The edge of spring


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Since we last spoke we've moved away from bleakest midwinter to the verge of spring. I swear I can feel it in the air, those tight buds on the trees that will open soon, the sunny afternoons that send all Berliners outside for a walk in the park or a coffee on the terrace. But I also wish the time wasn't flying by so quickly; already into the third month of the year which leaves around just three months before I pack up and leave. I'm a hopelessly indecisive person; put me in a huge bookshop with everything I could possibly want and ask me to choose something and chances are I'll come out empty handed. When asked what I'd like for Christmas or my birthday, my mind goes blank. It's the same with Berlin; so many places to revisit, so many I've never done yet and trips further afield to make. There's the sadness which goes with knowing this will be my last spring here as a Berliner (for a while anyway) and sometimes it overwhelms me a little. One morning in the past couple of weeks we had the craziest weather with heavy snow turning the city white. This was not the day to go out with my camera so I stood at my window, looking at the passers-by with umbrellas make their way through the large, wet snowflakes. When I feel sad I listen to the shipping forecast because names like Viking, Dogger and German Bight make me dream of seastorms and the lighthouse in Berwick-upon-Tweed decorated with penguins.

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 Luckily though there were also brighter moments; a dinner party for friends last week when I cooked this soup, made this curry and served this New York cheesecake for dessert; meeting up with an old friend again on the first real spring day and catching the last rays of sun over the Lietzensee. Re-reading Wind in the Willows, which I found last week in a classic Penguin edition with its orange cover and the wonderful Mad World about Evelyn Waugh and Brideshead. Watching the Artist and Kauresmäki's Man Without a Past . Making these blueberry muffins is also something special; light but satisfying, sweet but with a sourness as the berry bursts inside your mouth. I think of the Finnish idiom while eating them: Oma maa mansikka, muu maa mustikka. Home is a strawberry but a foreign land is a blueberry (both berries are sweet but the strawberry is the sweeter of the two).I hope to find more sweetness as the year progresses.

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Blueberry muffins (from Meine Familie und ich, March 2012)

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200g fresh or frozen blueberries
24 muffin cases
300g plain flour
1 sachet of baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125g caster sugar
60ml sunflower oil
2 medium eggs at room temperature
200ml buttermilk

 1. If using frozen blueberries, allow them to thaw and drain any liquid. Preheat the oven to 180°C or 160°C fan assisted. Grease or line a muffin tin with 24 paper cases.

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2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a large bowl beat the buttermilk, oil and eggs together. Gently fold in the dry mixture, stopping when everything is just blended, then add the blueberries.

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3. Divide the mixture equally between the 12 muffin cases and bake in the oven for around 25 minutes. When they're ready, leave to cool a little before transferring to a wire rack.

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