I love fall. I love the cool mornings with the mist/dew hovering over my plants in the garden. I love how spider webs appear in the light from the sun and the leaves begin their transformation from green to orange, red, or bronze. I especially love the streak of bright yellow as the school bus roars past our house in the mornings and afternoons. Fall is the point of going forward.
We move from growing to harvest in the fall. I love the harvest time because it takes me back to so many good memories of my life. Pulling the baskets off the wall and walking up and down the rows of peas, beans, and cucumbers to bring in the harvest is the best point of going forward. We pick, pull, snap, and shuck so that our families will be fed in the winter. We mash, peel, and chop to our hearts delight in the fall.
Nothing makes me prouder than my rows of red and green filled jars marching along on my pantry shelves. Add in the grape, peach, and cherry jellies and I am ready for anything. Fall brings such a feeling of satisfaction. The cool lifts our hearts and the eagerness of the kids hopping off the bus in the afternoons restores my spirit. Life is ongoing and it is good.
The coolness of the fall also brings about an irresistible urge to bake. Carrot cakes, pumpkin cakes, apple pies, pear/cranberry muffins bring about such memories. My banana nut bread is from an old recipe that I got from my grandmother’s sister. It makes huge amounts of banana bread but I would never use a different one. My peanut butter cookies are from an old recipe my sister gave me. Her brother-in-law was a cook for an old country school and he made these cookies for hundreds of school children over the years. Now I make them for mine. I suppose that over the years of pleasing our families we cook certain things at certain times because the activity and aroma are firmly tied to a memory.
We have certain cookies and quick eats that we only make at Christmas. There is no reason we can’t have them at other times but we have them down as Christmas and that is when we enjoy them. Iced cookies are enjoyed at Christmas and Valentines. Pumpkin pies are just not the same on July fourth as they are on Thanksgiving. Sausage balls are fun to make and eat but we usually only make them at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I am sure they are yummy in June but in June we are into melons and berries and sausage balls don’t even sound appealing!
Fall has its own recipes. Apple cake, pumpkin bread, baked turkey, chili and cornbread, beans and cornbread, pineapple upside down cake in the cast iron skillet. Warm things to help us get through the new, chillier evenings. When baking, I almost always bake from scratch and for the most part I use recipes from old as well. Some are written on paper with splots and splashes of vanilla or chocolate powder. Others have been copied several times over onto little cards. Some pages of my cookbooks fall open to selections because of the goo leftover on the pages.
I have little notes written in beside the ones I make the most and if I get a recipe from a friend or relative I usually note the name of the person I got it from. I have snapped many of these writings on my phone and sent to grown kids wanting to establish the recipe into their own homes and memories. Sometimes, I replace the oil with applesauce and sometimes I add in shredded carrots instead of mashed pumpkin or I toss in a bit of cloves with the cinnamon to add a deeper flavor but the basic recipe remains the same. I prefer to use eggs from my own chickens and I believe that all cookies go best with a cold glass of milk.
So, fall is here and my college child came home for her first weekend and asked for my pumpkin cake. “You know, the one you make every year. I can’t wait to have it again.” I hugged her tight and promised her that we would make it before she had to return on Sunday evening.
The Pumpkin cake was delicious and I thought I would share it with you here. On old friend gave me the recipe years ago. I have it written on a little scrap of paper with her name on it. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
2 C Sugar
1 C oil (you can use ½ oil and ½ applesauce)
2 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon (I add sprinkles of nutmeg and cloves when in the mood)
½ tsp salt
1 can pumpkin (I use the smaller can)
Beat eggs and sugar. Add oil and beat again. Add flour, soda, cinnamon and salt and beat again. Blend in Pumpkin. Spray pans before filling. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.
I make mine in loaf pans. This is a thick cake and needs to bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. I also like to use several smaller loaf pans and make smaller cakes. When cool, I wrap them in foil and freeze them. I mark the date on the top and then I send them to teachers or to the office. Unfortunately, there are times that the teachers must wait until the next batch. Enjoy!