What do you think of when you hear the word "fall" or "autumn"? My first thought is "Summer's gone"; my second, "Winter is coming."
Out of the four seasons, summer is my favorite - the hotter and more humid, the better. Next in line is fall, even though I view it as the harbinger of snow, ice and cold - all things I hate.
When I was a child, fall meant a return to school and getting back into a fairly normal routine. But before school even started, there was shopping for school supplies, new clothes and shoes. I still get the urge in late August to shop for pens, pencils and markers. There is something special about the smell of new pencils and the crispness of a new empty notebook
If summer is all about grilling, cold salads and fresh veggies, then fall is a return to slowly simmered soups and stews, casseroles and roasted meats. The flavors of summer, slightly charred teriyaki steak and citrus-marinated chicken, become the more earthy tones of bay leaves, spaghetti sauce, apple and pumpkin.
Fall is all about pumpkin. Everywhere you go, there is yet another goodie made with pumpkin - doughnuts, cakes, whoopie pies, ice cream, coffee, beer and wine ... I've even encountered pasta with a pumpkin and sausage sauce.
The recipes below are some of my favorite pumpkin recipes. Please note the canned pumpkin called for in each one is the 100 percent pure pumpkin and not cans of pumpkin pie filling, which just will not work.
1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
Filling: 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar (optional for decoration)
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Grease 15x10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper.Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel generously with powdered sugar and set aside.
Combine flour, cinnamon and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin and then stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan and sprinkle with nuts.
Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (Begin checking for doneness at 10 minutes.) Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with the narrow end. Cool on wire rack.
For filling: Beat cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.
Pumpkin Pie Dip
Yield: 4 cups
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Beat in the pumpkin, sour cream, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and ginger until blended. Serve with gingersnaps. Refrigerate leftovers.
Serve with graham crackers, vanilla wafers, gingersnap cookies and/or fruit.
This one comes from a childhood friend, who now lives in Wyoming.
Pumpkin Dump Cake
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1 10-ounce can evaporated milk
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs (slightly beaten) 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup coarsely crushed graham crackers, pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup toffee bits
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan lightly with cooking/baking spray.
In a large bowl combine the pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, eggs and pumpkin pie spice. Stir to combine and pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the entire box of dry cake mix on top, followed by the nuts or graham crackers and toffee chips. Pour the melted butter evenly on top.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until center is set and edges are lightly browned.
Margaret Button is the city editor of the North Adams Transcript. Send recipes for inclusion in future columns to the North Adams Transcript, 85 Main St., Suite 2, North Adams, Mass. 01247 or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.