Friday, June 25, 2010

Thoughts of Home and Zucchini Muffins

The graceful zucchini is ubiquitous this time of year, dangling from sprawling plants in gardens and piled high on the tables at the farmer's market. Glad am I, that they are plentiful. Like their other vegetable friends, zucchini can be eaten raw or cooked. I find zucchini desirable almost any way you serve it but I really really like zucchini muffins. This recipe isn't one that I found in the Mennonite Community Cookbook. In fact, the only thing listed under Z in the index of that collection of recipes is zwiebach. The recipe I share now is adapted slightly from my mom's zucchini bread recipe. I know that if Grandma had tasted this bread, she would have scrawled the recipe in the hallowed pages of her best coookbook.

A few things in this world serve as the most salient reminders of home. Zucchini bread is one such item to me. Mom made it many times and it is on the short list of never fail comfort foods. When it is baking, it has a warm cinnamon aroma that stirs my senses and makes me think of my mom's various kitchens. Home, essentially having one, has been in the front of my consciousness this past week. The colors and smells of every place I have been fortunate enough to call home are in the deep recesses of my memory, easily triggered by a smell or a sound.

Homes should be sacred spaces. Homes are where we are wanted and loved. Homes can also be complicated and crazy. Sometimes people have to call more than one venue home. Divorce can be like a blunt instrument to the heart of those who go through it and the children of divorced families can tell you that when they switch homes, they also switch loyalties, paradigms, and expectations. It is difficult even in the best of circumstances. There is so much associated with our experiences of home and to be asked to make that adjustment requires that some time, care,and understanding be extended to the mobile child. When I help my daughter pack her bags, carry them to her car and hug her goodbye there is always some sadness for me. She is eager to go share life at her dad's house and she has people who love her there but she has to make a switch and it hurts. For children of divorce, a home can be a good place but it can also be a place where they always miss somebody.

Sharing a home is something of an extended forgiveness boot camp because we show our worst and most petty issues to those who live with us. Family members sometimes need us when we are tired or sick or overwhelmed. Sometimes we rise and bless and sometimes we fail. To keep our homes a place where all living things can grow, we must be sure there is plenty of light and water both literally and figuratively. Kindess is light, laughter is water. Meals shared (warm zucchini muffins for example) are water.

I think too that we must remember that our heart is our home and perhaps some who live without a walls or roofs know that better than we do. There is a dignity in the human heart that cannot be taken away. There is a desire to give and to contribute that can come from those who have the great reserves of compassion and largesse that goes with them wherever they lay their heads. I have been the recipient of such graces from those in difficult living situations. At homeless shelters there is rejoicing when people are connected with resources to get a home. We rejoice when anyone, ourselves included, rise above restlessness and addictions and learn to be at home in our own hearts.

Here is the recipe for zucchini muffins:

3 eggs
1 cup canola oil
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 cups grated zucchini
2 cups flour
1 T wheat germ
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients. Pour into greased muffin tins. BAke at 325 for 20-25 minutes. Makes 18 muffins.

Hoping you are at home in your heart today,

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