A day to celebrate the most celebrated squash on the planet. Just what we needed. I could have gone overboard on this one. I could have started the day with a pumpkin coffee and a pumpkin muffin. Had some pumpkin soup and pumpkin bread for lunch. Eaten some pumpkin seeds for a midday energy boost. Maybe a nice pumpkin cookie with my afternoon pumpkin coffee. Had a nice dinner of pumpkin ravioli with a few pumpkin beers then a nice dessert of fresh made pumpkin pie (topped with pumpkin ice cream). That would have been quite the day. However, truth be told, I have not yet fallen in love with the taste of pumpkin like the rest of the world has. It’s just not my jam (although I have not yet tried pumpkin jam, so you never know).
For my celebration, I set out to look for the most sincerest pumpkin patch I could find in hopes that the Great Pumpkin would rise and could explain all this pumpkin hysteria to me. Only he, in all his infinite pumpkin wisdom, would know the truth. But alas, he never came and I was left holding my bag of rocks. I guess I’ll never know. I’ll have to stick to my own hypothesis that pumpkin flavor is nothing more than a hyped-up marketing strategy to use a cheap ingredient to create more sales. Maybe that’s true, but I hate when cynicism gets the best of me. Maybe pumpkin is just a nice warm, tasty flavor that keeps people smiling. Nothing wrong with that, and in fact, we need more of that in this world of ours.
For my celebration, I was going to make something pumpkiny. I went to my regular sources and I found a recipe from one of my favorite bloggers Averie Cooks (which was for a recipe she adapted from Paula Deen) for Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes. I have made three or four recipes from Averie before and she has yet to let me down. The fact that she was borrowing this recipe from Paula Deen (of the two sticks of butter Paula Deen) only made it more enticing. To confirm that I had made the right choice, I had picked up all the ingredients I needed at Clement’s and I had left them on our kitchen table. When Cherie dropped by to pick up something, she saw the ingredients and was instantly intrigued. I knew I had a believer (Cherie is a huge pumpkin fan). That made me realize this could be a nice little treat.
It’s an easy recipe. You start with a spice cake at the bottom of the pan that you kind of squish down to form a dough, then you top it with a mixture of pumpkin, cream cheese, butter, sugar and spices. It cooks for about 45 minutes. When you pull it out of the oven, the middle is still a little jiggly, but it firms up while cooling. I let it cool at room temp for about an hour and then put in in the fridge because Averie said she likes her treats like pumpkin pie chilled, and I had to agree. When I was ready to cut into it, I dusted it with some more confectionary sugar. Came out pretty nice.
Our niece Molly had a volleyball game at 4:45 and I decided to go cheer her on. She plays her games right up the street at the high school and I actually think the games are fun to watch. They are quick and Molly always seems like she’s having fun and smiling, which is great to see. Before I went, I cut up the cake into bar size pieces and brought some along with me because I knew Becky and Cherie were also going to be there (yes, we are the family that brings all kinds of snacks into the bleachers for a 45 minute volleyball game). Lola was working on a deadline, so she couldn’t make the game, but I told her the cake was on the table if she wanted some.
When I sat down, Becky and Cherie noticed that I had a bag with me and immediately asked “what do you got?” We busted out the cake and they all got to try a piece right in the stands as Portsmouth was in a heated battle with East Greenwich. While Cherie’s kids were not a huge fan, Becky, Cherie and Jeff all were on board. In fact, Becky said that it was one of my best creations yet. That was the kind of gratification that makes you feel good – having just made it and then getting positive feedback moments later. It was a success (although I have yet to hear if Molly liked it – we had saved her a piece for after her game and she’s always a good food critic).
When I got home later, Lola was still in her writer’s corner next to the heater and she told me almost instantly how good the cake was. “I was like ‘Oh My God!'” That made me happy because she’s always my toughest critic. One of the joys of making so many different things on this quest is being able to surprise Lola in a positive way. I decided to try a bite too and I must say, it was pretty good. The cake at the bottom takes on a crunchy texture, almost like a cookie, and when it combines with the gooey top, you get a great combination. You get the spice cake flavor which pairs so well with the pumpkin taste (which has been amped up by the sugar). It’s really something and it could even get me on board for the whole pumpkin thing.
Pumpkin is definitely a flavor of autumn, just like apple and cinnamon are, so it definitely deserves a day of celebration. It’s nice to see pumpkins being celebrated as something more than a decoration. It’s a food that has a long history that dates back to 5000 BC in early Mexico. The pumpkin was particularly a staple of Native American life who used it not just for food, but for medicinal and practical purposes as well. It’s a pretty versatile squash. So even though I’m not drinking the pumpkin Kool-Aid (is that a thing yet?), I will raise a glass and celebrate the pumpkin for all it has given us (it just might not be a glass of pumpkin beer). Cheers!
Next Up: National American Beer Day