What a different world it is since I last wrote to you.
A world without Kev, who died almost a year ago now, and whose voice, mock-scolding or laughing with me, I still hear constantly, thank god. A world, starting today, without John Ashbery, a founding father if ever there was one.
A world whose simmering dangers have bubbled up into more prominent awareness in a President Tr*mp era. (Fingers still crossed this is the shortest possible “era.”)
So buffeted are we by memories, elegies, news cycles, abandoned self-improvement regimes, that sometimes I’m actually stunned at constancy.
The ocean. Properties of drippy sandcastle design. My patient, unwavering husband. Turning butter and eggs and sugar and flour into muffins.
Last week I got to swoon for constancy a bit, sitting on a favorite beach, my only industry the meditation of castle building—and wrecking, and building atop the ruins—and the occasional fetching of a wind-snatched sunhat. Somehow it seems to have built a reserve of steadiness, and I’m ready to head back into the flow.
Surfing that wobbly balance of news consumption and activism to make myself some way useful and mostly skirt political despair. (Lately I like this podcast.) Putting up tomatoes.Buying new shoes for the girls and then what feels like a week later buying more new shoes for the girls because their toes are now busting through. Okay, September. Bring it.
Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins
These are amazingly soft and light without any white flour whatsoever, a magic trick achieved with the combination of finely ground oats and yogurt. The recipe struck me as a curiosity for that reason when I saw it in Real Simple. And then I had to make it just a little bit less healthy. With a sugared lid, since that’s how we roll. They’re still pretty tame in the butter and sugar category; you could honestly tell yourself you had oatmeal and yogurt for breakfast . . .
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup pecans or slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup golden flaxseed meal (Bob’s Red Mill is a good brand, at your natural foods store, or substitute more nuts if you’re brave)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Heat the oven to 375. Add all the above ingredients to a food processor and pulse until finely ground. (Make sure your oats and nuts are ground well.)
In a separate large bowl, whisk together:
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup white or light-brown sugar
1 cup plain yogurt (whole or lowfat)
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
Add dry ingredients to your wet ones and stir until just combined. Gently fold in:
2 cups blueberries, frozen or fresh
Scoop into paper-lined muffin trays (these are sticky—if you don’t like paper liners, you could get away with parchment here, but not with cooking spray alone). My favorite tool for this is an ice cream scoop with the sweeper feature that kicks the dough out when you depress it. You can spray your scoop with cooking spray and that’s even easier.
Sprinkle the tops of your muffins-to-be with:
2 tablespoons sugar
Bake at 375 for 22 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in muffin tins at least 15 minutes. Fear not the first day of school.