muffinsRarely does anything good come out of a container that’s been in the back of the refrigerator longer than, say, a month. I’m sure I’m not the only person to occasionally discover leftovers whose origins are but a dim memory. Moldy and smelly, they quickly  end up in the disposal. If the mold weren’t enough to disgust me, the smell would make me vomit.

I’m proud to say that these muffins came from just such a container, sans mold. Longer ago than I care to admit, I thought I was buying almond paste. Turns out it was almond pie filling. Not the right consistency for the recipe I was making. Reluctant, OK, too cheap to throw it away, I put it back in the fridge, fully expecting to tend to it before now.

This weekend was D-Day—do it or dump it. I scoured my recipe files and books and the Internet for an appropriate recipe. Once I recalled the brand name of the filling, I headed back to the grocery store, hoping to locate another can of almond filling and get some recipe ideas. No such luck. They carried only one flavor and it wasn’t almond. Back to the company website. One recipe caught my attention. Apricot Muffins. Apricot filling—almond filling. How different can they be? Feeling adventurous, I decided on the apricot muffin recipe using the almond filling.

Anticipating freshly-baked muffins with our morning coffee and the Sunday paper, I was up early and in the kitchen. Everything was moving along well until the recipe called for orange juice in the liquid ingredients. I could imagine apricots and orange juice being a tasty combination. But almond and orange juice? I wasn’t so sure. What alternatives did I have? Milk? Water? Cranberry juice? Waking my sleeping husband to quiz his memory of high school chemistry? That didn’t seem like any more reliable solution than taking my chances. One more quick search of the Internet and I spotted a recipe that combined almond and orange juice. Satisfied, I finished mixing the batter, dropped spoonfuls in the muffin tins and popped them in the oven.

Twenty minutes later I had my answer. It worked! The muffins were moist with no hint of orange flavoring. They may not be Pinterest-worthy, but I won’t hesitate to pick up another can of almond pie filling when I have the chance.

Lately, I’ve struggled to discipline myself to write. Like that container that I kept pushing to the back of the fridge, I have no end of excuses for not spending concentrated time at the computer on my writing. An editing deadline to meet, e-mails to catch up on, Facebook, Twitter. No end of distractions. And there’s the risk aversion. Do I dare to mix orange and almond? Do I dare to write what’s really on my mind? Does anybody care? Will anyone read it?

The only way out of the writer’s rut is to move forward in spite of the doubts and fears. Sweep the distractions aside. If orange juice and almond don’t mix, so what. What have I lost? A can of almond filling that was lingering in the fridge. More importantly, what have I learned? Sometimes taking a risk pays off with a sweet batch of muffins and a happy hubby on a Sunday morning. Or simply the satisfaction of expressing myself in words. And if I’m the only one to ever read them, it’s still worth the effort.

Next weekend I’m going on a writer’s retreat. My first one. I’m not sure what to expect. But I expect it to be another learning experience. And I’m looking forward to that.


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