celebrated: Autumnal Equinox

There’s something about a day that has an equal amount of light and dark that really satisfies the symmetry-loving OCD in me. Also, I just plain love fall. The colors, the crispness, the light, the scents, the tastes – what’s not to love? Autumn has always been my favorite season, though I have to admit that the last few years it has made me a little sadder than it used to. I think that’s a function both of age (because each cycle round the sun seems to go faster as I hurtle towards the grave – whew! morbid much?) and of living in a northern clime, where fall is inevitably followed by a long and grey winter.

Still, I love me an equinox. And this year, I had a Big Idea. We would celebrate. Like with food and stuff. I had all kinds of fun ideas that involved making banners and lighting candles and decorating the house and so forth, but in the end it was just a cooking and baking kind of day. Which was enough. Actually, more than enough.

We started with Pumpkin Muffins for breakfast.

The Best Pumpkin Muffins

The Best Pumpkin Muffins

Recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I’ve made these several times before, and I always love them. They are a perfect fall treat, so moist, so … pumpkin-y. Also, my boys are really into rhymes these days, and they think they had made a rhyme when they say Pumpkin, Muffin. Anyway, I do the recipe exactly as written and then I tossed in a handful or two of dried cranberries. I prefer it with fresh cranberries and walnuts (per Moskowitz’s variation in the recipe), but I had neither. I soaked the dried cranberries in hot water for several minutes to plump them a bit. These are perfect still warm from the oven, but they are still good reheated the next day (or the next) if you have any left.

We continued the Celebration of Fall at dinnertime, with these little babies:

Savory Autumn Leaf Pies

Savory Autumn Leaf Pies

Recipe from Vegan Lunch Box by Jennifer McCann. I followed the recipe exactly, except I only made 4 pies. The recipe says it will make 24 – is that a misprint? – I don’t think there was any way I had enough crust or filling for 24 pies. I know I didn’t have enough patience to make 24 pies. After 4, I put the rest of the dough in the fridge, along with the little bit of filling there was left. The filling is roasted root veggies – so tasty. I need to remember throughout this fall and winter how much I love roasted root veggies and how simple they are to prepare, as long as I remember in enough time to get them in the oven well before dinnertime. Carrots + parsnips + potatoes + garlic = comfort.

The barley poppy seed crust was outstanding, and also pretty easy to prepare. Really, the only time-consuming part was rolling out, cutting, and assembling the little pies. I will probably make this again sometime just as a regular double-crust pie (note to self: make more filling), and save the maple leaf cookie cutter for cookies. Canada Day Celebration, anyone?

Truth be told, it was this recipe that caused me to celebrate the Autumnal Equinox to begin with. The note about the recipe says: These little pies are admittedly a bit of work to produce, but worth it if the equinox is a special holiday in your household. And – BAM! – the Big Idea hit me. Yes! The equinox! It must become a special holiday in my household! I’ve always wanted it to, and this is the year that I’ll make it happen. Yes! Let’s make Savory Autumn Leaf Pies.

So time-consuming, but so tasty. (Pictured here with fresh cherry tomatoes from my “garden” [two tomato plants in pots] and a salad of spring greens and grated carrot topped with Trader Joe’s black bean and corn salsa.)

For the finale, I was inspired by this post. Little Buddha is crazy about pears, and has been begging for fresh pears since mid-August. I kept telling him that we’d have to wait until they were in season, and he kept asking when that would be. I kept telling him fall, so I decided what better way to celebrate the arrival of pear season than by making a pear cake? I’ve never had a cake made of pears before, and had never considered it really, until I saw Melissa’s pear cake post and got obsessed.

She gave an option for veganizing hers, and I was going to try it but decided to look around a bit first. In the end, I decided to play around with the Blueberry Coffee Cake recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance to make my own pear cake, and y’all, YUM. It came out just right.

Vegan Pear Cake with Streusel Topping

Vegan Pear Cake with Streusel Topping

Vegan Pear Cake
4 C flour
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 C canola oil
3/4 C soy yogurt
1 C pure maple syrup
1 1/2 C vanilla soy milk
1 t vanilla extract
2 C chopped fresh pears (with peel on)

for streusel topping:
1/4 C all-purpose flour
3 T brown sugar
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1 T canola oil
1 C chopped walnuts or pecans (I wanted pecans but had to settle for walnuts)

Mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix. Fold in chopped pears.

For topping, mix dry ingredients. Drizzle oil in and mix with fingers until crumbs form. Add the nuts and mix.

Spread the batter in a greased 9×13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle topping over it. Bake for 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Serve warm with vanilla Rice Dream. Reheat next day and serve for breakfast with coffee or tea.

In retrospect, though I certainly enjoyed all the things I made, I realized the irony of celebrating fall on a gorgeous fall day by spending the entire day indoors, much of it standing in the kitchen. I am making a promise to myself that next year, this is not how we will celebrate. We will go outside. We will play in the leaves. We will go on a nature walk. We will gather leaves and sticks and outdoor goodies to bring inside. We will go apple-picking. And if it rains? Well, there’s always Pear Cake.

Happy Fall to you!

16 thoughts on “celebrated: Autumnal Equinox

  1. I don’t know, eating yummy food sounds like a GREAT way to celebrate the Equinox! Maybe not cooking it all, but eating it does sound great. Maybe next year you should cook the day before and have a picnic?

  2. that pear cake is causing me to salivate. And vegan, to boot! awesomeness! I can even substitute the flour with wheat-free flour…but where did you get soy yogurt?

  3. Sounds like a great celebration!

    I snickered at your use of quote marks with your garden…yours is twice the size of mine. I only have one lonely cherry tomato plant that I proudly refer to as my garden!

  4. Now I know where I’ll be next autumnal equinox! *wink* It all looks fabulous and what a great family tradition. The First Annual Earthchick Autumnal Equinox Celebration!

  5. That’s cool. We celebrate the solstices with friends each year. It works for me because even though the Winter Solstice is the beginning of winter, it also marks the point where the days start getting longer. And the Summer Solstice is the beginning of summer, so that’s all good by me.

  6. Dear Bob,
    Work on your google-fu. I don’t have those kinds of answers here.

    (FYI, I also don’t have any cookies. Muffins, savory pies, and cake? Yes! Cookies? No. Not even the fu-fu kind.)

  7. You know, celebrating Saint Lucia Day started this way for me. It all started with a little Lingonberry Juice. Then a few saffron buns. And then the light-up wreath! And the Star Boy outfit! And before you know it, you’re all amped up on coffee and exclamation points!

  8. Pingback: Three Days To Halloween! at Today’s Homemaker

  9. Pingback: baked :: in celebration of fall (Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins) | earthchicknits

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