Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fall Treats, Sept. 2010

I have a love-hate relationship with this time of year. Fall is great for many reasons yet it also means the coming of a long winter. Mornings are colder than I would like. Farmers' markets start winding down. However, I love the abundance of squash, pumpkins and apples. This has been an amazing apple year. Our late apple tree is loaded with large apples. They are wonderful fresh off the tree, yet we also use them for apple muffins, apple pancakes and apple pie. The same for squash – squash is perfect for dinner menu items, as well as a multitude of baked goods (see below).

If you haven't been to the farmers' market recently, I encourage you to go. You''ll see how the offerings have changed from last month. A farmer at yesterday's market told me it was his last one of the season – so go now, while you have the chance. You'll find many fall favorites – from apple cider to squash and pumpkins in all shapes and sizes. Besides the market, another good source of finding apples and pumpkins/squash is The Free Trader. Many farmers advertise their U-pick farm, pumpkin patch, roadside stand and such. The ads range from the southern part of the county up through to Massena.

I rarely use pumpkin in cooking. At our house, they are decorations on the front doorstep, soon to be turned into Jack-O-Lanterns. Squash (such as Butternut, Hubbard and Buttercup) produce a much better result in cooking than pumpkin. Pumpkin is watery, while fall squash is dense and firm. My mother came for Thanksgiving one year. She told me very adamently she does not like squash. I made my “pumpkin” pie secretly and served it at our Thanksgiving dinner. She then said it was the best pumpkin pie she had ever had. Funny - considering it didn't have any pumpkin in it. I had used squash in place of pumpkin. Use an equal exchange in recipes– if it calls for one cup pumpkin, use one cup squash. Give it a try – just keep calling it pumpkin pie because squash pie just doesn't sound as nice.

Pumpkin Walnut Muffins:

Preheat oven 350F
Sift together:

1 ¾ cup flour (you can use whole wheat/white mix, pastry, oat – try different ones)

¼ tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. Cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground cloves

In a large bowl, beat until light and fluffy:

1 ¼ cup sugar (again, try different sweeteners– maple syrup, etc...)

1/3 cups butter

2 eggs

Add and then beat in: 1 cup cooked pumpkin or squash

Add dry ingredients in three additions alternately with:

1/3 cup milk

1 tsp. Vanilla

Do not over beat between each addition. Fold in:

½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Pour into muffin tin (with papers or oiled without papers) and bake about 20 minutes.

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