A couple of weekends ago, my roommate and I both decided to take a plans-free Sunday as an opportunity to get out of the city. So we took a little day trip up to the Massachusetts/Vermont border for the Fresh Grass festival at MASS MoCA. It was a long drive both ways, but since my sister was lucky (and ridiculously intelligent) enough to go to Williams for her undergrad years, I’ve done that road trip many times before–and it’s a beautiful one. We were a few weeks too early to really experience the Berkshires at their autumn best, but the scenery was still gorgeous.
I’m not super familiar with bluegrass music, but it was still an awesome time, and MASS MoCA is seriously the coolest space ever. It was also freezing–we should have remembered that fall reaches New England much more quickly than the city, and doubly so in the mountains! I managed to snag the last cup of vegan quinoa chili from one of the food vendors, and basically inhaled it to stay warm.
Again, it was a quick trip–we were only at the venue for a few hours–but we arrived back in Brooklyn that night with our lungs full of fresh mountain air and our wanderlust quelled for the time being. I’m admittedly already antsy to travel again–it probably doesn’t help that I didn’t stay in one place last spring for longer than five days at a time. I will be going to Florida in a few weeks for a family wedding, but other than that, I’m staying put for awhile. Although, there have been whispers around our place of going apple picking…
I have here one of those serendipitous recipes that just seemed like a simple idea to put together but exceeded all expectations. I was quickly reminded that cinnamon as a savory spice is unexpectedly fantastic. And guess what? Pumpkin puree makes a great marinade. Cinnamon and fresh herbs make a great air freshener. And as the chill in the air becomes more pronounced, this recipe is a great excuse to crank up the oven and celebrate the harvest.
P.S. This is already on my Thanksgiving menu.
Pumpkin Baked Acorn Squash with Cinnamon and Fresh Herbs
½ cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup vegetable broth
2 tsp miso
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce (low sodium)
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
handful each of fresh sage leaves and fresh rosemary, chopped
1 cup white mushrooms, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 acorn squash, sliced
In a small bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, broth, miso, garlic, soy sauce, cinnamon, and fresh herbs until combined.
Chop the mushrooms, carrots, and acorn squash and put them in a large bowl. Pour the pumpkin mixture over the vegetables and toss, so everything is evenly coated. Transfer the entire mixture to a baking pan, laying out as evenly as possible, sprinkle with pepper, and loosely cover with aluminum foil.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 30-35 minutes, checking periodically and stirring the mixture. Remove and serve.
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This next recipe is also kind of a happy accident. I set out with the intention of creating healthier Rice Krispie Treats that included pumpkin to be in the Halloween spirit. Instead I got a delicious, healthier version of a chewy bar. And it’s all spiced up for this time of year. No added sugar, gluten free, and absolutely vegan. Sticky, chewy, and delicious. For kiddies and grown-ups alike
Pumpkin Peanut Butter Chewy Bars
6 cups puffed cereal
1 tbsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup brown sugar
½ cup date syrup* or agave
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp vanilla
Line a 13×9 inch pan with wax paper. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring all of the wet ingredients except for the vanilla to a simmer, stirring to make sure it doesn’t stick to the edges.
Let simmer, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour over the cereal/spice mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Scoop the mixture into the prepared pan and flatten with a spatula. Let cool completely, and then transfer to the freezer, covered, until completely firm. Slice and serve.
*To make date syrup, soak a container of pitted dates in water for a few hours or overnight. Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.