Close enough to that time of year

Hey! Suddenly everyone is talking about pumpkin spice, and I’m feeling ignorant — I’ve had pumpkin pie and other sorts of things, but I’ve never gone out of my way to find and consume those heavily advertised pumpkin spice drinks, and now I can’t because they probably add extra virus to them. So does anybody have any recommendations for stuff I can make at home to get into the spirit of the season? I have cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, which is all you really need, right? I suppose proportions and quantity matter. Bonus points for ideas that use coffee or tea. I’m going to try and ingratiate myself with my wife.

What this really means, though, is that it’s time to haul out the giant spider and hang it from the porch, string up the spider lights, and maybe start projecting spider videos on the windows, to appeal to the kiddies, who probably won’t be coming around to our house at Halloween this year because we’re handing out extra virus with our candy. We’ll still make an effort, because needs must.


  1. stroppy says

    I don’t know, I’ve started experimenting with soda bread. It’s easy enough that even a clod like me can make it. You throw in stuff that you think might be interesting and see what happens. It’s fairly forgiving.

  2. jellorat says

    I actually bought pumpkin spice flavored coffee syrup flavoring. I do seek out the mermaid branded drinks this time of year, but didn’t want to get a side of virus, either. Now I can make pumpkin spice hot chocolate at home with it. One full size bottle is enough for years, or a 3 month period of like us, you are obsessive.

  3. says

    The brewery I used to work for makes a pumpkin beer every year and I hated it. It had roasted pumpkin in it but you really don’t get much flavor out of pumpkin. Pumpkin is not a staple crop for good reason. What really set that beer off was the spice. So we called it a pumpkin beer but it was really a pumpkin spice beer. Anyway, I don’t work there any more so I can share the secret recipe. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, (no ginger), cardamon and allspice. If you can toast and crush the whole cardamon seeds instead of buying powder off the shelf it really helps.

    The reason I hated that beer was it was a real pain to make. You’re roasting pumpkin, tossing it in the mash tun clogging up the plumbing with pumpkin bits, toasting and hand grinding the cardamon, and then when all is said and done you have to nuke the hell out of your equipment with hot water and caustic chemicals or everything you produce for the next month is going to have a hint of “pumpkin spice”.

  4. blf says

    A local restaurant specialises in local products, so their menu changes seasonally. For some years now, during the autumn, they have had some form of crème de potiron (the recipe varies most years), frequently served with bacon. To-date, their’s is the only pumpkin-based dish anywhere I’ve can stand… I devour it and then have a very hard time resisting doing an Olivier Twist, « S’il vous plaît monsieur, j’en veux plus ? »

  5. Just an Organic Regular Expression says

    I have cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, which is all you really need, right?

    And cream. And rum. Lots of cream and rum. Especially the rum.

  6. marcoli says

    Drive thru food and coffee is really very safe. So any Starbucks or other coffee house with a drive thru. Dunkin’ donuts… etc. You will either like or detest pumpkin’ spice latte. But its important to discover this about yourself.
    I prefer Chai latte’ but not from Starbucs. We have a chain called Bigbies (not sure of the spelling). They are pretty good at coffee.

  7. LeftSidePositive says

    Seconding, #2, Torani pumpkin spice is sold by the bottle. But I think the je ne se quois of pumpkin spice is cinnamon, nutmeg, and especially allspice. Throw in some cloves if you want. Coffee drinks & the like generally have just the spices and nothing of the pumpkin, whereas breads, cheesecakes, & soups will generally have pumpkin in them (and yes, butternut squash is delicious).

  8. says

    I think you also need allspice.
    I love all of them, and I regularly use lots of spices. I only had a pumpkin spice latte once and it was just was too sweet and I think I’ll just make cake, thank you very much.
    I love pumpkin /squash (one of the more nonsensical distinctions in English. Believe me, we’re totally fine calling all of them “Kürbis”.) I especially love the fact that you can use them in sweet as well as savoury dishes.
    Some 8 or so years ago you’d only get v them here in October and once Halloween was over they’d disappear for a year, but now they’re available most of the year.

  9. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Latest kick I’ve gone on is ginger syrup–very simple to make, and very good in ginger-limeade or gingerbeer (club soda + ginger syrup + sweetening to taste).

    8 oz fresh ginger.
    1-1/4 cups sugar (white, turbinado, or even Splenda works)
    2 tsp cider or rice vinegar
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp cayenne pepper powder (if desired)

    Put it all into a food processor, and pulp the hell out of it until it is just a fairly thick paste. Dump paste into a strainer and let it drain, catching the liquid (which is the syrup. If you want clearer syrup, you can use a layer of cheesecloth. Stir occasionally to keep liquid flowing. When it is dry enough, squeeze remaining pulp to get as much of the liquid out of it as possible. Use in limeade, ginger beer, cocktails (e.g. Moscow mule). I even used it in a banana smoothie… You could try throwing other spices in there as well. I’d bet cinnamon would be good.

  10. unclefrogy says

    I sometime add pumpkin spice to multi-grain pancakes i like to make. OK for a change once in a while.
    There are generally 2 varieties of pumpkins grown. One has been selected for size and color and sturdiness for jack-o-lanterns they are low in sugar content and flavor. the other variety is grown for flavor and sugar content mostly go to pumpkin pie filling manufacturers
    they have begun showing up in retail markets but mostly on a scattered basis.
    look for sugar baby’s if you want to cook them.
    uncle frogy

  11. magistramarla says

    Try this recipe. It might impress Mary.
    I love the flavors of pumpkin spice, but I also find the drink that’s served at Starbucks is way too sweet.
    At least, by making it at home, we can adjust the sweetness.
    They also used to make a chili spiced mocha which my husband was fond of, and I found a good recipe for making that spice mix on Food Network. I now have to keep that spice mix near his coffee grinder at all times.

  12. says

    Just remember: pumpkin spice is so named because it consists of the spices added to pumpkin, not actual pumpkin. There should be a huge difference between “pumpkin-flavored” and “pumpkin spice flavored” — and last year I ran into a couple of chains which, uh, apparently did not realize this.

  13. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    pumpkin Ice cream is suddenly appearing all over around here in N.E. coordinated with Starbucks announcing Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back. dear oh dear oh dear The few pumpkin seeds I planted have all blossomed as male flowers so no Pumpkin fruit in my garden this year, oh well

  14. blf says

    @20, “so no Pumpkin fruit in my garden this year”.

    Whew! That was a close one. Next year, don’t be so reckless, and plant cheeses (or so advises the mildly deranged penguin). She suggests using the winter to build up the fortifications so the cheeses cannot break out of the garden.

  15. christoph says

    I read an article on The Takeout about the prevalence of pumpkin/spice flavored items this time of year. The title of the article was “Stop that. Stop that right now.”

  16. LorrieAnne Miller says

    Make a crustless pumpkin or sweet potato pie and top it with fresh whipped cream. Use less sugar than whatever recipe you use calls for.
    (Crusts are largely empty calories, so skip it.)

  17. Rob Grigjanis says

    My (Latvian) granny used to make marinated cubes of pumpkin that were quite delicious. I think they were called ķirbīt, but Google translate says that just means squash. There are probably recipes online.

  18. says

    I’ve stopped using spices in my pumpkin pie. I sweeten it with maple syrup instead. (I live in the #1 syrup-producing region. No, not Vermont. Québec.) It has enough of a complex flavour (if you use a good quality grade.)

  19. Craig says

    It appears there’s a drive-through Starbucks in Alexandria, MN. Granted, I wouldn’t drive an hour to get Starbucks, but I find it amusing that one of your options is to drive through the town of Starbuck.