butternut squash + apple muffins with a cinnamon-vanilla doughnut glaze. also, writing is wonderful.

butternut + apple muffins with cinnamon vanilla glaze.

BIG NEWS, FRIENDS: I am now an esteemed journalist. Well, maybe not “esteemed” as of yet; basically, someone actually put my words in print and I didn’t even beg them to.

Just yesterday, the September issue of Feast Magazine hit the stands, and I am listed in it as a contributing writer. You saw me contribute to their online site a few months back, which was thrilling in and of itself, but being in the print edition is huge. And, best of all, I’m in it twice: once as part of a feature on kitchen gadgets alongside some of my favorite local bloggers, and again in my own column, which I’ll be writing every month. As you may guess, I’m writing this on a cloud floating high in the sky above my desk right now; I am elated.

So let’s talk about the articles, shall we? 

Go, Gadget, Go! features some of my favorite bloggers in Saint Louis, including Kim from Rhubarb and Honey, Malou from Skip to Malou, Stefani from Cupcake Project, and Stacy from Every Little Thing; needless to say, I am in good company. The article is our love letter to kitchen gadgets, and we each named our favorite, and why. Before you look, can you guess what mine is? That’s right; it’s my beloved ice cream scoop. You all know by now that I use it for all sorts of kitchen projects, from muffins to cookies to portioning out batter for layer cakes, and in my opinion, it’s a fabulous all-purpose tool to have around. For the feature, we were asked to craft a recipe using our gadget of choice, and I made for you a very fall-ish offering, because I knew you would be in the mood by now. It’s a butternut squash and apple muffin with a cinnamon vanilla doughnut glaze.

That’s right: a doughnut glaze. And that glaze is draped over a beautifully flavored and textured muffin which is perfectly appropriate for riiiiight…now. Call it my back to school muffin; sensible, filled with a fruit AND a vegetable, with a twist of doughnut glaze magic that brings the whole thing together. And please do make the glaze; the cinnamon really pulls the entire thing into something you’ll want to eat every single weekend morning. You can find my recipe for these little beauties over at Feast’s website right here; there’s a corresponding interview with the five of us as well, but I only see that in the print version and not online, at least not yet. I’ll let you know if i see it pop up. Much has been said about our little group on this blog, most of all about the comments being as fun (or more fun) than the posts, so if you’d like to leave a comment over at Feast, I believe you can on the main article, found here. While you’re at it, take a look at the rest of these girls’ recipes; there’s a nice variety of dishes featured. It’s really great when you have a group of people who all know each other and really respect each other’s food perspectives, and I think the article is a nice representation of our various approaches to food. There are recipes for:

Braised Kale Salad from Kimberly at Rhubarb and Honey

Pan-Seared Lamb Chops in Tamarind + Lemongrass Vinaigrette Reduction from Malou at Skip to Malou

Plantain Cupcakes from Stefani at Cupcake Project

Raw Autumn Salad from Stacy at Every Little Thing

my september Feast article: fennel.

Now, Meet: Fennel is the first installment for my regular column; I’m not always going to be part of a “feature,” so a girl’s got to find a way to make herself useful. My column is called Mystery Shopper, and it’s where I (or the fine editors at Feast) pick an ingredient which can be found in markets, but one that people may not always know how to use. I take it, explain what it is and what it can be used for, and then create a recipe around the ingredient. Hopefully along the way, I demystify the ingredient enough (or remove the fear and apprehension, which I love doing) so that people want to seek it out and mess with it in their own kitchens; that’s my goal, at least. It has a little bit of an Iron Chef-y feel to it, in the way that I myself haven’t used most of these ingredients before – or if I have, it’s limited – so I get to learn as I go. It’s exciting for me, because I’ve always been open to trying new things, and not much scares me in terms of food, so I hope can make some inspiring recipes for you and everyone else who reads along.

