Feasting at Home : Apple Brown Butter Bouchons

October 11, 2013

Apple Brown Butter Bouchons

I have been thinking a lot about soul lately. Mainly because I've been doing a fairly good job of neglecting mine. It happens more than I care to admit, periods where I loose myself.  Do you ever feel this way? I forget to do the things which nourish soul- or rather choose to prioritize them down to the bottom of the list, i.e., tomorrow. Then before long, soul shunned and ignored, slowly slips away. Life starts to loose its luster, the beauty that surrounds goes unnoticed. I stop listening. I begin to sleepwalk. It's a dangerous path.

As I write this, Brian and I are on "week two" of a much needed road trip (see our instagram feed). We drove down to San Fransisco and are slowly making our way back up the rugged coast of Northern California- hiking, wandering, birding and reading. My mantra, words I've been silently singing to myself while we walk along the ocean cliffs through Cyprus groves with the huge open sky above us are - awake my soul. Yes! It sounds so corny! I am hovering over the delete button. But it's the truth. It's the chorus from the Mumford and Son's song, Awake My Soul, and it has been in the background of my experience this past week. I have been humming it, like a lullaby, gently trying to woo my soul back to me. As I sit still and watch the big ocean swell up and release, over and over, almost as if it's breathing, I feel it breathing into me, filling me up. Slowly I begin to feel alive again.

Inherently, we know what our souls need to thrive. We are all different, and different things feed and sustain us. Discovering for ourselves what keeps our soul awake and alive gives life depth and meaning. On this trip, staring at the huge breathing ocean, I was given a metaphor for how to keep soul actively engaged. Soul too, needs to breath - much like we do. It needs to breath in, it needs to release, and in between, pause. When I actively create the space for these three things in my life, I feel most alive, residing in the core of my being.  Breathing in - creating time and space to become filled up by what inspires. Whether this is being outside and taking in the beauty of nature, or reading the words of a good book or poem,  or exposure to art, or a new city, trying new food, or listening to music. The inhaling of whatever it is that moves you-it is so personal. Then exhaling. Creating the time and space in our busy lives for release, or self-expression, creative flow, creating from the soul, whatever act brings joy. And lastly, and most importantly, pause. The time in between breaths. Carving out time for empty time, letting what inspires us percolate for a while, being still, resting the mind, listening, checking in, reflecting.  Rushing from work, strait into "creative time" without the pause, for me, often results in writers block. I am learning how desperately I need the time of pause.

Last week before we left on our trip,  I had the pleasure of meeting the Hansen family- founders of Hansen's Green Bluff Orchard.  They have been growing apples in Green Bluff for over 25 years. I'm not going to go into all the details here, because I wrote an article about it in the Spokesman...coming out next week- but what I will say, that I did not say in the article, but should have- is how full of soul this family is. How connected they are to the earth and its cycles, how rooted and grounded their beings are. A life spent outside growing, in this case, amazing apples, seems to grow amazing people too. I was touched by their genuineness, their vibrancy, their wisdom and humility. I left feeling inspired by them and their by their creative expression of life, and have thought much about them this week. One thing they said that that I can't stop thinking about, is that an important part of the growing cycle includes the long winters rest. 

Expressing our soul, can take many forms. We often think that this is only for artists or creative people.
Another misconception is that we feel like there needs to be some completed end result -like a poem, painting, or a book or something else that is concrete.

Sand paintings, the sacred art of Native Americans are created, only to be blown away by the wind. Intricate sand mandalas created by Tibetan Monks, take days to create, are wiped completely away with a swipe of their palm, like it never existed. It is the process of creating, that enlivens us.

We stop ourselves from expressing because we feel that whatever it is will not be good enough, or worthy, or original.  We stop the natural flow of self expression for hundreds of reasons- and I believe this slowly suffocates us. When we are children, expression bubbles out of us naturally like a spring. It can't be stopped. Then we grow up. The pure act of expression and the joy that comes from it- gets shadowed by doubt, by fear, by judgement. Sometimes we get completely shut down. But still we yearn for it, because it is naturally part of our beings. 

I have several friends who would never consider themselves "artists" but express themselves through creating and transforming the spaces around them. When you walk through their homes, clearly each room is an expression of their soul. Objects found, placed and edited in ways that deeply resonate with them. My next door neighbors, Chris and Barb have two very different ways of self expression, Chris through his poetry- and Barb through her garden. My friend Tonia creates herbal healing tinctures ( among many other things) her soul flowing freely through her, vibrant and awake for as long as I've known her.

