Tag Archives: Muffins (Are Really Just Cake)

The Final Ode To A Cabin in Fall: Pumpkin Muffins

September 2012

After waffles became pancakes and wanders became fireside reflections, it was time to leave that cabin we love, but before we drove away, there was time for one more dosage of fall flavors.

Nothing brings out the pumpkin and spice flavors of these muffins like quiet views and the changing colors of leaves. Best eaten when warm with a mug of hot cider and someone you hold dear. These muffins should be savored as much as the place where you eat them. In our case, this was the final ode to the cabin in fall. The next time we see it, it will be a completely different place, perhaps even a place covered in a blanket of white?

Pumpkin Muffins


For The Batter

3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/3 cup organic buttermilk
1 1/4 cups organic pumpkin pie filling (from a 15-ounce can)*

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
3/4 cup organic light brown sugar
2 large eggs (local/free-range)

*You could use regular pumpkin puree, but the store was out when I shopped, so I just used the extra spice of pie filling to my advantage.

For The Sugar Coating

3/4 cup organic brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour 12 standard muffin cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and pumpkin puree.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl as needed.

With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions pumpkin mixture, and beat to combine.

Spoon 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup and bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine granulated sugar and cinnamon.

Let muffins cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Working with one at a time, remove muffins from pan, brush all over with butter, then toss to coat in sugar mixture. Let muffins cool completely on a wire rack

The Final Ode

As we wandered away, the road unfolded like a painting. The last Ode to the Cabin was a Sunday smile and a Sunday mile, and in some ways, it felt like a wander through time.

Happy Fall!

Happy Mother’s Day: An Ode To The Mothers in My Life!

May 2012

When I try to gauge, just for the sake of gauging, whether or not I could take that giant leap toward motherhood, I ask myself, “would I give up that last bit of bright cherry pie or mint chocolate chip ice cream or mashed potatoes with a pool of rich gravy?”  I ask that question because of a childhood moment, when my mom gave me the last of her mashed potatoes (which I probably drowned in gravy).  From the naive perspective of little me, that sacrifice was HUGE!

I couldn’t imagine giving up my last mashed potatoes.  No way!  Years later, I know this was merely a snowflake on the iceberg of sacrifices my mother made for me.  The question of “would I give up my mashed potatoes?” may seem too simple.  However, it’s really a question of “would I devote myself to motherhood the way my mom did?”  Of all the roles I may one day have, the role of mother is the one I will take the most seriously, and it’s because I am so fortunate to have a mother who gave herself 100% to her children!

There are so many questions I have for Regina the woman.  There are so many aspects and stories from her life I do not know, but as her daughter, I know her well.  Regina the mother is the most patient listening ear.  She is the most generous and thoughtful person. She makes everyone feel special on their birthdays.  She trusted and supported me to make decisions for myself, only wanting what was best for me, never wanting to control me.

For that freedom, I am immensely grateful… ever more grateful by the day when I hear friends tell of the ways their mothers imposed their choices.  My mother is creative and humble. Her strength has been tested, but I have never seen her cower.  Her petite frame cannot hide her fortitude.  As her daughter, there are not enough words in the world or languages in which to say them, but I humbly offer my graciousness on this day devoted to mothers like her!  Happy Mother’s Day Mom!  

I once looked into the old eyes of a devoted sheepdog, and the love inside me welled beyond belief.  I wanted to make the world a better place for that dog.  At that moment, I tried to imagine the insurmountable feeling of love from mother to child, and it brought tears to my eyes.  It may be the passage of time or the effects of biology, but that love amazes, inspires and humbles me more and more!  I am one of the lucky ones.  My mother changed the world by investing in my family.  I am convinced we all need to honor and reinstate the importance of that role if we are to make major positive changes.

Recently, I found inspiration in Drew Dudley’s TEDx Toronto talk on Everyday Leadership (it’s a short video, give it a watch!).  Dudley offers, “we celebrate birthdays where are all have to do is not die for 365 days, and yet we let people who have made our lives better walk around without knowing it.”  In that vein, there are other mothers who have made a difference in my life, and they deserve to know it too!         

To my own sisters, I applaud you!

