loneliness is manageable. It comes and goes, but I have plenty of virtual contact, and that helps. Even so, I’m starting to get restless. I miss my city. I miss being out, walking into coffee shops and restaurants, grocery shopping without a sense of urgency and the need to hurry home.
What definitely doesn’t help is experimenting with overly ambitious recipes. Ambitious is a relative term, of course: when I’m calm and centered and energetic, there are a lot of recipe projects that turn out to be fun. When I’m anxious and glum and unmotivated, it’s not the time to experiment with an elaborate new cake, which is what I spent three days doing this week. In my defense, it’s my mother’s birthday and Mother’s Day this weekend, and I wanted to observe them in style. But I probably should have stopped after only one failed attempt, rather than a few.
Intuitively, I knew that I’d cheer up if I baked something that was a success. Instead of overreaching, I decided to make a recipe that’s relatively close to other recipes that I’ve made and loved. These corn and jam muffins are it. I love cornbread with jam, so it’s no surprise that I think they’re delightful. And the jam is a surprise, a little pocket of sweetness that you find when you open up a muffin or bite into it to eat.
Here’s the muffin recipe.