Pumpkin muffins

I’ve been making a lot of pumpkin muffins lately because we still have pumpkins in cold storage.

Minutes after I finished my last post, I decided I didn’t like it. I wrote it in a rush, as I do nearly everything lately, and then I felt like I didn’t really say anything. A list of the food I consumed in Boston doesn’t say much about the trip or the training program I attended, which was amazing and a much-needed break from the grind. It was the first time in a long time that I felt like I had time to think. And of course, now I’m back, and I have all kinds of story ideas and thoughts on projects, but while I’ve changed, my job hasn’t, and there’s no time or resources to actually do the stories. It bums me out.

One of the nicest things about the trip to Boston was that I also got time to spend with people I care about. My mom flew in and stayed with me for a few days, and then G. came for the weekend. We had dinner one night with my former boss, Michelle, who was my editor when I worked in Providence. I feel like she’s really the one who gave me my career because she pushed me to improve my writing, and she taught me company-specific skills so that I could do my job well and navigate the office politics. She has had a rough year, giving birth to her second child while her husband was in cancer treatment, so it was good to see her and learn more about the changes in her life and how she’s responding to them.

The thing is, I don’t just feel a shortage of time at work. I feel it constantly in my personal life. I am behind in email and phone calls to friends and family, and as for this blog … There’s not enough time to do everything I want to do, let alone blog about it. In the past four days alone, G. had another sinus surgery and turned 50. This was his second official surgery, and the third if you count the one the doctor did in his office to deal with complications from the first.

So, to clarify, this was the second surgery in the hospital, where they put him to sleep. He’s supposed to be able to breathe more clearly now, but he has yet to sleep through the night. He wakes up sniffling and hacking. I want him to go see another doctor and get a second opinion, but he’ll feel better during the day, and then he thinks maybe, just maybe, tonight will be different. But it isn’t. I think mostly he’s tired of being sick and just doesn’t want to deal with it anymore.

His birthday, once he got up and got moving and his nose cleared up, was actually nice. We had planned to go to the zoo, but with all G.’s sinus problems, he didn’t think he should be around dirt and animals and fur. We went instead to the Field Museum, where they are having a special exhibit on Genghis Khan. G. liked it because it was mainly about war and empire expansion, although the Mongol empire contributed some startling innovations to society, including national parks and a version of the pony express.

After the museum, we went to dinner at Kendall College, which was wonderful as always. We got very lucky this time because our table was looking into the kitchen, and we saw a cheesemonger come in. We watched him talk to the chef, and then the chef saw us watching, came out, talked to us about what was going on and then gave us a sample of some excellent goat cheese. Then he sent us a complimentary appetizer of chicken croquettes with rhubarb jam.

“The chef likes you,” our waitress said when she set the plate down.

Then she crushed G. by asking if our son was cooking in the kitchen. I could see his thoughts on his face: “Our son! I’m old enough to have a college-aged son. I look old!”

I said no, our son wasn’t in the kitchen, but we had just met the chef. Then she asked if it was a special occasion, and I told her it was G.’s 50th birthday. She rushed off to tell the chef, and when our meals came out, she also brought us a complimentary pickle tray and a batch of zucchini tempura. The food was so good, and we couldn’t even finish the fried zucchini. I’ve never been treated like that in a restaurant, and G. hasn’t either, so it was really nice to be fussed over and made to feel special on his birthday. I felt so incredibly grateful to the chef, Benjamin Browning, for making that happen.

I suppose that brings me to the pumpkins mentioned in the title of this post. After I got back from Boston, I spent several days processing the five or so pumpkins that were still in cold storage in the basement. It was amazing how long they kept,but I was starting to worry that at some point, they would begin to rot. Also, I knew I’d be more likely to bake or do something else with pureed pumpkin if it was already made, than if I had to first make it and then make the recipe.

I found a good recipe for pumpkin bread in the Classic Zucchini Cookbook, and then tweaked it just a little to make muffins. I made two batches right away, one with nuts and dried currants and the other with raisins and currants. Both are good.

 Pumpkin Muffins

1 2/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin, pureed
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup nuts or raisins

Beat together the wet ingredients: oil, eggs, pumpkin puree and milk. Stir in the dry ingredients. Stir in the nuts or raisins.

Put paper cupcake liners in muffin tin. Spoon in the batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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