Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Numbers Game

I’ve never been very good with numbers. I could never wrap my head around the formulas, and I can’t remember ever enjoying the process behind math. There is a part of me that should love math. I hate not knowing what’s going to happen next and I grasp on to reliability as often as I can.  When it comes to math you can’t get more reliable. No matter how many different ways you look at two plus two it will always equal four and that will never change.  Numbers provide a guide  - something that we can turn to and rely on.  However, I realize now that the reason I never grasped on to math was because I need more than numbers.

I know numbers are not perfect and they can fail us just like anything else – but they are one part of an entire process.  Numbers can’t tell a story alone, but without them we’re bound to tell an incomplete story.  This process is part of the reason I love telling stories through food.  When it comes to food the recipe is our numbers and guide. It lays the foundation, but it’s how you create that recipe and bring it to life that you discover the story.

Look at a recipe and follow it measurement for measurement – without straying away from one detail.  Next time look at that recipe as a guide for your own interpretation.  I’ve created meals both ways, and the truth is that I’ve succeeded and failed both ways. Other factors always play a role outside of the numbers.  Ingredients, oven temperature and the process can all affect the outcome of the final product.  When it comes to food every recipe can bring to life a different memory. For instance, when I see a recipe for Matzoth Ball Soup, my mind is instantly at the family table I grew up at and when I look at my favorite recipe for Banana Cake I recall when my love of food took off.  When it comes to my banana cake I’ve never strayed from the exact numbers once. I rely on them because they set the foundation, but it’s the ripe bananas on the table and the smell of comfort as it’s pulled out of the oven that paints the picture in my head.

Below is a recipe I discovered on my latest social media obsession, Pinterest (check it out if you’re not on it yet, seriously.) I was immediately drawn to the recipe, because obviously it involved pumpkin.  I followed this recipe exactly as I found it, and I was pleased, but I felt like something was missing.  I might play around with it to find my perfect balance and I encourage you to do the same.  The numbers will always be there, but it’s how you tell the story or create the meal that get’s remembered.

Pumpkin Nutella Cheesecake Muffins

Recipe from

For the Muffins:

 4 Whole large eggs
1 ½ cups Sugar
1 Can of Pumpkin puree
1 ½ cup Vegetable oil
3 cups All-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Nutmeg
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt

For Nutella Filling:
8 oz. Cream Cheese, Softened
½ cup Nutella
1 Large Egg


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, beat eggs slightly. Add in sugar, pumpkin and oil. Beat thoroughly. Add in remaining dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

In a separate small bowl beat together the Nutella, cream cheese and egg.

Place liners in a muffin tin.  Place about 2 tablespoons of pumpkin batter into the bottom of each liner. Top that with a tablespoon of the Nutella mixture, then top with an additional tablespoon of pumpkin batter.

Bake for 18- 22 or until done in the center.

Makes around 20 muffins.


  1. Excellent Blog Post

  2. I would have never thought to put pumpkin and nutella together, but now I think, why not. I've never been great with numbers either, but when they are applied to something I love, like food, they are much, much better.

  3. Numbers are perfect. Equations (or in other words ideas) can be imperfect.