Dealing with disappointment

Generally, I’m a fairly positive person and deal with disappointment pragmatically (except if it involves men, then I become bitter, twisted and find myself unable to eat cake). Sure, I was peeved when my moving-to-California neighbour sold his piano to his builder, having previously promised it to me (for free), but I got over it and don’t even mention it when he complains (now that he’s back) that he’s got no piano to play. However, I do find, as with most people, that it’s the things that are most keenly looked forward to that can cause the most disappointment.

On Sunday, after a luxurious lie-in (verging on utterly slobby) I dragged myself out for a pre-church walk. The river was being battered by gale force winds and the walk from London Bridge to Charing Cross (via St Paul’s and Covent Garden) required a number of hat holding moments (in the very literal sense – I crossed Millennium Bridge with one hand firmly on my head). Such an invigorating exercise made me rather peckish, so as I approached Covent Garden I promised myself some Oreo Cakesters from CyberCandy. Disappointment number one was that the store had none (nor did it have – yet again – small packages of Peanut Butter M&Ms, but this is an ongoing disappointment that will only end if I give in and buy a large bag for £7). I stocked up on mini peanut butter cups, Twizzlers and cinnamon Pop Tarts, but was left without a squidgy sugary snack to boost my energy levels.

Starbucks was a logical next stop and en route I decided that I’d even push the boat out and allow myself a non low-fat muffin, specifically of an apple & cinnamon variety. Yum. [Have you noticed I’ve got a bit of a thing for cinammon? It’s without question my favourite spice – I never make porridge without it.] My mouth is actually beginning to water at the memory of it…

Negotiating the crowds in Trafalgar Square, I hurried into the tube and gratefully sat down for the first time in hours. Eagerly I opened my paper bag and took out the muffin. One glance and I nearly howled in disappointment. There, on my lap, was no apple & cinnamon goodness but instead, a lousy blueberry muffin. Wait, not even a normal one – a low-fat blueberry muffin. In their defence, Starbucks do excellent low-fat muffins, their peach & raspberry version being a personal favourite, but the blueberry one is massively disappointing.

In anger I threw the muffin back into its bag without even taking a bite and thrust it into my handbag. I was furious that I’d been denied my choice of treat by a barista who hadn’t listened to me properly and that I was now travelling at speed away from the shop, so could do nothing about it. Disappointment when combined with hunger and rage is never a good thing and somewhat irrationally I nearly burst into tears. Quite what I would have said if someone asked what was wrong – “the woman at Starbucks gave me the wrong muffin” would have sounded really quite pathetic. But honestly, I was on the edge and it would have been the kind of crying that lasts for a good long while.

A bit of muffin love…

Fortunately, on this occasion although the disappointment was bitter, it wasn’t long-lasting. By the time I arrived at church I was all smiles and on re-telling of my muffin woes, realised just how pathetic they sounded and tucked into a welcome brownie instead. (People give out baked goods at the church’s entrance – one of the many reasons why I love my church.) Thankfully, those I told were sympathetic so I even managed to feel less foolish – though on reflection I realise that in life there are much, much bigger disappointments one must deal with.

Writing this post has made me crave nice things, so do excuse me, I’m off to find a cup of tea and a chocolate HobNob…

Post Edit:
I got a rare anonymous comment on this post that I won’t publish, but will respond to in the body of the post – for the benefit of anyone else who feels the same. The comment read:

“Sounds like someone doesn’t realise just how fortunate they really are.”
If you’re a newcomer to my writing, most of it shouldn’t be taken too seriously – generally I just take the micky out of myself as a way of staying grounded and aware of what an idiot I can be. The point of my post was to show that I was in such a mood on Sunday that I nearly cried when given the wrong cake – like a 6 year old – which is neither mature or reasonable. As I said above, I realise that life holds bigger disappointments and I wasn’t trying to brush those aside. In fact, if anything, when I was shouting “it’s not fair!!” inside my head it wasn’t so much about the muffin, but probably residual disappointment at something much, much bigger, which can lead me into a tendency to make mountains out of molehills. 
Finally, if you’re reading this post for the first time now, it means you also missed out on my spectacular mis-spelling of HobNob. All I’ll say is that there was an erroneous ‘k’, but I’ll leave you to work out where it went… 