My first ingredient was fennel; now, obviously we’ve all used fennel in some form or another, but we’re a group of food-centric individuals who are perhaps more prone to trying it. Fennel scares my mom, for instance, and she’s not the only one; almost everyone who hasn’t had it or used it thinks has the pervasive flavor of licorice candy, which is false. It’s actually pretty mellow when you cook with it, and plays well others. I made a little dual recipe with fennel, and my mom loved it. Did you know you can caramelize fennel bulbs just like you would an onion? Did you know that doing that completely smooths out the flavor, softens it up, and makes it perfect for topping rosemary focaccia with? Add olives and feta to the party and you have an almost pizza-scented little bread feast; It’s one of my favorite things right now, and I’ve never been wild about fennel before. I made a little pesto with the fronds, which make a lovely pesto, by the way; very earthy and with a stronger fennel flavor, but not at all overpowering, and a perfect companion to the focaccia. It also works wonderfully with seafood or vegetables, so you can play around with your leftovers and find your own favorite ways to use it.

My recipes for both the fennel + olive-topped rosemary focaccia and the fennel pesto…well…they’re in the print edition on page 36-37. I don’t see them online as of yet, but I think they’re coming, so stay tuned. Why do I know this? Because true to form, my words were too many to fit on one page of the magazine, so I have you using your favorite focaccia recipe to reduce the word count, but online, I’ll have the full focaccia recipe and directions I created especially for this. It’s one thing I’ve really had to work on with the print edition: I’m learning how to “write tight” and be succinct about things more than I have to over here. It’s a nice challenge, and I feel like it’s honing my skills a little bit, although obviously I’m not putting that into practice at the moment.

As I said above, the print edition also has the interview section which I don’t see online yet, and that’s the section of “Go, Gadget, Go!” that may be my favorite, because you learn a little bit about each of us. Hopefully it will be online at some point soon, but it leads me to my next thing, which is:

I will send you a copy of the September 2013 print edition, if you so desire. If you would like to have a copy of this beautiful publication, filled with stunning photos and some really fabulous writing and recipes, please let me know. I will completely send you this issue for your perusal. I especially like the interview portion because there’s several quotes in there about all of you, and how incredibly blessed I feel by this loyal little group of friends I’ve met and get the pleasure of talking to on a weekly basis. It was a very off-the-cuff interview, and even I didn’t realize how much I mentioned all of you, but you deserve it; I’ve said it before, but all of you? You’re fabulous, and I love your encouragement and your words. You add to this blog in myriad ways, from your own tips and ideas to just the variety of personalities I’ve been lucky enough to welcome into my life. Thanks for being such a big part of this.

Want the September 2013 edition of Feast Magazine (and this is first come/first served, but I will try my very best to get all requests filled)? Shoot me an email at aperiodictable@yahoo.com or just DM me on Twitter or Facebook with your request and address information, and I’ll happily send one to you.

Talk to you very soon.

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36 Comments on "butternut squash + apple muffins with a cinnamon-vanilla doughnut glaze. also, writing is wonderful."

  1. I have no words. No words! I am so, so excited for you. In fact, 2.0 just said, “Wait… what happened? You just sat up really fast and you look excited. WHAT IS HAPPENING?” And now he’s saying, “WHY ARE YOU TYPING SO FAST? WHO ARE YOU TYPING TO?”

    You deserve this and more, dear, sweet lady.

    We’re sending congrats and lots of love from Nova Scotia…

    • shannon says:

      Thank you so, so much, Rachael, and also tell 2.0 i say hello and that i’m sorry I caused him to freak out a little bit (although i secretly love it when he’s involved in our dialogue.) He reminds me of Mr. Table in many ways.

      You know, I’ve told people i’m big in Canada; I don’t know that that’s completely true, but i know that i’m loved big by at least a few pretty phenomenal people in Canada. which is the same thing.

  2. Congratulations, Shannon! I’m so excited for you. I seriously cannot tell you how happy it makes me to hear that you’re finally in the print magazine — it’s a well deserved accomplishment! It’s also super cool that you’re going to have a regular column. I don’t normally subscribe to magazines, but I might just have to get a subscription this time, haha!

    • shannon says:

      Thank you, Willow! I’m excited, too; it’s been a fun little weird journey that the blog has taken me on, and i’m excited to see where all of this goes in the future. I just hope they keep wanting me to work for them; like my goal right now is to not get fired. :)
      what i’ll do every month (because i know subscriptions can be tricky) is post the link to their online one; most of the articles are online anyway (if not all, plus some bonus material sometimes), and the also have a digital issue you can page through if you’d like to see the actual magazine, if that helps? I know it’s not the same as a hard copy of something, but it works pretty well.

