The Return of Fall

Friday was just a pumpkin-y day.  And now that it's no longer 90+ degrees and humid, it finally feels like fall again.  So we celebrated with some apple picking!
NES and I tried a new orchard this year.  I know where we'll be going next year.  It was a great farm.  It took us about 10 minutes to pick a peck of apples.  Seriously.  The branches were just loaded.
It was also super quiet, since, well, it had just stopped raining.  From the second storm of the day.  This was my car during the first one.  It rained just a little.
There will be apple crisp coming soon!
It's amazing that even with school starting, it takes a couple of weeks for fall to really settle in.  I know it's not technically fall yet, but there is a point in early September when it just feels like fall.  Just like part of May and the beginning of June feel like summer.

I'm sure football helps that.  In high school, it was marching band and high school football.  Now, it's watching the NFL games with my husband, who plays fantasy football, and thus watches as many games as possible.  And who can watch football without nachos?  With homemade pulled pork this time, even!
We also had visitors this weekend!  Mom, dad and Mimi were here to enjoy fall wanderings, lunch on the water, and ice cream!
Fall also means apple cider donut ice cream!!  Yes!!
But on Friday, I just had to pull out the pumpkin.

I'd stopped making granola as often in the summer.  I don't know if it was the chaos of studying or not wanting the oven on, but I hadn't made granola since May or June.  That's a long time for me.
So, it was time for pumpkin granola.  Not to mention the fact that I was mysteriously becoming dissatisfied with the cereal I'd been eating all summer.  I guess it was just time.
And then, I couldn't stop there.  I had 2/3 of a can of pumpkin sitting in the fridge.  There were ideas percolating on how to use it.

I feel like I keep mysteriously referring to the homemade chai I've been making.  I always plan on writing a post about it, and it just never seems to happen.  So here goes.  Except I've already tampered with the recipe.  I guess I need to eventually go back and post about the original.  Or you can go find it here.  
I figured I'd try adding pumpkin.  And leaving out the orange zest.  And use maple syrup instead of honey.  I told you, it was a pumpkin day.

I ended up straining out most of the pumpkin since my strainer was so fine.  Which was not ideal.  I ended up with lots of gross looking pumpkin-mixed-with-spices.  I did have a little bit of pumpkin from one of the strainings that didn't have any chunks in it, and I added it to the mixture.  I'm glad I did.  I am not sure it'd have much pumpkin flavor otherwise.
I also usually cut down on the sugar, but I figured I would try it with the  full amount, since I didn't want bitter pumpkin.
I will say, the spices for this chai are a somewhat expensive investment up front, but they last for quite a few bottles!  It's totally worth it.

Pumpkin Chai Concentrate
adapted from A Wooden Nest

4 1/2 cups water
1 stick cinnamon
1 approx. 3 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
7 cardamom pods
2 star anise pods
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
10 bags of black tea
1/2 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. vanilla

Collect your spices and tea, and prepare them.

Bring the water to a boil.  Remove from heat.

Add all spices, the tea, the sugar, syrup, pumpkin and vanilla.  Stir well.

Allow to steep for 15 minutes.

Pour through a fine (but not too fine) strainer.  Ideally, you want the pumpkin to go through and the pods, tea bags, and ginger, etc. to stay in the strainer.  If not, separate out some pumpkin without any pieces in it, and add to the liquid.

Allow to cool and pour into a jar.

To serve: I use about 1 part chai to 2 parts milk.  Shake the concentrate well before serving.  Can be served cold or hot.


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