Yesterday was a perfect home day. We slept in (that means 7:00 for us), made omelettes with fresh red peppers and our own onions and kale, and lazed on the sofa with our coffee and the Sunday New York Times. When we finally decided it was high time we got dressed and did something, I helped Jan with some yard work, then went to work in the kitchen.

I made another batch of Carrot, Potato, & Turnip Soup, this time for the freezer—and using parsnips instead of turnips. While the soup simmered, I turned my attention to a quart of winter squash sitting in the fridge. I'd found it in the freezer a few days ago, labeled "Nov. '12," and had thawed it, knowing it should get used soon. Should I make soup? Nah. I've been making soup all week. Muffins? Perfect, and I knew just which ones, too. 

Sophie Minkoff's recipe for Spiced Pumpkin Bread won first place in New York City's 1985 Harvest Fair, but I prefer to make muffins with her recipe. They're so good! I love to make them with fresh pumpkin or winter squash purée, but I always freeze some purée too, so we can enjoy these muffins any time of year. If you have an excess of winter squash in the fall, as we usually do, cook it and stash it in the freezer; you'll be glad all year to have it.

By the time Jan came in from stacking the last of our winter's wood, the soup was ready and the muffins were just coming out of the oven. It was time for lunch, a cup of tea and a warm muffin, and then a lazy afternoon.


This recipe is slightly modified from one in the New York Cookbook by Molly O'Neill. Elspeth posted the original recipe—which is for a bread, not muffins—back in 2010, but I've tweaked it a bit since then. I like to use at least half whole-wheat flour, and I think the recipe could probably use even more than that. I've also increased the amount of nuts and cinnamon. The recipe below makes 12 standard-size muffins.

1 cup raisins
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I like to use a mild olive oil)
1 cup pumpkin or winter squash purée (unsweetened)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin or line it with muffin cups. (I like the foil ones better than paper.)

Combine the raisins and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, and 1/4 cup water. Add the pumpkin purée and stir well.

In another mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the pumpkin mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in the un-drained raisins and the nuts.

Dollop the batter into the muffin tin and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a broom straw inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. 


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