the spiced pumpkin donut that became a muffin

I'm not so great with the adjectives. But that, I figure, it part of my job. That's what editors do. We chop and dice and cut words that aren't necessary. 
But last week I learned a startling fact: Not all writers and editors think this way. 
This rattled me to my very core (that is to say, right to my press pass).
Food bloggers, for example, thrive on adjectives.
I learned this last week when, thanks to the generosity of our friends at Midwest Dairy, I sat in on Chopped Con, a meeting of the food-blogging, food-loving and {Well, aren't we all?} food-eating minds. 


  • We got to know full-time blogging couple Lindsay and Bjork at Pinch of Yum, the down-to-earth and Aldi-loving Ali from Gimme Some Oven, and Christina from Dessert for Two (Dessert for two? Who are we kidding? That's totally a single serving . . . for me).
  • We talked about adjectives like briny and doughy (and the dreaded moist). Adjectives in news writing? Not so much. Adjectives in food writing? Yes, please!
  • We determined Instagram is a good way to let your readers know that your house isn't always as clean as it looks, that the dog sometimes shows up from a morning romp covered in burrs (ok, we didn't decide that but I'd just like to go on the record as saying my dog did today) and that there's a fine line between blogging because you love to cook and blogging because you're a machine.
  • Some of us were brave enough to try shredded, braised tofu from Chipotle, who sponsored lunch.
  • And some of us were not.
  • We learned about food writing from Kansas City Star food writer Jill Silva, who reminded us that food writing is the story behind the story.
  • We met the ladies of Common Ground, farm women who are starting conversations about the food they grow with the folks who buy it. 
  • And over coffee sweet enough it didn't even need cream, we also heard Carolyn O'Neil, the witty and balanced registered dietician and author of Southern Living's new The Slim Down South Cookbook (Mom, if you're reading this, I think I just heard someone mention Christmas!), who encouraged us to eat delicious, nutritious, affordable and safe food. 
  • And we went home with a bag full of treats, thanks to the folks at Best Food Facts, whose job it is to take food questions, ask the experts and give you the facts, Max. 

I very likely will never excel at using adjectives to describe food. 
And if I do, I'll probably rock quietly in a dark corner until I finally whip out a red pen and edit them out. 
And THAT will be because they will include words like burnedcharred, overdone or undercooked. 
{I've only been married a year here, people. I'm still living off the fumes of Taco Bell and corn flakes, ok?} 
At the same time, I hope the words I use to describe the food that my husband and I eat together, that we share with our family and our friends, the food that we put on the table when we welcome guests into our home will also be ones like pork and Mom and favorite and Thanksgiving and hilarious and dairy and oops and unforgettable and beef and healthy and cheesy and let's-never-speak-of-that-dish-again
Those are the words that make up the stories behind the stories, the reasons why we cook the foods we do for the families we love, why we take the time to crowd around tables and clean up mountains of crumbs.  
Adjectives optional.

PS See the phrase "let's never speak of that again" that's mentioned above? The following is what takes place when you don't read through the entire recipe before you start baking. The end product was supposed to be a donut. I think it will become painfully clear in only moments that what ensued was most definitely, definitely a muffin. 

  • Preheat your oven to 350. If you're perpetually cold, like me, resist the urge to crawl inside. 
  • Combine 1 3/4 cups of flour,  2 tsp. baking powder, 1/ tsp. salt, 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg and 1/2 tsp. of pumpkin spice. 
  • Get out a neon green whisk, and mix together 1/2 can of pumpkin, 1/2 c. vegetable oil, 1/2 c. packed brown sugar, 1 egg, 1/2 c. milk and 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract. You can do this without a green whisk too. IF YOU MUST.

  • Combine your dry and wet ingredients. Obviously. {Note how I didn't use the word moist?}

  • This is the point at which I realized I should have read the entire recipe, because now would be a good time to whip out your well-greased MINI muffin pan . . . which is not to be confused with a regular muffin pan.
  • Spoon the batter into the pan, and pop it into the oven for 10-12 minutes (or until the old toothpick-in-the-middle routine works).

  • If you actually have a mini muffin pan, you can make these look more like donut holes by reshaping them a bit after they've cooled for a couple of minutes. If you don't, they'll still look like flat muffins with, um, slightly rounded edges. 


  • Now for the good stuff: Melt 1/2 stick of unsalted butter. In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar and 2 T. cinnamon. 



  • Dip the donut holes in the butter and then send them rolling through the cinnamon and sugar mixture like little bowling balls. Just don't get too crazy. They won't actually knock pins down or anything, you know. Especially if they're actually muffins and have very little rolling capacity at all. 



  • If you're following my flubbed-up-muffin-pan theory, then go ahead and just dip the top of the muffin in butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mix. It'll be every bit as amazing. 
Level: Easy 
Farmer's score: Five green tractors (That's the highest, by the way.)
Farmer's comments: "Can you please never lose this recipe?"
Notes: The farmer ate five in one setting. {This serves as both incentive and warning.} 

Happy grazing! 










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