Last weekend was Lana's first birthday party. A year ago, I had made these muffins for her. Things have changed between my sister and me - I go to her more. I call her. I don't hang up quickly or make excuses. I stay over for the whole night. I don't leave by nine, saying I like to sleep in my own bed.
We didn't grow up with family, really. We lived too far away and there were bridges burned before I was even born. It made for disappointing Christmases and silent phonecalls that never came for birthdays. So it's a learning experience for us. We're learning from mistakes we couldn't always understand before. We hug now. Kiss goodbye. I tell her I love her. It's all for Lana. We patched a lot up quickly for her.
Lana, beautiful and curious and temper-prone, fills the room with a lightness that I've only experienced as the awkward voyeur of other people's families. We crouch and coo with her. We play a game of trial-and-error, trying to figure out what makes her happy and what makes her sad. We kiss her more than she likes. We feed her small cereals and watch her smile with her four teeth.
And I was more than happy to make something when my sister asked if I could. We had a small party at a church hall where her baby shower was held. My sister made three soups and my mother made the cake. We helped decorate and I made a Midwest staple - cornbread for the chili. And it just made sense to make them in a donut pan, for small hands and streamlined dunking.
And on the floor of the church hall, I sat with Lana and told her she was special. Because she is, with her big eyes and long hair. Because she is, because it only took 9 months to fix 25 years of silence.
Pumpkin Cornbread Donuts
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup buttermilk (or whole milk with a 1/2 TB white vinegar)
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 3 TB butter, softened
- 2 TB honey
- Preheat oven to 425*F and grease a standard donut pan
- Sift together all dry ingredients
- Whisk together all wet ingredients
- Create a well in the center of your dry ingredients and fold in wet
- Beat vigorously until batter is smoooth
- Transfer to a piping bag and cut the tip off
- Fill the donut indents about 3/4 of the way full
- Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown
- Repeat if you have a 6-donut pan and remember to re-grease your pan!
- Enjoy dunked into some hearty chili on a cold day!