Fall is probably my most favorite season of the year. I love the cool crisp air on sunny October days. The air smells fresh and clean and hopefully there are lots of sunny skies to motivate me to get outside. It is a time to bring summer activities to closure and get the yard and garden ready for the winter sleep. The goats need to be prepared for November breeding, and projects better saved till cool weather get into full swing. This year my husband and son are clearing a patch of land in our hay field. The locust trees will be harvested to make fence posts for my much needed new pasture for the goats. My chickens and quail will be getting a new home before winter sets in too, and if I’m lucky I will begin cleaning out the basement so I have a work space for the long winter months.
One of the things I love to do in the fall is take a walk. I love to smell the earth and hear the crunching of the dried leaves beneath my feet. It brings back so many wonderful memories of times past and provides opportunities for the creation of new memories as I share days with friends and family. Walking is good for stretching out those leg muscles, getting yourself moving, and breathing in the fresh air. You can take it at your own pace no matter your physical condition. What a wonderful way to relax every evening before retiring to the house and bed-time ritual. Your kids will appreciate the family time and a walk in the cool air always helps induce a peaceful sleep. Don’t forget to take your dog or cat for extra enjoyment!
Fall is also a time to harvest pumpkins. I usually plant pie pumpkins so that I can cook them down for pies, breads or muffins, spiced butter, as a component of roasted vegetables, or soup. My son loves to decorate them for Halloween and then off to the oven they go. I bake pumpkins on a cookie sheet until soft, then clean out the insides and reserve the pumpkin seeds to roast for treats. Pumpkin pulp usually is watery and so I run it through the food processor to puree and then cook over low heat to reduce it down until a thick consistency. I don’t add anything except perhaps lemon juice or citric acid to help keep it from turning dark brown. At this point the pulp can be canned in a pressure canner or frozen. It could be dried in a dehydrater too but it needs to be very thick and spread quite thin to ensure proper drying. There are many good recipes out there using pumpkin and one of my favorite is for pumpkin butter. I cook the pulp down to a thick consistency, add a touch of lemon juice, brown sugar or agave to taste, and cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and coriander to taste. Mix well and refrigerate to use on hot biscuits or toast. The seeds need to be washed to remove all the strings and pulp. Dry on paper towels. Seeds can be dry roasted or try adding some canola oil to the seeds, and adding your favorite spice, such as cayenne pepper, cumin, cinnamon, etc and salt. Spread on a cookie sheet in single layer and slow roast in a 350 oven until brown. Stir occasionally to help them brown evenly. Pumpkin seeds are great snacks and healthy too.
This fall think about how you will enjoy your days; relaxing in the hammock, visiting with your family around a warm fire pit or stove, working in your yard, taking a walk or playing with the kids outside. Why not pack a picnic and visit a state park or public green space. The joy of fall is yours for the asking…don’t let this simple pleasure pass you by this year!