Acting on instructions

When I found a random cutting from The Times lying on my desk a couple of weeks back, I was firstly touched that someone had thought of me. Then I looked a little more closely – it was a series of recipes involving chocolate and cake…it seems a colleague had found a recipe they liked the look of, thought I’d like it too and hoped I might bake it and bring the results into the office. What a cunning plan!

Of course it worked. There’s a meeting on Friday for which I sporadically bake, so this seemed to be a good opportunity to try out one of the recipes – in fact, the very recipe which caused the colleague to snip out the article: Double Chocolate Marshmallow Muffins. [In fact, when I quizzed her she said: “well, I know how much you love cupcakes…” – I had to explain the significant difference between cupcakes and muffins.]

Some of you may remember that for my birthday tea-party I trialled Hummingbird’s marshmallow cupcakes. These are a slightly different variation on a theme. For a start, as I mentioned above they’re muffins not cupcakes (key ingredient difference = oil not butter), plus the inclusion of marshmallows happens in a slightly different fashion – included in the batter, as opposed to inserted into the cooked sponge. 
I can’t link to the recipe thanks to the Times’ paywall, but it’s one from Home Bake (Eric Lanlard) which I’ve adapted slightly. In his recipe, the muffins are frosted with Marshmallow Fluff. I’m not keen on the concept of frosting of muffins and didn’t see the point of wasting (!) a jar of Fluff on colleagues. If it had been for a tea-party then perhaps I’d have had a go, but otherwise… Plus, I happened to have both dark and white chocolate chips, so I used both and added extras on top (before baking) to make up for the lack of frosting. 
Double Chocolate Marshmallow Muffins
2 x large eggs
175ml Vegetable Oil
300ml Milk
500g SR Flour
Good pinch of salt
2tsp Baking Powder
4tbsp Cocoa
250g Caster sugar
4tbsp Chocolate chips
150g Mini-marshmallows
Pre-heat oven to 200c/Gas Mark 6 & line 12 cake tin with muffin papers.
Put the eggs & oil into a large jug, mix, then add the milk.
Sift flour, salt, baking powder, cocoa& sugar together into a bowl. Add jug of liquid.
Mix until liquid & dry ingredients comes together. Fold in chocolate chips.
Spoon enough batter into cases to fill half-way. Sprinkle marshmallows between centres of muffins and cover with remaining batter.
Bake for 20mins. Cool on wire rack.

I had one minor incident. I was using my mini-cupcake pan and some cases I found in Ikea. They’re actually designed to fit some random Swedish tin that I didn’t buy at the same time, figuring I’d still be able to use them. I was kind of wrong – at least, it was too much for this recipe and that tin. Opening the oven, I discovered this: 

Oh dear. A top heavy muffin over-spill situation. Ooops.
Fortunately, they generally turned out ok and tasted significantly better than ok. Hopefully the colleagues will be suitably grateful tomorrow.

Domestic bliss: carrot & pineapple muffins

So, as I’m enjoying domestic solitude at the moment, I’m having a bit of a baking marathon. This is also because as of Friday I’ll be spending a few days under canvas at Greenbelt and it’s a tradition that we take lots of baked goods with us to keep us going through what may well be several days of dampness.

Carrot & pineapple muffins are one of my favourite things to bake – super fast and seemingly a tad healthy – and most importantly, very yummy. You can also experiment a bit with the recipe, peaches can work just as well as pineapple…

I’m not sure that the pictures below do them justice, so you’ll have to trust me. (It’s been a long while since I last poisoned anyone, honest!)