It was the kitchen. That was the feature that sold me on the home my kids and I have rented for more than two years. When I stepped into it on a chilly June day, I saw possibility. Despite its tired, dark cabinets with light streaks of wearing, something about that space whispered to my soul that I could cook there.
We could make it ours.
A new stove would be installed soon. There wasn’t much counter space but the old kitchen island in my garage back in Connecticut could fix that. And, perhaps most importantly, the room was big enough for a table to sit down together for meals. Family meals are important to us.
Now, years in, the space is comfortable and familiar. It’s where we made snow ice cream on a snow day that first winter. We’ve had birthdays and holidays and regular old Tuesday nights seated around that table, in that kitchen, together. It’s been a homework spot, a craft station and a catch-all for the bits and bobs that have found their way into the house. And it’s where my kids eat their breakfast every morning.
The noisy refrigerator that sometimes gets too cold, and the finicky stove that often gets too hot are just part of the fabric of our lives here. For now. Someday, hopefully soon, we’ll move into a slightly larger space that’s all ours.
Sure, we’ve outgrown the space. My kids are older now, and have grown — as kids do. We could use a second bathroom, a little more space, some breathing room. I envision more bookcases and a bright and sunny space for working at home. Soon.
Standing at this crossroads, it’s clear that it’s time. That’s what the kitchen tells me now as I wash dishes at the sink.
In the meantime, while I scan rental listings daily and also contemplate purchasing a home, this is where we are. It’s the space that fills with the scent of sweet batter rising as it cooks in the oven. Wafting through the air, the pleasant odor of Chocolate Chip Muffins baking calls my daughter to the breakfast table and elicits expressions of happy anticipation.
It’s where I stir together the batter for these muffins, a simple, easy one-bowl method that requires ingredients you probably have in your kitchen too. Eggs, milk, oil, flour — you get the idea. And it’s where I keep unopened packages of chocolate chips in a basket atop the fridge, for whenever the urge to bake moves me.
It’s also where I tuck a muffin just for my son, who left for school before they could bake, to enjoy as a snack in the afternoon. And tonight, it will be where we gather around the table, a happy family piling our plates with chicken, rice, vegetables and whatever else I make.
There’s joy in the familiar, whether it’s muffins for breakfast or the kitchen we’ve inhabited for several cycles around the sun.
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- coarse sugar (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-slot muffin tin with muffin liners. If using paper liners, spray each one lightly with cooking oil spray to prevent sticking. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and oil. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth, about 1 minute, and then let sit for 10 minutes. Stir in the chocolate chips.
- Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin liners. If desired, sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar.
- Slide the muffin tin into the preheated oven and bake for 18-20 minutes until golden. A toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins should come out cleanly.
- Remove from the oven. These can be enjoyed immediately, or stored in an airtight container for up to five days.