  3. Congratulations Shannon! So well deserved! I can say that I “knew you when!” So happy for you! I would love to get a copy of it – super excited about seeing you as a regular contributor!

    • shannon says:

      Thank you so very much, Mellissa! ha, you can say “you know me still!” because i’m not going anywhere, and i promise not to get all famousy on you. ever. i wouldn’t even know how to do it, really. I’m excited to see where the column goes, for sure; so far it’s been nice getting to experiment with ingredients i wouldn’t normally use, but i’m waiting for the day that i can’t stand something. I’m not picky at all, and i’m super open-minded about ingredients, but it’s not like i like everything ever. so we’ll see. it’ll be fun no matter what.

  4. Monica says:

    Congratulations, Shannon!! I don’t “know” you very long but I can’t say this comes as a surprise. I see a big, bright future for you in many ways related to food. The fennel article looks wonderful. I know it is so hard to write in a concise way (I should know – it takes me at least 4 paragraphs to explain whether or not I like something!) but you did a great job! This is all so exciting and I’m really happy for you! xo

    • shannon says:

      Thanks, Monica! It’s always funny b/c you develop such a regular “conversation” with someone that I actually forget we haven’t known each other for all that long (a good sign, in my book). :) You’re too kind; it’s a surprise to me! And it’s achingly difficult, yes, to be concise, especially for those of us with our own spaces where we can blather on and on; i think that’s been the biggest adjustment for me is just learning how to condense my words but still sound like myself. Challenging, to be sure. The blog is almost more fun now because i have the freedom to use all the words I want. :)

  5. Ashley says:

    CONGRATS! I know you’d shared the news about writing for Feast and then becoming a writer in print…but…this is SO EXCITING! I’m so happy and proud and elated for you, this is huge! Wonderful! Rockstar-status-inducing! I can’t wait to see what you write and make in the future!

    Eric has an idea for an article – breakFeast, where you write about a breakfast feast. He’s very proud of his idea, so I thought I’d share it. :)

    I love that you’re introducing us to less commonly used and loved ingredients! I’m still new to a lot of ingredients and love busting out of a rut. My favorite fennel frond use is in shrimp scampi (using a Melissa Clark recipe). It only use the fronds, so you can play with the bulb as you wish. It’s a win-win.

    • shannon says:

      Thanks, Ashley! I feel like i’ve talked about it a few times because I was in the online one, and because the deadlines for the magazine are so far out, i’ve known about this September feature since maybe June (!) so it’s been difficult to keep quiet, but i wanted to wait until it was out until i announced it officially, i guess. :) Still not a rock star, but i’d be lying if it didn’t say i felt like one. Especially when i needed to have headshots done; THAT was a little rock star.

      ERIC! hi! he should be proud of his idea; i like it! you know, when they’ve given me these secret ingredients in the past for the column, i think your mind always goes to either a savory item for lunch or dinner, or a dessert. One thing i’ve never thought of is how to work something into a breakfast, so it gets the wheels turning.

      I read a lot about using the fronds for things like fish and shrimp, etc, and the flavors of the pesto i made go really well with shrimp (i can imagine the scampi you make is delicious). The bulbs, i think, are easier to use when you have them left over: I’ve actually just cored them and broken them into “chips” to eat with dip, and they’re delicious that way. It is really nice to have a win-win in the way that i’m getting out of my OWN food bubble with this; i’m learning about new ingredients to me, and i get to practice creating recipes, which is such a learning process. No downside, for sure. :)

  6. jacquie says:

    congratulations!! that is simply wonderful. I happen to be one of those who have never tried fennel and am really kind of scared of it since I do fear it will taste like licorice which I detest. So, if you still have a copy of the magazine to send I would love to receive it.

    • shannon says:

      Thank you, Jacquie! I promise you nothing about the two recipes I made will remind you of licorice; especially the focaccia. It smells like pizza when it’s in the oven, and cooking the fennel bulb really mellows out the flavor; no weird candy taste at all. I’d be happy to send you an issue: If you would, go ahead and either direct message me on Facebook or Twitter, or just email me at aperiodictable@yahoo.com with your address and I’ll get one in the mail to you.

