Homemade with Love | Darcy Kolander

This was a long time ago, in July of 2001, the tornado year. The day of the tornado, I was taking a trip back home to Grantsburg from Siren with my fast-pitch team. My dad was in a culvert in the town of Daniels. My Grandma was playing piano in her great room without a care in the world. 
Dad would always joke, "Mom, you know the reason the tornado never hit our farm was because it was so darn scared of your piano playing that it stayed away.”
Later that month my dad, his friend and myself and my best friend, Adrian, took a long haul from Siren to the Gunflint Trail on Poplar Lake in Minnesota. It was a five-hour drive north in my dad’s 1980 Cadillac with a camper pulled behind. 
The parents got the camper and we had to sleep in a tent. But we didn’t mind, what teenagers want to be in close quarters with their parents at all times? And what parent in their right mind wants to be around a teenager? 
It’s called the Gunflint Trail because the Ojibwe and French explorers found chert, which produces sparks, at Gunflint Lake and gave the trail its name. In contemporary times, both fire and wind put stress on the area. The 57-mile National Scenic Byway up over the ridgeline and through the woods provides access to gorgeous boreal lakes and forests, skirts the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and ends at a campground.
There was a huge rock which us kids would congregate on which was partially submerged in the lake. And all was well with the world. 
I chose happiness then and I choose happiness now. I chose to see the sun shining on the lake and I choose to see the sunshine now. I see spring starting to bloom. I see the smiles on my child’s oblivious face. I feel the raindrops on my face and yes, sometimes they mix with tears. 
Grandma would say, if I were to cry, "Do you have something in your eye sweetie?”
"No, Grandma. I’m fine.”
"Yes, you are fine,” without a care in the world. And play your piano through the storm.  
Oatmeal Cups
Fun to make with kids! ( 
Makes 12 muffin cups
Cooking spray
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups milk (any kind)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (or other fruit puree, such as mashed banana or canned pumpkin)
1/4 cup nut butter or 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter or coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey, or 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, or chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup raisins or other chopped dried fruit (optional)
Heat the oven and grease muffin pan: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Coat the wells of a standard 12-well muffin tin very well with cooking spray.
Mix the wet ingredients: Place the eggs, milk, applesauce, nut butter, maple syrup and vanilla in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth.
Add the dry ingredients: Add the oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and fold with a rubber spatula until combined.
Fill the muffin tin: Divide the oatmeal mixture among the muffin wells, filling each one up to the top.
Top the muffins: Sprinkle the muffins with the nuts and dried fruit if using. Gently press the toppings into the batter.
Bake until golden: Bake until slightly risen, dry on top, and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool for 5 minutes: Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a knife around each muffin and remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Storage: Muffins can be kept an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Freezing: Individually wrap any muffins you won’t eat within a few days in plastic wrap and freeze. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator. Once defrosted, they can also be reheated in the microwave for about 45 seconds if you prefer them warm.

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