61 DEGREES, people! I walked outside this morning wearing boots on my feet and a smile on my face. The fact that this weather is upon us now–instead of making us wait until mid-November–is refreshing; everyone I came in contact with today was in a great mood. So, with much excitement–and a slight chill in the air–I can finally talk about fall and pumpkins! This is my favorite time of year: pumpkin-spiced goodies abound, cool weather, comfort food, and always a cozy blanket nearby; I typically find myself cooking and baking more than ever. Unfortunately, experimenting in the kitchen is on the back-burner for now…our busy weeks have left me little time for writing or cooking. New, fun, fall recipes will be coming down the pike, but, for now, I must resort to my first ever throwback: pumpkin bread.
By mid-September, my Halloween decorations are up for my favorite holiday. I suppose the disadvantage of decorating so early is becoming overconfident that everything is ready for October 31st. Imagine my surprise on October 30th when I realized that we hadn’t picked our annual pumpkin! So, late that Friday night, after my son’s baseball game, we drove to a church pumpkin patch down the road from the ballpark. The pumpkins were barely visible in the dimly lit patch. The typical search for our prized pumpkin is a lengthy process: many are chosen and returned before the winner makes its way to our car. However, this year was surprisingly different. As we approached the pricing table, my son, Everett, eyed one of the biggest pumpkins ever–I could see the cogs turning as he went on his quest looking for its twin. It was as if the proverbial rays of light were shining down from above onto this pumpkin; he walked right up to it and said, “This one!” The search for the Ferrer Family Pumpkin was over in five minutes flat. Fastest. Ever.
Attempting to pick it up was a challenge; my arms weren’t able to make it all the way around its middle. If I couldn’t even carry it without help, how on Earth was I going to carve this monstrosity? Halloween morning, I carved our 3-inch thick pumpkin with my carving tools and a steak knife; cleaning out the inside felt like a never-ending task. I harvested over 2 cups of seeds: what to do with them? I needed to make sure I didn’t waste them; for the past several years, I’ve meticulously cleaned and saved them…and then forgot about them and into the garbage they went. Not this year! I had some sweet ideas. Because we had so many seeds, I decided to use them for two sweet treats: pumpkin seed brittle and spiced pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin scones, pumpkin cookies: if you can bake it, you can bake it with pumpkin. These are just a few of the yummy treats that will be popping up very soon…it is pumpkin season! Since the weather here in Florida doesn’t really start to change until around Halloween, the release of pumpkin items is our cue that fall is on its way–even though the weather here still feels like July.