A visit from The Healing Muse: 'Recipe for Lemon Cupcakes'
Deirdre Neilen, PhD, shares a selection from Upstate‘s literary journal, “The Healing Muse,” every Sunday on “HealthLink on Air.” Neilen is the editor of the annual publication featuring fiction, poetry, essays and visual art focused on themes of medicine, illness, disability and healing. Read The Healing Muse Cafe Blog.
Today‘s selection is "Recipe for Lemon Cupcakes" by Laura Carroll. Order your copy of “The Healing Muse” today.
Deirdre Neilen, PhD: Laura Carroll from Washington, DC, writes about food, travel and fairy tales. She sent us a unique take on grief and how to handle it in her prose piece "Recipe for Lemon Cupcakes":
1. Take your grief. Form it into a small ball in your hands.
2. Zest a lemon or three or five. There are so many in your mother's kitchen, and you have to do something with them. They can't just molder in the fridge.
3. Chop the lemons and put them in a saucepan with sugar and water. Boil. Stir. Simmer. Stir more. It will eventually turn to marmalade
4. Add your grief to the marmalade. It's already bitter. It can take it.
5. Measure out your dry ingredients in a bowl, mix, and set aside.
6. Beat up defenseless eggs, and butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and lemon zest, and beat again.
7. You forgot to preheat the oven, didn't you? Turn it on now.
8. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in batches, mixing thoroughly and scraping down the sides with a spatula after each addition.
9. You have a cupcake tin somewhere, don't you? Find it, along with the leftover cupcake papers from several Halloweens ago. The ones with skulls.
10. Spoon the cupcake batter into the tin until each papered cup is half full. Carefully place a spoonful of marmalade in the center of each cupcake, then cover with additional batter.
11. Bake for 20 minutes at 350, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean except for the marmalade.
12. While the cupcakes bake, raid your parents' liquor cabinet. Pour yourself a glass of the single-estate cognac that your father never had the opportunity to drink, and bring the limoncello to the kitchen.
13. Beat up another defenseless stick of butter to make the frosting, and add more powdered sugar than you think the butter can hold. Keep beating it until it's mostly incorporated, then add a liberal dose of limoncello and watch the alcohol smooth out the frosting as you continue to beat.
14. Remove the cupcakes from the oven. Allow to cool.
15. Improvise a pastry bag from a Ziploc sandwich bag. Pipe the limoncello frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.
16. Share the finished cupcakes with your assembled family. Everyone agrees that they are delicious. No one comments on the bitterness of the marmalade inside.