Nor’easter Sweet Corn Muffins


In honor of today’s Nor’easter, Winter Storm Stella, we’re having a hearty vegetable chili for dinner. My go-to recipe for the past 27 years has been from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. It’s always been popular with my meat-loving and veggie friends alike, and contains zucchini, red peppers, onions, garlic, chick peas and fennel seeds. A Family Feast posted their experience making the dish, as well as the recipe, here.

I baked my favorite Sweet Cornbread recipe as muffins to serve alongside. I’m not sure how authentic this cornbread is, or where it might be considered authentic. Ratio-wise, it has a fair amount of white flour compared to cornmeal and a generous amount of sugar (as well as a tablespoon of honey) — this is a sweet cornbread! Regardless it’s always a hit with my peeps.

I usually make this bread in an 8 by 8-inch pan, but opted to make muffins today because I thought they’d freeze more easily as muffins and we currently have an abundance of baked goodies in the house. My hubby also pointed out that muffins are easier than hunks of cornbread to take and enjoy on the road.

I scooped the batter with my trusty Vollrath #16 scoop with the blue handle. I use it for all my muffin and cupcake recipes, as it measures out about a 1/2 cup of batter. The recipe makes about 13 muffins (a baker’s dozen) with a wee bit of batter leftover. I baked them for 17 minutes at 350 degrees F and they were perfectly done (no crumbs on the tester), but didn’t turn out as golden as they do when I make it in bread form. I’ll take pale and moist over golden and dry though.

Seems like the snow has now turned to sleet and rain here in our corner of Massachusetts… I’m dreading the rain-soaked snow that awaits shoveling outside. The chili and corn muffins will be a nice reward when we’re done. 🍴

Alice Medrich’s Snicker Doodles


We’ve been having fun in our winter home-away-from-home spot in the beautiful and very snowy Berkshires this week. When I say “fun,” I do not include the ill-advised attempt I made to drive up an especially steep and unplowed road in Stockbridge during a freak storm one afternoon. I suppose I should’ve heeded the SUV that was curiously “parked” in the middle of a 4-foot snow bank at the bottom of the hill I was attempting to scale. Fortunately, in spite of not having any clear idea of where the edges of the road were or much of a clue in general, I somehow managed to get myself back down the hill and facing the appropriate direction, through a combination of driving in reverse, spinning and a significant amount of pleading with the Universe. It was almost enough to make me lose sight of how breathtakingly gorgeous the falling snow was.

The snow was absolutely beautiful. This was the view from the Norman Rockwell Museum.

This week’s cinnamon offering is from another oft-neglected cookbook I own: Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich. (What can I say? I’m overly practical when it comes to baking. If I find a recipe that works well, I tend to stick with it and cease experimenting any further.) This is a terrifically comprehensive book, with chapters broken down into the chewy, gooey, crispy, crunchy, or melt-in-your-mouth categories listed in the title, as well as sections on chunky and flaky cookies. The snickerdoodles are in the crunchy portion, and they are as promised. You can find the recipe here, at the Toronto Star’s site (please note that there’s a small error in their version: per Medrich’s book, the cinnamon sugar for rolling the cookies should be 1 tablespoon sugar to 1 teaspoon cinnamon).

In case you are unfamiliar with them, snickerdoodles are an old-fashioned sort of sugar cookie. As mentioned above, the cookies are rolled in cinnamon sugar before they are baked, but they have an additional ingredient which makes them rather unique: cream of tartar. This in combination with the baking soda in the recipe lends a distinctive taste which many describe as a “tang.” I’ve noticed with other snickerdoodle recipes that if they contain too much cream of tartar, this comes off as a kind of fuzzy feeling in one’s mouth, which I don’t enjoy at all.  Alice Medrich’s recipe apparently contains just the right amount of cream of tartar for me as I don’t experience that fuzzy mouth sensation when I eat these. If the idea of possible unusual mouth sensations doesn’t appeal to you, there are some nontraditional snickerdoodle recipes which do not contain the cream of tartar-baking soda combo, but instead use baking powder as the leavener.

You can read more about snickerdoodles here:

Cinnamon Spiral Bread


We’ve had a lot of snow days here in New England this winter. This isn’t really unusual, but somehow every year around this time, I’m newly weary at the weekly occurrence of a school closing. This winter we’ve been fortunate: until today, the superintendent has called off school the night before, so we’ve had the luxury of going to sleep knowing that the alarm clock doesn’t need to be set.

I really didn’t expect us to have a snow day today though. Most of the forecasts say we should get a 3 to 6 inches over the course of the day, which really isn’t noteworthy as far as storms go. So I was startled when my slumber was broken by the relative clamor of the phone ringing in the middle of the night. OK, it was 5:40 am, so I’m being overly dramatic, but it really felt like the middle of the night. And it was a particularly unwelcome sound as my older son is away at college some 200 miles away; my first thought was of him when it rang. Oddly, the robocall was not from our school superintendent but rather the district’s director of operations and finance, which seemed so bizarre and atypical that it left me feeling like I had dreamt the whole thing when I returned to bed.

The upshot of this is that we were able to leisurely enjoy the Cinnamon Spiral Bread that I baked yesterday afternoon with our coffee as the snow began falling.


The recipe is from my seldom used copy of King Arthur Flour Whole Grain BakingI have a million little post-its tucked in its pages for recipes I want to try but seldom reach for it for some reason. Maybe it’s because the other (younger) folks in the house love their white flour too much. At any rate, I have whole wheat flour and oats taking up valuable freezer and pantry space so I thought maybe a whole grain baked good which employed copious amounts of sugar might have a greater chance of being eaten. Oh, who am I kidding — I prefer my whole grain baked goods with lots of sugar too.


This recipe uses a preferment, a simple starter prepared the night before mixing the dough, which imparts flavor and increases the shelf life of the bread. You can read more about different types of preferments here.

As promised in the recipe’s introductory notes, the Cinnamon Spiral Bread really does resemble an oversized cinnamon roll, albeit a rather lumpy and bumpy looking one, thanks to the whole oats. It’s fairly dense but moist, and is only slightly sweet in spite of the honey in the dough, the different sugary coatings the dough is rolled in and topped with, and the icing. We’ll see if my white flour lover will sample a piece if he ever rises from his self-indulgent snow day snoozefest.

[Whoops! When I originally posted, I mistakenly referred to this as Cinnamon Swirl Bread. The correct name is Cinnamon Spiral Bread, as I’ve updated.]