It seems that the past month we have been begging for the mornings to be crisper, wishing to see the shedding leaves collect outside near our apartment stairs. It’s a wee bit torturous eyeballing our chunky sweaters, those that fall on our bodies like a snuggling blanket, and our cargo jackets, those fashioned to warm us for our adventures in the trees, crammed in the corners of our closet, hibernating for just one more month. When we flip the calendar month to October we immediately envision that the weather genie has changed the temperature of the winds, has called upon the pumpkin and squash gardens to multiply like rabbits, and has matched the outside colors to the warm oranges and reds of the Starbucks’ chalkboard designs, layered in pumpkin-this and cinnamon-that.
However, we live in this land known as Phoenix, Arizona. This desert world that at times kindles daydreaming over the Pinterest and Instagram shots of the “perfect” fall season: the layered knits, the dirt paths disappearing into a forest of yellow and orange, and the warming cups of chai tea.
But, there are treasures in this slow turning season in our homeland. Year after year it feels like we slowly pass into a new season of our lives, a slow and smooth transition like the drip of molasses. As we shift into a cooler sun, our apartment and our daily activities slowly begin to capture the changes. We adorn the coffee table and our TV stand with various baby pumpkins, our produce bowl collects ripe oranges and acorn squashes, and the couch is draped in crocheted throw blankets. We gradually seek more times of gather and as we visit our favorite restaurants, coffee stops, and shops we see the outside misters have ceased, we see families eating their dinners at earlier hours, we see more legs and feet stuffed in boots cross-legged under outside tables as more and more friends are enjoying meals and drinks under the darkening sky, the stars greeting groups now an hour or two before the closing out of tabs. The start of October in Phoenix invites individuals to commit to those outdoor adventures which the heat had scared them from: kayaking at Tempe Town Lake, starting hikes later than 5 am, picnics and fishing at Kiwanis Park, grooving to outside concerts, and cooly delighting in the many outdoor taco/pizza/beer/bike/music/art festivals.
In our kitchen, we seemed to have refrained from baking much during the summer months, unsure as to why. I think as we have mentioned before, our cooking craves reflect the heat of the sun and bright of the sky, the produce in flourish and the flowers in full bloom. As the temperatures have been creeping down by 8-10 degrees, we saw various apples on sale at the store and carried a bundle of them home with us, along with some ripe pears.
Currently, Allison ships off to school in a rush most mornings, trying to capture the light rail at a decent time to make it to her classes at the Downtown ASU campus with minutes to spare. With Ashley’s new job, the meal breaks are brief or not at all, so the stomach grumbles persist until she punches in her clock out stamp. Thus, we were seeking some seasonal and yummy convenience and we knew that one of our favorite grab-n-go’s is a delicious muffin.
With the early fall apple varieties like Honey Crisp, Swiss Gourmet, and Ambrosia apples in full swing we wanted to pull those flavors into a healthy breakfast muffin, sweetened only by the crisp, juicy, and natural sweetness of these apples (and a delicious pear!) and honey. We grated the apples and the pear in this recipe instead of chopping them up small as the grated fruit distributes evenly throughout the batter and sometimes, larger fruit pieces can congregate to the bottom of muffins while they bake.
We were comforted by this start to our fall baking, and with the warm cinnamon and allspice scents trickling out of the oven, we watched the gray clouds dance in front of the sun, making the hours of the afternoon fluctuate between bright and grey skies.
These muffins are easy to pop in a plastic baggie on our way out the door and are the perfect companion for a morning coffee/tea. We hope you find these muffins well in your own kitchen as your space and your days begin to capture the seasonal changes wherever you call home.
Yield: 12 muffins
Adapted by: 1,000 Lowfat Recipes by Terry Blonder Golson
2 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup all purpose flour (unbleached, white)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp ground allspice
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
2 egg whites
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup honey
1 apple, peeled and grated (we used a Honey Crisp apple for its strong natural sweetness)
1 pear, peeled and grated
NOTE: together the grated fruit should make about 1 ½ cups
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat 12 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Sift together the dry ingredients: the flours, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda and baking powder.
3. In another bowl, beat the egg whites, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and honey until creamy.
4. Stir in the grated apple and pear.
5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir until the muffin batter is moist.
6. Spoon batter into the muffin cups and bake for 25-30 minutes. Tester: insert a toothpick into the center muffin and if it comes out clean your muffins are done!
7. Let cool for 3-5 minutes and enjoy! Store up to 1 week in an airtight container. Serve warm for breakfast or as a snack with peanut butter or drizzled with a little honey.