In a few short weeks, I’ll be back at work. I’m not excited about being away from my kiddo when she’s still so young, but bills must be paid. For those reading who live in European and Scandinavian countries that don’t merely pay lip service to “family values” but actually provide paid family and medical leave to support new families and help your citizens be able to afford to take time off from work to care for an ill loved one, take a moment to count your blessings.
In fact, readers from pretty much any country but the U.S. can count on their country’s family-oriented public policy. I live in one of the “wealthiest” countries in the world, but we give more tax breaks and financial support to multinational corporations who take business to less wealthy countries where they can exploit foreign workers through legal loopholes while gutting the poor and middle class back home than we do to the very people who form the backbone of America. Meanwhile, I’m forced to listen to the same politicians who support unsustainable big business practices involve themselves in culture wars around what constitutes family values while opposing any real economic policy that would support the families who voted them into office in the first place.
And before I get flak for promoting “laziness” as a way of life for Americans, consider some unflinching evidence: quality and affordable childcare for families is so unfeasible for many women in the U.S. that they’re forced to quit their jobs because they either can’t earn enough from their work to pay for childcare or else they break even and decide it’s better to be unemployed and caring for their kids than to hand over their entire paychecks to childcare providers and rarely see their little ones. (I’m one of the fortunate Americans who has a job where I’ve been able to save money and paid vacation leave to take time to care for my newborn. I took a hit financially during these past three months, but at least I had some options to make caring for a baby viable.)
God bless America.
On a less enraged note, check out these “healthier than most” muffins I made last night. Tart cranberries, crunchy rolled oats, and buttery ground flaxseed come together to showcase the fruits of American agriculture. This wholesome muffin, sweetened with earthy browny sugar, offers a dose of omega-3 fatty acids, heart-healthy whole grains, and immune-boosting vitamin C with each bite. They’re so tasty you’ll be forgiven for momentarily forgetting the state of of family leave in the U.S. for prospective parents, parents, and non parents who wish they could afford to spend much needed time caring for their respective children and ailing loved ones without fear of losing their jobs or homes. Little wonder that a satirical Onion article about American women and pregnancy could be mistaken for fact.
Cranberry, Oatmeal, and Flaxseed Muffins
(adapted from a Food 52 Baking recipe)
Makes 12 muffins
– 1 1/6 cups whole wheat flour
– 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
– 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
– 1/3 cup ground flaxseed
– 2 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 2 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1 large egg, lightly beaten
– 1/2 cup vegetable oil
– 1 cup buttermilk
– 1/4 plus 1/8 cup water
– 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (I used frozen.)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and line one standard-sized muffin pan with paper liners. (I wound up making slightly more than a dozen muffins with this recipe, so I added three paper liners to a 6-muffin tin as well.)
2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, ground flaxseed, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside.
3. In another medium bowl, add the egg, oil, buttermilk, and water. Make a well in the bowl with dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients well, and mix until the dry and wet ingredients are just combined; then gently fold in cranberries.
4. Spoon the batter into the muffins cups, filling each cup right up to the top, and bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Then turn out onto a rack, and cool completely before serving.