Signs of autumn swirl around us before do the colored leaves.
Pumpkins on porches, corn bowing on withered stalks, new seasonal menus at the coffee shops and the sounds of football games are here once again.
Add the excitement of harvest time on the farm to the cooler temperatures beckoning us to grab a cozy sweater, and it’s safe to say my favorite season is here!
I’m not sure why fall has always been my favorite of the seasons.
Perhaps it’s because it doesn’t seem to last as long as the others somehow. No, the 50-70 degree “perfect” temperatures never last as long as I’d like, but how glorious and appreciated those days are!
Those walks as I try to soak it all in are hard to beat. But experience tells us the beautifully colored leaves won’t last, so we must prepare to feast our eyes on God’s brushstrokes, in awe of the vibrant color and texture combinations.
For they will finally peak and then soon softly fall to the ground.
So maybe fall is a season for savoring. Oh, and how I want to savor so much about it, not taking any of it for granted – including the sights, the sounds, the smells, and the tastes!
As I type this, I sit utterly content with the smell of freshly baked pumpkin spice muffins cooling on the kitchen table, and the sounds of both the dryer running and a football game on the television.
Truth be told, I’m not even a big football fan. But those familiar sounds connect me to first my dad and then to my husband, who enjoy watching the games.
For me, they are comfortable background noise equated with time spent with family. And that is something I never want to take for granted (although I know I too often do).
When I think of food and family, I always think about my grandmother.
Walking into her kitchen immediately made me feel grounded and loved. Her unconditional love, her cooking and her attitude accompanying it are what I aspire to.
I can still hear her describing how to make things, “It’s really no trouble at all. You just do it like this,” as she showed me - even into her nineties.
There was always something good simmering on her stove, whether it was a pot of dried beans or turnip greens, or berries for a cobbler.
I only need to close my eyes and I am there again. Those smells and memories are solidly intertwined and ingrained in my heart.
So now in my own kitchen, when I pull the fragrant food from the oven and turn to face both sides of the sink filled with dirty dishes, I try to remind myself of her “no-problem” attitude as I roll up my sleeves and finish the work.
About those muffins, which seem to embody the spicy fragrance of fall, our daughter-in-law informed me about a week ago it was time to make them.
They are a tradition in our house, and she was ready for them. I don’t know about you, but it’s rare for everyone in our family to like something, so maybe that’s why these became an anticipated tradition.
While not everyone loves pumpkin stuff, most people seem to enjoy these, and that’s probably because of the chocolate chips.
Last week, a lady new to our area wrote me and told me she enjoyed reading my column.
She noticed the paragraph about me at the end of each piece said I enjoy country cooking, and she suggested I include some recipes. She shared with me a column she really liked from the town in Indiana she’d moved from, which included life happenings and recipes from an Amish lady there.
While I’m no fancy chef, I will happily share some recipes that have brought our family and friends joy. For me, it’s all about being able to share something good with those we love. (I’m pretty sure that’s the secret ingredient in making anything good!)
Pumpkin Chip Muffins
2 cups sugar
1 can of pumpkin
1 ½ cups oil (I use vegetable or canola oil and measure shy)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon (I measure heavy)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups (12-oz. Package) mini semisweet chocolate chips
Optional: I like to add about ¼ teaspoon of each of these, ground: allspice, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.
Beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil until smooth. Combine flour, soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon (and other spices noted optional).
Add to pumpkin mixture; mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill greased muffin cups (I usually use paper liners lightly misted with nonstick spray) about three-fourths full. Bake at 400 degrees for 16 to 20 minutes or until done. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing. Yield: 30-36 muffins.
*Sometimes I use mini muffin pans, decreasing baking time and temperature (around 375 for about 10 minutes).
So I hope you will grab a cup of coffee and one of these warm muffins and get ready to savor the blessings of this beautiful season. The bonus is there will be plenty to share too!
Gina Moore, a news-editorial journalism major, has operated Marketplace Consignment Sale for 26 years and has worked part-time at Treasures. She also enjoys country cooking, reading and writing about motherhood, life on the farm and how God’s love and lessons surround residents.