With three of us using my kitchen, there is usually some sort of mess involved — be it a stack of dirty dishes, a sink full of sudsy water with dishes, foodstuffs piled high or food items fresh from the oven, cooling. The weekend is the worst since Crazy D and L’il Sis often both cook a supply of muffins or egg dishes or lentil soups that will get them through the week. Some of the pans, baking dishes or pots involved require soaking and lots of scrubbing with a wire scrubber to get them clean.
Then there are the worst of the lot — the pariahs, the muffin tins. I have a cast iron one and a Silpat one. I bought the cast iron one first, loving its tie to past times. And it cooked things beautifully. But cleaning it was an exercise in pioneer fortitude.
Enter the marvel of The Silpat muffin tin. Food doesn’t stick to it, so a quick rinse should do. Oh, no, my friends. Everyone here reaches for it first as the baker’s choice but it languishes, unwanted, unloved, untouched once it has served its purpose. It becomes just as much of an outcast as the cast iron number. The person who has used it leaves it sitting on the top of the stove, no doubt thinking, “I’ll get to it later. My toenails need clipping…and my eyebrows, oh the eyebrows are in serious need of plucking…I must dash.” My working theory is that, with all the separate little cups to be cleaned, it takes up too much of one’s attention span(certainly more than anyone in this family possesses) or tolerance for detail to rate a thought. We can’t be arsed.
The next person entering the kitchen notices the pan and puts it on top of the pile of dishes stacked beside the sink. They undoubtedly think, “Somebody must have forgotten to wash this. If I move it closer to the sink, that thoughtless person will remember.”
By mid-afternoon, I enter the kitchen and see the pile. I wash all but the muffin tin. It has a slight coating of ‘muffin fuzz’ in each of the indentations. The muffins came out smoothly, but there is always a residue. “I’ll soak this and leave it in the sink for the person who dirtied it to clean,” I reason. ” I’m sure they just thought it would be too difficult to get spotless so they left it. The soaking will loosen the residue and it will be easier to manage.”
L’il Sis enters the kitchen, intent on starting dinner for herself. The sink is cluttered with the muffin tin so she, being in a hurry, lifts the pan from the sink and sets it on the counter next to the sink. “I’ll wash this after I make dinner,” she says to herself. “It’s looking a little scuzzy with that fetid water sitting in it.” She has the best of intentions. We all know about the road to Hell….
She finishes preparing her dinner and takes The Pig for a walk before she goes out with friends…forgetting the muffin pan. Well, the kitchen is a bit dark after the sun sets and the lights are out…difficult to see the outcast pan.
Crazy D flits in, turns the lights on again, and proceeds to make something to eat. Nobody is quite sure which meal of the day this is for him. It could be his second dinner or his fourth breakfast. He dirties four pots, a cast iron frying pan and a colander in the making of this meal. He puts some dishes in the dishwasher, washes some of the pots but is running out of time so stacks the remainder on the counter. The muffin tin is in the way so he shifts it to the very back, on top of another pan. “Somebody really should wash this muffin tin, ” he thinks. “It’s looking a little worse for the wear.” But now that it is at the back of everything, it’s out of sight, out of mind (it may end up at the neighbor’s at this rate) — certainly out of HIS mind.
Crazy D realizes that he will be in Toronto working for the rest of the week and decides that, although it’s late, he should make his special ‘scrambled eggs in a muffin tin with chili centers’ recipe so he’ll have lunches to take with him. He goes rooting around for a muffin tin. Seeing the Silpat one still sitting, festering at the back of the counter, he opts to use the cast iron muffin pan. “Why didn’t somebody wash that one?” he wonders briefly. By the time he has finished cooking, we have another muffin tin with residue in it.
This great kitchen dance goes on for a couple of days until I break. I can’t stand looking at the muffin tins any longer. I scrub the cast iron one, each individual little cup, cursing the person who came up with the invention of muffin pans. The job is tedious, annoying, ruins my fingernails and my disposition. The Silpat one proves only marginally easier to clean. You still have to get into all the edges with the muffin fuzz and wipe around each one carefully.It’s about this time I am ready to start an online petition to ban muffin pans — no matter what miracle material they are fashioned from. They are the pariahs of any kitchen.
But instead of doing that, I put the gleaming pans on the counter with a sign that says: “The Muffin Pan Fairy Was Here and She Was Not Amused”.
And beside the pans I place a box of paper muffin cup wrappers with another note: “I realize I’m responsible for killing more trees, but my psyche, my temper and my fingernails thank you. The forest is on its own…”
Now I have Gill’s visit to look forward to…she with her love of baking elaborate madeleine cookies, teddy bear cupcakes and corn cob shaped miniature breads in, you guessed it, their fancy, hard-to-clean pans.