Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Strawberry Jam Muffins

alternative title: Creative college cooking

This is my first year living in an apartment at college-- the first year with a fully functioning kitchen at my disposal. I've always been a breakfast person-- any meal where coffee is expected is a good meal. However some mornings it doesn't seem worth the trek over to the cafeteria to get food before class. I've become comfortable at whipping up quick morning confections. Since we eat almost every meal at the school cafeteria we don't keep any fresh ingredients on hand so it has become some sort of a game to see how many things I can bake with just the staples.

Today concoction is strawberry jam muffins with an oat crumble. Since we don't have fresh fruit on hand I'm making use of the jar of jam that has been sitting in the door of our fridge since school began. I might spring for some frozen fruit next time I'm at the grocery store and experiment with that.

One thing I really miss about France were the little fruit//veggie stands. You didn't have to trek all the way through the local mall and to the general store-- instead you could just pop into a little store right off the street, grab a couple of apples, and be on your merry way.

I have a go-to recipe for muffins that whenever I'm feeling crafty, I pull out and play with.

1 3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/3 cup + 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup of strawberry jam

For the crumble:
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons of butter

My normal first step is to sub out the milk for coffee not only because I'm just as coffee-obsessed as Loralie Gilmore (two guesses as to my new favorite show) but because we are more likely to have coffee grounds on hand than milk. However, since we had milk today I stuck with that.

Mix all your dry ingredients in one bowl. My favorite way to mix the liquids is to first measure out my milk in a big 2-cup measuring cup, and then add the rest of my liquids to the measuring cup for a quick whisk. It cuts down on the amount of dishes I have to wash and as a college student that is a value I always strive to minimize.

I mixed the dry ingredients, wet ingredients, and the strawberry jam together. And that's it! I spooned the batter into a greased muffin tin. I filled each tin roughly half full, to allow for the crumble.

To make the crumble: mix your oats and flour together. Next, cut in your butter. You can either use a pastry cutter (if you're fancy), two forks (if you're patient), or your fingers (if you're me). Sprinkle the crumble mixture on top of each muffin and put them into a 400 preheated oven for roughly 10-12 min. Our oven tends to cook quickly so it never takes me that long.

You can't really see it, but the batter turned  a nice rose color

What I love about making muffins is that there is enough batter for roughly 1 1/2 batches. I pour the leftover batter into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Next time I want some muffins I just pop the frozen cubes of batter into a cupcake tin and bake them like normal. My ice cube tray is somewhat small, so I end up with mini-muffins, which are also great.

Sorry for the lackluster photos; I whipped these puppies up this morning before my quantum mechanics test. I didn't have time to focus on getting good shots/finding good light. 

I'm firmly in denial about my future but if I were not, I would marvel at the fact that I'm already more than half-way through fall semester of my senior year. I was pulling up a graduate school website and it hit me: I'm applying for a PhD in physics. PhD! A imposing title that seems better suited for far smarter people far away. I've finally reconciled myself with the idea that I'm a college student and now that is going to disappear.

It's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of classes and homework that is college life, but deadlines for applications are fast approaching. My current struggle is to write a personal statement that makes the university realize exactly what they would be missing without me. In roughly 500 words I have to paint a convincing picture of myself and my passion for physics.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for my new favorite baking recipe: chocolate scones!