It’s a stormy day in Brooklyn today. This is fitting given the occasion. Today is 12 years since my dad died—he was only 49, and the day we buried him it was cold, rainy and the winds were full of gust. He never lived the life he wanted. He dreamed of being an artist, and what an amazing one he was, but his father didn’t support that dream. His father was also an alcoholic, as was his sister, and that was a noose around his neck that he unfortunately battled his whole life…and often succumbed to.
Our relationship had been strained for a long time before he died, but we’d made our peace a week before he was hospitalized. When I left the hospital that day, I was at the elevator bank and wanted to run back for one last hug and kiss. I decided it could wait until my next visit in a week. I was going to talk with my boss about a leave of absence after finding out he only had a few months left to live. Three days later, I got a call that he was in a coma, and it would only be a matter of time since he had signed a DNR.
Twenty-seven hours later I watched as the last breath left his body. It is an experience I cannot fully put into words. Something happens when you watch someone alive one moment and gone the next. It is humbling in a way. While we know life is just a short visit in the scope of things, the fact really hits home when you see it disappear in an instant. I also learned the hard way to seize the moment. I often dream of what that final hug and kiss would’ve felt like had I ran back from the elevators the week before.
Now, I’m sorry if I’ve saddened you because that is not really the point. The lesson I took away after losing my father was to always, always, always follow my dreams—no matter how uncertain they may seem or fearful of failure I may be. As I told my daughter just yesterday, every mistake is a chance to learn. Learn how to do it better the next time, and the next time, and so on.
Brown Butter Banana Nut Muffins
makes one dozen standard size muffins
This is actually a spin-off from my brown butter bourbon pecan banana bread. I had some overripe bananas last week, and decided to use that recipe as a springboard for these muffins.
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter
3 very ripe bananas, fork mashed
2 large eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Preheat oven to 350º. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or use paper liners. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl; set aside.
Melt butter over medium heat in a small, heavy-bottomed pot. Cook until it begins to brown, but not burn; it will smell nutty and fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
Vigorously whisk the eggs and brown sugar until thick and well mixed. Add mashed bananas, cooled browned butter and vanilla; whisk until mixed well. Pour in the flour mixture and buttermilk, and stir, using a wooden spoon, until just combined (but no visible flour). Fold in the walnuts. Evenly spoon into prepared muffin tin and bake for 30 to 32 minutes, until tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.