Have you heard the saying not to “eat your feelings?”
I’ve had my fair share of nights with girlfriends passing around a jar of Nutella and a spoon after a breakup (don’t pretend you’ve never done it), but one of the most important food rituals I started in college was my pre-paper coffee.
I actually didn’t really drink coffee until around my sophomore year of college, which is especially odd since I come from a family of coffee addicts. But the bigger my workload became, the more often I would leave campus for a caffeinated pick-me-up, and by my senior year I could drink a latte (without syrup!) instead of the frappuccinos I ordered as a freshman. My friends and I had our favorite spots, from the Starbucks 10 minutes from campus to the more hipster places at least 20 minutes away (an occupational hazard of going to school on a mountain). I loved studying there, both for the change of scenery and the chance to pick up a muffin or scone if I needed an extra boost. (I mentioned before that I’ll take what I can get when it comes to writing inspiration.)
To this day, drinking a latte immediately gets me in the mood to get to work, which makes me wonder if this is one of the secrets to bribing your muse, or as Anne Lamott puts it, the Dr. Seuss creature working away in your subconscious. But the rub is that I haven’t found a favorite coffee shop in Houston yet, and Starbucks gets pricey after a while. So I thought, why not make my own creativity fuel?
I have yet to make the perfect latte, but a crumb cake, that I can do. I made the Blueberry Crumb Cake from Smitten Kitchen (embarrassingly in a tart pan, since I didn’t have a deep enough round pan) and The Black Thyme Muffins from The FauxMartha (in a loaf pan, because my muffin tin went missing since the move to Houston… luckily she gives directions for that as well!).
Both are completely delicious; the hit of lemon in the blueberry cake recipe is ridiculously addictive, and I’m the biggest sucker for thyme, so I knew I would be making Melissa’s recipe as soon as I could get my hands on some on-sale blackberries. (Tricky in the summer, but I’m excited for more berries this fall. Just look how pretty they are…)
Don’t get too overzealous when mixing up the crumble toppings. If you mix the sugar and butter and maple syrup (for the FauxMartha recipe) too enthusiastically, it won’t end up as crumbly once it’s baked. It’s still delicious, but it does affect the texture slightly.
Melissa’s note about the “whole milk” yogurt threw me off, so I used some Greek yogurt that we had in the fridge. I later read this article from The Kitchn that explained that the Greek yogurt is simply strained a third time, so it’s extra thick compared to regular yogurt. This made the final cake a little dense (but still moist, so we didn’t mind too much). So I would advise you to use “full fat,” regular yogurt for the moistness and lack of density.
Do you guys have any go-to rituals for getting in the mood to write, run, or do laundry? (Please let me know if you have a ritual that makes laundry more fun. I would love you forever.)