It was a hard one.
At first it was clenched fists, biting words, turned backs.
And then, by the grace and relentless heart of God, it was a single touch, on the bathroom floor, through aching eyes that brought back us.
Marriage is one of the best, and hardest, things you could get swept up in.
Andy and I don’t always get it right. We get selfish and prideful and ridiculously opinionated – and we fight. It’s never pretty. And it’s never easy to find our way back home. It’s gasps for air, and dizzying circles, and beaten hearts. It’s ugly. And we hate it.
But if we can allow ourselves to get out of our own way, and be about each other, it’s the most harmonious reconciliation on the planet. The consonance to the chaotic dissonance.
We were spat on, lied to, and struck down by the enemy. But our God forced his way through the thickness of insecurity, and fear, and distrust – pressed one hand against the enemy’s face and outstretched the other for us to take refuge beneath. We found our way home under those wings. We swallowed our fear, and collapsed into each other – right there on the bathroom floor, we found home again.
I can’t even begin to tell you how worth it it is to love. Through all of it, every deep pit, it is always the best decision I’ve ever made. Just to love. Despite.
My man is my hero. He loves me with so much passion and sincerity. He says sorry when I’m too prideful to say it first. He reaches out when I want to run away. He doesn’t let me speak abusive and volatile words over myself. He’s safe. He’s home. And he’s my absolute best friend.
“A good marriage is where both people feel like they’re getting the better end of the deal.”
– Anne Lamott
For sure, I am getting the better end. That guy is incredible. And it is an absolute privilege to be called his girl. I’m blessed.
I wanted to bless my man back for his tenderness with me after yesterday’s rather bleak day. I often enjoy speaking love through food. If you’re close enough to me, you may remember times when I’ve asked you what your favorite meals are, or your favorite treats, because I love to make things that really mean something special for people. I have this rolodex in my brain of everyone’s favorite foods – because that’s one of my love languages. Food.
When I flip my imaginary rolodex over to Andy’s name, there are a plethora of things that come up. But one of them is a classic. One that I’ve been making for us ever since we’ve got married. The smell of them baking brings me back to living in our first home. Back to me learning the gentle warmth of Andy’s arms. Back to settling in so sweetly with him. Back to laughing at the poppy seeds stuck in our teeth.
These nostalgic little things are for my man. They are my personal “toast” to our love, and friendship, and the home we’ve created in each other.
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins!
First, your victims: Flour, Sugar, a stick of Butter, 2 Lemons, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Salt, Vanilla, Sour Cream, 2 Eggs, Powdered Sugar, and Poppy Seeds.
Grab a large bowl, pour in your sugar and lemon zest.
Now, you need to get your sugar to be super lemony, so go ahead and rub the zest and sugar together with your fingers. This will release the oils from the lemon and will give the sugar a soft lemon flavor. It’s delicious.
You want to rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar has a strong lemon scent. My sugar starts to turn yellow. It’s fun.
Now take a quick second to melt your butter in the microwave. You need melted butter for this recipe, but it needs to be cooled melted butter. By the time you’re done incorporating your other ingredients, your melted butter should be cooled.
Grab your flour, and add it to the lemon scented sugar.
Next, add in your baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds.
Whisk all of that goodness together.
Set that aside so you can work on your liquid ingredients.
Grab your bowl of cooled melted butter. Add in the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice from the zested lemon.
Now, whisk it all up.
When that is all smooth and cohesive, pour it into your flour mixture.
Here is where the secret part comes in.
Everyone wants moist muffins. There is nothing more disgusting than a dense, dry muffin. It’s just not right. The first secret to a moist muffin is to just barely incorporate the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Honestly, it’s better to have a few clumps of flour mixture than to over-stir the batter. I only stir it in until I can see just a tad bit of flour. Trust me on this one.
Fold in the egg batter to the flour mixture.
Ready for trick number two? A baking sheet. Under your muffin pan. Yes. This will prevent your muffins from getting too overcooked on the bottom, creating a dry muffin. Do it. I dare you.
Grease your muffin tin and dollop in your lemony batter.
Pop it in a 400 degree oven. My oven runs a bit hot, so I put these in for 16 minutes and they were good. I actually could have taken them out at 15 and that would have been perfect. You may need to leave yours in for about 18 – 20 minutes, depending on the oven. I suggest to check them at 15, and if a few crumbs stick to a toothpick, you’re golden!
When they’re done baking, grab a butter knife and lift the muffins onto their sides to let the steam escape. This will prevent them from overcooking and getting dense.
As soon as you can touch them without scorching your fingers, transfer the muffins to a cooling rack.
When the muffins are completely cool, you are free to drizzle them with icing!
Place some powdered sugar in a bowl and squeeze in the juice from your second lemon.
Stir it up. It should be drizzly.
Drizzle the icing over your muffins, and voila! You’ve got yourself a scrumptious little treat.
These are lovely. If you have a man who loves lemon, I hope you make these for him. He’ll kiss you. And I know you’ll like that.
My friends? Enjoy!
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
(From Dorie Greenspan)
For the muffins:
2/3 cup sugar
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
For the icing:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2-3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-sized muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lemon strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds. In a separate bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend until just incorporated. Don’t worry about being thorough – a few lumps are better than overmixing the batter.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes (testing at 15 minutes), or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. (I like my toothpick to still have a few crumbs clinging on.)
Transfer the muffins out of their molds and onto a cooling rack.
When completely cool, put the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl and add about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the lemon juice. Stir with a spoon to moisten the sugar, then add enough additional lemon juice, a dribble at a time, to get an icing that is thin enough to drizzle from the tip of the spoon. Drizzle on top of cooled muffins.