During a team building activity last week with colleagues from the other regional campuses in the Indiana University system, I was asked what I wanted to be when I was little and if I accomplished it. I shared with my partners for the activity my dreams of being a journalist, which first manifested when I started a class newspaper in the fifth grade. The newspaper covered more than the news of Plain Center Elementary School; I wrote op-ed pieces about the Gulf War. Looking back, I can see how much my writing technique has improved, though my politics have changed little (I may have been the world’s most liberal ten-year-old). I do feel as though I have accomplished this goal. I’ve been fortunate to combine my career in student affairs with my original plans of journalism through blogging and writing for professional organizations.
Thinking about it on the way home from Indianapolis, I realized I’ve often (rightfully) given my father credit for my writing skill. He read to me bedtime story after bedtime story (and later listened as I read story after story to him), instilling in me an appreciation for the written word. What I’ve only recently come to appreciate is that my writing technique would be nothing without the love of story telling that so clearly comes from my mother.
My mother is the kind of person you invite to a party because she captivates people with her stories. Others hang on to every word of her adventure, whether it’s the recounting of her trip to Savannah or an incident while renewing license plates. Her quick wit, humor and pacing lead to a completely satiated audience who feel as though they were right alongside her.
I planned to use this blog post to share my lemon cupcake recipe because it’s been oft requested in the past week (and I will — promise). But I realized my mother would also want me to tell you the stories of my journey to being even slightly competent in the kitchen. I could give you the recipe and act as though I’ve been gifted with a golden spatula. That would be a lie. My journey to having a recipe that is requested over and over again at parties and potlucks was a messy one. She would tell you about the time I was making a double batch of brownies and doubled everything except the brownie mix, leaving a soupy pan of batter in the oven to warm but never bake. She would want me to tell of the time I set the oven on fire while preheating it. She would insist on your knowing that I once made Jell-O that never congealed because the water I used wasn’t hot enough. She would tell all of these stories not to embarrass me, though my cheeks are flushed even remembering these incidents, but to demonstrate the humor of my learning.
Without further ado, the lemon cupcake recipe:
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 c. oil
- 3/4 c. lemon juice
- 1 small box instant lemon pudding mix
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients well. Fill lined cupcake tins 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine:
- 1 c. confectioner sugar
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
Dip cooled cupcakes into lemon glaze. Let glaze set before serving.
Like story telling and baking, my love of lemon also comes from my mother. It was my privilege a few years ago to share this recipe with her, the first she ever requested of me. Have a cupcake, share a story and enjoy.