For the second year in a row, Jared and I have been less than successful in taking advantage of the apple utopia that is North Carolina in the fall. I suppose we have an excuse for missing out on the fun last year. We were new to the area, and my pleasantly plural physique tired out pretty easily. This year, though, we plain old missed the boat. What I failed to remember about apples — again — is that apple-picking season, at least around us, extends from some time around the end of July through the end of September. Wait until the beginning of October, and it’s going to be slim pickins. Or no pickins. Humph.
Determined not to let our little Bean miss out on another must-do fall activity, we turned our attention to pumpkins, which, as it so happens, are ready to roll as soon as the apples call it quits. We headed about 40 miles away to Millstone Creek Orchards in Ramseur, N.C., took Beany on her first hayride and picked pumpkins right off vine.
We ended up picking two happy pumpkins from the patch, both with nice long stems so they look rustic and not-from-the-grocery-store-ish. We also picked up some pumpkin seeds and pumpkin butter from the little shop on the farm. Pumpkin is the stuff.
And while we’re on the subject of pumpkins, I thought I’d share the results of my further punkin’ snap experimentations. Remember how I lauded the flavor of the punkin’ snap originals (a gingersnap and pumpkin cookie combo) but yearned for a little more of the chewiness factor? Well, sugar does the trick. This version of the cookies, albeit sweeter than the first round, is still soft, but they’re also super chewy. So now there’s a punkin’ snap for every palate. I probably prefer the originals because they’re a bit less sweet; Jared definitely prefers the reboot for their chewiness. I say let’s always whip up both and let the masses decide!
Punkin’ Snaps Reboot
• ½ cup unsalted butter
• 2 cups sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup pumpkin puree
• ¼ cup molasses (plus a smidge extra so it overflows for a few seconds)
• 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 rounded tablespoon cinnamon
• 2 heaping teaspoons ginger
• ½ rounded teaspoon cloves
• ½ teaspoon salt
Cream butter and sugar in an electric mixer, then add egg, pumpkin and molasses and mix together until well blended. Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt in a separate bowl, then add slowly to butter/sugar mixture. Mix until just combined.
Roll dough into tablespoon-sized balls, roll in sugar, and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet (about 1 ½ inches apart). Bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees, until firm on the outside but still soft on the inside.
Have you visited the pumpkin patch yet this year? Did anyone make it in time to pick apples? What fun fall activities do you have planned? I’d love to hear about them!