Pumpkin and allspice to ring in fall
It’s not that I hate fall. Once Halloween arrives and the leaves are crunchy under my feet, once I wake up to the contrast of red trees against a crisp blue sky, once the smell of chimney smoke drifting in front of a big yellow moon finds its way indoors on an October evening . . . then I get into it. It’s the transition that gets me. After all, who wants to give up long summer days and short sleeves? Who wants to spend fifteen minutes swathing oneself in long underwear, boots, and mittens before venturing outside? (And I live in Oregon. Can you imagine if I lived in, say, Massachusetts?)
Most of all, fall is the gateway to winter. And that means Christmas, my absolute favorite time of year. There is nothing – nothing – like the lights on the Christmas tree at night or the crowds at the mall toting armfuls of shopping bags. I may not wish for a white Christmas – more about that later, but for now let’s just say that snow scares me – but I love everything else about it. In fact, I’m one of those irritating people who buys presents throughout the year and stashes them at the top of the closet until I can spend a ridiculous amount of time attaching fake holly and miniature ornaments to the package with dental floss.
But fall isn’t fall without my mother’s pumpkin cookies. They’re not really my mother’s, if you want to get technical. Hardly anyone’s family recipes were really invented by family members. Unless your recipes were passed down from great-great-grandmother’s kitchen, your “mom’s” banana bread is probably suspiciously similar to the one on the back of the Gold Medal flour bag. We take our recipes where we find them and forget the source. The pumpkin cookies I grew up with were from the old Bible of the kitchen: the Joy of Cooking. The old copy doesn’t get much use anymore in the age of Pinterest and Food.com, but one of its red ribbons still marks page 709: pumpkin cookies.