Sunrises depress me. The sun inches above your horizon; the stars fade into a blue-tinged golden sky; all to reveal another night without sleep…and not for a fun reason.
I’m a sufferer of acute insomnia — short-term insomnia caused by internal worries or external changes. I have a lot of extra hours in my day lately and too short an attention span induced by lack of sleep to accomplish anything except looking up facts about why I’m not asleep. It’s been about two and a half weeks since a full night was spent in peaceful slumber. In one and a half weeks the insomnia will turn from acute to chronic.
There are three kinds of sleeplessness:
1) not being able to fall asleep
2) feeling tired after waking up
3) waking up during the night without being able to fall back asleep
Sleep has never come easy for me. And I mean never. As a baby, a kid, a teen, an adult I’ve suffered and caused others to suffer sleepless nights. When I lived with roommates who naturally stayed up past 2 a.m. being awake didn’t seem odd. Those 4 years were probably the most well-rested I’ve ever been.
I guess those nights are over.
Out of all the tricks out there to overcoming acute insomnia there are two that most often come to mind. First not becoming obsessed with sleep (oops). Second occupying yourself through not-too stimulating activities.
When first planning these muffins two and a half weeks ago I was thinking about sunrises. Most precisely I was lying in bed — awake — willing my hand to stay tucked under my pillow rather than push aside the blinds and see if the sun was rising. I’m not much of a morning breakfast eater, but planning elaborate ones used to be a favorite not-too stimulating activity. Lately I’m more likely to give in and get up. Which results in activity (oops).
Now that you are awake the second crucial step to making 4 a.m. muffins is a 24 hour grocery store. Unless you are set in your insomnia you probably aren’t prepared for this baking. Though, I suppose the well-rested could make these muffins at any time.
Sour cream pistachio muffins with crumb topping
adapted from Mix-in Muffins from Gourmet January 1999
1 ½ cups flour
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
½ cup pistachios, finely chopped
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest of one orange
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
1-2 tablespoons butter
¼ teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
For muffins: Mix together flour through salt and the ground cloves (if using) in a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk together the sour cream and egg. Then whisk in melted butter and vanilla. Add sour cream mixture to flour mixture. Pour spoonfuls into lightly greased or paper cup lined muffin tins.
For topping: Using fingers smush together all ingredients. Sprinkle onto top of muffin batter.
Place in 400° oven for about 20 minutes (according to recipe, but I think it took less time) or until golden brown on top and a tester comes out clean.