Writers’ Forum: Homemade Muffins

Sue Kuisma is a retired schoolteacher who lives in Switzerville. She was my Grade 9 English teacher and Grace Vanderlande’s high school Geography teacher. Sue joined the prestigious Octogenarian club the last week of June.

Rick Revelle

“Home Made Muffins”

My mother did not like to bake, so at an early age I learned to make muffins from scratch, cake mixes and many kinds of cookies.  Peanut butter cookies for my brothers, but I also made oatmeal cookies from my grandmother’s recipe and those are still my favorite.

My mother had invited some ladies for tea, so I decided to make muffins for them, very plain … maybe oatmeal as that was always available in our house. I carefully removed all the ingredients from the cupboard, greased the pans the old way by putting margarine (another story) on my fingers or waxed paper and applying it to each muffin cup.

I carefully measured all the dry ingredients into the bowl and ensured everything was mixed before adding the milk. On the counter, I found some milk in a measuring cup so I used that. I put 12 muffins into the oven and checked the temperature carefully. I set the timer but did not leave the kitchen while those treasures were cooking.

I cleaned up my mess as the muffins were baking, but they began to smell very weird. When the time was up, I took them out and put them on the top of the stove. They were golden brown and beautiful but smelled awful. 

I cut one muffin in half, added a little margarine and took a bite. That morsel was spit out faster than it went into my mouth. They were inedible and gross. What had I done?

I was only 10 years old and very close to crying when my mother came into the kitchen. “What is that awful smell? It makes me want to throw up!” I looked at her and waited.

“It smells like Detol,” she said. “Oh no, did you use the Detol instead of milk in your muffins?”

Detol was a very common antiseptic that, when mixed with water, looked like milk. My mother had left some in the measuring cup on the counter and that is what I had used. The whole mess went into the garbage and I went to my room to cry.

As recently as last weekend my two brothers brought up that incident. They teased me and had a good laugh and after all this time, I can laugh too. I think of it every time I make muffins.


Sue Kuisma

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