On Monday, I spent most of my day fieldworking for my Marine Acoustics module, which involved going out on the boat for a few hours to take recordings being transmitted from a loudspeaker broadcasting from the base of the pier as well as doing an echosound transect and then
chilling out monitoring the loudspeaker equipment on the pier whilst the other group went out on the boat. We were incredibly lucky with the weather – it wasn’t too cold, there was fantastic sunshine, hardly any wind (very unusual for St Andrews) and the swell was pretty minimal. I even managed to acquire a sunburnt nose. In Scotland. In February. Ya, I know, who would have thought?! Just in case you don’t believe me, here’s proof of the sunshine:
This was followed up by a joint event between the university’s French Department and the French Society, which involved Jean-Yves Laurichesse, a French professor and novelist, reading from two of his novels followed by a Q&A session afterwards. As President of French Soc (not nearly as impressive as it sounds), I was asked to chair the discussion, and for some obscure reason, I agreed. I’m dreadful at (and slightly terrified of) public speaking, and I’ve never chaired a discussion before. As a Zoology student, I’m not particularly used to literary discussions (probably my only exposure to them is the Edinburgh Book Festival – ya, I’m THAT cool). Needless to say, I was pretty panicky about the event beforehand. Oh, and the whole event was to be conducted entirely in French (I realise I’m fluent, but the prospect stressed me out further). Thankfully Professor Laurichesse was very friendly, everybody was keen to ask questions and the whole event went smoothly (the wine provided by French Soc may have helped…).
I realise that our fieldwork sounds like it was a bit of a doss, but I’d forgotten quite how exhausting it is to spend long periods of time outside, particularly on the boat. This combined with my serious stressing over the whole discussion-chairing thing, meant that by the time I’d had dinner, I was utterly drained. I was supposed to be writing up lecture notes about thrilling things like krill, but I just couldn’t concentrate, and decided to be realistic: clearly I was getting nowhere with the krill, but it was still a little too early to go to bed. Since the recipe seemed straightforward enough to follow in my pathetically knackered state and I happened to have all the ingredients, I decided to try out these muffins. A brilliant decision, because they turned out rather tasty and wonderfully moist.
Apple & raisin buttermilk muffins
Makes 16 muffins
Adapted from Jane’s Sweets & Baking Journal
If you don’t have any buttermilk, just use 225ml of normal milk and add 1 tbsp lemon juice, mix and allow to stand for a few minutes. Then just add it as instructed (though sieve it first in case any lemon pips snuck in). I have a permanent stock of raisins soaking in rum, so I decided to use them and they added a subtle taste of rum, but normal raisins would work just as well.
100g porridge oats
90g all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
115g granulated sugar
85g unsalted butter
1 small apple
Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling (optional)
1. Mix the buttermilk and oats together in a large bowl. Leave to stand for 20 mins.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Peel and dice the apple (dice it quite finely, but not too much – you still want chunks in the muffins).
3. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Line a muffin tin or set out 16 silicone muffin cups.
4. Once the oats and buttermilk mixture has stood for 20 mins, add the lightly beaten eggs, sugar and melted butter and mix well.
5. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Add the apples and raisins and incorporate until just evenly distributed. Don’t over-mix.
6. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups/liners, making sure not to fill them more than ⅔. Bake for 14 mins.
7. Allow the muffins to cool in the tin or cups for a few minutes before moving them to a wire rack. Sprinkle the tops with a little cinnamon sugar for decoration.