But that wasn't the issue yesterday when I decided to make a dozen blueberry muffins. Last time I tried this, back in the previous century, I’m sure they started life as a box. You know: open box, pour contents into bowl, add an egg and water, and swish. Then deposit ice-cream-scoopfuls of batter into those cute muffin pan liners.
Not this time. My new mode (yesterday, at least) was to avoid packaged foods and create my own from scratch. I would start small and work my way up to full-blown meals. How hard could cooking muffins be? [That I thought “cooking” instead of “baking” might give you a clue.]
I turned the oven on and gathered my ingredients. Things went well until I had to add sugar and realized I’d missed getting that out. I hunted in the cupboard and the crocks that I’d moved during Corona Virus Shutdown Week 2: Organize (which followed Week 1: Clean). Then I had a dim flimmer (that should have read, “glimmer,” but I liked flimmer so well that I left it for you to enjoy) of a time when I’d decided we should avoid granulated sugar. Evidently, I’d given it away, leaving us with only a small bag of powdered and a tiny, rock-hard bag of brown sugar mixed with Splenda.
Then, I remembered you can cook with Splenda, and we have an abundance of that for my husband’s coffee and cereal. The package said to check Splenda.com for info about using it in cooking. Their website said:
“Splenda recommends using a one-to-one ratio of Splenda Granulated to sugar when the amount of sugar is 1 1/4 cups or fewer, or the amount of flour used in the recipe is at least two times the amount of sugar. However, when using more than 1 1/4 cups of Splenda or the amount of flour used is less than two times the amount of sugar, you should replace only half of the sugar with Splenda to help preserve the best consistency and baking yield.”
I sensed I was in a lot of trouble.
Still, not one to be daunted easily, I read the passage nine more times until I thought I understood. Let’s say you think I did, too. I gazed back at my muffin recipe. The amount of flour dictated that I replace only half of the sugar with Splenda. But I was using powdered sugar, not granulated. How would that conversion would work?
Google said 1 cup of granulated sugar is roughly equal to 1-3/4 cups of powdered. The recipe called for 2-1/2 cups of granulated sugar. I needed only half of that because I’d use Splenda for the rest. That meant 1-1/4 cups of granulated, which was equivalent to . . .
I needed an algebraic equation. Luckily for me, the only equation I’ve ever found useful (or remembered, probably because it was useful) happened to be the one I needed. I pulled out a pencil and got to work. Or, rather, I hollered to our surveillance robot, “Hey, Google, what’s . . ..”
Two and a half hours later, I placed the muffins in the oven. They cooked nicely in the prescribed amount of time. These were my muffins. I delivered half next door, my husband ate one (out of duty, if not desire), and I peeled the cute little paper away from mine.
Sigh. I had to admit (to myself only, at first) that our local Bashas supermarket has better muffins. To my husband’s credit, it was only after I mentioned that the muffin I was eating might be a little bit “crumby” did my husband’s eyes twinkle, and then his mouth cocked into the crooked grin that only an Irishman can make.
“Yeah, they are kinda crummy, at that,” he said, and his twinkle twinkled more brightly and his grin widened.
Remember, those were MY muffins, the ones I’d slaved over for three hours, when I could have been washing the floor or doing more laundry. He was maligning my crumby muffins. Then he made that little laugh of his that reminds me of Snidely Whiplash. That did it. I gathered up the last four crumby muffins, sat at my desk, and ate them. All. At once. I even ate the crumbs that landed on the lap of my housedress.
An hour and a dose of antacid later, I calculated the costs of my endeavor. Electricity used to keep the oven hot for two hours while I calculated the amount of sugar to use? Probably the same as the gas to drive to Basha's market and back. Dry ingredients to make muffins: who knows? But they just might be more expensive than a box of muffin mix on sale.
While I couldn’t really put a price on my crumby masterpiece, I definitely knew the payout: I had fun (sort of), I completed the project and learned some facts about sugar, I certainly scored in the calorie department, and I made my crummy husband smile. That’s priceless.