When you’re someone who rises near 5 a.m. many mornings, you notice the changing of the days. They’re getting shorter, as they do after the summer solstice. We’re now approaching the time of year when the darkness seems to invade our waking hours more and more.
That’s probably my least favorite thing about the changing of the seasons.
Only a few months ago, I was lamenting how bright it was when I rose. It was hard to sleep past the early morning hours — on those mornings when I wanted to — when the sun rose so early in May and June and July. But come August, the light waned as it does. The sun rose a little later, and then even later than that. Now it’s September.
This morning my son noticed that it’s not yet dark when he’s waking up, getting ready and eating his breakfast. He rises just after 6 a.m.
“It will be soon, Will. Before you know it, it will still be dark when you have to leave for the bus,” I told him.
As the words came out of my mouth, I could barely believe them. It’s true, but I am not ready for those dark days. But then, it doesn’t really matter if I am ready or not. The days will get shorter, the seasons will change, the air temperatures will fluctuate. And all of that happens without any regard for my personal feelings on the matter — it’s one of those things that just is.
On the morning after Labor Day, with a chill in the air, the march toward fall seemed so clear. We’re nearly there. And while part of me is looking forward to the leggings, sweaters and steaming cups of cider, I’d like to hold onto summer a little longer. There are still parks to play at, and tennis courts to hit balls on. There are hikes to take and ice cream to indulge in.
But there is so much good that comes with cooler mornings. Baking muffins, for instance, feels like a great idea. The warming of the oven is a comfort, not a groan-inducing hinderance, as it can be in the hot days of mid-summer.
And the fruits of my labor — the tender, warm muffins with a crispy cinnamon sugar top, broken open and spread with butter — are heavenly with a steaming mug of coffee. Perhaps hot cocoa for the kids.
These Carrot Raisin Muffins are lightly sweetened and filled with a confetti of shredded carrots and dotted with sweet raisins (I used golden raisins but any shade will work). They have a strong cinnamon element to them — both inside and on top — and are delightful hot from the oven.
The recipe was inspired by my eight-year-old daughter, Paige, who is a lover of all things bunnies and rabbits, and hopes one day I will agree to her owning one. I’m not convinced, but in the meantime, I am happy to indulge her love of carrots that comes part and parcel with the rabbit devotion.
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup finely grated fresh carrot
- ½ cup raisins
- 2 tbsp cinnamon sugar (divided)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12 muffin slots in a pan with liners.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and oil. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Stir to combine until smooth. Fold in the grated carrot and the raisins.
- Divide the batter evenly among the lined muffin slots. Sprinkle each with ½ tsp of cinnamon sugar.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out cleanly.
- Enjoy immediately, or (once cooled) store in an airtight container and consume within 4-5 days.