An Ode to Autumn

leaves

Fall, glorious fall. Or autumn, if you prefer.  It is, hands down, my favorite season.  I ask my students which season they prefer and summer usually wins.  No homework.  No school. Sleeping late.  Camp.  The beach.  The skiers in the group say winter.  Once in a while someone says fall.  Girls who like to wear jeans and boots.  I love jeans, boots, and sweaters.  And turtlenecks.  And scarves.  But clothing isn’t my #1 reason for loving fall.

If I were a decent (or even halfway decent) poet, I would write an ode.  And maybe I will try, if writing this post inspires me.  But for now, I will stick to photos and a list.

Fall

My favorite of seasons

I love thee for multiple reasons…

  1.  Your skies of blue

lucky-strike-tower

Clear, brilliant, blue afternoon skies.  We call this Carolina blue.  Even us Duke fans. (You have to be from North Carolina to get this rivalry, I guess.)  This is the Lucky Strike Tower in downtown Durham at the American Tobacco Campus.

2.  Your leaves of red and golden hue

red-leaf

Orange will come later.  I look for the first leaves around campus and we went for a hike last weekend in Duke Forest. I collected the leaves at the top of the blog.  Outside my classroom, there is a maple tree planted in memory of one of our beloved teachers.  I so look forward to when its leaves change colors.

Here are photos I took a couple of years ago.

gail-plaque2

3.  Sitting outside when the temperatures are cool

s-durham-hotel

And sipping a drink downtown at the Rooftop Bar at the Durham Hotel.  No humidity.  The sun just seems brighter.

4.  The football games of your favorite school

vols

Son #2 and his best buddy (aka Son #3) went back to Knoxville to his alma mater to watch the Vols beat the Florida Gators. They have had an unbelievable season so far.  Keep singing Rocky Top!

5.  The smell of pumpkin spice in the air

pumpkin

slivfjl9-1867-2800

photo credit:  Starbucks

Son #1 loves Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte.  It is celebrating its 13th birthday.  Officially a teenager.

How about some pumpkin muffins?  Or better yet, pumpkin muffins with cream cheese swirled in?

muffin1

muffin2

Would it be pumpkin spice overload to have a muffin with your latte?

6.  And spending an afternoon at the North Carolina State Fair

pumpkins

garden

sheep

goat1

cooking-contest

corn

Signora and I took my advisees last year.  We had such a great time together roaming around, visiting the animals, checking out the arts and crafts, people watching and eating some down home good food– roasted corn topped the list.   Hmmm, we haven’t made plans for this year.  Need to figure that out.  It starts next week.

Long walks, deep breaths, feeling alive, well, and whole.

Fall  

I love thee from the very depths of my soul.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Muffins

“It’s almost like having a cupcake for breakfast.”

makes 18

adapted from The Novice Chef  “It’s almost like having a cupcake for breakfast.”

Muffins:

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur’s unbleached)

1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1-15 oz. can of pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar (either light or dark- I used dark)

2 large eggs

1/2 c. vegetable oil (I used unflavored liquid coconut oil- you could also use the solid form, though)

1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract

Cheesecake swirl:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/4 c. granulated sugar

1 large egg yolk

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

  1.  Preheat oven to 375˚F.  Grease 18 medium-sized muffins cups or line with paper liners.  (I found some made of parchment.  The muffins did not stick to them at all.)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt until mixed well.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree and sugars.  Whisk in the eggs, oil, and vanilla.
  4. Gently stir in the flour mixture until there are no lumps but do not over mix.
  5. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.
  6. In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth.  Add in sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla and beat until well combined and smooth.
  7. Top each muffin with approximately 1 tablespoon of cream cheese mixture.  (I used a small scoop- that made it really easy and less messy.)  Swirl the cream cheese mixture into the pumpkin mixture with a toothpick.  It does not have to be smooth. (There is a video on the Novice Chef’s blog.)
  8. Bake muffins 18-20 minutes or until one tests done by inserting a toothpick into the middle – if it comes out clean it is done.  If not, bake a little longer, in 2 minute increments.

baked-muffins

Bon appétit and Happy Fall to all my friends and family!  I love you all and look forward to several weeks of cool, crisp fall days, good food, and a visit to the mountains to see the leaves. Pray for those affected by Hurricane Matthew, especially Haïti.  

This photo is for you, Best Sister-in-Law–

candy-corn

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