This is the food I remember most from my childhood. Or, at least the smell.
Allspice mixed with Vanilla was the smell I woke up to from Kindergarten to fourth grade, before walking to school down a dirt road that was more like a trail through the trees. At 7am I’d come upstairs and Mom would be in the kitchen, with a bowl of Oatmeal Raisin muffins fresh from the oven, wrapped up in a dish towel. She never used paper liners for her muffins, they always seemed to just pop out of the pan. I haven’t perfected that yet.
Today, 20+ years later, is exactly the kind of morning that reminds me of those muffins: Raining for 36 hours straight, the heater was turned on for the first time of the season. The view from the living room window is warm, with maples coloring the horizon orange and crimson and gold and brown, with some green leaves still holding on, trying, hoping to be the last to drop. Like a game of Survivor.
It smells like fall. It smells like Sears catalogs and rain boots and Elmer’s Glue. It smells like childhood.
Days like this make me want to bake muffins, like my mom used to. So I did. And so now it also smells like allspice and vanilla.
Logan helped. He got ingredients out from the fridge; he poured and measured and mixed. He even lined the muffin pan with dinosaur cupcake liners.
He wanted to smell the allspice when I opened it.
“What is that?” he asked. “Yumm. Yes, put that in there” he said, directing me to add the allspice. It makes me wonder if he would have added it even if the recipe didn’t call for it; has this little boy been baking with me so long that he lets his nose guide him? Does he have an instinct for what goes together? Or is he just being 5?
” It smells like cinnamon and mace. Is it called allspice because it is all spices?” Logan asked. i agreed that it did sort of smell like mace and cinnamon–and cloves. So we got the cloves out, too, to do a comparison. But we didn’t add them to the mix.
He read on the recipe the word “milk”. He insisted on smelling the vanilla before deciding to pour it in himself. Who needs measuring spoons? If it smells good, add as much as you like.
He insisted on licking the spatula…he is the taste-tester, after all.
Logan is the same age I was when my mom made these muffins. And I am the same age my mom was when she made these muffins. It feels like a gift from my childhood to his: warm breakfast fresh from the oven, heating up the house on a cold, wet day, and the smell of allspice and vanilla.
This recipe is from grouprecipes.com
To make this recipe Dairy-Free: replace milk with So Delicious Coconut Milk, vanilla or original
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup quick-cook oatmeal
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1 1/4 cups milk ** or So Delicious Coconut Milk, original or vanilla
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1. Heat oven to 375. Coat 12 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray.
- 2. In large bowl, whisk together flour, both sugars, baking powder, allspice and salt. Stir in oatmeal, raisins and nuts. In medium-size bowl, lightly beat egg. Stir in oil, milk and vanilla to combine; stir gently into flour mixture; do not overmix.
- 3. Fill muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until golden on top. Remove to wire rack to cool.