I have a tendency to forget about myself, to push my own needs aside in favor of others. As a novice teacher, I arrive early to school and stay late, long after the last bell rings in the afternoon. I write up dozens of notes for my students on their work, knowing that most will go unread, but still marking the page in case a stray eye happens to catch the blue ink. I fall asleep in front of the computer in the evenings, typing up powerpoint presentations for the new courses I am teaching. I love my job and enjoy my students, but some days I wonder when I can set down the textbooks and pick up something I'd actually like to read.
I wonder when my time will start to become my own.
I often forget how important it is to set aside time for myself. With a to-do list that never ends, I cross off one item right before starting the next. Owing to the advent of a new year, I am trying to work closer towards a balance. After my first week back in school from the holidays, I woke up late on the weekend. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I set out to make muffins. And again and again, just to make sure I got them right. There is a peacefulness in the kitchen, of mixing ingredients and knowing how they will come together.
The first time I mixed up a batch of these muffins I used clementines, which was a mistake. Clementines are too tart to act as a foil against the cranberries. The second batch was good, but it wasn't sweet enough to make the pockets of cranberry taste pleasant. The last batch, however, was just right. The muffins are bright in flavor, sweet in nature, and the tart cranberries can truly shine.
If these muffins can master this balance between extremes, perhaps there is hope for me too.
Cranberry orange muffins are a play on sweet and tart, and they perform this harmony so well. The batter is infused with orange zest and freshly squeezed orange juice to give it a vibrant citrus flavor. The cranberries add a tartness, but it is a relief against the rest of the muffin. I enjoyed these muffins with a mug of black tea and an old episode of Friends. I encourage you to find a way to sit down, relax, and savor them as well.
One Year Ago: Double Chocolate Brownies
Two Years Ago: Lemon Poppy Seed Rolls, Rosemary Sandwich Bread, and Cranberry Flaxseed Muffins
Three Years Ago: How to Make Cake Flour, Cinnamon Sugar Cake, and Vanilla Bean Pudding
Four Years Ago: Fleur de Sel Caramels, Chocolate Salted Caramel Cookies, and Chocolate Marbled Banana Bread
Cranberry Orange Muffins
Yields 1 dozen muffins
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
Zest from 1 orange
1 large egg
1/2 cup (113 grams) butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (95 grams) all purpose flour
3/4 cup (90 grams) whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (180 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges)
1 cup (110 grams) fresh or frozen cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a muffin pan or line with baking cups.
In a large mixing bowl, rub the zest and sugar between your fingers for several minutes to release the oils. The sugar should become fragrant. Beat in the egg, melted butter, and vanilla until smooth. Gradually fold in the flours, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the orange juice until uniform. Mix in the cranberries.
Divide batter evenly between baking cups and sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.