‘Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” — George Eliot
I love that quotation. It captures my feelings about fall.
I wonder why the cooler weather makes the senses come alive? Why does the soul crave warm fires, brisk breezes, and comfort foods when October rolls in? I’m not sure what the answers are. But I know I love this time of year. Fall is when Eve brings her A-game to life. My creativity comes to life after a summer slumber. That makes me happy, and my happiness makes my husband Patrick happy. The happiness flows down to the kids, and the Kelly home becomes an epicenter of autumnal glee.
Last week’s fall creativity burst took the form of pumpkin bread. Of course, I had to use just the right canned pumpkin. So, yes, I bought every kind available during my shopping runs and settled down to determine which was the best. Patrick walked in just after I cranked open the ninth of nine cans. “Two things,” I told him, “one, I want an electric can opener for Christmas. Two, I’d like you to taste these canned pumpkins.”
“Aren’t they all the same?” he asked.
“You’re going to find out,” I said, handing him a spoonful of Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin ($2.69 for 15 ounces at Sprouts).
“If I were blindfolded, I wouldn’t know this was pumpkin,” he grimaced. “It has the consistency of a dry peanut butter,” he critiqued, “and tastes musty, almost woody.”
I handed him a spoonful of 365 Pumpkin 100% Pure ($1.29 for 15 ounces at Whole Foods). “The checker told me he knows a guy who puts a tablespoon of this in his oatmeal during the fall.”
“I would buy this for my oatmeal also,” Patrick said. “Tastes like a fresh produce, with just a hint of sour, and the rich orange color.”
Sprouts’ other pumpkin option, Sprouts 100% Pure Pumpkin ($1.49 for 15 ounces) was another keeper. “A clean, fresh, mild pumpkin aftertaste, no sourness,” said Patrick.
We then hit a round of losers. “This was the gold standard when we were kids,” I said, handing Patrick a tasting of the Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin ($1.68 for 15 ounces at Walmart Marketplace).
“The aroma flashes me right back to feeding our little babies sweet potatoes,” smiled Patrick. “Ooh, though the smell is good, the taste is not so good. I am diving for my water glass to wash this sour taste out of my mouth,” he added. “What do you think makes it so sour? An underripe pumpkin?”
“Maybe Target has the answer to your pumpkin quest,” I joked, handing him another spoon, slathered with Market Pantry 100% Pure Pumpkin ($1.44 for 15 ounces).
“Why are there so many different shades of orange?” asked Patrick, staring at the color. “No two have been the same: some verge on indian red, others are sunny yellow?”
“Again with the questions?” I responded. “I don’t really know. They all look better than the pies my dad made from the pumpkins he grew. They were a revolting brownish green. Forget about the color, tell me what you are tasting,” I pushed.
“Nice tooth to it, but the sourness is overwhelming,” he offered. “Give me another one.”
The man was getting into it.
I handed him some Kroger 100% Pure Pumpkin ($2.99 for 29 ounces at Ralphs).
“Nope, the sour taste overpowers the garden-produce gourdiness of it,” Patrick said.
“Is gourdiness a word?” I smiled.
“Zip it, wordsmith,” he retorted.
“Taste it, Pumpkin Boy.” I offered him a spoonful of Great Value 100% Pure Pumpkin ($1.43 for 15 ounces). He handed it back half eaten. “Sour, dirty taste. Yuck.”
“Trader Joe rarely fails you.” I gave him some Trader Joe’s Organic Pumpkin ($1.99 for 15 ounces).
“And Joe brings it, yet again. No sour, no must, just pumpkin, perfect for your breads, baby.”
My man started to head out the door. “Just one more, honey,” I said, handing him a teaspoon of Albertsons Essential Everyday 100% Pure Pumpkin ($1.50 for a 15-ounce can).
“Yep, ripe pumpkin, a hint of earthy sourness, a little fluffy whippedness — this is a winner, too.” replied Pat.
“Oh, delicious autumn,” I smiled.