Red Barn Pumpkin Muffins. Irresistible.

Little Foodie Fatale at Red Barn Children's Center, c. 1976


As you might have guessed, I was a very happy three year old.

This was in large part due to Red Barn Children's Center, the extraordinary nursery school I attended in Clinton, CT. It was - and still is - a magical oasis. Nestled amidst cedar trees and grassy fields, Red Barn nutures the social and mental development of its young citizens. Its extraordinary teachers, led by director Linda Stuhlman, foster an environment that encourages "freedom of choice and expression of individuality."  My nascent foodie passions also flourished at Red Barn.

Contact with and preparation of food was a regular part of our daily activities. Just prior to Thanksgiving, we made fresh orange cranberry relish using a hand crank food grinder.

There was a maple tree in the schoolyard that we tapped for syrup. I distinctly remember the thrill of  being held up high enough so that I could peer into the shiny tin can containing the golden liquid.

And every year around this time, we made Red Barn Pumpkin Muffins. Pumpkin muffins are not an uncommon treat for young children to make. But to this day I have a preference for these muffins in particular. Moist, flavorful and not too sweet.

They are very simple to make:  combine the ingredients and mix by hand.  An easy task for an adult- and even more fun when you have little ones who want to help.

Their taste is incomparable. And best of all, one bite transports me to the little Red Barn in Clinton, CT where I am a happy and exuberant three year old once more.


Photo by Mary T. Cesar


Red Barn Pumpkin Muffins

Recipe courtesy of Linda N. Stuhlman

1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
½ cup white sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup white flour
½ cup water
¼ tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
¾ tsp. salt
1 cup cooked pumpkin
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 cup raisins, if desired

Mix all ingredients together until the dry ingredients are moistened. Avoid over mixing. Fill muffin tins ¾ full and bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes.


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