29 November 2013

i found my freedom on blueberry hill


Blueberry muffins may seem kinda basic, in every mean sense of the word. But there's no need to frown at yourself for making life as easy as possible. And sometimes all I want is something simple. I want a decent blueberry muffin recipe that's going to be fast to make, while being so much nicer than tough old cafe versions, yet reminding me how they became such a ubiquitous comestible. I have had no time or energy over the last ten days to blog - which makes me so frustrated but also there's not much I can do about it - so these muffins kinda fit where I'm at currently. Also, I should've known from the start that my queen Nigella Lawson would have a perfect recipe in her important book How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

While most of my tiredness and inability to blog is because of work, I did have a rather distracting and tiring weekend away with friends in New Plymouth. It's a five hour drive, which, in the burning summery heat that everyone but me loves, felt like ninety hours, and either way takes it out of you. Admittedly I was a passenger, knitting and drinking cider with a friend who was also a passenger, while Tim was doing allllll the driving, but the point is, I'm the hero here.


We were in New Plymouth for the annual NZ Tattoo and Art Festival, which was so much fun - okay, if there had been more food and air-con and more places to sit that would've been good, but apart from that: lovely. Everyone was friendly, there were older people and younger people and families with toddlers and children, really old people with tattoos and couples with no visible tattoos and people with full Ta Moko and people wearing head to toe leather or fancy dresses or whatever, really, and so many amazing tattoos and stunning artworks. It was all just rather non-judgemental and nice. There were artists from all over the world there, including the talented and babein' Lauren Winzer, whom I was highly thrilled to have booked for a beautiful tattoo. It was interesting lying there on a bench as hundreds of people walked past, but also oddly relaxed - the occasional thumbs up or smile from interested passers-by broke through the general blur and hum that they all melted into as I zoned out.


I could go on about tattoos, but all you really need to know about our weekend is that we saw a person walking two llamas, who were wearing leis, just casually down the street. As if walking a llama through town isn't whimsy enough, let's give them some flower garlands. And also that we spent our Saturday night knitting, laughing at the increasingly ridiculous mash-ups on the one terrible radio station we could find, wincing at our fresh stabs, and eating pizza. 


But blueberry muffins though: don't dismiss them. I forgot how tender homemade muffins are, like a cake but with none of the potential toughness of crumb that you can get - not to sound like the start of an infomercial, where some person in a black and white video is crying elaborately because their cake is too firm to eat easily - just buttery, soft, barely containing the juicy bursts of blueberry. And also ideal for freezing and taking to work and microwaving back to life as a day-embiggening snack.

Also...I'm not sure if you can work this out on your own or not, but don't feel like you have to use blueberries here. I mean, if you don't have them, you could always replace them with raspberries or diced apple or chocolate chips or even just leave everything out and add lots of cinnamon and vanilla. Don't be held back by your lack of blueberries.

blueberry muffins

from Nigella Lawson's important book How To Be A Domestic Goddess

75g melted butter
200g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
75g sugar
pinch salt
200ml buttermilk (or plain yoghurt, or milk and a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar)
1 egg
200g blueberries (or thereabouts)

Set your oven to 200 C/400 F. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases, or grease them confidently. 

In a mixing bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients. Tip in the buttermilk, the egg, and the blueberries, and carefully mix together as briefly as you can - I recommend using a spatula, to really dig everything together with the minimum of agitation. Equally, don't get nervous and just gently pat it or something, I mean, it needs to be mixed together. Just not beaten or whisked, you know? 

Spoon even quantities into each muffin hole and bake for around 15-20 minutes. These are perfect after about ten minutes of cooling, split and spread thickly with butter. 



They're gonna be all unevenly shaped, due to them being homemade and all, but the only problem this poses is "what's your strategy to grab the biggest one without looking too uncouth in front of your guests".

So wow, huh, thirty days hath November and all of a sudden we're at day thirty. Did you know that I have a cookbook? And that it would make a really great xmas present (or other seasonal holiday present, or indeed, just a "hi I think you're pretty excellent" present) for pretty much everyone you know? Including babies, who might as well get learning about pop culture references and halloumi early, and who can strengthen their gums by chewing on the softly embossed hardcover?


I'm not going to try and push it to the point of alienating you all, but it would be pretty foolish not to do it a little, right? I know this cookbook is amazing and I want it to be a ridiculous, life-changing success, and 'tis the season for buying stuff heedlessly.

(PS: in case you're wondering, my tattoo is at the bafflingly glamorous healing stage, where it's scabbed and itchy, but once it's healed you'll probably get to see it, if you like. I adore it, and while it's just one of many ways to express yourself, I rather love the feeling of being in control of my own skin and of it being a canvas - might as well, since there's so much of it, not going anywhere - and seeing little flashes of colour and beauty out of the corners of my eyes every day.)
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title via: Fats Domino's Blueberry Hill, both mellow and sorrowful at the same time. And generally excellent. 
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music lately:

Idina Menzel, Let it Go, from the new Disney movie Frozen. OH WOW. I mean, I'm never-not obsessed with her, but this song is amazing, and I feel like it could be - okay, not a new Defying Gravity. But it's really something. Just get through the first verse, which admittedly could just sound like any other things-are-about-to-get-heartfelt-here song. And then the chorus! Oh, the chorus.

Kanye West, Bound 2. Kimye 4 life! 
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next time: hopefully it won't be another ten days till the next blog post. In fact, it definitely won't, if I have to wear my laptop like a jaunty hat. So that it's always there to take the opportunity to write on, I mean, not because I think that wearing my laptop on my head is the solution or anything.

4 comments:

  1. Please, please tell me you're joking about Bound 2. Please. Dear god I honestly don't think I've ever seen anything worse in my life. I almost hate James Franco and Seth Rogan for the first time in my life (Freaks and Geek 4eva) simply because seeing their spoof made me watch the original.

    In happier news, I made muffins yesterday too! High five!

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  2. Llamas in Leis would be a good band name. #teamnigella

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  4. Look at those cute flat-top muffies! Also, I hope your tattoo was of a llama-with-lei.

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