If I hadn't fallen in love with photography, I think baking would be my calling. There is solid comfort in knowing that if you add melted butter to flour and sugar, it will create magic.
I slid the brimming muffin tins into the oven and set the kitchen timer for 20 minutes of pure agony. The first hints of something yummy in the oven began to waft out and fill the house. 10 minutes passed. I waited. The timer read 5 minutes left. I grew impatient. And finally, the little speckled cakes popped out of the oven, their tops golden and crisp. One bite into my hot, perfect muffin and suddenly the gates were let open for old memories to rush through. I was taken by a sudden nostalgia for my six or seven-year-old self, gazing through the glass at a display of freshly baked muffins in the supermarket, selecting a delicacy - Dad's special treat - to bring home and enjoy with a glass of milk. I was often lured into choosing the pumpkin spice or chocolate chip muffins, but the blueberry was an unforgettable classic. This muffin-buying ritual took place whenever my brother and I were fortunate enough to catch Dad in a good mood at the grocery store. Now, a simple whiff of blueberry muffin will take me all the way back to the sweet days of childhood, when the biggest worry was picking between muffin varieties.
I know for certain that I am not the only member of this household with a special place in my heart for these muffins, because when I returned to the tray not an hour after removing it from the oven, two blueberry muffins had already disappeared.
recipe for: delicious blueberry muffins
(makes 12 muffins)
adapted from Joy The Baker's Black Raspberry Muffins
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Scant 3/4 cup sugar (they're sweet already!)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups blueberries (use local or wild blueberries, if you can get your hands on them)
1. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin or lay out your paper cupcake liners, if using.
2. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat - keep a close eye to make sure you don't burn the butter - then remove from heat. Whisk melted butter, milk, egg, yolk and vanilla until well combined.
3. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add in the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the berries.
4. Divide the batter among the muffin cups and spread evenly. Bake until golden and crisp or skewer inserted into center of muffin comes out clean, for about 18-20 minutes. Make sure you cool them in the pan for at least 15 minutes before trying to pop one of those babies into your mouth! Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. These muffins are lovely when reheated in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. Enjoy!
The last weeks of August bring a special time that has always been very close to my heart -- a time when the hills are covered with precious berries that grow in clusters and peep out from behind stalks of dry grass or branches of heather. Blueberry picking has woven it's way into our family traditions, and come late summer, you can always find us hunched over a blueberry patch, fistfuls of berries filling our buckets.
I adore the blueberry afternoons spent under the blazing sun. The familiar kerplunk of berries hitting the bottom of my bucket is a great comfort. I can't help feeling as if I've found buried treasure every time I stumble upon a bush of particularly plump berries - the sensation never gets old. By the time my bucket is halfway full, I'm already brainstorming every blueberry recipe known to man: lemon blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, blueberry smoothies, blueberry coffee cake, or simply blueberries sprinkled over vanilla ice cream. The possibilities are endless.
But when we've picked as many berries as we can carry and our fingers are stained purple from a successful blueberry outing, a certain sadness threatens to overwhelm me. Because at the end of the day, the pails of blueberries that rest on our kitchen counter signify the fast approaching end of yet another summer.
Somewhere between the first greenhouse tomatoes coming off of the vine and the last subtle sunbeams of golden hour, I have found myself silently craving for fall. The early whispers of cracking leaves, cozy layered fashions and pumpkin breads start to appear in my daydreams like a growing itch, and before I can do anything to stop it, I'm already seeking shorter days, warm boots and mugs of hot drink.
I'm aware that I am crazy, but something about the autumn months draws me in, like a chilly breeze attracting a lonely leaf.
Maybe it is possible to have too much summer. Too much leisure, too little routine. Maybe that is why you'd have a hard time finding a young person who is not secretly anticipating the return of school (although they try to hide it) -- because it is quite possible to have your fill of 'rest days'; of slow mornings in bed; of hours spent dawdling around the house.
I'm sure that you can locate me pining away for the freedom of summer again after October takes a bow and November days begin to stretch endlessly on, but for now I'm going to allow the visions of fall to dance around my head. I can't help it, I love it all: the cheerful pumpkins, wool scarves and mittens, "hunkered down" evenings by our pot-bellied woodstove, roasted vegetables at the supper table and a million reasons to be thankful.
Summer is a friend who has stayed her welcome, and I am torn to see her go but willing to let autumn take her place.
Tell me - what is your absolute favorite memory of fall?
There is a delicious exhaustion that comes at the end of a trip. I'm bursting to feel my own pillow underneath my head once again, but I am also filled with wonder at the delight the past several days have brought. Returning home is a bittersweet event; it is then that we realize we left a piece of our old selves on the trip and came back with an entirely new bit of character. I can never pinpoint exactly what changes within me on each of my travels, but I can say without a doubt that each change has been for the better.
(littlest cousin keyanna likes her cookie very much, thank you)
(sweetest nephew davis asks me repeatedly, "where is your breakfast? are you going to eat breakfast?" as i snap shots of him munching on mango)
(littlest cousin keyanna likes her cookie very much, thank you)
Now that it's safe to say that summer is coming to a close, did you travel anywhere? If so, what made that trip special? I'd love to hear about it.