Browned Butter Banana Peach Muffins & Beauty in the Breakdown.

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Remember that song at the end of “Garden State?” Ya know, when Sam & Andrew were at the airport, Andrew was leaving, and there was lots of tears? It’s actually a fairly emotional moment. And I don’t want to give anything away, but there are happy tears and a wonderful kiss, and a wonderful song by Frou Frou called “Let Go.”

So, let go, let go
Jump in
Oh well, what you waiting for?
It’s all right
‘Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown

Beauty in the breakdown. Beautiful words. Beautiful situation.

There is usually beauty in our lives when things breakdown. It seems as though the chaos can run rampant, but a lot of times that chaos is just intense change into something beautiful. We can be in the situation and feel the heat, unable to see. It is when we can get out of ourselves, out of our situation, and are able to see things from an objective perspective; only then can we see the beautiful picture that is being painted through the chaos and trial. It may also not be something expect. Something arises that isn’t the usual, and we are caught off guard, thinking it to be wrong because it isn’t following what we are used to or what we expected. Again, objectivity and being able to see the canvas of life rather than staying down where the paint it being thrown around is when we see. 

This happens in life, & this happens in the kitchen, where most of life happens anyway.

For instance, burnt sugar. What? How? Why? Who was the yahoo who decided to dump cups of sugar into a skillet on the stovetop and burn it? How did they know that the taste that would inevitably come from it would be so delicate, dark & homey, yet light & pleasant, suitable for autumn or spring, slight reminiscent of toffee, warm sunsets on your skin, and sly childhood smiles? Or were they absent minded, reading the recipe wrong, or leaving a forgotten bowl of sugar near heat? Or did they jump in, trying something new, but full of faith and adventure, antsy for discovering something new for their squirming taste buds?

Point #2? browned butter. Invented by the gods? Your tasters will try to convince you, but ’tis not so. It is French in origin, & “beurre noisette” refers to the hazelnut color butter turns when browned on the stovetop. And the smell it releases as it is transforming? How cow (see what I did there? Butter -> milk -> cow . . . I know, it’s punny . . . I mean, funny . . . ;). Butter in it’s original form is amazing & needed in most situations. We all know that. But we take it, apply heat, and watch it reduce as it crackles, spits, foams, & browns; it looks as if we are ruining a perfectly good stick of butter. But we see the end, the levels of greatness that it can obtain by going through this “butter hell” of transformation. The breakdown is beautiful.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1 :2-4 (italics mine)

So, all that being said, we are going to return to the beauty of browned butter, and how it applies and has made it’s way into muffins. 

Brown the butter. Cool it down to regain some perspective . . . & just to cool down.

With peaches, ripe bananas, and some love . . . a lot is possible.

It’s possible to gather up a few, place in a basket, and bring to someone you love, just because you care for them, & it’s  Thursday, & it’s too hot outside for them to turn their oven on, & because food generates conversation and they need a chat, & it gives you a chance to be an ear, or simply a presence.

It’s also possible to give these to a person and show them the beauty of life when things aren’t going as they expected, showing them that things can go better than planned or dreamed.

Share some love, broken-down beauty, & perspective with someone.

Browned Butter Banana Peach Muffins
makes 12 muffins

6 ounces unsalted butter, melted and browned to just over 1/2 cup of butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk (you can use yogurt if you like)
1 1/4 cup mashed banana, best if ripe (from about 3 medium bananas)
1/2 cup diced peaches (fresh or thawed from frozen) plus a few slices, diced for the topping

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Prepare your muffin pan with muffin papers or grease. Set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Butter will begin to foam and crackle as it melts.  When the crackling subsides, the butter will begin to brown.  Swirl the pan as the butter cooks.  When the butter browns and begins to smell nutty, remove the pan from the flame and transfer the butter to a small bowl.  Taking the butter out of the hot saucepan will stop the butter from overcooking and burning.  Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla extract, and buttermilk (or yogurt).  Whisk in the mashed bananas.  When butter has cooled, whisk in the browned butter.

Add the wet ingredients, all at once to the dry ingredients.  Fold together, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to reveal any hidden pockets of flour.  Fold in the diced peaches.  Fold together ingredients, but try not to over stir.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and top with a couple/few peach pieces.   Bake for 18-24 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest in their pan for 15 minutes, before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Muffins will last 4 days, well wrapped at room temperature.  These also freezes well, wrapped in plastic wrap & foil (to prevent freezer burn and drying out).

* This recipe can also be altered to make a loaf of bread rather than muffins! Just grease a 9×5 loaf pan, and bake for 50 minutes-1 hour. 🙂 *

Source: adapted from Joy the Baker
Listening to: “I Don’t Like This Missin’ You” by Spring Creek & “La Vie En Rose” by Louis Armstrong
(Avett Brothers pandora station)

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