Fall Favorites: Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

With the arrival of fall, thoughts turn to cool, crisp mornings, fields full of pumpkins, the smell of a crackling fire, and the taste of hot apple cider.  This time of year often causes us to reflect on happy times.  I always find it interesting how our senses ignite memories.  Memories that take us back to a single, meaningful experience.  The senses of smell and taste, in particular, tend to evoke the strongest memories for me.  The smells of freshly cut hay and buckets of Dad’s ripened tomatoes, or the taste of Mom’s homemade Thanksgiving dressing.  These smells and tastes take me right back to my childhood. It’s such a visceral experience.  I think that’s one reason we enjoy the seasonal routines of planting gardens, visiting a pumpkin patch, or preparing and eating a holiday feast.  The sights, smells and tastes associated with these activities bring back a familiar comfort. So, here’s the thing.  With the many signs of fall, including pumpkins appearing at the local farmers’ market, I  remembered one of my favorite recipes:  Spiced pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  I hope you’ll try this recipe and maybe even add it to your fall favorites.  Enjoy! Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins: *Use organic ingredients when possible Ingredients: 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup sugar 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice 1 tablespoon curry 1/4 teaspoon turmeric 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt *************** 2 […]

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A Summer Fling

I’d like to start with the fact that I don’t normally get emotionally involved or gush over dessert.  Yes.  I enjoy decadent treats in moderation: a piece of Victoria sponge or chocolate cake on occasion.  I don’t, however, just lose my mind over sweet things…….until last week. It started out innocently enough.  My dad is a fine gardener and always has a bounty of vegetables to share with friends and family.  Every summer, he sends my in-laws squash, cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, etc. from his garden; and, in an act of reciprocity, my mother-in-law bakes bread or makes a special treat for my parents.  About a week ago, after receiving an installment of vegetables from Dad, my mother-in-law sent my parents fresh berries with a homemade “cream” topping.  Bless her heart, she even sent some for us. Of course, Farmguy and I had no inkling this wasn’t any normal berry and cream combination.  After dinner, we dished out some berries and dollaped the “cream” on top and proceeded to enjoy our desserts.  After one bite, I exclaimed, “Oh my gosh–This. Is. SO. Good!!  It’s not like any cream I’ve ever had! We’ve got to get the recipe from your mother!”  The next day, I called Farmguy’s mom to thank her for this unexpected treat and to get the recipe.  I went on and on about how much we enjoyed it, and how it was the best thing EVER.  The memory is blurry now, […]

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A Lesson

As a child growing up on Green Hill Farm there were two things that I looked forward to the most: visiting with Grandma and Granddaddy Rieley and summer time.  The thing I liked best was neither required dressy outfits or shoes.  I also relished the freedom of an undetermined day, one without rules or routines.  I’d run around the farm sometimes barefoot and still in my pajamas or a mismatched outfit chosen by me; one which usually included an article of clothing made of terry-cloth, a Mork and Mindy tee-shirt, and maybe even knee socks.  I probably resembled something akin to a cross between Little Orphan Annie and a peasant.  Nevertheless, I didn’t care.  I had Grandma to visit, stuff to get into, and I was comfortable–a formula that equalled happiness in my world.  Of course, those days are long gone, because I’d never go outside today without at least a pair of flip flops on my feet.  I also don’t wear terry cloth shorts or knee-socks anymore, either–at least, not together.  However, I still prefer jeans and tee-shirts to dressy outfits, and I’m known to wear my pajamas outside the house on occasion (but never off the farm).  As for those undetermined days, well, I still love them, because you just never know who you may meet or what you might learn. It was a glorious summer day like the ones depicted in those old Country Time Lemonade commercials: […]

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Heirloom Recipe: Colonial Queen Cakes

  I found this recipe for tea cakes in a cookbook called Southern Cakes.  It features some of the most delightful and delicious desserts associated with Southern baking:  everything from sweet potato pound cake to red velvet cake.  Reading this cookbook and admiring the lovely photographs of beautifully baked cakes so reminded me of Grandma Rieley.  My grandma was a wonderful Southern cook, and she loved to bake.  She also appreciated a well-baked cake.  I can still hear her saying what to do or not do for a cake to turn out just right–not too dry, but perfectly moist with good texture. Watching and helping Grandma Rieley bake was one of my fondest memories.  I think she would have approved of these small, elegant tea cakes. According to Southern Cakes, Colonial Queen Cakes were enjoyed in Virginia homes during Colonial times.  Popular long before baking soda and baking powder debuted in the kitchens of the mid-nineteenth century, queen cakes depend on well-beaten eggs to make them rise, just as pound cakes do.  Their texture is dense, closer to a delicate corn bread than to today’s muffins and cupcakes.  This tea time treat is scrumptious and simple to make.  So, go ahead and put on the kettle, they’ll be ready before you know it! Colonial Queen Cakes: This recipe is from Southern Cakes. * Use organic ingredients when possible. Ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg […]

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Firefly Forest

  Welcome to a place of stillness, beauty, kindness, and compassion.  A magical realm that delights the heart and lifts one’s spirits.  Take a journey through Firefly Forest and experience the creative endeavors of a few, whose humanity touched the lives of many. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to enjoy a short film called, The Gnomist.  You may […]

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My Mother

Sonnet 116   “…Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove; O no! it is an ever-fixed mark, That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;…” ~William Shakespeare   Happy Mother’s Day!

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The Weekly Bleat: Remembering Maine and Edna St. Vincent Millay

I would like to dedicate this post to my husband’s 102 year-old grandfather.  He is affectionately known as “Bump” or “Bumpy” to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, because he always bumped foreheads to say goodnight when tucking them into bed at the family’s summer retreat in Maine.  “Camp,” as this summer place is lovingly called, has been an important part of […]

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