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New England Inn Stresses Hearty Holiday Fare

PUT Michael Cronin in charge of cooking Christmas brunch, and you might skip dinner. As the executive chef of the historic Wayside Inn here, Mr. Cronin's culinary expertise is steeped in New England tradition. Hearty tradition. What would be good for home cooks to prepare for Christmas brunch?

``Roast Goose,'' he announces in the company of innkeeper Bob Purrington and two guests.

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But for brunch?

``It would be beautiful for brunch,'' he says confidently. ``Goose is a yearly tradition. We feature it on our menu the whole month of December and 12 days in January, for the 12 days of Christmas.''

Eating an early main meal would be in keeping with Colonial times, says historian Alison Ridley, sitting here at fireside. Ms. Ridley co-authored a book with her husband on the history of the Wayside Inn, which still feeds and houses ``man, woman, and beast.'' (People still travel to the inn on horseback.)

But if home cooks don't have the time (or the oomph) for Roast Goose with Apple Stuffing and Tangerine Sauce, they can choose from among the complementary fare Cronin offers (see menu).

The Wayside Inn is actually known as Longfellow's Wayside Inn, as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow visited in 1862 and gathered material for his ``Tales of a Wayside Inn.'' Henry David Thoreau was known to have passed by in 1853. Rumor has it George Washington came by, too.

The inn began as a tavern with quarters in 1716 by the How family. They owned the inn up until 1923, when Henry Ford bought it in a hush-hush deal.

Since Ford's death in 1947, the inn - along with grist mill, chapel (they host some 900 weddings a year), and school house - has been owned by a trust.

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PUMPKIN MUFFINS 8 oz. raisins, soaked in water 3/4 cup water 15 ounce can of pumpkin 1 3/4 cups sugar 3/4 cup eggs (about 4 large eggs) 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon each of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon 1/2 cup salad oil 1 1/2 cups flour 2 teaspoons baking powder Place all ingredients, except raisins and oil, in bowl and mix thoroughly. Add oil and raisins, and blend just to mix raisins in. Place in well-greased muffin tins and bake in pre-heated 400-degree oven until golden brown. Makes 2 dozen.

In a Dec. 13 article on Christmas brunch on this page (`New England Inn Stresses Hearty Holiday Fare'), the pumpkin muffin recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of flour. It should be 2 1/2 cups of flour. We apologize for the soggy misunderstanding.

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