a thing I was wrong about :: fall

365.133 - fall afternoon at the river
(fall 2008, on the banks of the Huron River)

Y’all were all so sweet not to correct me when I talked about celebrating the autumnal equinox on Saturday. No one pointed out that, in fact, Saturday was the last day of summer, not the first day of fall. I usually double-check my calendars for the beginning of season dates, but when Little Buddha started talking several days ago about the first day of fall coming, I made the assumption that he had double-checked. He is the most detail-minded of the four of us, after all. But he didn’t, and I didn’t, and so we celebrated fall before it had actually started.

That night, as the boys were getting ready for bed, My Old Man happened to be looking at the calendar and noticed that fall started on Sunday, not Saturday. He mentioned it to Tiny Dancer, who promptly burst into tears! Poor little boo. It really bothered him – he had been so excited about the start of our favorite season, and had happily celebrated all day, and it felt bad and weird to him to know that it wasn’t true. I told him that, to us, it looked like fall, smelled like fall, and tasted like fall, so for us, it was fall! That didn’t totally sway him.

As for me, I feel like we just got a bonus day of our favorite season. And now fall is here for real, y’all, and I’m thrilled. Time for trips to the cider mill, watching postseason baseball (Go Tigers!), picking raspberries, cuddling under blankets, having a bonfire, playing in leaf piles, FALL KNITTING, and, of course, baking (and eating) vegan chocolate chip pumpkin muffins. What’s not to love? What’s your favorite part about fall?

At any rate, now I can finally say it: Happy Fall FOR REAL, y’all!

baked :: in celebration of fall (Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins)

Five years ago, I had a BIG IDEA. It all started with my then-four year-old’s obsession with pears, and my promise that we would have pears once they were in season. When fall officially arrived, he expected his pears, so I created a pear cake. One thing led to another, and the next thing I knew, I had decided to make the Autumnal Equinox a reason for full-on celebration in our household. And because my life philosophy is always GO BIG, I celebrated by making a special breakfast, making a special dinner (a very time-consuming one, as it turned out), and making a special cake.

It was a fun and memorable start to my favorite season, but I vowed after spending so much of the day in the kitchen that, in future celebrations, we would scale back on the cooking/baking and spend part of the day outside. Also, I am older and more tired now. And I’ve learned  that sometimes the philosophy of “It’s the little things” trumps the philosophy of “Go big.”

My boys have inherited my zeal for celebrations and for special traditions, and they have come to expect Pumpkin Muffins on the first day of fall. And not only on the first day of fall, but actually every Saturday of the season. They began reminding me of this several days ago. “Mom, you know that the first day of fall is coming, and you know what that means, right?” “Mom, do you have all the ingredients you need for pumpkin muffins?” “Mom, you do know that we are supposed to have pumpkin muffins every Saturday in fall, right?”

Fortunately, in addition to being delicious, they are also very, very easy. And quick! I don’t mind making them regularly. I don’t even mind making them every week.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

Our family is not vegan, but I do a fair amount of vegan cooking and baking, and I have a number of really good vegan cookbooks. One of my favorites is Vegan with a Vengeance, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I’ve adapted her recipe for “The Best Pumpkin Muffins” to include chocolate chips (Ghiradelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips are vegan, if that matters to you) and to substitute almond milk (which our family prefers to soy milk).  (And of course these don’t have to be vegan at all, if you would like to substitute regular dairy milk for the almond milk – though I can’t vouch for those because we’ve never tried them that way.)

I share this recipe here in case you would like to create your own every-Saturday-muffin tradition. Or in case you just want to whip up one delicious batch. Happy fall, y’all!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins – makes 18 muffins
1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 1/4 C sugar
1 T baking power
1/4 t salt
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/2 groung ginger
1/4 t ground allspice
1/8 t ground cloves
1 C pureed pumpkin
1/2 C unsweetened almond milk
1/2 C vegetable oil
2 T molasses
1 C chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly grease one 12-muffin tin one half of a second 12-muffin tin.
Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, almond milk, oil, and molasses. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool. Serve (I like mine with Good Earth tea) and enjoy!

As my kids were eating their first pumpkin muffins of the season, I heard one of them say to the other, “I love fall, don’t you?” And the other one said, “As soon as I took my first bite, it reminded me so much of last fall.” It makes this mama’s heart so happy to hear such things, and to know that really, the little things do add up. Happy fall, to you and yours.