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VOL. 37 | NO. 43 | Friday, October 25, 2013

From the pumpkin patch to the table

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Stop and think about October for a few moments. Close your eyes while doing so. (Well, maybe not, because then you couldn’t read this.)

Beautiful yellow, red, orange and gold trees; fall squashes, pumpkins and other fruits and vegetables; cooler and windier days; the smell of smoke from farmers burning their fields; leaves covering the ground and crunching beneath your feet; ghosts, goblins and trick-or-treating. There’s a lot to think about in one little month, and plenty to enjoy in 31 short days!

I remember when my mom and dad moved to Mountain Home, Ark. One evening, during the fall, I called to see what they were up to. Their answer: “Sitting on the front porch watching the sunset and listening to walnuts fall from the trees and thump the ground. The squirrels run up, grab them and then dash off to their nest.”

Simple pleasures and unforgettable memories.

Autumn, and especially October, is one of my favorite seasons and, during this time, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere other than where I live right now. The beauty of the Ozarks and the Ouachitas explode with amazing colors. It is simply gorgeous.

This past week, I had my granddaughters staying with me for about four days. The oldest one, Paige, 7, was on fall break from school, so they spent most of it with me and “Pocca Pooky.” (That’s what the 3-year-old calls my husband. Don’t ask me where she got that from – 3-year-olds have their own language.)

Anyway, we went to a pumpkin patch on one of the days. They had a huge pumpkin patch, a hay ride, a hay bale maze, a large area full of dried corn for the kids to jump and play in, farm animals to pet and a large hill made from hay bales for them to climb. So much to do. The girls had a lot of fun. So did I.

Lastly, we picked pumpkins to purchase and take home for decorating. I love pumpkins, and now with all the hybrids there are so many different kinds. We picked out what we considered were the three most perfect ones in the patch!

We had a great time, and it will be a memory the girls will always carry with them.

I have a great pumpkin cupcake recipe. Decorating them with your children would be another wonderful memory.

There are so many different options on decorations that all you need is to put them out on the table and let your child’s imagination (or your inner child’s imagination) take over.

Have fun...and enjoy this fall.

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes

Cupcakes:

2 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour

2 tsp. of baking soda

2 tsp. of baking powder

2 tsp. of ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. of freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp. of ground cloves

1 tsp. of salt

3/4 cup of chopped walnuts

3/4 cup of raisins

1 can of 15 oz. solid-packed pumpkin (about 1 3/4 cups)

1 1/4 cup of granulated sugar

1 cup of firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 cup of canola blend oil

4 eggs, room temperature

Frosting:

14 oz. of pure white chocolate, grated

12 oz. of cream cheese, room temperature, cut into tablespoon-size pieces

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoon-size pieces

Food coloring; colored sugars; decorating pens

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Line three 12-cup muffin tins with decorative cupcake papers.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Toss the walnuts and raisins with the flour mixture, coating well. (This keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins.)

In another large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sugars, and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition. Add the flour mixture in three additions, stirring with a large wooden spoon until just combined.

Don’t over-mix. That will make the muffins tough.

Fill the muffin cups about three-fourths full, then bake until they are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Place the pans on a wire rack and let them cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pans and allow them to cool completely.

To make the frosting, in a double boiler (or in microwave), melt the white chocolate, stirring constantly, until it’s smooth and creamy – two to three minutes. Let it stand until it’s just warm to the touch.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until it’s smooth. Add the chocolate and beat again until it’s smooth. Use the frosting immediately, coloring it as desired. Spread one to two tablespoons of frosting over each cupcake and then decorate with colored sugars and decorating pens.

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