“This is made from scratch in a home kitchen with the best ingredients,” the woman told us. She was pointing to artful cupcakes in plastic containers with homemade labels stuck to the top. “I once looked at the ingredients of the same cupcake I bought in the store, and there were like 20 more ingredients than I need!”

The Grayling, Michigan farmers market. Nice people. Good food.

On the way Up North to our Writing + Yoga Retreat, Katherine and I pulled into a farmers market in Grayling. We bought the last strawberries of the season, two cartons of just-picked local blueberries, zucchini bread and strawberry-rhubarb bread for our post-sadhana breakfasts, and two German chocolate cupcakes.

From scratch. A funny phrase. Meaning by the work of my hands, in my own kitchen, with unadulterated ingredients I trust and know. From scratch.

The woman was right. When you make things yourself, you do it simply, with exactly what you need, no more, no less. You get it done. And it tastes good.

This is what you get when you buy store-made cupcakes. What, exactly, are we eating?

When we buy things all perfectly packaged and on a shelf in many stores across the nation, there is a uniformity that requires preservation, a long list of ingredients, many of which are so chemical in nature I have no idea what I’m eating.

For the past few months, I’ve been making this simple thermos lunch for the days when I don’t have a lunch meeting. It consists of a quarter cup of rice cooked just a short time with diced carrot, cut snap peas, spices exactly for my constitution, ghee, flax oil, salt and sometimes other veggies too – kale, red pepper, zucchini.

Simple, right? It is the absolute best lunch.

When I open the thermos in the office, the rice has plumped and all the liquid has been absorbed. It’s fluffy and warming and tasty. Filling. Everyone in the office says something, too. “Something smells good…”

Ingredients for my thermos lunch. Amazing. And so simple.

The simplest things are often the best. Over the weekend, as I taught writing in the context of Finding Your Voice, I repeated the refrain that less is more.

In writing, that’s certainly true. If you can write a compelling, tight paragraph, you’re better off than long-winded page upon page. Say what you need to say, say it well, say it quick.

And let it sink in.

The German chocolate cupcake was delicious. It wasn’t huge like in my grocery store and it wasn’t sky-high with whipped frosting. It was simple. The caramel-coconut mixture on top that is signature to German chocolate was just enough – not skimpy, not overbearing.

And the chocolate cupcake was moist and light and tasty but not too strong in sugar or in chocolate or in anything.

Made from home. From Scratch. What it means and what it is supposed to mean are two very different things.

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