Because it's so easy to use canned pumpkin, I've always considered pumpkin to be more of an all-year-round food, but there is no doubt that interest in pumpkin-based desserts begins to grow in September. At this time, most people aren't willing to make a full pie, but pumpkin breads and muffins somehow feel more acceptable once days are in the 80s rather than the 90s and Starbucks begins selling its pumpkin spice lattes and muffins. I don't even drink Starbucks coffee but I still know that they have begun promoting their fall-flavored menu items. I have picked this up through some form of cultural osmosis, just like I learned that everyone has to have pumpkin pie and turkey on Thanksgiving.
It actually wasn't until I started reading food-related blogs and message boards online that I learned that not everyone likes pumpkin. I loved pumpkin pie as a kid but pretty much the only desserts I didn't like were Smarties, Jell-O, those little dots on wax paper, and strawberry ice cream. Because it was an integral part of the Thanksgiving meal, pumpkin pie was a reliable dessert. No one could deny me pumpkin and call themselves an American. I had a right to expect pumpkin pie. Truly, pumpkin pie is a far more all-American dessert than apple pie, and if you've ever gone to Europe and tried to order pumpkin pie, you know what I mean.
I've since learned that some people dread pumpkin season. I don't quite understand that. Not only is pumpkin a wonderful vehicle for graham crackers, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, allspice, and other homey flavors, it's also one of the few dessert ingredients that is high in vitamins and low in antioxidants.
But then again it's almost impossible to understand how other people experience taste. I could never understand as a kid how anyone could truly not want dessert--and the more frosting on the cake, the better. Now I don't understand how people can hate vegetables--pumpkin included. I suppose that's why picky eaters, people who are gluten-free, vegetarians, vegans, teetotalers, and people with food allergies and intolerances are viewed with such hostility. No one can REALLY believe that you don't care for their particular passion. It's like saying you hate someone's favorite kind of music.
One thing I have noticed about pumpkin recipes are their variety. While most muffin recipes have a certain homogeneity to them, pumpkin recipes are like snowflakes. Every one is slightly different. Because pumpkin is so moist, it's very forgiving and brings out the creativity in cooks, from the standard Libby's pumpkin recipe off the can to take-your-pick from the All Recipes database.
This is just a good, easy pumpkin recipe. One of its great virtues is that it uses a whole 15-ounce (small) can of packed pumpkin, so you aren't irritated by any 'leftover' that you have to freeze. (Who really uses the half-cup of leftover pumpkin puree when making pumpkin muffins?).
Pumpkin Raisin Muffins
--yields 18-24 large or 24-30 small muffins--
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 small can (15 ounces) of pumpkin puree
2 large, beaten eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup raisins
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tin with desired number of liners.
2. Sift flour, sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt together.
3. Incorporate pumpkin, eggs, oil, milk, and vanilla. Fold in dry mixture, followed by raisins.
4. Bake 30 minutes for small muffins, 35-40 minutes for large muffins, until toothpick can be extracted clean.