oatmeal raisin muffins + regrets for an overly long absence

It is a failure of a blogger indeed to be dormant on one’s own site for almost three months! I offer my sincere apology for neglecting the kind readership that has encouraged me in this fledgling blogging enterprise. I admit, it wasn’t that the baking had stopped, but rather that the time between freshly baked, out-of-my-oven and wrapped, into the hands of others was cut tremendously short. Our lovely Saint Valentine’s day, for example, was a case-in-point: six dozen baked overnight and dipped in chocolate, packaged and given away the very next day!

Why six dozen cookies? Why the rush, you ask? Well, in Japan, Valentine’s day is somewhat different from the flower and box-of-chocolates tradition in America: it’s a day exclusively for girls and women to make homemade treats and truffles for friends, boyfriends, supervisors, coworkers, teachers, or in my case, all of the above. I should have taken advantage of the incredible ready-made boxes of exquisite fine chocolates–ganache, milk, dark, and white chocolates of all shapes, designs, and sizes–to dole out to my many kind fellows, but no, as a steadfast and silly stubborn goose, I refused all commercial help and made the darned things myself, all seventy-two hearty-shaped cookies. Next year, I’ll trade in my pride for a peaceful, stress-free St Valentine’s Day.  Continue reading


afternoon blueberry muffins

Something about the beautiful windswept afternoon called for a summer’s end treat: warm, toasty blueberry muffins. It’s certainly not fall yet here in Nara, but my internal clock has already made the shift and my palette reflects the turn of the seasons, albeit a mental one. I’ve been lucky enough to see blueberries in the local supermarket every visit since my arrival here in August, and even now, mid-September, they still decorate the produce shelves.

Late afternoons always feel a little nostalgic to me, filled with waning sunlight, a reluctance to let go of the unhurried morning, and restlessness to start dinner despite knowing it’s far too early to wisely start a meal. And with any small does of nostalgia are the makings of full-fledged homesickness, which I’ve been able to put off with surprising success until now. It would have been easy, I admit, to give into loneliness and lament my humble single existence here, but I knew I’d have no one to blame but myself for spiraling into an incurable bad mood. Thank goodness I had the clarity of mind to remember that baking solves every unhappy problem! So before even a sniffle of sadness escaped me, I had whipped out bowls, measuring cups, flour, sugar, salt, and set the fresh blueberries to rinse in a bowl of cold water.

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