Conflict Cupcakes: Creating Space and Keeping Silence
But as there is a keeping back, and quietly waiting, and a keeping out of willing or running, and haste, the spirit arises purely and stilly in the heart, and gives perfect evidence and full testimony of itself; so that there needs to be no doubting nor questioning of its motion; for it shows forth itself with full assurance of its own will.- Francis Howgill 1618-1688
You really can't say much with frosting in your mouth.
This is what I am thinking after a few weeks of conflict and confusion. When a situation arises that includes many people, many sides of the stories, and a group of curious observers, it can be hard to know how best to respond. If this conflict disrupts the normal rhythm of your life schedule it can be particularly tempting to return things to "normal" as soon as possible, even if that means expressing your oh-so-pertinent opinion on social media. What is the truth of the situation? How can we get to the heart of the matter? If we know the answers to those questions, than assuredly, we can make the right decisions. Right? If there is anything I have learned, even as this conflict at my place of work and study continues to unfold, is that is is A- OKAY to step back and keep quiet. Keeping silence is not a form of passivity, it actually takes a great deal of effort. It is so easy and in some ways very natural, to snap to a conclusion. In a community however, it might make more sense to make cupcakes than to add to already existing layers of anger, distrust, and exhaustion. Keeping silence is associated with letting injustices go unchecked, but our Quaker friends see that it is also a way of caring for ourselves and others. The powers that be might argue endlessly above our heads, but we are not made smaller by choosing peace. We have access to power in the situation in many secret and silent ways, kindness chief among them. If we are the ones who press pause and step back to make space, maybe some kind of wisdom can emerge.
I really wanted to know something, to do something this week. Hence conflict cupcakes.
The autumn addition of kitchen therapy y'all.
Pumpkins are very therapeutic after all, and these are pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. The toasted coconut on top is meant to represent hay...the traditional nesting place of the wild gourd. Yes, I did stick a leaf that was found on the ground on to my cupcake.
In all seriousness kitchen therapy is a necessity in New York city, even though most advertising companies would like you to think that you simply don't have time and should probably order something with your computer. Sometimes I crave stability and beautiful space, and when it is hard to find, I make some in the kitchen. Stability is a different thing than having control of any given situation, stability is something inside you that just needs to be fed from time to time. Cooking is how I re-stabilize, re-ground, re-consider, re-charge, and re-counter the abundance of joy in and of life. Passions are good to us in that way. They give us our space back, our rich landscape of colors and themes, our texture and teleology.
I will say that the broccoli are my forests. Tomatoes are my tiny suns and all the rice runs riot like hail storms in heaven.
And these are conflict cupcakes that soothed some conflict and kept my mouth and my heart occupied. They were also birthday celebration cupcakes. I hope they made the birthday girl as happy as she makes me. Fresh ginger, pie spice, and a measure of peace.
This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing pans 1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar 1/3 cup granulated sugar 2 cups cake flour ( regular AP will also work just fine) 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon freshly ground ginger root 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 2 large eggs 1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 can of solid-pack pumpkin, unless you roast your own. In that case use about 1 1/4 cup of pumpkin
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese 1 stick of unsalted butter softened to room temp 2-3 cups of confectionary sugar 1/4 cup maple syrum (Grade A-hey!) and a pinch of sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans with liners. I used big muffin tins with a generous coat of cooking spray. It is hard to find cupcake clothes sometimes.
Beat together sugar and butter until fluffy. Also sift your dry ingredients and spices together. Sifting is important when using cake flour because it is higher in density, and can clump up on you. Now add one egg at a time to the buttery goodness, scraping down the sides wether you are using a mixer or hand-held old school beaters like me. Alternate adding flour and milk mixtures into the bowl, incorporating as you go along. Fold in pumpkin until batter is smooth and now you want to lick the entire bowl.
Scoop the batter into the cupcake tins. About 3/4 full is a good rule of thumb. Bake for 20-25 minutes but check occasionally on the little cakes. Cool "completely" before getting really excited to frost and decorate them.
To make frosting: Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Now add the maple syrup, and confectionary sugar cup by cup. Dash that salt in. Frosting is an adjust- as-you-go art, and so I like to leave it up to the baker at hand and the winds of fate.
Please enjoy with friends in knits and sweaters!