lundi 5 mars 2012

The edge of spring

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Since we last spoke we've moved away from bleakest midwinter to the verge of spring. I swear I can feel it in the air, those tight buds on the trees that will open soon, the sunny afternoons that send all Berliners outside for a walk in the park or a coffee on the terrace. But I also wish the time wasn't flying by so quickly; already into the third month of the year which leaves around just three months before I pack up and leave. I'm a hopelessly indecisive person; put me in a huge bookshop with everything I could possibly want and ask me to choose something and chances are I'll come out empty handed. When asked what I'd like for Christmas or my birthday, my mind goes blank. It's the same with Berlin; so many places to revisit, so many I've never done yet and trips further afield to make. There's the sadness which goes with knowing this will be my last spring here as a Berliner (for a while anyway) and sometimes it overwhelms me a little. One morning in the past couple of weeks we had the craziest weather with heavy snow turning the city white. This was not the day to go out with my camera so I stood at my window, looking at the passers-by with umbrellas make their way through the large, wet snowflakes. When I feel sad I listen to the shipping forecast because names like Viking, Dogger and German Bight make me dream of seastorms and the lighthouse in Berwick-upon-Tweed decorated with penguins.

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 Luckily though there were also brighter moments; a dinner party for friends last week when I cooked this soup, made this curry and served this New York cheesecake for dessert; meeting up with an old friend again on the first real spring day and catching the last rays of sun over the Lietzensee. Re-reading Wind in the Willows, which I found last week in a classic Penguin edition with its orange cover and the wonderful Mad World about Evelyn Waugh and Brideshead. Watching the Artist and Kauresmäki's Man Without a Past . Making these blueberry muffins is also something special; light but satisfying, sweet but with a sourness as the berry bursts inside your mouth. I think of the Finnish idiom while eating them: Oma maa mansikka, muu maa mustikka. Home is a strawberry but a foreign land is a blueberry (both berries are sweet but the strawberry is the sweeter of the two).I hope to find more sweetness as the year progresses.

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Blueberry muffins (from Meine Familie und ich, March 2012)

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200g fresh or frozen blueberries
24 muffin cases
300g plain flour
1 sachet of baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125g caster sugar
60ml sunflower oil
2 medium eggs at room temperature
200ml buttermilk

 1. If using frozen blueberries, allow them to thaw and drain any liquid. Preheat the oven to 180°C or 160°C fan assisted. Grease or line a muffin tin with 24 paper cases.

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2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a large bowl beat the buttermilk, oil and eggs together. Gently fold in the dry mixture, stopping when everything is just blended, then add the blueberries.

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3. Divide the mixture equally between the 12 muffin cases and bake in the oven for around 25 minutes. When they're ready, leave to cool a little before transferring to a wire rack.

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19 commentaires:

  1. Here, spring has arrived! Nature's ready to explode. ;-)

    Those muffins look divine! Great texture and flavor.



  2. Wonderful, those close-ups of food, candles and other objects. I also liked it a lot that you are on a photo. Guess you'll select photogenic places for you fare-well walks in Berlin!

  3. Winter to spring can either be subtle or an anxious wait. Lovely photos. The Finnish saying is an interesting way to express that migration dilemma. Now I will never think of blueberries and strawberries in the same way. Have a great week.

  4. Hope you can do all the things you haven't done yet in Berlin and environs before you leave. That way, it will always be in your camera, but most your memory. Enjoy everything.
    Love the snow photos!

  5. Beautiful post. I think that Finnish idiom sums it up best. Let's hope the sunshine wins out in the coming weeks!

  6. I believe I have this very same scale. And two very sad blueberry muffins grace the freezer. I need to thaw one out tomorrow and enjoy with my afternoon cup. Cold outside, warm inside—I love the contrast in this series of photos.

  7. I could relate to every word of your lovely post, being someone who's almost on the verge of leaving the beautiful city of Seattle for the home country. Like you, this will be my last spring in the States and I have no idea how to live it. I wish you all the very best for your move.

