Pumpkin Season (and EASY Pumpkin Cake Recipe)!

stack of pumpkins and gourds on brick porch

It’s mid October and we’re in full pumpkin season. The farms have Pick Your Own apples and pears, corn mazes and an abundant harvest of winter squashes, cabbage, kale, homemade jams and pies and so much more. We even have a new term, Pumpkin Traffic, which describes the stop-and-go that unsuspecting east-bound drivers passing through Water Mill encounter due to the wild popularity of Hank’s PumpkinTown, which is located directly across the street from Duckwalk Winery. (If you’re not packing children intent on visiting the wonderful playground at Hank’s, ask us for the secret detour around this traffic jam.)

rack of cut firewood contrasted with beach chairs on wooden porchAnyway, with a little sadness, but also a sense of anticipation for sweaters, scarves, and boots (!), the rack on the back deck that during the summer held beach chairs got filled today with wood for the fireplace. The days are still lovely, with clear blue skies, no humidity, and a tighter range of temps between high and low (today, for example, the high was 62 degrees F, the low 54). Still, I expect the fireplace will inaugurate Late Fall at the Manor this weekend, with blazing logs crackling a cheery welcome to guests returning from their days in the cooler air.

Fall gives me the opportunity to cook with all things associated with autumn, like fresh apples and pears from the farms, cranberries, pumpkin and lots of cinnamon and cloves and nutmeg and ginger…Something I consider the epitome of autumn is a recipe I adapted after finding it first on the Weight Watchers website and since have seen all over Pinterest. I made it this week and four guests asked for the recipe. It’s so unbelievably easy, and it’s worth a share:


pumpkin spice cake with apple cider glaze

1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist Spice Cake
1 can (14 oz) Libby’s Pumpkin

Yep, that’s it, just those two ingredients. Don’t add anything the cake box tells you to. Mix together, by hand or using a mixer until it comes together into a stiff batter. Spread into a greased 7″x 11″ x 2″ Pyrex pan and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not overbake. Remove from oven. Cool in the pan 10 minutes or so.

Meanwhile make the glaze. (Ah, I cheated! I added a couple more ingredients!): Whisk together:

1-1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or approx. 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, plus a dash each of ground nutmeg. ground ginger, ground mace, ground cloves, and allspice)
3 tablespoons apple juice or apple cider

Invert slightly cooled cake unto a serving platter. Pour glaze all over the top. Cut into 24 pieces.

This is major-league yummy! (And for the Weight Watchers among us, it’s 4 PP per piece. Worth it.)

Get your scarf and boots on, and come visit a corn maze followed by a wine tasting, while you watch the vineyards harvesting their bounty for coming years. I wish you a slice of Pumpkin Cake before a roaring fire!

Quote of the day: I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than to be crowded on a velvet cushion.—Henry David Thoreau

RECIPE: Asparagus & Swiss Cheese Omelette

In the three months between the time that we bought the property that would become A Butler’s Manor and our official opening in late April, 2002, I was eager to develop a variety of breakfast entrees to introduce to our guests. To that end, I would scour through cookbooks and online sources, try recipes, tweak them if necessary, until eventually I developed my own repertoire of breakfast recipes.

Problem was, Chris comes from the school that states Thou Shalt Not Serve Thy Guest Something You Haven’t Perfected First…he was very nervous about my trying things for the first time on guests. Ergo, I practiced on us. For three months, every dinner I made was actually a breakfast until he started saying, “Oh no, not French Toast for dinner AGAIN!”

Now, I love breakfast, and could eat it any time of the day or night. (Thank goodness for diners and coffee shops.) Anyway, the upshot of this episode was that a) We opened for business with a good stable of recipes to start off, b) Chris has learned to trust my cooking (our guests have always been appreciative), and c) if I even mention that I’ve got a good breakfast recipe I want to try out at dinnertime, I instantly have an offer for a dinner date out. 🙂

Chris had to have one of those periodic preventative medical procedures this AM that meant he couldn’t have any dinner last night, so — whoo hoo! — last night, I made myself breakfast for dinner. We’ve been cutting fresh asparagus and chives from the garden, and so those became the featured ingredients in my omelette. I didn’t think to take a picture of it, but here’s what I made:


2 eggs*

1/8 tsp each salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tsp canola oil

2 Tbsp. shredded Swiss cheese*

2 stalks asparagus, cut diagonally into 1″ pieces and blanched in the microwave (about 40 seconds on high)

a small handful of frozen peas, thawed

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives or scallions

Beat the eggs with the salt and pepper until frothy. Heat the oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add peppers and cook just until softened, perhaps two minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside. Add eggs, swirling to coat pan, and cook, lifting sides to allow uncooked egg to run underneath until underside is set, about 1 minute.

Sprinkle the asparagus peppers, peas, and half of the cheese over one half of the omelette; fold the unfilled half over to enclose filling. Sprinkle with remainder of cheese. Cook until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Slide onto a plate, sprinkle with chives, and enjoy!

* BONUS: I’ve adapted this from the new Weight Watcher’s Momentum Cookbook — replace eggs with 1/2 cup Egg Beaters, and use a low-fat version of the cheese, and this very filling meal is only 3 points!

Chris may not agree with his fellow countryman here in Southampton, but Somerset Maugham and I are definitely on the same page:
Quote of the Day: If you want to eat well in England, eat three breakfasts. — W. Somerset Maugham

Kim Allen