Yesterday we awoke to snowflakes falling noiselessly to the ground, as if an unseen hand was slowly unraveling a spool of cotton, carefully padding everything in sight. It made an already quiet weekend morning seem especially quiet, and particularly magical. Growing up in Jerusalem, we would experience snow once a year, if we were lucky. There would be so much anticipation, bets as to whether or not it would snow, and if it did whether it would it would be enough for school to be canceled. As soon as they would announce a chance of snow, we would be glued to the radio, intent on updates. To wake up to snow was like a dream come true. People would gather outdoors, snowball fights raging between complete strangers on street corners, the landscape dotted with enthusiastic snowmen of all sizes. There was a frantic energy in the air, everyone trying to max out on the fun, knowing it was but a fleeting pleasure.

So, to wake up to snow? I still find it pretty dreamy.

By evening, it was raining; the rain slowly washing away the morning’s layers of white, its gentle tapping against the windowpanes almost apologetic.

Lately, I’ve been trying to focus on the last stretch of my Master’s. The first days back were excruciating. I sat at the library, across my blank screen and wanted to cry. It grew easier though, day by day. I even caught myself smiling, a few days in. It snowballed, slowly at first, catching up speed, growing in force, until I was able to finally cross off a lingering paper. These past few days, I’ve moved on to a second paper, and again, it’s killing me. I hope things pick up speed soon, because I find these beginnings just deadly. The uncertainty, the self-doubt. The way my mind wanders in a hundred different directions, and how trying to get it back to one is so excruciating, pulling out a tooth seems like a less painful alternative. Reminding myself of this honest piece helps, as does reading this.

Also, sweets. Take these oatmeal muffins, for instance: healthy enough to convince myself they are actually good for me (they are, right?), and with just the right amount of sweetness to be more of a legitimate snack than one inducing a full on sugar coma. Bonus: they fill the house with such a warm, comforting scent. It’s reassuring to know I have one in my backpack, reassuring to know I have some waiting at home. I’ve made them three times in the past two weeks. Either I need a lot of reassuring, or these are really good. Or, possibly: both. 

Oatmeal Muffins

Adapted from 101cookbooks

These muffins are borderline plain, but in a good, comforting way. When warm, the insides are almost pudding-like. They keep well, and make for an easy, grab-able breakfast, or a comforting mid-afternoon snack. The topping makes more than you’ll need- you can stash it in the freezer, using it as a quick topping for a crumble, or, you might find yourself using it for a second batch of muffins, as I did. I made a few changes to Heidi’s original recipe: I halved the butter, adding applesauce instead and used spelt flour instead of the mixture of whole wheat and all-purpose flour she specified. Also, I used Greek yogurt, which is what we have in the fridge lately, so I thinned it a little with water, until its consistency resembles regular yogurt.

Yield: about 1 1/2 dozen muffins.

Prep time: 30 min – Cook time: 35 min

Crumble topping:
scant 3/4 cup / 3 oz / 85 g whole wheat pastry flour (I used spelt, see note below)
1/2 cup / 1.5 oz / 45 g rolled oats
1/2 cup / 2.5 oz / 70 g natural cane or brown sugar
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/3 cup / 2.5 oz / 70 g unsalted butter, melted

Muffin batter:
1 cup / 3.5 oz / 100 g rolled oats
1.5 cups / 7 oz / 200 g spelt flour*
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 stick/ 4 oz/ 110 g unsalted butter
1/3 cup/ 4 oz/ 100 g unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup / 2.5 oz / 70 g natural cane or brown sugar
1 1/2 cups / 12 oz / 350 ml plain yogurt
2 large eggs, whisked

Preheat oven to 350F / 180C. Line your muffin pan(s), and place oven racks in top third of oven.

1. For the crumble topping: using a fork, combine the flour, oats, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter. Place the bowl in the freezer for about ten minutes.

2. In a medium bowl combine the oats, flours, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside.

3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Whisk in the yogurt, applesauce and then the eggs. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir just until combined. Try your best to avoid over mixing.

4. Pour the batter into the muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Take the crumble out of the freezer, and break it up a little, using a fork. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with the crumble, and freeze the rest for later use. Place the muffins in the oven and bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for a minute and turn the muffins out onto a cooling rack.

* The original recipe calls for 3.5 oz (100g) whole wheat pastry flour, and 3.5 oz (100g) unbleached all purpose flour. I’ve made it a few times, the first time exactly as written (well, with regular whole wheat flour), and I found spelt (which I prefer) to be a great alternative. Feel free to use whole wheat/ all purpose if you prefer.