Rhubarb Ginger Muffins

This past weekend was spent packing up my belongings. Taking clothing out of the closet, folding it in baskets, and dearly hoping that it doesn't wrinkle. Pulling the baking supplies off the shelves, wrapping them in layers of paper towels and coffee filters, and placing them in boxes marked with the word glass in thick black marker. I wondered what's important enough to bring along or trivial enough to leave behind. I wondered if I've chosen correctly. It's strange to see my life packed up into cardboard boxes (and stranger still to see them fit neatly into the back of my car).

It's moving day.

Moving has always been such a bittersweet process for me. It's one of life's true adventures. New cities, new countries, new stories, and new friends are all out there, waiting to be discovered. The thought is exhilarating enough for the butterflies to awaken and whirl and twirl around my stomach. I'm attracted to the idea of moving, of cutting ties and embracing something fresh with open arms. The spirit of moving is looking the unknown in the eye, shaking his hand, and greeting him with a hello.

By the same token, moving is hard. I don't want to have to say goodbye to the place I call home, to the city I've grown familiar with, or to the people I love. Though I wish all my goodbyes could be see you later's, the truth is that sometimes they aren't. People or places get left behind; they fade away into oblivion, into memories, despite best efforts to clutch tightly onto them. I've moved a dozen times in the last five years. I've left so many things behind.

This time I haven't moved very farβ€”only half a state and three hours away. For the first time in my life, I'm living alone. My belongings are unpacked, finding refuge in closets and cupboards. I feel optimistic. My adventure no longer sits on the horizon, to be gazed at with all the longing emotion of a fading sun. It's here and now. It's today.

As I sit here on this new-to-me couch, with my feet propped up on a borrowed coffee table, I wonder how long it will take for this new place to become home.

These Rhubarb Ginger Muffins were a whim on a Tuesday afternoon. Whole wheat ginger muffins meet a wonderfully tart rhubarb and lemon jam, blending bold flavors seamlessly. Just before baking, the muffin batter is topped with a spoonful of jam. Due to the weight, the jam falls directly into the center of the muffin while baking, making these muffins self-filling and giving them an unique appearance. I was surprised by how taken I was with these muffins; they easily fall into my nearest and dearest favorites.

One Year Ago: Pina Colada Cupcakes

Rhubarb Ginger Muffins

Yields 10-12 muffins

Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
6-7 medium stalks rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a muffin tin or line with baking cups.

In a small saucepan, combine lemon juice, 1/2 cup sugar, and rhubarb pieces. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the rhubarb forms a thick jam, about 8-12 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. This should yield around 1/2 cup jam.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Add the egg and continue beating. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually add the ground ginger, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the flour and milk.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full of batter. Using a spoon, make a slight depression in the center of the batter. Place a tablespoon of the rhubarb jam into the depression (the jam will fill the center of the cupcakes as they bake). Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean.