I know it would be easy to think things are all happy and cookies around here. But between you and me, I have a hard time with this time of year, when the days darken an hour before I leave work and we gear up for the long (snowy! icy! bitter cold!) winter. There are those who would say, fairly maybe, that if you declare autumn your favorite set of months, you have to take it with all its flaws, as well as its gorgeous colors and crisp breezes, caramel apples and cider doughnuts, colorful gourds and adorable pumpkins. That you can’t be a fickle lover, using the season for what it gives you and wishing it away when the good things end.

When every work day I walk to my car in pitch-black darkness, when the weather reports threaten a snowfall, when I eat dinner and want nothing more than to curl up on the sofa with a soft blanket, I tell myself these are the small sacrifices. That, in exchange for dense golden forests and carved Jack-O-Lanterns, I give up a little daylight, a little warmth. That, because fall is so wonderful, winter has to follow. It’s the way of things. You can’t have everything you want or you’d be terribly spoiled, right? You can’t have just the beauties of fall year-round or you’d forget to appreciate them, yes?

pumpkin muffin close

I want to be mature about all this. I am trying, all right? I’ve been finding what I like about these darker days—sunny mornings, for example, or the fact that I usually wake up before my alarm. This almost-winter thing isn’t so bad. Plus, there is Thanksgiving on the horizon, and after that, Christmas. Meanwhile, I could use a hug, if not a plane ticket to someplace lovely where I can wait out the next few months. Of course, I’d also settle quite happily for a bite of something delicious. Maybe something pumpkin, as another reminder of fall’s virtues?

pumpkin muffins 2

Still on the hunt for the perfect pumpkin recipe, I baked these muffins last night, taken from a Gourmet recipe from 2006. They’re not overpoweringly sweet, more savory in fact, with a moist, moist center and flecks of cinnamon and sugar on top. I wouldn’t say they’re THE recipe, but they’re a step in the right direction. They’re also a whisper in my ear that fall hasn’t left entirely and, that I must enjoy it while it lasts.

Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from Gourmet November 2006, as seen at Muffin Top

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 15-ounce can of pure pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
1.25 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put liners in muffin cups of a 12-cup muffin pan.

Whisk together flour and baking powder in a small bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer, stir together pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin-pie spice, 1.25 cups of sugar, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture until just combined, always with machine on lowest setting.

Stir together cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in another bowl.

Divide batter among muffin cups (each should be just over 3/4 full), then spinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until puffed and golden brown and a knife inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Lan

    i used to say that Autumn was my fave season too. girl, i take it back. i like it in pictures and theory only. it’s an indian summer day today and if i had a camera, i’d be taking pix of everything outside and SWEATING. i’ll settle for lunch outside instead.

    i’m glad you’re on your way to finding the ultimate pumpkin recipe. while i’m sure this tasted wonderful, i’m still not sold on it.

  2. RobinSue

    I had a hard time falling into Fall this year. I didn’t want summer to end! But the beautiful color and foods win me over each time. And the fires in our fireplace too! I made a yummy pumpkin cake this week, give it a try, it is super easy and turned out great! Your muffins look just fine!

  3. Jacqui

    I have always hated fall, only because I hate winter so much. But this year…it wasn’t so bad. Red and orange leaves against bright blue skies; crisp, fresh air and brand new sweaters; 70-degree weather in November?! Um, yeah…that’s probably why I didn’t mind this year’s fall — the unusually warm couple of weeks we’ve been having. But winter is on its way, I can feel it. NOOOOOO!!!

    The only thing that gets me through Chicago winters are soups, casseroles, and fuzzy robes. Oh, and food blogs. :)

  4. Shannalee

    Lan: So it’s HOT there? We had some blissful days (see Jacqui’s comment), but today was blah–rainy, drizzly, cold. My car stalled again when I was leaving work. Boo.

    RobinSue: I totally saw your pumpkin cake and have my eye on it. I keep buying more pumpkin–I might as well just try every recipe! And it you promise it’s good… oh, I will do it.

    Jacqui: You had to go and remind me how mild our fall has been, didn’t you? As soon as I saw your “red and orange leaves against bright blue skies,” I was smitten with the season all over again. It helped, you could say, that my toes are numb at this moment. Brought me back to reality.

  5. We Are Never Full

    love the way you write. you’re so right about fall – we have to remember how short it is and embrace it!

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