Monday, April 07, 2014

Oatmeal muffins and my coffee ritual

Before I start, I'm going to come right out and admit that I'm not a morning person. I'm also not a breakfast person (especially if it's oatmeal). The first thing I want when I wake up is strong coffee. Not food. By the time I'm interested in eating it is brunch or lunch time. I hate to admit it. I tried to change, sometimes for good long stretches but I never stick to it. It is what it is.

I do have hungry kids though. With time, it was easy to figure that if I feed them first, they'll leave me alone long enough to proceed with my sacred coffee making routine. It goes something like this: I put the kettle on, grind my coffee beans on the coarse setting, wash my bodum or rinse it to make it hot, tip the grounds in, pour a little boiled water (that rested a bit), on top of the grounds. I let that bloom a few seconds, stir with a chopstick and pour more water in to the top. I push the plunger just enough to keep the grounds under the water and wait. Usually that means I empty the dishwasher or daydream. 5 minutes later I push down the plunger, knowing I'm seconds away from a great cup. Still standing by the counter, I drink my first sip, quietly, eyes closed. Each time, I can picture myself in a dark cockpit and with each sip I take, I can see and hear the lights blink on, the switches flick and feel the engine start. It happens fast. I don't waste time on the first cup. I pour a 2nd one right away and enjoy it slowly somewhere else like the couch where the little one eventually joins me. It's a process that most of the time doesn't get interrupted. I am lucky. It also helps that the kids are past the toddler years! ;) Only then can I start considering baking or eating something like the beautiful muffins below. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

With all the best intentions, I used to bake Fannie Farmer's oatmeal muffins among other healthy versions for my oldest daughter. She's 24 now and won't even remember. To be fair it was 15-18 years ago. It was healthy and a handy thing to eat in the rushed mornings with school but it wasn't blowing us away unless it was smothered with butter and jam. With time, like many recipes, it got left behind, forgotten.

Thanks to many magazines, food blogs and facebook posts, loads of new recipes involving oats and oatmeal got to circulate in the last 6 years. I'm sure it's been around longer but that's when I really noticed. Probably because of my new little girls who are turning 4 and 7 in a few weeks. They used to love oatmeal! Especially with blueberries and maple syrup. Then they stopped. Sadly, I can't get them back into it. Even with this amazing version which is from the blog 100 days of real food. Funny enough, like me, the author doesn't care for oatmeal either but her concoction converted me for a while. I still enjoy it now and then (not necessarily as breakfast). I really like the texture and the flavours. It's worth trying! It's a big deal for me to say this because usually, I can't bother to care!

Unfortunately, for now, the girls sound like me. Unless it comes out looking like this!

My youngest's favourite spot. Smelling the goods.

Patiently waiting

2 food blogs I simply LOVE and follow since I discovered that blogs exist are: Orangette and The Wednesday Chef. Please check them out. They even have books out which I also recommend! Funny enough in the last few months, they both mentioned the recipe I used to bake in my house so long ago. They of course made their own adjustments to it. Molly from Orangette also mentioned  SouleMama which is an inspiring blog created by a very creative mother of 5 who takes pleasure in the little things. I also recommend her books! :) Anyways, digressing... Apparently a few years back, she shared the recipe too!! Needless to say, it creeped me out a little! In a good way! I saw it as a sign. I seriously had to give those oatmeal muffins another chance! 

It was Orangette's post that I noticed first. It almost made me want to bake right away. At the time I had no blog but 4 days later, I was all over facebook, sharing the link, the love and my results. The pics you see here are from that time. I didn't have the ingredients for the add-ins that were suggested in Orangette but I had some frozen wild blueberries! The little one who's blueberry obsessed was going to approve that. I didn't measure though. I just threw in a handful or 2. I'm not sure why but on a whim I also added a touch of vanilla. Maybe because I've done that to my oatmeal (like in the link above from 100 days of real food).

