Turn! Turn! Turn!

Little kids itch to see the first snowflakes arrive. We seek the first glimpse of the brave crocuses. Summer sort of gently slips into place after spring’s bright plumage fades a bit. But when I think of seasons turning, my mind immediately goes to autumn. I picture the glossy green leaves transforming to a riot of gold, russet, and bronze, I starting thinking about soups and roasts and bread, winter squash and kale at the markets, Halloween and Thanksgiving and bonfires. Yesterday, when my youngest son and I were wandering through the Emily Oaks Nature Center paths, he mentioned that the end of the summer was bittersweet… pretty fancy phrase for a ten-year-old kid!

I came up with this recipe a few years ago, when we moved to Kansas City and were first subjected to REAL seasons (as opposed to the kinder, gentler versions I knew of in the Sacramento Valley of California). Chilly mornings stirred something deep in me, and soon I was stirring things myself.

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My 20-year-old son, having just graduated from DePaul University with highest honors, is leaving today for at least seven months to work as an English teacher for the French government. He has always loved these cookies, and I bake several batches every year for him. Today, the first really cool day here in Chicago, I’m making them for him to pack for his journey to the other side of the world. He takes a piece of my heart with him, as well as a few goodies from my kitchen.

Fall Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour substitute, and a big pinch of xanthan gum)
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. freshly grated orange zest
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup cooked and pureed pumpkin and/or sweet potato (can use canned, but NOT the sweetened/spiced kind)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecans (toast for a few minutes whole, then chop)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix well.

Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange zest (those last two items alone are a great reason to own a Microplane grater, by the way!)

Alternate additions of dry ingredients and pumpkin, mixing well after each addition.

Stir in chocolate chips, cranberries, and nuts.

Drop by tablespoonfuls (I use a dough scooper like this) onto a baking sheet covered with either a Silpat mat or parchment paper. and bake for 10-12 minutes (until the tops of the cookies are dry and spring back when touched lightly). Remove from baking sheet and cool on racks.

Bon voyage, Clayton, and j’espère que vous avez une grande aventure!

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