As I feared, the respite from summer heat that blew through here last week was fleeting. The temperature is back into the 80s in the afternoons, and Luke the wonder dog positively melts during our afternoon walk. He enjoys the ritual of getting in the car, throwing his head out the window, and smelling all the delights our suburban neighborhood can offer a suburban dog. We arrive at the cemetery, where in cooler times we log a brisk half hour of me following him as he determines our path, sniffing fences, bushes, benches, turkey vulture feathers, and yesterday, oddly, a dinner roll. After we have made a couple of circuits he is ready, reluctantly, to get back in the car, to go home, to his kibble. Yesterday, despite the novelty of the abandoned dinner roll, he was nosing toward the car after about 15 minutes. It’s still not fall, and he is rather sad about it.
After our Labor Day weekend, where we celebrated by grilling hot dogs, making potato salad, eating corn on the cob, making yet another batch of Cole slaw, and reveling in the final, end-of-the-season raspberry fool, I am ready to move on to heartier stuff. Isn’t it time to cook some chili? When can we have meatloaf? I am longing for some roasted chicken. How about a nice bowl of steaming spaghetti? I am itching to get back in the kitchen, to turn on the oven, and prepare for winter.
Still. The temperature is not looking autumnal, no matter what my sentimental heart yearns for. If Luke is exhausted and liquified by the heat, a long bout in the kitchen would parboil me, too. So let’s start with a little baking. Something light-weight, and almost seasonal, because it really still is summer, despite myriad pumpkin spice items that have suddenly appeared in grocery stores and coffee shops all over town. I think I can gamble a quick hour of time on some cinnamon sugar pumpkin muffins. The kitchen will smell wonderful, we’ll have muffins with our grilled chicken dinner tonight, and muffins for breakfast in the morning, and if we are feeling generous, Mr. Sanders can bring some to the office to share.
I love the fact that the sugary topping is essential to the appearance of these muffins. Sadly, I never find my toppings approach the deliciousness of the Drake’s Coffee Cakes of my childhood. Remember having those in your lunch bag? Yumsters.
I admire the confidence of our friends at Food52, that theirs are the best ever pumpkin spice muffins. But they are usually right! I also like the helpful hint, buried deep in the recipe, to use a piece of uncooked spaghetti instead of a toothpick when testing for doneness. Genius! Since we haven’t had a cocktail party in a couple of years, due I hope to behaving responsibly during COVID and not to our lack of a social life, there has been little reason to keep toothpicks on hand. And I always have pasta in the pantry. Thanks, Food52! https://food52.com/recipes/84086-best-ever-pumpkin-spice-muffins
I was standing in the check out line at the grocery store earlier this week, eavesdropping on a couple of clerks, who were excitedly sharing their Halloween costume plans. So I am not the only one who is eagerly anticipating the fall. I am even eyeing the candy corn, which is also suddenly ubiquitous.
“But when fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.”
― Stephen King