The batter from Fannie Farmer's recipe barely has any sugar (2 tablespoons). I knew the girls would approve if I drizzled maple syrup or honey on top. I went for the honey. Because of the time it takes to bake, I figured it would be ready before it burns. I also had some slivered almonds (I always do somehow). It was fun to sprinkle on and it didn't feel fussy. I knew it would go well with drizzled honey and kept my fingers crossed as I slipped it all in the oven. So glad I tried!! The topping alone tasted like praline! The girls spent 5 good minutes just nibbling at the almonds on top before digging in.

Finally, they asked me to cut them open. We added a bit of butter and a drizzle of honey on each half. The moist crumb with the blueberries was not too sweet and quite enjoyable with the honey. The girls said I could do this again and I agreed. It was a lazy morning and so nice to hang out, quietly munching away on what in reality was their 2nd breakfast. 

Then things got a little crazy because kids are kids. Be glad those are just pics because they were so loud! :) 

Chimps! They were good company to try it with though. Hope you try it too! With or without your sidekicks. ;) Let me know what you think. Tell me what your add-ins were.

Oatmeal muffins

It says it makes 12. I got 8 generous muffins which was plenty.

1 1/2 cups of flour
2 tablespoons of sugar
4 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of milk
1 egg, well beaten
2 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 cup of cooked oatmeal

My add-ins: 
2 handfuls of frozen wild blueberries, maybe 1/2 cup
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Enough slivered almonds to sprinkle on top, maybe 1/2 cup
Honey for drizzling (about 1 generous teaspoon over each muffin)

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Butter the muffin pans. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. I added my frozen blueberries to the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl stir the milk, egg, and butter into the oatmeal (this is where I added the vanilla). Stir until well blended. Combine the two mixtures and mix well. Spoon each muffin cup two-thirds full of batter (somehow I suck at this and always spoon more which gives 8 muffins). Sprinkle the slivered almonds all over followed by a generous drizzling of honey over each cup. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a broom straw (or skewer) comes out dry when inserted in the centre.

Those muffins are easy to unmold while the honey is still warm. Just loosen with a knife (if needed). Treat yourself to the caramelized almonds that are left behind. Seriously! :)

*UPDATE* I just did those again with the little one who just loves to help with baking. I can't keep her away so might as well encourage her! :) After we poured a cup of oatmeal in, we realized that there was a good 1/2 cup left. For fun, we added that too. It's fair to say that 1 1/2 cups of oatmeal is very doable and just as delicious! In fact, it really felt like an oatmeal muffin! Squishy and SO MOIST! It held well, with a nice sweet crunch just on the top. We ate 2 each with delight with just a bit of butter. Hers didn't even have honey or almonds on top. Her new preference (as long as it's loaded with blueberries). Husband just grabbed one too before he got back to work and his verdict: Good and tasty!


  1. Looks good Be- the muffins and the blog! I'm so glad you're writing about food at last. We like berries, almonds, and some seeds- sunflower or chia, in our oatmeal, and they would be nice in a muffin too I bet.

    1. Hi Kara! Thank you! I'm not sure if this is the direction I'm taking but yeah, talking about food is just so natural to me that it's easier than let's say, sit down, draw and talk about that! Less pressure? ;) I bet sunflower seeds would be great too. I almost bought some the other day with dried cranberries and dried cherries. The problem is, I can't sop eating them them if it's in the pantry. :) Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. I keep forgetting i have oatmeal in my cupboard.. But afte dealing with baking school i just dont wanna bake at home anymore ):

    This would be yummy with brown sugar or graham crumbs on top too, mm, or both!

    1. Yeah I can understand that. You used to eat those around Vivi's age but it didn't last very long. One of us got bored with it. ;) I have to say they're easy and quick to make. They would be good with whatever you choose. Then you grab 2 on the go to school or work and I swear it feels like you had oatmeal. The new batch I made had much more than the usual recipe and it felt more satisfying.