Fall Treats From the Farm

According to the temperature, Fall is here!! I love Fall. I love the crisp, cool temperatures, the beautiful tapestry of color in the mountains, and more importantly, the fall foods! Pumpkin pies, apple butter, apple pies, apple cider….well, I’m sure you get the picture. And when I think of fall food, two stories always come to mind.

During my college years, I worked for a local engineering/defense contracting office. At the time, there were several of us young folks working there, and we were all from different parts of the country. That Thanksgiving, we all found ourselves in town so we decided to have our own feast. We each had our own dish that we were responsible for bringing, with mine being the pumpkin pies. Now, I must mention I had really no experience cooking, let alone baking. The extent of my knowledge back then was preparing Campell’s soup or ramen noodles… or hitting up the Taco Bell drive-through (if only I still had that metabolism).

Ready to go in the oven!

So I bought some canned pumpkin and followed the recipe on the back. I was so pleased with myself because I had taste-tested it before pouring it into the pie shells. I carefully baked two pies, and brought them to the dinner. Everything was so delicious and I could hardly wait for my pies to be brought out. Can you imagine my embarrassment when the hostess sliced into my pie, and found that I had left that waxy divider sheet (between the frozen pie shells) IN THE PIE? I was horrified! Now, I can’t make a pumpkin pie without thinking of that memory. But you can bet I make sure that wax sheet is removed! Of course, if I were really on my game I’d be making the shells from scratch, but I haven’t graduated to that just yet!

Pumpkin Pie

29-oz. can pumpkin
1 c. sugar
1 ¼ t. cinnamon
¾ t. ground ginger
½ t. nutmeg
4 eggs, beaten
1 ½ c. milk
1 ½ c. evaporated milk
¼ c. butter, melted
2 9-inch pie crusts (with wax removed!!!)
1 egg white, beaten

Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, and spices. Add eggs, milks and butter; mix well and set aside. Place pie crusts in pie plates (unless you get the frozen kind which are already in aluminum plates). Brush crusts with egg white; divide pumpkin mixture evenly between crusts. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce oven to 350 degrees; bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until pumpkin filling is firm. Makes 2 pies; each serves 6-8.

Another one of my favorite fall food items is apple butter. Apple butter IS made from apples, but isn’t butter at all – rather it’s more of a highly concentrated form of apple sauce with a thick, soft consistency. It’s used as a spread for breads, and I’ve also used it on hams. Where I’m from in Pennsylvania, apple butter is a common condiment on the dinner table. Like my pumpkin pie story, I also have a screw-up involving apple butter, but with positive consequences.

The first time I made this recipe I inadvertently added 5 TABLESPOONS of cinnamon, rather than the 5 TEASPOONS listed. If you really, really like cinnamon, 5 tablespoons really add a pleasant kick. I had a few people compliment it, so I’m adding my mistake as something to try if you’re into cinnamon. I just started labeling it as “Stacy’s Cinnamon Apple Butter,” and the screw up became an instant hit instead.

Overnight Apple Butter

8 apples, cored, peeled, and chopped
4 c. sugar
5 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
¼ t. ground cloves
¼ t. salt
8 ½ pint canning jars and lids, sterilized

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high setting for one hour. Reduce to low setting, cook for 12 hours, stirring occasionally, until thickened and dark golden. Spoon into hot sterilized jars, leaving ¾-inch headspace. Wipe rims; secure with lids and rings. Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes; set on towels to cool. Check for seals. Makes 8 jars.

Diced apples and spices, tomorrow this will be creamy apple butter. For now, it is filling the kitchen wonderful aromas!

So, how about you? What do you love most about fall, and what’s your favorite fall treat?