My cooking journey has a parallel story similar to running adventure, in the sense that the passion/love has been cultivated through time. I grew up in a somewhat “foodie” family. My grandfather would go the miles (literally) to find fresh-caught tuna to make sashimi. He would spend hours making Taiwanese sausage from scratch, because that was the authentic thing to do. He definitely enjoyed good food and alcohol. Growing up, I appreciated good food, especially, when it was placed in front of me. I never really learned how to cook except in those rare occasions that I would help. Even then, I remembered my main job was to wash dishes because I was not “skilled” enough to help.
In college, I lived on campus and dining hall food was just fine and convenient. It wasn’t until the last year when I lived in an apartment where there was a small kitchen that I began to “experiment”. I would not call that cooking, especially, when mostly I just cooked white rice (via rice cooker). My very first dish was taught by my dad who at my request showed me some authentic Taiwanese pork stew. I was mesmerized at how many STEPS it required to make a dish. Even then, only my nostalgia with Taiwanese food motivated me to cook few times a month. Essentially, I still lived on dining hall food.
Then came graduate school when my little brother (who was in high school) lived with me. Cooking became a necessity to live. There was another (minor) depending on me. Cooking was a chore – it needed to be done and hopefully well enough to eat (or at least provide some calorie) To my surprise, practice did make it better. Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory was definitely working for me.
When I got married, cooking remained a chore. Someone had to do it. If it was left to my hubby who honestly despised cooking, we would probably eat out all the time, which could be expensive and unhealthy. It was not until recently (fall of 2012), after my dad’s minor stroke, when I decided to change my lifestyle, that I began to see cooking as a “fun thing” to do. At first, I had to relearn about healthy cooking, then it became a fun activity to scour the website for recipes. Soon after, watching Chef John’s Foodwishes was a regular before-going-to-bed activity. I was dreaming what I would make.
Cooking like running is a journey. Just like running, in the beginning, there was some growing pain. But over time, I discovered that I enjoyed the process of following a recipe and then creating something that was more my taste. It was my artistic expression. This past few weeks, after trying Chef John’s Blueberry Muffins couple times with few minor variation. I finally found my (and hubby’s) favorite.
Original credit goes to Chef John’s Too Many Blueberry Muffins
My minor modifications are:
- Flour: I semi substituted the 3 cups all-purpose flour to 2.5 cups of all-purpose flour and half cup of wheat flour. I tried with 1.5 cups all-purpose flour + 1.5 cups of wheat flour because I liked the “rougher” texture. However, hubby’s feedback was that it was too dry.
- Blueberry: Chef John already put more than the usual amount of blueberry. I added even more because both of us loved blueberry. I used 2.5 cups. It was really blueberry explosion goodness! The unintended but excellent result was the muffins were very moist.
- Sugar: instead of white granulated sugar, I used turbinado raw cane sugar. At our household, we banned white sugar. It is too refined for healthy reasons. This is another major motivation for me to start baking, because virtually all store-bought pastry uses white sugar.
- Vegetable Oil: I used coconut oil at home. Vegetable oil is also banned from our kitchen since the heating point is too low for a lot of my style of cooking.
- Lemon zest/extract: I tried both and found no difference in the final product. So, for ease, I used lemon juice.
Here is the shop list version of my recipe:
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
0.5 cups wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup turbinado raw cane sugar
1 (1/2 cup) stick butter, softened
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2.5 cups fresh blueberries