All right, all you pumpkin-spice lovers who have been counting the hours until the various forms of this fall delicacy returned, this column is for you.
Pumpkin is not my personal favorite flavor, but I know it signifies the return of autumn just as the colored leaves, the crisp air and fall clothes do.
We have the original Americans to thank for this fruit that is a member of the gourd family. When the colonists arrived, they found the American Indians growing and using pumpkins. That seems to be the way we came to associate pumpkins with fall and Thanksgiving.
The first recipe is a very easy bar form of a pumpkin-spice goodie.
Pumpkin Cake Bars
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease or spray an 11- by 16-inch pan.
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 can (16 ounces) pumpkin
2 cups biscuit or baking mix (like Bisquick)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins, if desired
Combine all ingredients, and mix with electric mixer for 2-3 minutes. Pour into prepared pan.
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup crushed cornflakes
2 tablespoons melted butter
Mix topping ingredients and sprinkle over batter.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in middle.
This version of pumpkin pie is different because of the honey instead of sugar. If you do not want to use honey, replace it with 1 cup sugar
Honey Pumpkin Pie
1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
1 1/2 cups cooked or canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each: ground cloves, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup honey
1 1/4 cups half and half or evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix all ingredients and pour into pie shell. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, cover crust only with foil, reduce heat to 300 degrees, and return to oven and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Let set to cool slightly before serving.
This pumpkin bread recipe makes 2 large (5- by 9-inch pans or 3 medium pans.
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon each: salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg
3 cups sugar
1 cup cooking oil (like canola)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup water
2 cups pumpkin, cooked or canned
1 cup chopped nuts
Into a large bowl, sift dry ingredients, and add remainder of ingredients, except nuts. Mix well, and add nuts. Pour into either 2 or 3 pans (see above) that have been greased and floured or sprayed with pan spray. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50-60 minutes depending on size of pans, and test with toothpick in center to see if bread is done. Toothpick must come out clean.
Let bread set in pans for about 10 minutes before removing from pan to racks.
Would you believe that even pumpkin seeds are good to eat? Try this for a snack.
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Remove seeds from pumpkin. Do not wash. Let dry on wax paper for 3-4 days. Remove membrane from seeds, and place on cookie sheet. Pour about 1/2 cup melted butter over seeds, and salt to taste. Bake at 300 degrees until seeds are golden brown. This can be a fun project for children or grandchildren.