I have long said, “If it could be 80 degrees and sunny year round, I would be a happy camper.” Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved the summer months and detested the cold, bitter winter. However, now that I’m older, I’m finally starting to appreciate Fall. I used to sulk for the first day in September or October where I’d have to grab a jacket before heading outside. But when the temperature dropped a few weeks ago, quite a bit earlier than it has the past couple years in Atlanta, I was ready. There are far too many great things that come with the changing of the season…
Leaves changing colors. Pumpkin everything. The red cups at Starbucks are back! Warm cardigans and cable-knit sweaters. Halloween. Apple cider. Thanksgiving. Deep fried turkey. The sound leaves make crunching under my shoes during my early morning runs. Hot chocolate with mini marshmallows. Carving pumpkins. Early Christmas shopping. Holiday office parties. Fall baking. Holiday displays in all the stores. Decorating our home for Fall. Fuzzy slippers. Curling up by the fireplace with a good book. The list goes on.
This past week was Halloween, and I was so excited to finally be able to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. It was just something we just didn’t get to do living in an apartment complex. Also, you know you’re becoming a real adult when you balk at the price of candy. I literally stood in the aisle at Kroger for a good ten minutes, wondering how in the world I was spending over $20 on two bags of candy that little fairies, ghosts and goblins would gobble up in seconds. Thankfully we didn’t run out, and I would stand to argue that I actually had more fun than the trick-or-treaters, “oohing” and “aahing” at all the cute costumes and waving at all the families from our front porch rocking chairs. It’s definitely a tradition I’m excited to continue for years to come.
Not a surprise that another one of my favorite things about Fall is baking. There’s just something incredibly comforting about the flavors of Fall–pumpkin, cranberry, and spices like nutmeg and ginger. I also have a lot of childhood memories of days spent in the kitchen with my Mom and grandmothers, wearing aprons too big for me and getting more flour in my hair and clothes than in the mixing bowl. Today, whenever I make something that reminds me of a family recipe, I’ll take a picture and text it to my Mom and it feels like we’re back in the same kitchen, baking and laughing together.
My Mom’s harvest pumpkin loaf is one of my favorite things she bakes. I always look forward to it this time of year. Since I won’t be able to have any until we visit over Thanksgiving, I decided to try making my own version. It’s a bit different than hers–I added cranberries and left out the nuts and glaze topping–but it smells and looks just as good!
Pumpkin Cranberry Chocolate Chip Quick Bread
Makes one 9×5 loaf
3/4 cup white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp each cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, ground gloves
1 container vanilla or pumpkin-flavored yogurt
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×5 baking pan. In a large bowl, beat together pumpkin, yogurt, honey, egg and vanilla extract. Slowly beat in flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Once even combined, stir in cranberries then chocolate chips. Spoon batter into pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.