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Bananas and Boundaries

Bananas and Boundaries

This morning we're making muffins. Again.

Last week I bought a case of bargain bananas. A case is big.

The freezer is now full of frozen bananas for future smoothies, muffins, choco-avo-bana pudding and bread. There's one last basket on the kitchen table, attracting many fruit flies, that still needs attention.

The weather has cooled off considerably and there's a chance of rain today but there's a guarantee of banana muffins in our kitchen. The fruit flies are excellent motivators. And I have found the best recipe.

I can't always count on the hooligans for help baking anymore. Baking has been "our thing" since they could stand beside me on a chair in the kitchen. But they are very busy individuals, as you can imagine, so all I can do is create the opportunity. And if they care to join me then I'm there to help.

When they inevitably come to "check in" and find me in the kitchen with the flour and sugar swirling around they usually join in. One does the wet ingredients and one does the dry while I do my best to make sure it all gets done, in the right order, with the right ingredients. It's a lot for my brain but I'm gettin better at it.

Sometimes we talk about fractions, where bananas come from or they just squabble about who gets to do what. Sometimes they don't talk and just scoop batter into their mouths. We are all learning so much.

Creating opportunities is the basis of how I'm unschooling. It requires me to be open and ready for their participation on whatever level. Not only do I want to share with them what I love and know (I have worked as a baker and pastry chef among other things before having kids), I want to foster in them the opportunity for discovery.

It's much easier said than done.

Sometimes I just want to get things done or I've wound myself up in a web of multitasking that doesn't allow for much space to be facilitating the baking or I have a deadline or I'm in the midst of trying to place an order from one of my suppliers...That's when I excercise my boundaries.

Boundaries can be so hard, but they are so essential.

On a good morning, I'll take a deep breath and see if I can handle the "help". If I can't I redirect them to something else and promise to read with them when I'm done.

I didn't learn much about boundaries as a kid - this is as valuable for them to learn about as it is for me. If my cup isn't full how can I help them? If my cup isn't full, how can I help me?

I'm the leader of our little band and I need to be on top of it. If they sense that their leader is not up to it, they will usually test me with some baking soda experiments in the bathroom or walk around the house eating handfuls of granola just to get me back on the job.

Being present and being aware of what I need and what I'm capable of has been my super power lately.

With the heat, sometimes I can't handle much. So instead we sit and read. I make an icy drink or scoop some ice cream.

I realized the other morning how much I love to bake. While I often give away much of what I make (which is so fun, too) there's so many things I love about it. This was a bit of an epiphany for me because I'd been wondering what I really liked to do anymore amongst the full days of motherhood.

I want to share the experience but I also just want to do it for me. It brings me joy. And when the hooligans feel me doing something I love and that brings me joy they want to be there, too.

The only thing I love more than baking is baking with my hooligans.

Based on a recipe from Cooks Illustrated magazine May/June 2021
12+ muffins

1 2/3 Cups (9.5oz) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4-5 large very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (2 cups)
3/4 cup (5.5 oz) sugar (we use coconut or cane sugar)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil (or olive oil or melted coconut oil)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup peanut butter or any nut/seed butter (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and set oven to 425F. Line 12-18 muffin cups with silicone or paper muffin cups. This recipe always makes more than 12.
2. The dry: Whisk flour, baking poweder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
3. The wet: Whisk bananas, sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla in a large bowl until fully combined. Add flour mixture and stir until fully combined.
4. Scoop batter into cups. Try to make them all even - approximately 1/2 cup batter per cup.
5. Bake until tops are golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 14 to 18 minutes. Let muffins cooli in muffin tin on wire rack for 10 mintures. Remove muffins from muffin tin and let cool for at least 5 mintues.


If you have any questions please let me know :)

Jenn Chic

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