The Failed Bran Muffins – by “Kiwidutch”

I’m a Mother, not a Dad, but here’s a story about my Father in the kitchen.

My Dutch Father emigrated to New Zealand from a culture where Father’s didn’t do anything in the kitchen and met and married my Kiwi Mother who was a keen cook. He wasn’t the type to be interested in the cooking of every day meals but on very rare occasions he liked to bake. One day he got a bee in his bonnet about bran muffins. The first batch were brilliant and disappeared at lightning speed. A week later he made more, also good.

Then he decided to make a double batch, which might have been good had he not doubled just the dry ingredients. He muttered a lot in Dutch under his breath in the kitchen, a signal to my sister and I to leave the house and go play outside. Later he called us inside and offered us a muffin… ugh, they were hard, tasteless little rocks, well not quite tasteless, there was the bitterness of dry baked baking powder and baking soda to be detected. And hard? … danger of breaking our teeth kind of hard.

We tried very hard to be polite with the first bite but it didn’t really work because they were truly inedible. Father didn’t look very happy. We were excused and exited to the garden promptly. After a while we heard the back door slam and watched from a distance as he angrily dumped bran muffins on the back lawn for the birds. Days later we watched, as the muffins completely and utterly rejected by the birds were angrily picked up from the lawn and unceremoniously thrown onto the compost heap situated behind the garage at the bottom of the garden.

Our cat was in the habit of frequenting the compost heap and eating the most unlikely things. There was a workshop and a small home winery in the back of the garage and a window that overlooked the back garden and the compost heap. Both my parents had seen the cat on many occasion eating veggie trimmings and the like, so when my parents were putting groceries in the garage freezer and noticed the cat investigating the bran muffins they stopped what they were doing to spy on the cat. According to my Mother: the cat sniffed one of the bran muffins, tried to eat one, immediately rejected it, looked very annoyed at the taste, gave the muffins a withering look and stalked off disdainfully.

The final insult had arrived: even our rubbish-bin of a cat had rejected his muffins, so my Father’s mood was not good. My Mother did her best not to laugh which didn’t make him any happier. These were my Father’s first and last attempts at bran muffins and it was at least a decade before he baked anything at all again. The family can all laugh about this now but “bran muffins” remain a bit of sore point for him even after all these years.

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