Monday, October 6, 2008

Muffins and Traditions

This morning, I dropped Melissa off at work and headed over to Michelle's house. Michelle and the boys and I had a nice morning together, and one of the things we did was make a recipe that is one of our family's autumn traditions-- Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins. It would be just plain wrong for a year to pass without making these at least once.

Here's one of those really tasty muffins:

After Melissa got off work, she ate one of the muffins and later mentioned that it's hard to believe how many good and happy memories and feelings about our family, our home, and the past were conjured up when she tasted those familiar flavors. And she commented that it's too bad not everyone realizes the importance and power of family traditions. I have to agree, even when it comes to a seemingly small and insignificant thing like making a familiar muffin recipe year after year each fall. Our family had traditions for seemingly everything (why not?!), and we all treasure them now.

And that is why I have made my list of things to do in October-- mostly things we traditionally did in our home-- and why I aim to follow through with all of them that I can. Now that the kids are mostly grown and gone from home, I don't want to let these special things fall along the wayside because, while I do just plain enjoy them, they also bring back sweet and fun memories of my kids growing up and of all of the nice things we did together daily, seasonally and yearly, both the ordinary things and the special celebratory things.

So, after making muffins, we did one more thing on that list.

We planted bulbs in pots to force winter blooms. Michelle is patting down the soil before watering each pot really well. Today, we planted hyacinths and crocuses in our pots because they need only 6-8 weeks in the refrigerator (or in a pepetually cold spot). Then they'll be put in a cool spot inside the house to start growing, budding, and, hopefully, blooming by Christmas. Tulips take 10-12 weeks, and we'll plant some of them right away, too, for January blooms.

Jayden got really quiet, so we went looking for him. I found him sitting on the stairs with Rosie, who was napping in the only sunny spot on that side of the house.

Now here's that recipe for Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins:

2 c. all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. ginger
1/4 t. all-spice
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 c. canned pumpkin
1 c. vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. bran flakes
6 oz. chocolate chips (we almost double this)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together first 9 (dry) ingredients on list and set aside.

In large bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs til foamy; add pumpkin, oil, and cereal. Mix well. Add sifted flour mixture, stirring only til combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon evenly in greased muffin tins (or use papers to line).

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes (we never bake this long, usually only baking for 22 to 24 minutes; depends on your oven, I guess). Cool completely on rack before removing from pan.

Yield: 18 muffins