When I wake to the day and hear rain already falling on my roof I long to linger between the sheets, but something deeper inside me wants to patter out to the kitchen and create some warmth and welcome the morning. Today has been one such day, a Sunday morning sky filled with grey clouds, a chill on my nose when woke to my alarm clock, and an idea in my brain to make breakfast for Mum and Dad.
The gentle scent of cinnamon, nutmeg and roasted apple wafted out of the oven as I paused a moment to reflect over the last few days, and the meals that I have made; some nights just for Mum and Dad and I and on Friday evening a feast for friends. The other thought that popped into my mind was a comment from the librarian as I picked up a stack of cookbooks to read over the weekend; "you're going to be busy with all that cooking, better you than me".
I think she missed my point when I merely smiled and replied "It brings me joy."
To me, cooking is more than the mere preparation of fuel for the body.
Imagining something my family and friends will love, selecting the highest quality ingredients I can find, chopping, stirring, simmering and plating in the creation of a meal are all exercises in joy for my soul. They are a moving meditation.
I call it the pleasure of provision. When I am engaged in providing something for my family, whether it is food, or making the house tidy before they come home, or just making Mum a cup of tea while she works on something; I feel warmer inside, I feel that these ordinary days have some deeper meaning, some connection to who I want to be as a person, the life I want to lead, and the things that are most important to me.
One of those things that is most important to me is to be giving to others, to provide for my family, to have something to offer when we all sit at the table. Making a meal, or a treat, to share amongst companions is a physical manifestation of the love and care we share at a deeper level. These plates I fill are only symbols of the hearts that I hope to touch everyday, and the places I hope my love nests itself, ready to nourish when it is needed most.
Roasted Apple and Oat Muffins
You will need to prepare the oat and milk mixture the day before. If you forget to do so never fear, you can just add them as separate ingredients, the oats will just be crunchier than if they were soaked.
1 cup of oats
1 cup of wholemeal plain flour
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup low fat milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large egg
1 apple, quartered and sliced thinly
- The night before you wish to cook the muffins measure the milk into a jug and add one half cup of the oats. Allow the mixture to soak overnight in the fridge.
- The next morning, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
- While you prepare the rest of the mixture and the oven heats spread the sliced apple across a lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes or until softened.
- Spray a 12 hole muffin pan with oil.
- In a large bowl mix together the remaining half cup of oats, wholemeal flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- In the jug with the overnight oat and milk mixture add the olive oil, vanilla and egg. Beat together.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir gently, before it is fully combined add the sugar and mix until just combined.
- Spoon batter into prepared pan and top with a few slices of the baked apple.
- Bake muffins for 12 - 15 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched.
- Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan and then remove while still slightly warm. Serve the muffins with butter and jam or enjoy on their own.
These muffins go beautifully with a steaming cup of English breakfast tea and some chunky raspberry jam. Especially on a rainy Sunday morning with those you love.