blueberry oatmeal muffins

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Do you have a favorite summer spot that you return to again and again? The kind that lets you layer memory upon memory, until the place becomes so dense with remembering that when you go there again, toward the end of summer… or return for the first time when summer arrives again the next year that you find the space allows you to traverse simultaneously, the past, present and future, in a way that ordinary reality won’t permit?

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I can think of a few places like that for me. One being the Canal St-Martin in Paris, which became the first and last station of my summer last year. You stoop on a low flat bar on either side of a narrow waterfront with anyone and everyone else that will join you.

Some of them will be smoking, others will be pedaling for change. There are a few simple bridges that connect one side of the canal with the other, but they are nothing like the ornate sorts of bridges you will see throughout the rest of the city. Some of these resemble fire escapes that you’ll find wiring up New York City apartment buildings.

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On one occasion you might have noodles from Le Petit Cambodge, on another seeded grapes with thick skin. On another still, just wine, something deeply red and plummy. In each case it’s just what you needed, however salty or sweet, small or large your portion may be. These places, which become devices for storytelling, are the kinds of places that create thick-rimmed frames for where you’ve been and where you’re going.

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I could go on about stoops and try to make them sound rustic and romantically bohemian, but I’d rather send you on your way with these muffins.

You see, I happen to be one of those strange creatures that can eat hot oatmeal even when it’s already 80 degrees outside and only 8am — and although I love topping plain oatmeal with brown sugar and almond milk with toasted walnuts and a bit of salt, I’ve realized that there are other ways to consume oatmeal that don’t require sweating it out while blowing on a hot spoon of thick oats.

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Here’s one of those ways, that goes well with brunch: these muffins, are just lightly sweet, in the gentle way that some semblance of a wholesome breakfast should be. Their tops are deeply golden with a crusty texture  (the kind I can’t do without). Then, they break open into a moist interior that pops with berries blackened and generously juicy.

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Adapted from this oatmeal muffins recipe at Epicurious.com.

  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400 F and grease 12 standard-size muffins cups or 6 large muffin cups .

In a large bowl combine oats and buttermilk and stir gently so that all oats have been covered with milk. Set aside for an hour, allowing oats to soften and absorb some of the buttermilk.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Combine melted butter with brown sugar. Gently whisk an egg and add egg to butter-sugar mixture as well.

Stir butter-sugar mixture into oats and then gently fold in flour mixture, until just combined, being careful not to overwork. Fold in blueberries.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool ten minutes in muffins tins before turning out onto a wire rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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