A little kick-start to the festive baking with these easy-peasy strawberry muffins aka 'the muffin with a heart' because of the slice of strawberry sitting prettily on the top.
The post-Kansas inertia still throbs inside me, beating together with a tired and insomniac heart. But tarry it must no more, for the time has arrived to give shape to things. Red and gold, green and bold. Golden bakes and boozy cakes. The day seems to have almost arrived.
But before I head to the kitchen and don my baker's hat, I must share a golden thread with you. One that keeps my childhood tied together in its gossamer embrace.
I still remember the X-mas holidays (that's what they were called back then in India) when we were in school. How we would hoard and treasure every single day of that! Unlike its superior cousin, the summer holidays that lasted for about two months, this counted down to just a fortnight. But like all grey clouds this too had a silver lining - no holiday homework! Hence to romp about was our singular motto, much to the parents' vexation. But the highlight of the holidays was Ma's fruitcake, the aroma of which would fill the home and spread warmth everywhere. Every now and then I would rush to the oven and try to see the puffing cake through the glass. I would even count how many cashews and raisins had plumped up to the surface of the cake. As I write this, it brings back a faint, fond smile on my face like all cherished memories do.
The time soon came when I would leave home and set out for an independent hostel life. I would be home for the winter holidays again and this time Ma would bake an extra cake. It would be packed neatly and wrapped in a special package for its journey on train to Hyderabad where my friends would be waiting to devour it. What gluttony that was! And one of the very rare times when my figure conscious girlfriends wouldn't mind the calories at all. Of course the guys cared little anyway.
Even when my parents came visiting, Ma would be there with her bag of goodies of which her fruitcake was the star. But more than that what actually shone was her smile, warm and so very child-like. I cannot wait for April to come when I would see that smile again and at last I wouldn't need Skype for that.
Such lovely and simpler days they were. Gone with the wind and lost in the years, leaving behind a trove of fragrant tales... And cakes.