As imagined, my ability to post every weekday for a month has not exactly panned out. However, I do think making it a practice for the first couple of weeks has reestablished the blogging habit. That’s really what I was after. For those curious, my hope moving forward is to write here twice a week. Maybe three on occasion. I realize hope is not a plan, but making a plan feels like a promise I probably can’t keep. So, here’s to things working out the way that I hope they will.
On a grey, rainy, raw October day, much like this one, I took a solo trip to the orchard to get some favorite apple varieties, of which the trees we have planted are not producing yet. The radio reported one terrifying story after another, all without resolution. Lots of blame, no responsibility taken. Finally I switched the channel to one of the French stations, and though they probably told the same horrific stories, I could not understand them, but it did sound like I was in my grandmother’s, great-grandmothers’, or great aunts’ kitchens, which provided some comforting nostalgia.
I don’t need to make apple pie filling this year, and I can probably get away with not making applesauce as well. I do plan to make some apple pie jam, dehydrate apple slices, and tuck plenty away for fresh eating. Apples, pears, and citrus are about it for us when it comes to fresh winter fruit, so I like to go into it knowing we have plenty on hand.
Mid-October through January are the greyest months in Vermont. I know this can be a struggle for a lot of people, but for me it’s a permission slip to take pleasure in all the cozy lighting, homey vignettes, reading the stack of books summer never allowed time for, and resting these bones beside the fire. For me, it’s also when I spend more recreational time outdoors. It’s true that I probably spend more hours outside in summer, but I don’t exactly love most of them. Between the blood sucking insects and too much humidity, it’s not my favorite. I’ll take my walks on a crisp January day – properly dressed of course – over the bugs and humidity of summer any day. That time of year is emerging now, and it’s never unbearable to be outside from this point forward, until sometime in late May or June.
I made some favorite autumnal foods over the weekend (chili and pumpkin bars), had a nice impromptu visit with cousins, and generally kept things low-key. My husband’s blue ribbon (really!) family chili recipe can be found in Hearth & Home, and I’ll post my pumpkin bar recipe below. I call it “bars” but truly it is a sheet cake. Which makes it easy to eat like a bar if needed. Perfect for autumn gatherings when few dirty dishes is the goal.
Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 4 eggs
- 1 - 15 oz canned pumpkin, or 2 scant cups homegrown pureed
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 1 cup neutral flavored oil (I use melted lard)
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground clove
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350º. Whisk eggs, pumpkin, sugar, oil (melted lard), and vanilla until thoroughly combined.
- Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Mix until smooth.
- Spread cake batter into an ungreased half sheet pan (jelly roll pan).
- Bake for 18-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Be sure to check starting at the 18 minute mark.
- Cool completely on baking rack.
- To make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, a cup at a time, beating well after each cup. Beat until all sugar is combined and frosting is light, fluffy, and smooth. Spread evenly over the cake. Enjoy!