Well, it's been a long weekend of firsts: my first time visiting Germany (cheers Sam and Jen for hosting!), my first time eating Schweinshaxe (beyond delicious) and, as if that weren't enough, I'm about to watch Steel Magnolias for the first time as well. You simply cannot say that Mr. P does not live on the edge.
I want to put up some of the photos from Düsseldorf actually, if only to show off the bread we ate, but since that would corrupt this particularly marvellous and happily accidental cerise/magenta colour scheme that I seem to have chosen today, it's going to have to wait for another time.
So, I've been away. In the sense of not posting as well as not being at home. To be honest, I usually flake out in February. All those January lamingtons kind of wear me down, and then there's Valentine's Day. I hate all the sickly rubbish that people post on their blogs around that particular holiday, as much (well, almost as much) as I do the green crap that's coming shortly for St. Patrick's Day. Blech.
I am known as a bitter person (just ask Mr. Other P), I accept that. But really - is making a batch of red velvet cheesecake brownies (that aren't even technically brownies) a good way of saying 'I love you'? They might work if you were going to hand them round to friends, but for a solitary loved one? That's just saying, 'Here baby, get fat.'
Not exactly nice.
I had an email from some PR person asking me for a Valentine's Day-inspired recipe and I did consider the suggestion before politely refusing. And I'll tell you why: despite my distaste for all things pink and heart shaped, I actually do think that cooking for someone is one of the best ways to show you love, care for and appreciate them. And I don't think we should only do this on February 14.
Consider: would you rather someone made you cake pops once a year, or cooked you dinner or lunch unexpectedly from time to time when you were too busy even to shop? For me, the latter wins hands down. Though if Mr. Other P is cooking, I'll take breakfast instead. Porridge is much more difficult to mess up. (No offense, dear - and thank you for all the cups of tea you bring me in the morning.)
I think making a decent breakfast for the people you love is one of the sweetest things you can do. I'll take bacon and eggs, muesli, whatever. Even a Schweinshaxe if you're offering. But my suggestion for those of you reading this and feeling like they want to rustle up a hearty feast for someone special (I include family members; love is not just romantic) is not to rush for the waffle iron or skillet. It's these muffins.
You can get the ingredients measured out, mixed and in the oven in less than 5 minutes. If you change the apricots to raisins or dried cranberries, there'll be no snipping and you'll take even less time. Heck, chuck what you like in there. The point is this: nothing says 'I love you' more than a hot, buttered muffin and a cup of coffee.
And not a love-heart in sight!
I have to go: Julia, Sally and Dolly are waiting. But I'll be back...
Apricot, Apple and Oat Muffins
You will need:
a large handful of dried apricots
1 apple, chopped but not peeled
1 cup of porridge oats
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk (or juice of your choice)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
optional: 2 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp cinnamon
- Pre-heat the oven as high as it will go. Snip the apricots into small pieces with kitchen scissors, and put them into a large bowl. Add the apple chunks, oats, flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Mix well - you want to get the fruit pieces well coated with the dry ingredients to make sure they don't sink to the bottom of your muffins.
- In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, milk or juice and oil with the vanilla and cinnamon if using. They aren't really optional by the way: the fragrance that this mixture creates will prove that.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together for 30 seconds using a fork. The batter will be lumpy; the muffins will be perfect. DO NOT OVER MIX!
- Divide this batter between a well greased 12-hole muffin pan. The muffin cavities will be full to the very top, but don't worry. The oats stop everything from rising too much.
- Put the muffin tray into the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 200°C. In 20 minutes, the muffins will be done: stick a cocktail stick into the centre of each one to be sure. There should be no raw batter clinging to it.
- Cool in the pan for 5 minutes or so and serve warm with butter and maybe some jam.