The holiday week came and went and after one more party to ring in the New Year, I think we're just about toasted. A week full of good things, albeit it busy and expensive and generally full. We're so lucky that both families are close and we have friends here we've had for decades, but it makes for a very social season. There is a Rainer Maria Rilke quote that continues to pop into my head when I think about loving Hugh well. “I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other.” He is an introvert, one who recharges by being alone, depleted by too many parties and get-togethers and I want to nurture this need while it may not be one that functions the same way in me. Our home, because we work here often as well, doesn't exactly feel the sanctuary it may for most people who return there after a day away at work. So we've gone to the sea the past few early evenings, just the two of us, to take a breath and get out. I can see Hugh's spirit lighten there, something I will try my entire life to give to him, by way of trips to the sea or otherwise. What a huge responsibility we have to love people - to not just show up, but to be present and aware of someone else. I'm not just speaking of marriage, but the truth of it welled up in me as I thought back on the whirlwind of a week. As my sister beyond spoiled our family for Christmas with her phenomenal taste and generous gift giving skills, or how we all drove 4 hours round trip on Christmas day, ate lunch a la gas station mini mart, to spend one hour with my grandma who wasn't feeling well, that a few people gave gifts to our baby boy in my tum who is merely the size of a large heirloom tomato (so I'm told, though he seems to be taking up a lot more real estate), and that his dad was able to feel him kick (or high five as he's claiming it to be) for the first time on Christmas morning and told every person he saw that day about it. We give gifts and time and words and hugs and infrequently stop to feel how truly huge it is, really. What you give, how you give it and to whom. I hope to be more thoughtful about this in 2014.
These feelings of the giganticness of life are on par for the year's end. This evening we'll go to our ritual new years spot and talk goals, likely shed tears relating to how we fit into said giganticness and admit how in even looking forward to a new year, I may be seized with impotent fear. The small things within the big things are what this beautiful life is built out of and I hope to see and experience the minutia of the day to day when the big things feel like too much.
My friend Megan of A Sweet Spoonful has a charming cookbook that came out today and these muffins are from it's pages. It's a breakfast cookbook but so much more than that as you'll see when you get drawn into her storytelling and impeccable granola recipe that truly extends beyond breakfast to one of my favorite ice cream toppings. I chose these muffins due to the pears I had in perfect condition to be grated, but the book is filled with a variety of breakfast ideas. I appreciate how these recipes seem to have come so naturally from her life onto the printed pages of a cookbook. Congrats, Megan, I'm excited to try more recipes!
Anything can happen, anything can be. - Shel Silverstein
The loveliest new year to you all.
PEAR AND HAZELNUT MUFFINS // Makes 12 standard muffins
Recipe barely adapted from Megan Gordons Whole Grain Mornings
I halved the recipe with success, hence why you see six muffins in the photos. I do believe these could be made gluten free with a quick swap of the flours, you just won't get as much of a dome. I'd go equal parts almond, oat flour, brown rice flour to equal the 1 1/2 cups and just expect they'll be more crumbly, but this doesn't bother me. Maybe throw a splash of flax meal in there too for binding support and make up for the fact that these flours aren't quite as absorbent as wheat. Can you tell I'm big on precise baking? I also think the whole thing could work great in a loaf pan with a longer baking time.
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup unbleached all purpose
- 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 2-3 firm pears
- 2/3 cup natural cane sugar or muscavado
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 heaping cup toasted and chopped hazelnuts
Preheat the oven to 425'. Butter a standard 12-cup miffin tin (or line with papers. I wish I'd done the former).
In a bowl, combine the oats, flours, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Mix well and set aside.
Core the pears and grate them into a bowl using the large holes of a box grater. You should have a heaping cup of shredded pear.
Put the sugar in a large bowl. Melt the butter and stir it into the sugar until well combined. Whisk in the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and shredded pear until you have what resembles a loose batter. Add the flour mixture and fold it in gently, being careful not to overmix. Reserve 1/2 cup of the hazelnuts but stir the other half into the batter.
Fill the muffin cups nearly to the top and sprinkle the remaining hazelnuts. Put the muffins in the oven and immediately decrease the heat to 375'. Bake until the tops are golden brown and feel firm to the touch, 25-27 minutes.
Let the muffins cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the tin. Serve warm or room temperature. They will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container.