This past Christmas, Tosha creatively foiled her children with joke presents- boxes filled with heavy, noisy items to keep them guessing.  The kids grumbled a bit as we all laughed, but that creativity was really special.  I know years from now, her kids will gather around a Christmas tree and recall the time they opened boxes of erasers or toys they already owned.  That same Christmas, my niece gave my sister coupons for hugs.  While hugging my sister, my niece said, “I made a lot of the coupons, but I don’t really care if you use them.  I’ll hug you for free!”  My heart welled with love and pride for my sister, and I blinked away the tears.  Tosha, your devotion to your children is palpable, and I deeply respect you for it!

To Tonya, I am filled with awe and respect.  I have admired your perseverance in a male dominated field and your examples of female independence. I have also watched with awe as you devoted your life to your daughter.  The results may speak for themselves, but it bears saying anyway.  You’ve raised a smart, thoughtful, polite daughter who has the entire world ahead of her!

To my oldest sister, you showed me so much of the world when I was little.  You fostered my grammar obsessions with your speech lessons.  You introduced me to the theater and art museums and secret gardens.  My childhood was a richer place because of our magical adventures, and I am grateful for it!

To the “village,” you indeed helped raise me!  I am grateful to those neighbors who treated me like one of their own, even caring for me when I was sick.

To the mommas-to-be who faithfully attend Bikram Yoga classes as their bodies change in miraculous ways, you are truly inspiring!  How can I doubt my own physical potential when you exemplify such fierce focus?!?

To my dear friend Rumbi, I have felt mothered by your wisdom on many occasions.  You are an old soul housed in a beautiful, youthful glow.  Your strength is unfathomable, and there no words to fully describe the unfettered dedication to your twin boys (can we all just pause to imagine the energy required for twin boys?!?!).  You inspire me!

To the mother of my special one, thank you!  A smart, thoughtful, sensitive, optimistic man set on saving the world?!?  Those men are few and far between, and I owe you many a thanks for bringing such a man into the world!  Beyond raising such a gent, you welcomed me so sincerely into your home, and for that, I am truly grateful.

To My Mother and the Mothers in My Life,

I wish I could gather us all at a beautiful, rustic, wooden table, topped with dainty delicacies and gingery muffins.  We would toast teacups to your sacrifice, devotion and love!  For now, please accept my most humble gratitude for the lifelong role you all have exemplified.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Most Sincerely,

Quelcy Trenae Kogel

Ginger, Pear, White Chocolate Muffins
Makes 18 muffins


2 cups finely ground chestnut flour
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

4 eggs (local/free-range)
1/2 cup organic unsalted butter, browned
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon organic almond extract
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger

3 organic pears (2 overripe, 1 ripe), cut into chunks

1 cup chopped organic white chocolate
1 cup slivered almonds
Candied Ginger


Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.

Whip the eggs in a mixing bowl and then add the remaining wet ingredients.

Combine wet and dry mixes until well incorporated (the batter will be really thick).

Stir in the overripe pears (the batter will thin as the pears mush with stirring).

Gently mix in the firmer pear chunks, the white chocolate and 1/2 cup of the slivered almonds.

Pour the batter into lined muffin tins.

Place a slice of candied ginger on top of each muffin. Sprinkle each top with the remaining almonds and a dash of cinnamon.

Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 F (or until golden brown).

Cool on a wire rack before removing from the muffin tin.

Serve warm with drizzles of honey, and share with the important women and mothers in your life!

Header_oh clementine

Oh My Darlings!

A Post Birthday Brunch/Introducing Kira!
January 2012

Unlike poor Clementine, my darlings were not lost and gone forever.  They were closer [and brighter!] than ever, and there was even a new darlin’ in the mix!  The thing about great friends is they can introduce you to other great people, and so it was we came to add one Kira to our regular cast of characters…and boy, were we characters on that sunny citrusy Sunday following my day of birth!

The Salad:  Citrus & Beet Salad with Hazelnut Oil

It’s a salad.  A salad recipe shouldn’t be complicated.  This salad went a little something like this…

1 bulb of fennel, sliced thinly
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
2 roasted red beets, sliced
2 roasted yellow beets, sliced
clementine slices
blood orange slices
grapefruit slices
fresh lemon juice
fresh lime juice
Himalaya pink sea salt
Hazelnut oil

I’m the last person to mandate how to cut something, so just have fun with it and make it aesthetically appealing!

Brunch is Ready…!

Once upon what feels like a dream, Sandra and I went to Puerto Rico.  When we saw this fluorescent shirt in a gift shop/grocery, we collectively heard that shirt scream, “NINA!”  I knew Nina had the perfect skirt to match (a DIY conversion of swim trunks, no less!!), so it was only a matter of time before the shirt-skirt combo made its bright brunch debut!  This was the fated time.  The shirt matched the pink bubbly!

