I would like to paint a quick picture for you. I am sitting at my computer which is set up on our dining table in our dining room. I call it our dining room because there's a big table that seats many people in it and if we host a party or special dinner or have people over for tea, that's where we go. But it's also my work space. And obviously, we haven't hosted anyone in quite a long time, so the dining table has turned into a repository of my work, the ubiquitous tangle of tech wires and bills overlapping with Hugo's loose leaf papers and school folders, since this is also where he ends up when school is online. Today, in this second week of Easter vacation, Hugo has a friend over and while the three boys dutifully played in the boys' room all morning, they migrated here sometime around lunch. Now, as I sit here, the sounds of fierce battles of the lionhearted knights in their carefully constructed forts reverberating all around me, I am trying to compose this post.
I often think about what I'll miss when the children are grown. I anticipate the heartache I'll feel about not having their soft, floppy limbs and sweet milky cheeks and their delicate voices around anymore, but I also find myself wondering about which things I won't miss. Will there be things I won't miss? It's hard to imagine. (Actually, wait, cleaning bottoms, that I will not miss.) Even now, when I'm trying to work and I can barely think straight, it thrills me to hear them playing, so engrossed in their world, the little snippets of phrase that are directly lifted from our own conversations. It makes me happy to listen to them, to think that they chose this room in order to be close to me, that they still are so unselfconscious and free to lose themselves in their role playing, the way their manners, that we spend so much time drilling into them and often despair over, do reliably rise to the surface when a friend is there and they suddenly know how to be generous and kind and polite without any prodding.
But, just to be clear, writing these two paragraphs has taken me over almost two hours. Every time a thought comes to me, it competes with the noise and the noise usually wins. It's all fine and good to wax poetic about the joys of small children, but when it comes to writing and finding the space and silence I need to write things more involved than a blog post, I am usually at the end of my rope. Yesterday, Max took the children to his parents' for the day and I spent hours (hours!) working on my novel and it felt so good, so deeply, satisfyingly good. Will I, one day, when they are grown, miss the way they kept me from the work I wanted so desperately to do? I like to think I won't, but I am a sentimental goon and I can very much see myself weeping over precisely this one day in the far-off future. Motherhood is a kick in the pants, isn't it.
But enough about me. Let's get to the muffins before any more time goes by. These muffins! I love them so. They are so very...muffin-y. You know how most muffins are basically just cupcakes? These muffins are muffins. They're wholesome and not too sweet (well, the way I make them, at least) and they use up overripe bananas and they're very nice made with regular whole-wheat flour and they're very nice made with a GF blend. The yogurt, honey and oil make them incredibly moist and tender, with only a faint tanginess. The recipe comes from Genevieve Ko, talented recipe developer, my old Forest Hills neighbor, and newly made senior editor at the New York Times Food section. Hooray!
In the photo above, I used only coconut to sprinkle them with, but usually I'll do a mix of black sesame seeds on some, pumpkin seeds on others, and coconut on the remaining ones and the combination of variously topped muffins on the serving platter at breakfast is so very pretty. I've been making these muffins for a few years now and they never fail to deliver. The original recipe calls for twice as much sugar as I use. With less sugar, the flavors of the other ingredients come through more and I think it makes the muffins taste better.
The two older boys have left for the playground now, and the little one is left behind. He's working on the castle they abandoned and he is very focused, his lower lip pushed out in concentration, sitting in the pool of sunlight that is cast over the sprawl of toys. It is quiet once again, for a moment or two. I can feel the détente within myself. How long will it last? It's not a question to ask or answer now, when every second counts.
Whole-Grain Banana Yogurt Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
Note: To make these gluten-free, replace the whole-wheat flour with 75 grams oat flour, 50 grams of sorghum flour and 25 grams of all-purpose gluten-free flour.
Print this recipe!
1 1/4 cups/150 grams whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (from about 2 large bananas)
1/2 cup/120 milliliters plain whole-milk yogurt
1 large egg
1/3 cup/65 grams light brown sugar
1/4 cup/60 milliliters neutral oil, like sunflower or canola
1/4 cup/60 milliliters honey
Rolled oats, seeds, chopped nuts or grated coconut, for sprinkling (optional)
1. Heat oven to 375°F/190°C. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners or generously grease (with nonstick cooking spray or butter).
2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour(s), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the bananas, yogurt, egg, brown sugar, oil and honey until just smooth.
3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently stir just until no streaks of flour remain. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle on toppings if you’d like.
4. Bake until a toothpick inserted into a center muffin comes out clean, 20 to 23 minutes.
5. Cool in the tin on a rack for 5 minutes, unmold and cool completely or serve warm.