Hope you are well.
I have developed the practice of picking a word for the year every January. This year’s word is “rise,” drawing on the idea of starting anew, rebuilding, looking forward. For me, the word “rise” conjures an image of a bustling and vividly colorful market, maybe in India somewhere, rich with smells, sights, and activity. I can often be negative and pessimistic, so this word, with its upward momentum and invigorating energy, helps set me on a more positive course mentally and emotionally. I try to remember to return to this concept of “rising” when I feel discouraged, reciting the word as if it were a mantra.
In the past few weeks I have also been contemplating the word “shed.” Shedding myself of habits, relationships, even mindsets that no longer serve me. Loss is OK when I think of it as a process of shedding, of dusting myself off to reveal the alert, bright, budding life within. Maybe loss is even a positive thing when viewed this way.
In my kitchen, I am shedding any expectation of complex and grandiose projects (although there is a place for that, perhaps, under different circumstances. I recently learned that a co-worker and her partner attempt new and intricate dishes every weekend, with the help of spreadsheets.) For me, right now, I am keeping it simple.
The fruits of that mindset are moist and enjoyably tart lemon raspberry muffins, recipe below, requiring two large bowls and a spatula–no electric mixer. And for a lip-smacking snack, a half pound of spiced pecans. Again, keeping it simple … I invite you to try this recipe, shedding any detailed and meticulous instructions, let your hair down, smell the fresh spring air, and enjoy breakfast for dinner.
We can find abundance in simplicity. The beauty of fresh fruit peeking through a thick batter. The zinging scent of lemon rind on a rasp grater. Watching nuts brown to a candy-like consistency in the oven.
There’s beauty to be had in this life, even though this life is hard. I shed what no longer serves me. I invite you to do the same. Peace to you this week, and always.
Raspberry Lemon Muffins
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast & Brunch
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
⅔ cup canola oil
1 ⅓ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1 cup raspberries (or really any berries, fresh or frozen)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners (or generously grease the cups if you don’t have liners).
- Using a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs and the milk. Add the oil, brown sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract, whisking to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet; mix, using a spatula, until just blended. (Be careful not to overmix.) Fold in the berries.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, approximately 25 minutes. (You may need to bake a few extra minutes if using frozen berries.)
- Transfer tin to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes or so.
- Turn the muffins out and serve warm or at room temperature with a generous smear of butter.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast: Small Plates
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
8 oz chopped pecans
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line a small rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Using a medium saucepan, combine butter, curry powder, salt, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, and brown sugar over medium heat. Cook for approximately 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and the spices are fragrant.
- Add the nuts to the saucepan and stir with a spatula until they are evenly coated.
- Spread them on the prepared baking sheet in an even layer.
- Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until they are a deep golden brown.
- Slide the foil onto a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.