For many of us, including me, cooking a meal can be a form of self expression. Looking closely at ingredients, learning from them. Treating them with heat and coolness, it can be like alchemy, transforming them and us in the process. I know when I am at my most alive and creative in the kitchen, my hands begin to shake softly, my soul filled will light and excitement. In the end, the meal is consumed. It may be great - or it may be just OK - but the process of cooking itself gives me the gift of aliveness. Even the simple process of setting a table can be a form of self-expression. Another friend of mine, for a centerpiece, placed a apple branch down the length of her table, apples and leaves still intact, the mere placement, in my mind, a work of art.

I once read, that a great work of art, is one in which the one who has expressed it, is transformed from having created it. I think about the Hansen's and how planting this apple orchid has transformed them into the people they are. They beam with aliveness.

Rod and Derrick Hansen of Hansen's Green Bluff Orchard

Where I struggle, especially here in this blog, is how to write from a place of authenticity. How to write words that are truly from the core of my being.  How to write and just tell the story, trusting it, without judging or questioning the purpose of it, letting the story have its life. The truth is, writing from this honest place, sometimes leaves me feeling vulnerable.  But not writing from this place, makes me feel like a fraud -and almost physically ill. It's just not worth it.

Expressing ourselves from a place of authenticity requires attention and care of the soul. It demands that we give time to be with soul. I have found that when I try to write or create without "the pause", the time of stillness, words are shallow and the writing and creative process itself is so unsatisfying. The joy disappears, and it becomes a job, rather than being fun and energizing.

Today, as I write, after being restored and filled up from this time off, my cells feel alive again. This feels good again.

So there you have it. What has been percolating in me that last week....

A quick note on the recipe:  These are basically apple muffins that taste like donuts. Think of them as apple donut muffins. They are good with morning coffee or served as dessert. I call them "bouchons" because I used a bouchon mold instead of a muffin tin. Bouchon means "cork" in French- and the molds are more tall and skinny than a muffin tin, cork-shaped.  But a muffin tin will work great too.
The apple muffins are baked in the oven, popped out of the tin, rolled in warm brown butter and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. It's impossible to have just one.

I recently started posting my recipes on Pinterest and would love to have you take a look at some of my Pinterest boards. Pinterest really helps spread the word about my blog. Every time you "pin" a photo, it links it to back to this recipe. It's a great way to save recipes on your own boards and share with friends…so get pinning!!

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print recipe

1 large apple- diced (honey crisp, empire, pink lady)
1 T butter
1¾ cup Flour
1½ teaspoon Baking Powder
½ teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground Nutmeg
½ teaspoon Cinnamon
⅓ cups Oil
¾ cups Sugar
1 large Egg
¾ cup Milk

Brown Butter topping
¼ cup Butter
⅓ cup White Sugar
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon

1. Heat 1 T butter in a medium skillet and add diced apples. Saute on med heat until tender, about 5 minutes.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.
3. In a separate bowl, combine oil, sugar, egg and milk.
4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir only to combine. Fold in apples.
5. Pour into greased Bouchon molds or cupcake or muffin tins.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
7. For the topping, brown the butter over medium heat in a small pot until golden brown, nutty and fragrant. Combine sugar and cinnamon in bowl.
8.Shake Bouchons or muffins out of the tins while still hot.
9.Dip muffins in brown butter, then into the sugar-cinnamon mix.  Let cool.
Prep time 10 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes  Total time: 30 minutes Yield:8-10


  1. Wow, Sylvia! These photos are amazing! Such beautiful apples. Yum!

  2. Beautiful post. Glad you were able to take some time to re-find your balance. It's remarkable how coming back to base and to purity can be so fulfilling. Less expands to more. I also relate to your expression of creating and sharing food. Really beautiful. Thanks! and the apple bouchons look scrumptious!

  3. Such a lovely post. I do feel that way, and I sometimes find it hard to readjust. I think that's why I bake. It's satisfying and honest and I made it and other people enjoy it, and it makes me feel good. Bouchons are about the cutest thing, I think. And these look so good!

  4. The trip sounds like a very nice one. A lovely post. Hope SF was nice.
    The apple pictures are beautiful.

    1. Thanks Asha, SF was totally inspiring and full of amazing food!!

  5. Hi! I highly recommend you to check out askmonicaberg.com it's a truly remarkable woman and believe me, it will help you connect to your soul!

  6. Wow what a truly inspiring post; I am so glad (for more than one reason) that I have found your blog. Your words have solidified a lot of what I have been feeling. Good food and Soul searching is great mix for me; looks like you've found yourself a new loyal follower. Have a beautiful day!

  7. These little bouchons look absolutely gorgeous - wonderful photos.

  8. Great photos! Cannot wait to try this :)

  9. These are great. I'm glad that you visited San Francisco, as its where I live and I love it!!

  10. Sorry - this is the recipe I was referring to. Please see prior comment on the chocolate bouchons. Would you mind if I rework for allergy-friendly and post the link to the original recipe (you)? Thanks!