  7. Faygie says:

    Yay! I am so excited for you! (Famous blogger–I called it! ;) )

    I was just telling Ella today that I am so excited to start cooking/baking with fall produce soon, and here you post these incredible looking muffins full of fall flavor. I can’t wait to try them!

    • shannon says:

      I think we need a little tutorial at some point on the blog for what constitutes “famous.” :) Happy blogger…excited blogger. I feel famous a little bit, okay, you got me. “famous in my mind,” perhaps.
      Oh yay! and i do feel like these muffins sort of bridge that gap where it’s too early for pumpkin but it’s still fall baking time; sort of like apples or pears? It’s a nice lead-in to using all those fall spices. I hope you and the family like them. The doughnut glazed is not to be missed, either. double-dip. so good.

  8. Wendy says:

    Tonight I picked up a copy of the September Feast magazine. Feast is always an interesting read but this issue was particularly exciting. You wrote two pieces and were interviewed in another!! Fabulous! Congratulations on your well deserved position of “contributing writer”! How lucky for Feast that they found in you, a writer who could research the culinary obscure, write about it in an enticing yet approachable manner, and cook and photograph as well! The amazing part is that they have only scratched the surface of your many talents. :)
    These muffins are just the thing to usher in fall ( though our current 100 degree temperatures are annoyingly uncooperative)! I will use my second favorite kitchen tool, the scoop, to make them. Maybe I can use my very favorite tool, the microplane, to grate the fresh nutmeg. :)

    • shannon says:

      You’re so sweet to me, Wendy: thank you. I feel like i’m lucky Feast found me and have let me do one of the most fun columns on the earth to do! Every month i get nervous, and then proceed to have a ton of fun trying to come up with something for the chosen ingredient; it’s difficult, and a little scary, but i’m working on my third installment right now, and i have to say that i feel more at ease with it now. I suppose the life lesson here could be that challenges which take your out of your comfort zone are hard, but great, because you truly do learn so much from them. It’s a pretty great feeling. :) I hope they use me as a contributing writer FOREVER.
      At least at the time i’m replying here we’ve had a bit of a cooling in the temps; i noticed it last night when we were walking that it was breezy and and nice, so now i feel like fall food matches a little bit more with the weather. Let’s hope it stays this way, yes?
      Ah, the microplane! That is MY close second! and my zester; if my microplane and my zester were combined into one tool, that would really give my scoop a run for its money; those are indispensable kitchen gadgets for any cook.

  9. Congratulations! That is so very, very cool! I am also a tiny bit jealous, I have to admit. But I haven’t put the time into my blog that I should to try and get any paying gig from it. I can look at your success and dream now. :) And stop dreaming to actually do something about getting my blog out there!

    • shannon says:

      Thank you very much; it’s really exciting how i guess a bunch of things just came together at the right time and i’m beyond thrilled to be writing for Feast. I still say that i didn’t do much to get my blog out there – i’m not a self-promoter, just by nature – so no big giveaways, or posting my photos everywhere, or anything, really. The biggest thing i did was try to make a blog with good food and writing that was just me writing; nothing much more than that. I still say the best thing you can do is be yourself and just make it the best blog for you, and the rest will come.

  10. Emma says:

    Nice work! And whaddya know, but I actually just bought my first ice EVER ice cream scoop a couple of weeks ago. Oh, all the stuff I’m going to use it for!

    • shannon says:

      Oh, the places you’ll go! I use my scoop for everything. i guess it’s one of those things i never knew i needed until i had it, and now it’s a crisis if i can’t find it. sound purchase.

  11. You mean to tell me that I now know and am friends with a famous writer? How exciting! It is every writer’s dream to be published in some form or another, print publication being the best, of course. I can’t tell you how excited I am for you, and oh so proud. Of course, I’ll want a signed copy. These doughnut muffins totally need to happen in my kitchen…now!

    • shannon says:

      Wait, no: you must have someone else in mind when you say “famous writer” because i’m starting to feel like Norman Mailer, and that’s incorrect on so many levels. :) It’s really great, jokes aside, to feel like a legit “writer” now; definitely it’s been great to use my own blog to hone my skills, and it’s going to be such a nice challenge to pass that along to writing for someone else now, and all the different skills that calls for. It’s a whole new ballgame, that’s for sure, and i’m excited to see where it goes.
      I’ll send a copy right out to you! and i’ll sign it, ha. :) just email or DM me your address info and i’ll put one in the mail to you.

