Site icon Joanna Campbell Slan

Seeing Things Through…A Key to Creative Success

A reader recently asked to join my blog.

I’m not sure that I have one. I used to blog all the time at several sites, but I’ve never really dedicated myself to an ongoing blog here on my own website. And perhaps I should.

My first impulse is to say I have nothing to blog about. But that’s not true. So I’ll dispense with that falsehood right away. No matter what is happening in the world around me (i.e., Coronavirus), I always maintain an active creative life. Otherwise I’d go nuts. Bonkers. Completely whack-a-doodle. So here’s what that means right now–and I’ll start with something simple:

The Great Banana Bread Fiasco

Yes, banana bread and toilet paper are the two official symbols of the stay-at-home, social-distancing movement. My niece Katigan says it’s because nobody binges on bananas. She’s got a point. I decided to make a loaf of banana bread at a very, very distracted moment. Katigan and my sister Meg had purchased groceries for me and brought a huge bunch of bananas.

No way could I eat all of them. I like bananas but they were too much for me!

Finding a Recipe

But Kat’s comment about banana bread got me thinking. I researched recipes, but quickly decided that an old one I had with bran cereal would be a healthy choice. Only then I did what I often do when I’m scattered…I kind of, sort of didn’t make a commitment to one recipe or another. I kind of, sort of combined two or three.


This is a serious flaw when baking. Honest to goodness, you would think I’d realize this by now. Substitution is important and helpful, especially when you can’t just run out to the store because you’ve forgotten an item. But…most sane people only substitute one item at a time. They don’t go willy-nilly through a recipe and substitute at whim. They don’t start with a blueberry muffin recipe on the back of a bran cereal box if what they really want is banana bread.

I do.


Drama in the Kitchen

So I wound up using whole eggs instead of egg whites. I dropped a piece of shell in the batter and figured, So what? Added calcium. I don’t use vegetable oil, so I substituted coconut oil, but I should have melted it first, as it wasn’t all liquid. I added the blueberries too early in the recipe. They were those fabulous frozen wild blueberries from Wyman’s. Because they were frozen, the coconut oil clumped around them.

I had a mess on my hands. Because the oil was cold, it wouldn’t mix with anything! And the more I stirred, the bigger the blue icebergs became. Finally I decided to put the coconut oil and the blueberries in the microwave several times to dissolve the blueberry icebergs. That meant the berries were thoroughly destroyed by the time the batter was done, and I had purple batter. And much too much liquid.

So I mashed up a couple of bananas (since that HAD been my original purpose, banana bread) and put them in, but I put in two HUGE bananas instead of two medium-sized ones. I didn’t have any muffin cup liners, so I put a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of a glass pan. I chopped up walnuts and threw them in. I didn’t put the dry ingredients–flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt–aside while the bran flakes soaked in almond milk. So the bran flakes were only partially soft and blended.

When I went to pour the batter into the pan, the parchment paper slipped and so half the batter was up against the glass pan.

I didn’t believe the box when it said the temp should be 400 degrees. I cranked the oven down to 350.

Read the recipe below and you’ll see how far off course I was…

Kellog’s All-Bran Complete Wheat Flakes Cereal Blueberry Muffins

Prep Time: 20 min



1. In medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2. In large mixing bowl, combine KELLOGG’S ALL-BRAN COMPLETE Wheat Bran Flakes cereal and milk. Let stand about 10 minutes or until cereal softens. Add egg and oil, mix well. Add in flour mixture, stirring only until combined. Gently stir in blueberries. Portion batter evenly into twelve 2 1/2-inch muffin-pan cups coated with cooking spray.

3. Bake at 400° F for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

And guess what?

My Blueberry Cakes Turned Out….


Tastes great, looks ugly!

I suppose there’s a moral to this story, but it escapes me. All I know is…I’m glad I didn’t toss the batter out. Yeah, maybe that’s the lesson: See your project through to the end. It might not be the hot mess you’re anticipating!

Lots of love,



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