The more you know, the less you really know. Or something like that. When I was younger, I seemed to know everything. At least I had an answer for everything, and it always came packaged in a simple and tidy explanation. Now I have more questions than answers. And the answers I do have feel as untidy as my unmade bed and the floor of our office that doubles as a play area for Hal.
This post was created in partnership with Milk Life. Milk is one of the original farm-to-table foods. Did you know milk typically arrives on grocery store shelves in just 48 hours, on average, after leaving the farm? In fact, 97% of the dairy farms in the US are family-owned. To learn more about milk’s journey from the farm to the table, visit milklife.com.
Lately, I’ve been wondering why we don’t teach kids to cook in school, just like we teach them to add and read—necessary survival skills for life. I took a 6-week Home Economics class in middle school. I can’t remember how to use a sewing machine, but I wouldn’t remember how to multiply either if I only took one class. If I had it my way, Home Econ would sit permanently on the schedule next to history and math. By the time kids graduate high school, they’d have a basic cooking knowledge. That’s my tidy answer to the question—should everyone be food literate?
But then I wonder, is my life too immersed in food? Am I so passionate about it, that I’m overestimating its importance? I still come back to the answer that feeding yourself, at a very basic level, is necessary for survival. And if you’re anything like me, your day is scheduled around meal times.
Like math, I’d hope that we teach food the long way first, without a calculator. We’d milk a cow (or watch this video on how milk goes from the farm to the store), pick apples from a tree, grow something in the dirt, and pull eggs from the hen house. I always seem to appreciate things more when I understand the how.
I recognize that a life immersed in food has landed me right here. It was only after starting a food blog that I bought rhubarb for the first time and picked my first apple from a tree. That I tried drying fresh herbs to make dried herbs, growing vegetables in a raised bed (and failed), and making pasta noodles from scratch.
You know when you say a word over and over again, and it begins to lose its meaning? I think that happens with the natural redundancy and availability of food. In case Home Econ is not a standing class by the time Hal enters school, I’m teaching her where food comes from and how to cook with it. I hope she understands that vegetables come from the dirt and apples grow on the trees, not the grocery store shelf. That milk comes from a cow and gives her natural, high-quality protein, protein that helps give her energy. She flexes her muscles again at my protein reminder before finishing the topping off the Apple Crumb Muffin she helped make. I think she’s startin to get it.
I guess that’s my untidy, long-form answer to the question: should we increase our food literacy? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
These Apple Crumb Muffins are a nice introduction into fall baking. Make the night before for an easy breakfast. Use a sturdy, sweet apple and grate it as you would a block of cheese. The glaze is optional, but don’t skip the crumble if you can help it!
1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, diced
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. pure maple syrup
1/4 c. whole milk
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 c. grated apple, peeled (one large apple)
1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 tsp. whole milk
Preheat oven to 400°F degrees. Line muffin tin with parchment paper. Set aside. Assemble the crumble. Place all the crumble ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Begin preparing the wet ingredients. In a small saucepan, melt butter on low until half melted. Set aside to continue melting and cooling. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients.
To the melted butter, whisk in all the remaining wet ingredients, except for the apples, until evenly combined. Grate apples as you’d grate cheese. Add apples and the wet mixture into the dry mixture, and stir until just combined. Using a 2-ounce spring release scoop, evenly distribute batter in prepared tin. Using your hands, mix together crumble until a loose cohesion forms. Top the muffins with the crumble. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until the center is firm to the touch. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before glazing.
Make the glaze. In a small bowl, stir together all the glaze ingredients until smooth. Pour into a ziplock bag. Cut a tiny corner off the end of the bag and pipe glaze in a back and forth motion. Allow to harden before serving. Muffins are best after a rest. Make the night before for an easy morning breakfast. Store in a loosely covered container, allowing just a little air to get in for up to 4 days.