  12. Shannon, you’re FAMOUS!! :) Your monthly column is like the coolest column idea ever and I’m super jealous because it sounds like it would be such a blast to write! Do you get to choose the mystery ingredient or do they choose for you? I totally ate some roasted fennel with parmesan yesterday and it was mighty tasty. I hope that your column give people the courage to buy and eat this delightful veggie. Oh, and your muffins looks SO YUMMY!!!
    anyway, I’m SO SO SO HAPPY FOR YOU, my friend :) You deserve this opportunity!

    • shannon says:

      There really needs to be a discussion on what constitutes “famous” around here. :) but thank you; i feel excited, for sure. It’s a column that had been established in Feast for a long time now, but they asked me to take it over and make it my own, so i have to really step up the game and live up to all it has been in the past. Very fun and challenging to write; i wish it was two pages instead of one because i inevitably write two pages’ worth of info before having to edit it down.

      I think a little of both: the editors have given me the ingredients thus far, but as i get used to things and learn, i’m able to offer up my own suggestions for things. That part is also a challenge, because i usually cook what i see in the markets, and since there are deadlines to be had, it’s not so easy as just going and seeing what’s out there, so i’m determining the best strategy for making something seasonal for the issue, but a few months ahead of time. Makes me appreciate all food magazines because it’s not so easy as it looks to cook that far in advance of a publish date.

      Isn’t roasted fennel lovely? I hadn’t done much with it before this column, and now it’s become one of my new favorites; so versatile, and in surprising ways.

      thank you; seriously in my heart it’s the Oscar moment where i say i wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for all of you, and that’s cliche, but in this case, probably very accurate. :) doubt if i would have had the drive to continue on were it not for all the encouragement and support.

  13. Shannon, I could not be more excited for you- you totally deserve it! I already look forward to reading each of your blog posts…now I get to look forward to your monthly articles as well!! Super cool!

    • shannon says:

      Thank you so much, Elizabeth! you’re very kind to say that; it’s been fun being able to write over here, and i’m excited to see how well (or not well) i can balance both things now! Definitely you’ll see one carry over to the other; that i know for sure. probably more fennel recipes this fall and winter.

  14. Sharon says:

    Well, congratulations! Published, like, for REAL!! And in such a very useful way. Can’t wait to read more and more…

    • shannon says:

      Many thanks, Sharon! it’s weird to be published in actual print versus online; both exciting, for sure, but in different ways, and i love doing both equally. Online i still love because you have freedom of space (so many words!), but print really makes you focus your writing, which is also fun.

  15. Malou says:

    Congratulations Shannon! More power! I can’t wait to get a copy of Feast Magazine. I will be able to get one when I get back in October. I look forward to reading your column every month. Your column sounds exciting and entertaining.
    Congrats again. I hope to see you around!

    Malou

    • shannon says:

      Thank you so much, Malou! I’m excited you were featured right along with me, AND your segment on Feast TV was amazing; you were wonderful. I hope i can do the column justice as I go along: i’m still in the “getting used to it” phase but i’m trying to find my comfort zone. :)

  16. Susan Rose says:

    Congratulations, Shannon!!!! What a great accomplishment for you. I wish you all success. I know it will be great because your food and your writing are always lovely.

  17. You know I want that magazine, so I expect to see it in my mailbox posthaste OR ELSE!!!

    I’ve also held fennel at bay under false licorice-related pretenses. Shame on me! I promise I will be better. I will listen to you, why? BECAUSE YOU’VE NEVER LED ME ASTRAY! NEVER EVER EVER!

    and you’re TOTALLY a legit journalist. For reals. So jeally.

    And sorry if this posts twice bc my computer just tried to explode.

    • shannon says:

      I like it when you say things like “so jeally” b/c i just think of ACTUAL jelly and it makes me laugh. :)

      Obviously you, as i have sent a record number of things to you, are getting a copy. I need to mail them today or tomorrow. YES I AM LATE WITH THEM. :) And i do try not to lead you astray…definitely with fennel try roasting the bulb and see what you think: it turns out tasting much more like the seed, which to me always reminds me of pizza.

      i erased the second computer-exploding comment. :)

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