Breakfast, Bread, Personal

FOR MY GIRL

Sissy girl,

Years ago, I posted a letter to your brother here, as this place is my memory book of sorts. It was just a few weeks before he came and I had no idea what I, as a mother, would think and feel and love and be challenged by. I keep journals for you both but don't write in them nearly as often as I had hoped and when I do, I feel at a loss for words.

Do I make note of the things you do?

That when you smile on purpose, your gorgeous blue eyes squint shut. That the only word we can coax out of you is "uh oh!" and you exclusively scream and squawk with a glass-breaking pitch when you "talk" to your brother, and come to think of it, he is pretty loud himself so perhaps you perceive that as his language. That when Dad or I can stroke your bare belly you literally freeze and completely zone out, you don't even blink or breathe you are soaking it in so hard. Like a loyal Labrador. That you love berries and take your eggs scrambled, absolutely never hard boiled, will inhale roasted butternut squash but not touch a delicata, and have a strange discernment for water being in your cup too long. It must be fresh. You are not even one yet and you have so many opinions, oi. You are unbelievably cuddly, maybe even more so than your Dad and that's really saying something. You two together just melt me. 

Or is the journal a place for my feelings and emotions - something you may flip back to when you are a young mother yourself? There won't be enough people telling you that it's hard and that that is alright because hard things are also good. That you'll start to look tired, quicker, because you are, but how rich in love you feel sometimes couldn't make you care less. But then other times that exhaustion will make you wish bedtime would just come sooner so you could sit and not be needed. Being a mom is the hardest best thing. I hope you get to experience it - if you want to, of course. 

Surely I'm supposed to make note of your milestones but they start to blend into our everyday life. I can't remember when those teeth came through, but I have scars on my nipple from when you decided to test out their function while breastfeeding like I was a piece of jerky. You're lucky I allowed you back, missy. 

Your brother may have made us parents, but you came and made us feel like a family. You have the lightest spirit of the four of us. I mean, you're 11 months old so hopefully you don't have a lot weighing on your heart but I can just tell. We're born with those sorts of constitutions. Curran is a thinker. He figures things out, needs to be engaged, is a bit of a perfectionist and runs on the moodier/emotional side but you, you are generally just a happy little girl. A complete mess, clingy, you can rage when you want to, but you are so full of joy. I took you to Costco last weekend and you just stood in the cart on top of the apple squeezers box, hanging onto the side and lit up for anyone who would look at you in your adorable romper and big white headband. I want to be as happy as you! People tell me how beautiful you are but it is nothing compared to what I can tell is inside you, my girl.

I made these muffins because I saw how you couldn't palm one into your face fast enough at the coffee shop last weekend. I will disappoint you and make mistakes and yell when I wish I wouldn't but feeding my family, that act of service, is something I hope you see as an extension of my affection for you guys. I already have the cutest little kids apron on standby for when you're ready to mix and stir with me, my girl. I am, we all are, crazy about you. 

WHOLE WHEAT BANANA-CHOCOLATE MUFFINS // Makes 18 muffins
Adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book by Sarah Kieffer

Sarah's book is remarkably tested and full of classic and delicious baking recipes. I wouldn't qualify it in the health sphere per se but her brownies and muffins are perfect and I can't wait to try more when I am looking for classic baked goods. I made a few tweaks here due to only having exactly one cup of whole wheat flour on hand, so I substituted oat flour. Mine look a little flat because of this. C'est la vie. I also added cinnamon because I couldn't help myself but I made the notes to offer you her original in the recipe. Sarah suggests toasted pecans if you like crunch and says that these muffins freeze well if 18 muffins is a lot for you. Sidenote: I've damaged by old muffin tins but have been loving these (pictured) if you're in need of new ones. 

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon (my addition, optional)
3/4 cup olive oil
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup coconut milk with 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice)
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 3 small)
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
1 diced banana
1 cup chocolate chips
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position. Preheat the oven to 375'. Place liners or grease your muffin tins. 
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Make a well in the center.
In a large bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the oil, buttermilk, mashed banana, egg, vanilla, maple and sugar until completely combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the well in the dry and stir until almost combined. Fold in the diced banana and chocolate until just incorporated, being careful not to overmix (there will be lumps and the batter will be thin). 
Scoop the batter into the prepared tins, filling the cups about 2/3 full. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake 15-18 minutes until the edges are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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