I tend to wait before purchasing things that I think I want, which is a good way to keep from accumulating lots of things that I really don't want or need. But when I start packing my apartment, it makes me scrutinize all the things that normally sit quietly on the shelves and walls. Do I really need this? Moving and packing makes me think about what I have, what I use, what I save and why I save it. While they may weigh me down a bit, most of my books will be packed and hauled to our next place as well as everything we use in the kitchen. In fact, most of the things we have in our apartment are carefully chosen and kept because they are useful, interesting or carry a significance or sentimental value.
Then, as I fill cardboard boxes, I wonder how valuable sentiment is. I have a stack of little treasure boxes that I have moved with me several times. Each one holds small mementos from different experiences I have had: photographs I took and printed myself in Italy, rocks from the shores of Lake Champlain, a pile of postcards I made in college and another pile of postcards I have collected over many years. I don't look at these things often and I wonder if I really need to carry them from place to place as I do with journals I have kept since high school. Will I be thrilled to read through them years from now and remember different small moments of my past? Or will I realize that there really isn't much of interest in those scribbled pages and wish that I hadn't clung to something so insignificant? Lately I have been posing the question: What is one thing you wish you hadn't gotten rid of (even if you recycled it!) and what is one thing you wish you could stop holding onto?
As someone who is fueled by creating and making things, I wonder when to let go. I enjoy making things that have a purpose, but I have also done plenty of making for the sake of creative exploration. I made this box a few years ago as an exploration of memory and, perhaps, sentimentality. But what am I to do with it now?
I will continue to ponder these thoughts as I pack up. Meanwhile, I will leave you with a recipe for a muffin, filled with buried treasure, that won't be around for long, even if you wish you could keep them. They are a variation on this simple cake which has a wonderful texture and flavor, delightfully covered with jam and whipped cream. I encourage you to try the cake, but the muffins are also a nice treat. They are slightly less sweet and I used a raspberry jam with no added sugar, so you don't have to eat cake for breakfast if you don't want to.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen. Feel free to use whatever kind of jam you like.
Makes 12 small-ish muffins
2 cups walnuts, toasted at 350 for 10 minutes and cooled.
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into smaller peices
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup jam (I used raspberry)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the muffin tin (you can use paper muffin cups or grease the tin with butter). In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the walnuts and sugar until evenly mixed and finely chopped. Add the butter chunks and process until combined, then add eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth. Measure out the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture to the food processor and pulse until just combined. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling them just half way. Place one teaspoon of jam in the center of each cup of batter. Spoon the rest of the batter on top of each teaspoon of jam, filling the cups until they are level with the top of each cup (make sure to portion the batter so there in enough for all of the muffins). Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the muffins spring back when gently poked with your finger. Let cool and enjoy!