What a lovely sight: my mom standing in my kitchen, with an experiment from hers: a plate of meringue-topped cupcakes!
This is the way every day should begin, mused I, looking at her with a goofy smile on my face. Much better than stumbling around with a migraine that follows a night of insomnia. I don’t know why I’ve been blessed with this really awesome nighttime routine lately. I’m aware that it could be worse (my bed could be full of millipedes, for example). But. I roll out of bed frustrated, tired, headachy, and grumpy, (thankfully not pulling millipedes out of my hair) until I get some ibuprofen and coffee into my system. Lots of coffee. Blessed coffee. POTS. OF. GLORIOUS. COFFEE.
On this morning, though, as I staggered about, willing myself to JUST FEEL BETTER ALREADY, in walked Mom, with the best gift she could have given me at that moment: something sweet from her kitchen.
She must have sensed that I was trying to lose a few pounds, which is true. Mom to the rescue! Mom: “Oh silly girl, you are thin enough already! Look at your wrists! Here! Have a plateful of decadent muffins that you cannot possibly refuse! I’ll run home and get you another plateful, in fact, and sit here and watch you as you eat them. Here: I’ll pour you a big glassful of full fat milk!” (I love you, Mom!)
It’s strange how these bouts of insomnia come and go. I can’t tell you why I suddenly start waking up at 1:30 (or 2:15 or 3:23) and stay awake for hours. Hours. Torment. No reason. And then, as mysteriously as they come, they disappear, and I savor the nights that I once again sleep 7 or 8 hours, with the deepest gratitude and respect. I even reach back into my memories to relive my first waking moments, and the happy realization that I actually slept the night through.
Other folks? They relive fancy dinners out, or seaside vacations. Summers on the Riviera. Swimming with dolphins. Not your gentle blogger. I relive that moment of waking: “Hey, I slept the night through! YAY ME!”
Not being able to sleep at night dogs me during the day. And with our two dogs dogging me during the day also, it’s a heckofalot of dogging, if you fancy my meaning. I’m not operating at full capacity. My batteries are not fully charged. I can’t think as well. I do have my fill of dogs, it’s true.
It’s such a simple and necessary thing–sleep–and it always amazes me that God made us to need so much sleep. We spend one-third of our lives, roughly, sleeping, and if we don’t get that sleep, things fall through the cracks. The ability to make complete sentences, for one.
My daughter assures me that yoga at bedtime is the answer. I’m so tired by bedtime, though, that stumbling to the bed and falling into it is the only answer I can imagine. I don’t drink caffeine past 3:00 in the afternoon, since I am very sensitive to it. Ditto chocolate (alas!). I exercise every day in some way (walks + lifting weights). I work hard and sit very little. I avoid screens (for the most part, she says, with a guilty wince) in the hour or two before bed. I cover my bed with millipede-free sheets.
So why am I not sleeping?
I wish I knew.
There are perks. Wait. No, there are no perks! But I can use insomnia for a myriad of excuses.
- Got stopped for speeding. I’m sorry, Officer, you see I haven’t been sleeping . . .
- Can’t spell myriad without looking it up. Insomnia has got my brain tied up!!
- “Mom, aren’t you going to make supper tonight?” Geez, honey, get some bread and cheese, I’m so tired from my insomnia . . .
- “Yes, Mack, I told you to put the dirty laundry into the refrigerator . . . it’s the insomnia, drat it!”
But. Back to the lemon meringue cupcakes. Gentle Reader. This is your lucky day. My mom might be bringing these to my plant sale (Mother’s Day weekend, May 11 and 12, if you live in the area, please know that you are invited and I’ll send you all the deets if you ask nicely. But. If you can’t come, or she gets so caught up in making donuts that she doesn’t get the cupcakes made, she shared her recipe with me. And I will share it with you.
Oh yeah. Did I forget to mention that there would be homemade donuts, too, all warm and dripping with icing, and practically a diet food (yay) because, as Mom always asserts (and there’s no reason she’d be lying to us), “There’s no sugar in the dough.” 🙂 🙂 🙂 I’ve already got a list of orders. Not for my plants, mind you, but for my Mom’s donuts.
(I know who the rock star in the family is, folks, and it ain’t me!)
Mom and Dad went to Alaska and went deep sea fishing (Yes, you read that correctly) with my brother Matt (the Golden Child) and his wife Paula (also an excellent person) a year or so ago, and they came home with lots of great stories, of course (and lots of halibut and salmon!). Many of them (the stories) included the fabulous food that the cooks in the resort prepared for them. Mom also brought home two cookbooks from the resort, and she’s been cooking out of those cookbooks ever since. She adapted this recipe from one of the recipes in one of those Alaskan cookbooks. It’s a little involved, but it’s totally worth the little bit of extra effort.
It’s a delicious special day cupcake! And guaranteed to bring a smile on your face, even if you had a crummy night before.
Here’s Mom’s recipe:
- 1¼ cup flour
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup milk
- 5 Tb butter, unsalted
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1¼ cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ¼ tsp almond extract
- Lemon filling:
- ¼ cup butter, unsalted
- ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 Tb cornstarch
- ¼ cup cold water
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 4 egg whites
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- ¼ cup sugar
- Cake: Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together.
- Heat milk and butter until butter melts.
- Beat egg, yolk, and sugar together for 3 minutes on medium.
- Add vanilla and almond; leaving mixer on low, alternately add flour and milk
- Use liners in cupcake pans.
- Divide batter to make 15 cupcakes.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool on wire rack.
- Lemon filling:
- Heat butter and lemon juice to about 130 degrees. Combine cornstarch with water. Whisk eggs and egg yolks with sugar.
- Stir in cornstarch/water, then whisk in hot butter and lemon juice mix.
- Return all to saucepan and boil about 5 minutes until thick.
- At last minute of boiling, add lemon zest. Cool.
- Cover with plastic wrap by pressing it right on top of filling so skin doesn't form.
- If custard is still a little warm, poke a few holes in wrap to prevent sweating. Chill in fridge up to 3 days.
- Whip whites with cream of tartar until foamy, then beat until peaks form.
- Add sugar 1 Tb at a time.
- To assemble: Cut top off cupcake at top of paper liner.
- Cut a cone shaped hole out of center of cupcake.
- Fill with lemon filling and replace top.
- Put filled cakes (still in liners) on cookie sheet.
- Put ⅓ cup meringue on top of each and spread to cover.
- Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
- Cool before serving.
- May refrigerate up to 2 days.
- These really require a dessert plate and a fork!
p.s. In other news, after dieting for nearly twelve years, I lost a pound. 🙁 Yay me. *sigh*