    The muffins look gorgeous. And thank you for that quite apt Finnish idiom; that'll keep my emotions in place! :-)

  8. @Rosa - I can only imagine how wonderful everything looks in Switzerland and can't wait to check out your photos.
    @Max - I'm not keen on self-portraits but that one is OK. I'd especially like to return to Potsdam a few times and also make it out to these Gärten der Welt.
    @P.K - I think spring in these northern countries can sometimes seem quite violent with the snow melting and the new growth bursting through. Here the transition is a little easier. I too will always think of blueberries and strawberries differently.
    @Barbara - I'm very happy to have this blog as a reminder of my time here. Yesterday I looked back through the archives to remind myself what I was doing this time last year. I certainly won't be able to do absolutely everything here but then it's nice to have something to come back for too.
    @Christine - Oh thanks! I'm so looking forward to seeing the city in bloom again. Finnish is such a complicated but pretty language and that idiom is one of my favourites.
    @Tracy - Hey, that's cool! I love those old fashioned scales rather than the new digital ones even though I can see the need for more accuracy sometimes. Hope your muffin has thawed out and I'm glad you had one in storage - I've put the last four in my freezer.
    @Suman - It's hard getting ready to leave a place. On the one hand the desire to return home and find all the things you've missed, on the other the heartbreak of saying goodbye to special places and people. For me it's definitely a mix of sweet and sour, like those berries. Good luck with everything, I'll be thinking of you!

  9. I'll wish you more sweetness then, I am sure you'll find some in the end.
    (I have always loved listening to the shipping forecasts, thoses long litanies of strange names).

  10. I'd like to say it's grand to have no snow but for me (and my St Bernard) no snow feels just wrong. Years ago I was being pulled to LA for work and wouldn't budge. I love seasons, it's part of my clock. I think that's why I feel a little off this year. Things are already beginning to bud out... now we have to pray for no cold snaps or everything will suffer.

    Enjoy your German seasons... bittersweet as they may be. Lovely muffins to chase any blues away!

  11. love the snowy photos, especially one with the playground, so dreamy.

  12. Tes muffins sont très appétissants !

  13. But do promise me, if I get to Berlin again in the next couple of years, you will be my tour guide ?

    Beautiful post as always.

  14. i love your website je amour vour website. im sorry i have not spoken french since 1976.
    i will try your recipe beautiful pictures of the muffins but i dont like the cold thats why i moved to arizona the valley of the sun.. what kind of camera are you using?
    il fair chaud

    best wishes
    au revoir bon chance

  15. How did I miss this post? Hmmm... I too am a rather indecisive person. I've walked out of many shops overwhelmed and empty handed. And the mind going blank when asked what I'd like, yes, I know that as well. Good to know you are fully present and enjoying your time in Berlin. Your dinner party menu looks delicious. I made a very good and very simple curry recently. Just in case you want to take a look...

  16. So many comments to respond to - sorry for taking so long!
    @Gracienne - It's already shaping up to be a wonderful spring, although I'm still waiting impatiently for everything to burst into bloom. Berlin is always a little behind with that. Good to have another shipping forecast lover!
    @Deana - I think you're having a great spring in NYC, no? It must be so lovely there right now, even if you and your dog miss the snow. I totally agree about praying the cold snap won't return to destroy this delicate new life.
    @M - Hey, thanks for stopping by and for the lovely comment. It made my day.
    @Le Citron - Merci beaucoup. J'espère que tu vas bien!
    @Amber - Ah, how I'd love that but sadly Berlin will only be my home until the summer. I've decided to leave and return to the UK for a little while before moving onto somewhere else, though where that will be is far from clear. I still love this city but life as a freelancer is getting me down a bit and I'm ready to move on. You know how hard it is to leave though.
    @Alan - Thanks for the nice comment. I think you mean "j'aime ton blog" as "amour" is the noun "love" but it's good that you want to brush up your French, such a great language. Hope the muffin recipe works for you and yes, I can understand why you don't like the cold. I use a
    Canon 1000d SLR camera with a fixed 50mm lens. For landscapes and architecture photos, it's a little limited but it's perfect for me as I like to focus on small details. Cheers et merci à toi.
    @Denise - Oh good, another indecisive person, I feel better already. Somehow having too much choice is almost as bad as not having enough, no? Thanks for the curry tip; it looks amazing and I could maybe substitute tofu for the chicken as I don't eat meat. Berlin is so lovely now in the springtime, warm but not hot and I'm really enjoying it, just living for the moment.

  17. Oh no. I had the feeling you were a vegetarian, but then the image above looked like Wiener Schnitzel and I thought no, she isn't. Oops. My apologies.

  18. Hey, don't worry about it. You're right that it is indeed a Wiener Schnitzel but it eaten by a friend of mine. I'm always happy when people share recipes.

  19. I believe I have this very same scale. And two very sad blueberry muffins grace the freezer. I need to thaw one out tomorrow and enjoy with my afternoon cup. Cold outside, warm inside—I love the contrast in this series of photos.