If I would measure the popularity of pumpkin foods at my house, I'd put roasted pumpkin seeds at the top!

Yes, I make a great pumpkin pie and this year perfected a pumpkin cookie recipe, but the hottest item in my kitchen this time of year is the jar filled with seasoned pumpkin seeds. Long after they are gone, I will only have pumpkin frozen in containers as a reminder.

After the holiday season passes, I tend to forget them as they shift down to the bottom and back of the freezer. A new crop of pumpkins makes me realize it's time to use up the old ones.

Pumpkin cookies came to my thoughts a week ago as I decided I should try that recipe from last year once again. I reminded myself to add some cream cheese frosting this time, like my former coworker Chad had suggested.

I had made a note to add an extra half-cup of flour to the batter. And although the batter seemed very thick, after trying a test cookie in the oven, I realized the extra flour was needed. Instead of raisins I put in dried cranberries (still on that cranberry kick) and topped them off by lightly frosting them with a cream cheese frosting thinned with a bit of milk.

I took one container of them to work on Election Day and it was suggested they were "elect Tyrel" cookies. I hadn't thought of it that way, and not many of those who ate the cookies actually lived in Eyota, where my son, Tyrel, was running for mayor.

He won, but I don't think it was the cookies that did it.

I haven't roasted my thick-fleshed pumpkins for this year's supply of mashed pumpkin yet, but that is coming. I did carve six pumpkins for Halloween and roasted two batches of seeds. They are gone, and more are being requested.

So you can try them; here's the way I make them:

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Freshly harvested pumpkin seeds

Sea salt

Olive oil

Garlic salt

Cumin

Chili powder

Cut open a pumpkin and scrape out the insides, then separate the seeds from the stringy orange gunk. Rinse the seeds in a colander. Fill a saucepan with water, lightly salt and add the pumpkin seeds. Heat to boiling then let it simmer for five minutes or so. Pour back through your colander (after cleaning it) to drain.

Heat oven to about 250 degrees. Spread seeds on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush seeds lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic salt, chili powder and a small amount of ground cumin. Place in oven for about an hour or until the seeds are dry. Take out the pan after about 20 to 30 minutes to stir and brush with additional olive oil and sprinkle on more seasonings, if needed. After removing from the oven, let them cool in the pan, then store them in a covered jar.



Fall has taken its course and now that my tender plants outside are dead, most of my gardening is happening inside my house. I haven't harvested the last of my Brussels sprouts yet, although I have eaten a few. The last survivors in the cabbage family are holding out, in spite of a series of frosts.

My husband and I were back up to the lake, but found it was really quiet there. However, we enjoyed the peacefulness. While those back home were enjoying a warm Saturday, we had a cool, wet day, but still enjoyed our time away.

I will admit that initially after arriving, I almost panicked thinking I didn't have any real projects to occupy my time. Actually, I did have one I'd brought along and oddly, that was all I needed.

We had an extra day to spend there with the Veterans' Day weekend. While shopping in Hayward on Saturday I found some blaze orange vests I thought we should wear when out walking, even along the road. I thought gun season for deer hunting had started, but we were actually there a week early.

However, on Sunday when we walked, I felt much safer clothed in orange, than I had felt the day before on our morning walk.

On Saturday, I started working on my project, which involved sorting through a big pile of recipes printed on paper or cut from publications. A year ago I had found a three-ring binder, and bought tabbed page dividers and clear plastic page covers. I'd planned to organize a loose stack of recipes from my kitchen into a compiled recipe book.

Instead of digging through the stack for a certain recipe, I would be able to turn to the page where it would likely be found. Yet, last year, I never found the time to do it. Now the project is nearly done. It took a couple hours one evening to sort through and pile the recipes according to similar ingredients or types and more time the next day to compile pages under plastic.

Now the pages are filled, I just need to write on the tabs. Oh, I actually ran out of time on a weekend when I thought I had nothing to do.

We watched three movies, enjoyed our usual NPR radio listening and I started reading a novel. As yet, we have no TV or Internet up there, but are now considering the possibilities of dish or cable access. Both are available on our lake. I'd like Internet and my husband is a regular TV watcher. In spite of not having either, we've enjoyed three seasons up there already. Once we get them, it probably won't ever be quite the same as now.

Simple is good - it even helps get projects completed.



Fall Pumpkin Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup canned or home-processed pumpkin (If it was frozen, be sure to put it in a fine sieve to drain off excess moisture before measuring it.)

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cup quick or old-fashioned oats

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

3/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries

Heat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease baking sheets. Beat butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a large mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla; mix well. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a sifter. Sift into bowl with butter mixture, add oats, and mix well. Stir in nuts and dried cranberries or raisins. Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes or more until cookies are firm and lightly browned. Cool on baking sheet a couple minutes, then remove to wire racks.

After cool, spread lightly with frosting:

Beat together 3 ounces cream cheese, 1/4-cup butter and 1-teaspoon vanilla. Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar. Then add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until a desired spreading consistency is achieved. Fall colored sugar sprinkles can be added to decorate once the cookies have been frosted. Allow frosting to harden before packaging the cookies. Use wax paper between layers of cookies.