A Taste of Autumn—Autumn Pumpkin Muffins

From my friend, Wendy Woodworth, who often shared this delicious treat with our Precept Bible Study class—

You have to try these scrumptious autumn pumpkin muffins. Fix yourself a cup of chai tea or coffee, put one of these fabulous muffins on a plate and enjoy yourself a taste of autumn.

And of course, I think these are best eaten when also curled up with a good book.

Makes: 18
Oven: 350 degrees

1. Combine—
3 ½ cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. salt

Set aside.

2. Mix in separate bowl—
2 cups pumpkin
1 cup canola oil
3 cups sugar
3 eggs

3. Add set-aside dry ingredients. Mix well.
4. Stir in ½ cup walnuts if desired.
5. Pour batter into muffin tins 2/3 full.

6. Cream Cheese Mixture—
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg

Mix until velvety and smooth.

7. Use a teaspoon to place a scoop of cream cheese mixture into the center of each tin. Sprinkle a few nuts on top.
8. Bake 20-23 minutes or until middle is done.

Enjoy.

What’s your favorite autumn recipe?

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The Unforgettable State Fair

Another one of my favorite things in autumn is the North Carolina State Fair. There are few years in my life that I’ve actually not attended the fair. Like many Raleighites, I have my favorite Fair vendors from which to get a foot-long hot dog. Or a ham biscuit. Another place to get mountain-cold apple cider, funnel cake dusty with powdered sugar or cotton candy.

My Fair experiences have changed over the years with my—ahem—maturity.

Once upon a time, my best friend, Kathye and I tested our mettle on the rollicking, rolling Himalaya; scanned the Raleigh skyline atop the Ferris Wheel; and clamped hands over our ears at the grinding gears at the tractor pull. We braved the House of Mirrors; attended concerts at the Dorton Arena; stayed to ooh and aah over the fireworks.

With small children, my Fair experiences comprised of winging strollers through packed crowds. There’s an art to it in case you didn’t know. As a Fair aficionado, I have my own preferred route from one end of the Fair complex to another end. Every native Raleighite has one. What to do first, second . . . last. A state fair sized version of the Normandy invasion. When Corinne and Kathryn were small, we did pony rides; frequented the petting zoo; and had a craftsman from the Village of Yesteryear cut paper silhouettes of each girl.

Now with teenagers in tow, we try to do something for every family member’s interests. We go through the gorgeous Art Deco Ag buildings, admiring the 4-H booths, and get free samples from the It’s Got to Be NC tent. Corinne enjoys the art and the horse show. Kathryn’s mainly in it for the food, so in this economy we share funnel cakes, cotton candy and ice cream. We inspect the Master Gardener displays at the Flower Show and walk and walk until our legs ache, our bellies are full and its time to go home.

Do you like the Fair wherever you live? What are your favorite things to do at the Fair? What do you like to eat at the Fair?

Loving Me Some Autumn

It’s October and finally beginning to feel like autumn. Autumn is special–my favorite season—and we shouldn’t let it pass us by without a celebration.

So I’ve ventured to the Farmer’s Market—one of my favorite autumn activities—and decorated the exterior of my house.

Autumn is my excuse for buying mums, pumpkins, chai tea, apples and apple cider. Farmers from the Blue Ridge and Great Smokies come to Raleigh and sell from their mountain orchards a variety of apples, perfect for applesauce or pie.

When my girls were small, every autumn we planned a long weekend to a different corner of NC and camped. Okay, my version of camping—renting a cabin with electricity, indoor plumbing and preferably close to a larger lodge to which to walk for all meals.

But we had a fireplace, made s’mores and I lugged some of my favorite autumnal children’s books with me to read aloud to them in front of the fire and after the s’mores. Books like Miss Suzy by Miriam Young from my own childhood; Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey; and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen—which we re-enacted all over the cabin.

These weekends included hikes to lacy, cascading waterfalls and picking our own bushel of apples from a local orchard. We tried to do something for everyone so for mom that included visits to mountain quilt shops.

But with busy, social butterfly teenage girls, my mountain vacation has been reduced for now to a stay-cation involving a stolen afternoon with the girls and a trip to the Farmer’s Market. This year, we bought Magna-bonum’s (ranked as one of the ten greatest Southern apples) and here’s the apple pie that resulted.

How do you celebrate the arrival of autumn? I’d love for you to share your memories and what traditions you built with your families.

If you’d like a list of my favorite autumnal children’s books to share with your children and grandchildren or to try my Foolproof Piecrust and apple pie recipe, email me at lisa@lisacarterauthor.com.