Do you save papers? I do. All kinds of papers. I think I come from the transitional generation whose formative years gave them the impression that paper (along with cursive writing and envelope addressing) was one of the pains of daily life and always would be. And then in the middle of our adolescence, it became necessary that we also know how to turn in all our assignments online (even when the website was made by dinosaurs from a millennium past), as well as have all the social media accounts in order to stay on top of last minute homework assigned at midnight (not to mention if we wanted to have any friends.) Typing was also an issue. So I save paper, and once or twice it has really saved me from a lot of grief, but other times it kind of weighs me down.
For instance, I still have a binder full of my “following a columnist” project in AP English in 10th grade. Four years later, it’s lying in a box on the floor of my room (a nice little nest for the cat, I guess, but little else.) I don’t really expect my teacher from high school, who moved to a different school district, to suddenly barge into my house and demand to see my columnist project. Teachers always warned us to save papers until the end of the term to help make up for their capricious tendencies to accidentally give students zeros on papers that were turned in, graded and returned. But I took that practice to heart in a big way. My accordion binder never gets opened, but it sits fatly on the floor looking all self-important and bulging with all my little quizzes and worksheets from years ago, from schools I already graduated from – just in case.
Sometimes the reason I keep the papers is sentimentality. I was so happy the first time I got an A+ 100% Wow! 🙂 on a sixth grade history test that I cherished the paper with the precious red pen marks on it like a sort of Rosetta Stone, a reminder that no matter how discouraging my teacher might be later, she had smiled and said Wow! to me once. I also tend to keep ticket stubs, pages of magazines I like and steal, even notes to myself from a different period of my life to help me remember what it was like to be inside my own brain at that time. For instance, I still have pages of emails I printed between myself, my mom, and my dietician when I was first re-learning to eat in the ninth grade. Questions about half-tablespoons of olive oil and how much lettuce was necessary to make that a feasible conquest, and whether I could take a week off running when my tooth was extracted. And tons of post-its from the years afterwards, covered with my obsessive calculations and kind of stern notes to self intended to make sure I did everything right. I don’t believe in those post-its or what’s on them anymore, but for some reason it felt wrong to just recycle them. Like maybe one day some researcher on eating disorders like the one I had will benefit from the documents. Again, though, I’m not expecting a researcher to break into my house, any more than I expect my tenth grade English teacher to do so.
So far I have mentioned papers that I keep because of superstition and those that I retain for sentimental reasons. There is a third and final class of papers that haunt my drawers, binders, shelves, and basically every corner of space in my physical life, and this is the category that ought to be the least consequential: papers I keep simply because I am too lazy to do anything else. I picked up an informational flyer about how to rescue a baby bird – and when not to interfere – the last time I was at the vet, and I think it is still in my drawer with the millions of golden safety pins and plastic bags I hide from my cat (who chews on plastic.) I could have scanned it, saved it on my computer, even shared it on social media to help spread the knowledge – but I never did. I also could have read it over, decided I was done with it, and recycled it – but I didn’t want to make that kind of irreversible commitment. Hence its perpetual purgatory in my desk drawer.
Most of these papers are just nuisances and really nothing too interesting in the context of this blog: the cut-up black and white model from an art school workshop that revealed to me the horrors of the fashion design business; a magazine full of advertisements that seemed like a really great free souvenir at the Oregon Symphony last fall; the program from a play I liked but really have never wondered since what was the last name of the person who played Matt. However, one such paper is the source of this post today: an idiosyncratically-folded notebook page where a certain recipe was jotted down, many weeks ago, the last time I was at home with a real oven. I wanted to share the recipe with my readers, but the desire was apparently not so burning that I was able to get the post finished within the week I had at home. So I stuffed the batter-blotted, pencil-smeared page into the back pocket of my music binder, along with a practice record from March 2015 and a failed start to a drawing of jellyfish fashion designs. Luckily for you all, I am not going to be blogging about practice records or my terrible drawing skills today. Instead, here is the recipe for some hearty, dense, and nuanced peanut butter banana oatmeal muffins featuring a lovely dark chocolate center. So here. Thanks for taking this piece of paper off my hands.
Fruity PB & Raisin Bran Muffins
Makes 12 regular-sized muffins
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 packet Quaker lower sugar oatmeal, Maple Brown Sugar flavor (or replace with your preferred instant oatmeal packet)
- 1 tbs baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2-1/2 cups Raisin Bran cereal (I used an off-brand)
- 1 egg
- 1 medium overripe banana, mashed
- 1/4 cup honey
- one 6-oz/single serve container of flavored yogurt of your choice (I used Yoplait low fat Strawberry Cheesecake flavor, but prefer other brands in general because Yoplait includes gelatin in their recipe and I really don’t like to use gelatin if I can avoid it)
- 1/2 cup milk (I used 1% fat dairy milk, but I imagine non-dairy milks might also work)
- 1/2 cup Reese’s peanut butter chips and/or semisweet chocolate chips (I used a mix in my odds-and-ends rendition, but you can use either or both according to your taste)
- 12 Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Kisses, unwrapped
Preheat oven to 400 Fahrenheit. Line a regular-sized muffin tin with 12 muffin papers or foil liners.
In a large bowl, combine cereal, mashed banana, honey, and yogurt. Let it sit for three minutes or so to soften cereal. Beat with a hand mixer on medium until all the cereal is crushed. Add egg and milk and beat until mixed.
In another large bowl, combine the flour, oatmeal, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine.
Pour the dry mixture into the wet mixture and stir gently until combined, being sure not to over-mix. Add the small chocolate/pb chips and stir in gently.
Spoon the batter into each muffin liner, distributing as equally as possible. Cups will be close to full of batter.
Bake at 400 Fahrenheit for a total of 15-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out with crumbs of baked muffin on it rather than wet batter (it will not be “clean” because the muffins are dense and gooey; this is a good thing.)
Somewhere in the middle of the baking, around 10 minutes through, remove the muffin tin carefully from the oven (but leave the oven on!) Press Hershey’s chocolate kisses gently into the top center of each partly-baked muffin, with the tip facing down. Return to oven for remaining time.
Allow to cool as long as the willpowers that be will permit, and dig in!
I think these taste best warm with the chocolate all melty, but they are also good from the fridge the next day.