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Pull out pumpkin to drive off fall blues, blahs

Those bright orange pumpkins are everywhere you look - front porches, beside rail fences, in huge bins at markets, in all sizes. A joyous welcoming to a coming holiday and all the beauties of another fall.

How can we not feel happy when some of those pumpkins greet us with those big toothless wide grins?

And in this pumpkin-time of the year, we soon will say goodbye to daylight savings time - Nov. 1 to be exact. Many feel unhappy about this change, but perhaps a new way of thinking about the days ahead will help to make a smoother transition into the fall.

Experts say to get as much exposure to natural light as possible. Just an hour a day of sunlight will enhance your attitude and lift your spirits. Turn on the radio or play an instrument; music helps with the winter woes since it can improve mood, memory and even sleep quality.

And think positively; this will give you a sense of purpose and add meaning to your life. And while you doing all those good things, pull out a can of pumpkin and bake something in keeping with the season.

Start that Nov. 1 Sunday with these:

PUMPKIN-WALNUT FLAPJACKS

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

3/4 cup canned pumpkin

4 large eggs, separated and at room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 1/3 cups cake flour

1 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (mix 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon cloves)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

butter

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Whisk buttermilk, pumpkin, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in medium bowl to blend; whisk in melted butter. Whisk flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl to blend. Add dry ingredients to buttermilk mixture and whisk to combine.

Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Fold whites into batter.

Lightly butter heavy large skillet set over medium heat. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto skillet; cook until bubbles form on top, about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn flapjacks over and cook until second side is brown, about 1 minute. Transfer flapjacks to plates. Sprinkle with nuts and serve with pure maple syrup. Makes about 14.

FAT-FREE, SUGAR-FREE,SALT-FREE

PUMPKIN MUFFINS

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons nonfat powdered milk

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup raisins

1/3 cup buttermilk

2 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup apple juice concentrate

1 cup pumpkin

Mix flour, powdered milk, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and raisins together. In separate bowl, mix buttermilk, egg whites, vanilla, apple juice concentrate and pumpkin. Mix with dry ingredients until just combined. Fill 12 greased muffin cups about 3/4 full and bake in preheated 350-degree oven about 20-25 minutes.

This is the time of year I begin to bake pumpkin breads - wonderful to eat and share with friends at Thanksgiving time. Pumpkin breads and other quick nut and fruit breads are ideal candidates to freeze now for holiday giving. After removing each loaf from the baking pan, let cool on a rack. Then enclose the loaf in a plastic freezer bag and freeze. These can be stored in freezer for 3-4 months.

DOTTY'S PUMPKIN BREAD

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cloves

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups pumpkin

1 cup oil

3 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup raisins

ORANGE GLAZE

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest

6 teaspoons orange juice

chopped nuts

In medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine pumpkin, oil, sugar and eggs; mix until well blended. Add dry ingredients and mix well. By hand, stir in the walnuts and raisins. Divide batter between two greased loaf pans. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven 50-55 minutes or until it tests done. Cool in pans 15 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely.

Make orange glaze by combining sugar, orange zest and orange juice in small bowl; stir with spoon to blend. Spoon over top of cooled loaves, letting glaze run down sides. Sprinkle with additional nuts before glaze hardens.

And for dessert this time of year, what could be better than

PUMPKIN CHIFFON PIE

CRUST:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup melted butter

Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter until crumbs are damp. Press mixture on the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch pie plate. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven eight minutes. Cool on wire cake rack before filling.

FILLING:

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

3 eggs, divided

3/4 cup milk

1 1/4 cups pumpkin

1/3 cup sugar

Combine brown sugar, gelatin, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a saucepan. Combine egg yolks and milk. Stir into brown sugar mixture. Let stand a few minutes. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat.

Stir in pumpkin. Chill until mixture mounds slightly when spooned, about 1 hour. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating to form stiff peaks.

Fold pumpkin mixture thoroughly into egg whites. Turn into graham-cracker crust. Chill until firm.

Take the time to make some pumpkin breads or pies and share them with others. It will make you as happy as those pumpkins look on front porches about town.

Reach Marian Platt at 683-4691 or mlplatt@olypen.com.

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