Growing up, I devoured books. Titles like “Charlotte’s Web,” by E.B. White, “Ramona Quimby, Age 8,” by Beverly Cleary, The Baby-Sitter’s Club series by Ann M. Martin and The Sweet Valley Twins series by Francine Pascal sparked my imagination. Later, I spent hours reading thrillers from R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike.
But it was “Anne of Green Gables,” by L.M. Montgomery that entwined itself into my psyche.
There was something about that story — the orphan girl with fanciful ideas and a creative soul adopted by a brother and sister who had to learn to navigate family. In my minds eye, I could practically picture her schoolhouse, the lanes she walked down and the friends she made. It was literature written in a way I hadn’t experienced before.
Although I read all year, it was summertime when I got to dive into reading. I was always with a book — on the beach, in bed, on our porch. Trips to the library to discover new books were always exciting … and so was whenever we happened into a bookstore. Summertime, with its seemingly endless days, was when I stretched my literary wings and dived into books like “Anne.”
As we approach the end of the school year, I’ve seen things here and there about summer slide, a phrase that refers to the knowledge kids “lose” over the summer when they aren’t in school. The idea is that kids need to keep learning all year round. In theory, I agree. Learning is an always thing — something that happens throughout life, all year.
For me, that means lots of reading. There will be trips to the library this summer and untold amounts spent on books. Beyond my children’s literary endeavors, there will be hikes and jaunts to listen to live music and camps that encourage their interests.
Learning isn’t limited to the classroom. It happens everywhere, all around us. Heck, I learn new things all the time. In fact, the Netflix series “Anne with an E” taught me a very important lesson recently — while I always saw the fanciful imaginings of a creative redheaded girl in “Anne of Green Gables,” which it’s based on, there are other ways to see the story. Anne in “Anne with an E” struggles with the demons of her early life — and as I look back, I see that those parts were ones I glazed over in my readings of the book. They were there, though not as dark as the show portrays them, just nuanced.
Speaking of the end of school, these cupcakes are for celebrating times like this.
A basic one bowl vanilla cupcakes gets fun with the addition of sprinkles in the batter and a sweet strawberry frosting.
They’re easy and fun … not the healthy recipes I often serve, but there’s a time and place when cupcakes are just right.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup sprinkles
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1½ cups confectioners sugar
- 1 tsp strawberry extract
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 10 muffin cups with liners and set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the egg, milk, oil and vanilla extract to the bowl. Whisk vigorously for two minutes, until smooth. Stir in the sprinkles.
- Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Once the cupcakes are cooled, prepare the frosting.
- First, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat, with the whisk attachment, until light and fluffy. Then add the sugar and strawberry extract. Beat again to incorporate.
- Sprinkle with sprinkles, if desired.
- Enjoy! Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to four days.