All week long our family has kept the berry bowl full.
At any convenient moment I have strapped my son into his bike seat and whisked us both down the long dirt road to the berry patch. The rainy summer gave us a seemingly endless bounty of blue and black berries, more than we could ever pick, but the prospect of a year’s worth of jam and pies has kept us coming back with buckets in hand. Each time we go I am amazed by the scale of it. The mossy buffet stretches as far as we can see and back into the woods beyond, and the berries are thick over it all. Each of our trips last barely half an hour, nonetheless we have amassed gallons over the course of the week.
A portion of each day’s bucket went into the fridge, intended for pancakes and salad dressing, but has mostly been eaten in handfuls. The sensation of a mouth full of firm little berries popping like caviar is beyond luxurious, and with a practically inexhaustible supply, we have been indulging with abandon. The sight of the full bowl of black jewels is equally decadent, and I have been reveling in my tribute to the luxury of plenty.
My little one has little stamina for picking, so I tried one morning (regrettably, in vain) to appease his boredom with a warm oatmeal muffin. These not-too-sweet muffins are quickly made and hearty, ideal for an impromptu outing on a foggy morning.
This recipe is for the base oatmeal muffin mix, but the variations are endless. Raisin and cinnamon or rehydrated apple with ginger are classic choices, but you could try some dried cherries and chocolate chips for a sweeter version. Adding chia and flax seed will increase the nutritional value and add to the texture. These can also be made in bulk and frozen for quick breakfasts. Thaw overnight and microwave wrapped in a damp paper towel to revive. Best served on a mossy hillock with a handful of fresh berries and a thermos of black coffee (or milk).
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup instant oats
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and completely cooled
½ cup milk
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 12-muffin tin with butter or line with paper liners. Baking without liners will produce a crispy edge around the entire muffin, which I enjoy, but if you want a soft muffin, I suggest using liners.
Combine your flour, sugar, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly to aerate.
In a separate bowl, whisk together your eggs, yogurt, vanilla, milk and cooled melted butter.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir to combine.
If you want to add any berries, dried fruits, or nuts, this is the time.
Portion out into your muffin tin, filling to just under the top of each cup.
Bake immediately for 14-18 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are firm and springy, rotating the pan at the halfway point.
De-pan as soon as you can handle them and store as soon as they are cool.
Tressa Dale is a U.S. Navy veteran and culinary and pastry school graduate from Anchorage. She currently lives in Nikiski with her husband, 1-year-old son and two black cats.