If “the muffin man” knew about these muffins, he’d still be in business today.  Dark, moist, spicy and absolutely delicious.  I’m pretty sure this easy-to-make recipe will become one of your “keepers” … and not just in the fall season.  The ingredient list might look long, but it is repetitive, so don’t be concerned.  You really don’t need that much at all.  And, if you bake, I’m sure you already have all these ingredients in your cupboard and frig.  If not, you might want to go shopping.

Bake 375° 30 to 35 minutes.  Makes 9 to 12 (depending upon size).

1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 15oz. can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Icing – optional
2 cups 10x sugar
1 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons maple syrup

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, baking power, salt, spices – whisk together til well blended and then set aside.  In another bowl, beat the oil and sugars, canned pumpkin, eggs and milk until smooth and well blended.

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Don’t overbeat.  When completely blended together, spoon into paper lined (or greased) muffin pans.  Don’t overfill the muffin cups because you need to leave room for the topping.  Depending upon how large you’d like the muffins, you should get 12 good sized muffins.

In a third bowl, mix together the flour, sugars and cinnamon.  When well blended, add the melted butter and, with a fork, mix til crumbly.  Spoon this topping onto each muffin cup.  Press the topping down a bit so that it doesn’t fall off.

Bake in a preheated 375° oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove them from the pan and onto a rack.

In a small bowl mix the milk, maple syrup and confectioners sugar together until smooth.  Drizzle liberally over the tops of the cooled muffins.

That’s it!  Easy, peasy lemon squeezy!  Now go put the kettle on because you are definitely going to want a nice, hot cuppa with one of these moist, delicious pumpkin muffins.


A “European-style” Bed and Breakfast?

Sometimes you just need to get away …. and this weekend was it for us.  Trying to find a cozy, little place to ‘get away to’, within an hour or so’s drive, on a busy summer weekend, when you only have a couple of days (and a budget) is very difficult.   But we were very fortunate to find a (“European-style” – their words, not mine) B & B that just happened to have a last-minute cancellation.  Wonderful!

It was much needed and we’re back …. rested, rejuvenated and ready-to-go!  What I did find interesting about this bed and breakfast was the need to describe themselves as “European style”.  What does that actually mean?  Whenever we travel, we always try to stay in Bed and Breakfasts.  They are a comfortable, personal and affordable way of lodging (short of youth hostels) and are a great alternative to the usual disconnected, corporate atmosphere of a hotel.

breakfastWe’ve been very fortunate staying at B & B’s in many different countries and have never had a bad experience.   Some B & B’s are larger than others. Some are just a room or two in a home to help the homeowner offset their income.  For others, this may be their primary income and they have five, six or more rooms ….. some even with a small bar.  One thing you can be sure of though is that, in addition to the personal attention, you are going to get a great breakfast.  No, not just some muffins, a banana and a glass of orange juice, but a full “hot” cooked breakfast.  And quite often with ingredients plucked right out of their garden.

In Thailand the hostess wanted to give us ‘toast’ along with our breakfast because we’re American, but she wasn’t sure how to ‘toast’ the bread.  So she lit a campfire and put the bread on sticks.  Nothing tasted better!  In Wales breakfast included whatever was picked from the garden that morning along with farm-fresh eggs, locally sourced ham and freshly baked, whole-grain bread. 

bedroomYou are also going to get a plush, thick, comfortable mattress with a down-filled duvet (and, as was the case in Thailand, mosquito netting).  You’re going to get a key to the front door (or back door, or side door) as well as your room.  You’ll definitely meet the house dog and cat (and on one occasion be asked if you could take him for a walk).

Friends might come by.  Family will certainly be there.  You’ll be asked to sign the ‘guest book’ to let everyone know where you are from and when you stayed.  If you need a recommendation on where to go for dinner, you’ll be sure to get a good one, with directions, along with the name of the owner and whoever may be cooking that evening.

If you need a suggestion on how to spend your day, the homeowner will be ready with first-hand knowledge of local places, activities and events.  And when you come back after your excursions, a hot cuppa tea or coffee with a home-baked sweet or two will always be offered.

Do you need a wake-up call?  Don’t expect that annoying house phone to ring.  But do expect someone to politely knock on your door.  In Kenya, we were awoken by someone standing outside our door ringing a little bell.  The night before they had also put hot water bottles in our bed to warm it up!  No, you do not get this service at the Marriott Courtyard.

One B & B we stayed at also invited us for dinner.  Of course we would love to ….. but, she wanted to know what kind of fish we liked.  We like all kinds of fish.  Why?  “Well, Tim is going out fishing and I want to tell him what to catch.”  These are the personal touches that a B & B experience can provide.

Did this New England B & B provide us with the classic “European” ambiance, attention to detail and personal service that we have come to know and love?  They certainly did!

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