I know we're just a week into 2017, but this year's off to a rough start... at least, that's how it feels right now.
Warning: I'm about to get really personal and philosophical over here, so go ahead and scroll to the bottom for the recipe if you're just here for the muffins.
Still with me? Here goes...
Over the last few weeks, it's been one thing after another. Both the Mister and I spent the better part of our holiday break flat on our backs thanks to a seemingly never-ending flu, our itty-bitty 15-year-old tabby cat was diagnosed with terminal cancer just before the holidays, and we spent New Year's Eve in the emergency room trying to figure why the vision in my left eye had been blurry for nearly 2 weeks.
(Despite multiple tests and specialists, we still don't quite know what's going on, but they've thankfully ruled out some of the scarier possibilies... to borrow a quote from Arnold Schwartzenneger, it's not a tumah.)
So to say that I've been feeling a little overwhelmed would be an understatement. There have been many mornings where I've been tempted to stay in bed and hide under the covers for the rest of the day, in the hopes that everything will magically fix itself by the time I emerge.
That's not exactly going to solve my problems, though, so instead I'm trying to take deep breaths, live life in the moment, and deliberately embrace the Danish philosophy of "hygge" that everyone seems to be talking about right now.
So what is hygge, exactly? Apparently, it's a Danish word that refers to creating a warm, cozy atmosphere that counteracts winter's darkest days. It's about finding enjoyment in the simple pleasures - soft candlelight, crackling fireplaces, cozy blankets, enormous mugs of hot coffee, good company and belly-filling food.
One of the things I like to think best embodies the spirit of hygge is a cup of coffee and a batch of freshly baked muffins. Simple, humble, and yet so very very cozy.
Despite all the turmoil in my life (or maybe because of it), I find great comfort in the act of measuring ingredients, combining them in just the right order, and then patiently waiting as they bake and fill the house with delicious aromas. The beauty of baking is that it's predictable. As long as you follow the same steps in the same way using the same ingredients, you'll get the same result every time.
There are so many big, scary unanswered questions right now. I don't know how long this flu will hang on before we're finally feeling ourselves again, or how long the treatments will work for our beloved kitty, or whether I'll ever have a clear answer as to what's going on with my eye.
However, I'm choosing to embrace the things I do know - that I have an amazing husband and a cozy little house I can come home to each night, a fully stocked pantry, a challenging-yet-fulfilling job, wonderful friends who are always willing to lend an ear or a hand when I need one, and two little cats to curl up on my bed at night (at least for now).
Because no matter how tough life gets, there's always some small measure of happiness to be found, even if it's just in the form of a humble muffin. You just need to be willing to crawl out from under the covers to come find it.
- ½ cup millet
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup roughly chopped dried apricots
- 1 cup plain Balkan-style yogurt
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup canola oil
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease the cups of a 12-cup muffin pan or line with paper liners.
- In a small dry skillet, toast the millet for 4-5 minutes, or until lightly golden and fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and salt. Stir in the cooled millet and chopped apricots.
- In a second bowl, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, canola oil and vanilla until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until just barely combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling the cups almost to the top.
- Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown and slightly crackled on top. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling off completely.