The Cocktail:  The Blood Orange Rhubellini
A Recipe Of Sorts (we tend to play it by ear around this table) 

A generous pour of Sparkling Rosé…

A generous splash of Art in the Age Rhuby (we’re all about generosity at this table)…

Top it off with organic blood orange soda and a clementine garnish…

Time for a toast…AND A GIF (Nicole really brought her A game)!

Blood Orange Muffins + Honey Clementine Compote + Rhuby Whipped Cream

Blood Orange Muffins
With Rhuby Whipped Topping + Blood Orange Clementine Compote 

Makes 15-20 muffins.


Butter for greasing pan
2 small organic oranges
2 blood oranges
1 cup turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/3 cup organic Greek yogurt (2%)
3 large eggs (local/free-range)
2 Tablespoons Rhuby
1 1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Honey-blood orange compote, for serving, optional
Whipped cream, for serving, optional
(Recipes below)

For the Muffins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin pans.

Grate zest from 2 organic oranges and place in a bowl with the grated ginger and turbinado sugar.

*Supreme the blood oranges:  (see this useful video for more visual instruction) Cut off bottom and top so fruit is exposed and orange can stand upright on a cutting board. Cut away peel and pith, following curve of fruit with your knife. Cut orange segments out of their connective membranes and let them fall into a bowl. Repeat with another orange. Break up segments with your fingers to about 1/4-inch pieces.

Halve the two organic oranges and squeeze juice into a measuring cup. You will have about 1/4 cup or so.

Add yogurt to juice until you have 2/3 cup liquid altogether.

Pour mixture into bowl with sugar and whisk well.

Whisk in eggs, then Rhuby.

In another bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

Gently whisk dry ingredients into wet ones.

Switch to a spatula and fold in oil a little at a time.

Fold in pieces of orange segments. Scoop batter into muffin pan.

Bake muffins 12-15 minutes, or until golden and a knife inserted into center comes out clean.

Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then remove muffins from the tin and cool to room temperature

Serve with whipped cream and blood orange & clementine compote.

Blood Orange & Clementine Compote

1 blood orange
4 Clementines
2 Tablespoons Rhuby
1-2 teaspoons Sage Honey

Supreme the blood orange according to directions in muffin recipe.

Peel clementine and slice clementine into chunks.

Drizzle in 1 to 2 teaspoons Sage honey.

Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir gently.

Rhuby Whipped Topping

1 cup organic heavy cream
2 Tbs Rhuby
3 Tablespoons maple syrup

Combine all of the ingredients in a chilled bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat until stiff peaks form. Chill until ready to serve.

That’s Black Forest Bacon in the background.  The BEST bacon I’ve yet to experience.  Available at your local Whole Foods if you are bacon blessed.

I used to do a similar move when I acted out the 12 Days of Christmas in elementary school.  Fiiiiive Golden Rings!  I couldn’t tell you Didi’s motive, but interpretive dance moves around the table are always encouraged in my world!

Nina always makes a special plate presentation for me.  She has definitely earned her With The Grains intern stripes!  This plate strikes me as muffin Moses parting a citrus sea to the promised salad.

The clean[ish] plate club also dabbles in theatrics.

Aren’t the lingering colors beautiful?

Go ahead and put a dollop of that Rhuby Whipped Topping (recipe above) in your cup of coffee.  The result is akin to a delicious cappuccino with a little taste of gems!

I had to put on my ridiculously bright sunglasses to block the brilliance of that bosom…

*Fin in the sense of the citrusy chapter only.  There will be plenty more of these antics to come!

Queen of Carrot Flowers (Carrot Cupcakes)

Easter 2011

Most of Easter day was gray, and I had no intention or plan to acknowledge the day in any special way, but then I took a walk and started to see signs of Spring all around me.  It has been such a long time coming.


Little Peter Concrete Tail

I pass this pathway almost everyday, but I had never stopped to smell the … pink flowers.  Today was the day.

When I took a different set of city steps to the top of my hilly neighborhood, I found the Easter bunny trail.  The trail ended in my dining room with fleurs, a fancy rabbit and baby carrot muffins.  Carrots make sense, but does anyone really know why the Easter Bunny leaves eggs for seekers to find?

The disclaimer I made prior to serving these little Easter tokens to my coworkers:  “These muffins are not affiliated with any religious holiday.  Enjoy!”