When I was five, I stole a handful of silver dollars off of my neighbor's dresser. I loved how they felt in my hand, weighty and cool, and I wanted to be able to hold them more often, to have the single satisfaction of knowing I could look at them whenever it pleased me. So I put them in my pocket and took them home with me. I didn't know that was stealing. When my mom discovered them in my room, she told me what I'd done and marched me over to the neighbor's house to return them and apologize. As I stood there in front of the neighbor, I felt a shooting shame so deep in my belly, that I forgot all about the cool feel of those troublesome coins, and I never stole again.
Those mistakes and lessons happen almost daily as a kid; as you grow up, they (hopefully) happen less and less frequently.
But now and then, I still screw up. And the hot stab of shame in my belly is far worse than it was as a child, because now it's joined by adult-sized humiliation and self-loathing. You're flying along life at a good clip and then WHAMO! You're falling ass over feet until you're five years old again and standing apologetically in front of your neighbor. The learning process sure doesn't get easier with age.
Maybe you're better at life than me, and living mistake-free. If so, good for you, it must be nice to be perfect. But if you're like me, then these corn muffins might come in handy with your next apology.
These corn muffins, in fact might get you out of a lot of things - tickets, jury duty, fender-benders, jail - because they are filled with the most tried-and-true people-pleasing ingredients: cheese, bacon and roasted peppers.
Pretty much any blunder can probably be smoothed over by these muffins. If you screw up a lot, you might find it wise to make a double batch and keep a few on you at all times.
I, for one, hope I never have to make them again, though I suspect I might. As good as they are, not screwing up is even better.
Screw-Up Bacon Cheddar Jalapeno Corn Muffins
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking
1 1/4 cups stone-ground cornmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons warm melted butter or vegetable oil.
2 fresh jalapeno peppers
1 red bell pepper or poblano pepper
6 slices of bacon
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Position Rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 450. Place peppers on baking sheet and roast until skins are blackened, but not crispy.
While the peppers roast, cook bacon in a large skillet until crispy. Drain and cool, then crumble bacon.
Remove peppers from oven and place in a bowl; seal tightly with plastic wrap. Once they're cooled enough to handle, remove skins, stems and seeds, and dice.
Reduce oven temperature to 425. Line 12-muffin pan with paper liners, or grease pan with oil.
Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together eggs milk and buttermilk.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Fold in melted butter or oil, cheese, peppers and bacon, stirring minimally.
Pour batter into muffin pan, filling tins to the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes clean, about 10-12 minutes.
Yields 12 muffins, and forgiveness.