Category Archives: Pumpkin

Ultimate Pumpkin Vacation

Is anyone surprised that we’ve already started planning our Fall/”Pumpkin Eatin’ Season” activities?  This year we are planning something big, really BIG!

We’ve spent a couple of month discussing where to go on vacation this year.  Last year we didn’t do a real vacation because we had a tiny little baby to take with us. The small vacation that we did do last year was kind of a disaster.  So, this year we are beyond eager to do something new.

For awhile we talked about doing something small and saving money for a Disney cruise to Alaska.  I have to see Alaska!  It’s numero uno on my bucket list but the price is high and the children are young.  So we decide to kick that can down to the summer of 2019.

We tried to come up with some place cheap but new and exciting. We came up with nothing. Instead, we resigned ourselves to a mediocre summer vacation and dreams of Alaska in 2019 but it just wasn’t enough.

Two months into the vacation “where should we go” discussion, we pulled into the In-N-Out drive-through and somewhere between placing our order and paying for our burgers and “round grilled cheese,” we knew for certain where we were going to go.  We got on our phones and searched Disney Cruise itineraries leaving out of San Diego because not having to fly with a baby and a high-energy child is a big plus.  When we saw a “Halloween on the High Seas” cruise we were immediately S.O.L.D!

Watch the video and see how much pumpkin fun there is to experience.  We can’t wait!

The Great British Baking Show – Pumpkin Edition

Great British Bake Off

While a big chunk of the country has been riveted to the Olympics, I am obsessed with The Great British Baking Show (also known as The Great British Bake Off).  The final episode was a little over a week ago and I am sad to see it gone for another year.

We recently upgraded our cable tv package because we needed more election coverage and with the new baby it became easier to watch tv than to leave the house. Our old cable package did not have the Food Network but it seems like they are still running the same shows that we were watching two years ago.   I’m just not sure if I’m watching reruns or if the shows are “new” but follow the same exact formula as the old shows.

We gave Cupcake Wars another try and found out that we still hate it.  When Food Network first started advertising the show I was super excited but I was also quickly disappointed.  The contestants and the judges are consistently unlikeable and the format of the show is annoying.  The contestants are aggressively confident which only serves to highlight that this is a show about baking CUPCAKES and nothing earth shattering.  I don’t need every show to be NOVA but I want to be told an interesting story or I want to have learned a little something.  Cupcake Wars tells the exact same story every freaking time:  a cupcake store owner REALLY NEEDS the $5000 to expand their business and they also happen to make THE BEST CUPCAKES IN THE WORLD!

The actual cupcake baking part of the show is a hot freaking mess.  I don’t really care if they can bake a cupcake in 5 minutes.  The focus on speed means that the viewer never really gets to see any technique or learn helpful tricks.  As a viewer we just see people panicking and running around the kitchen. Also the “surprise” of giving people tricky ingredients that have to be incorporated into the flavor of the cupcake is SOO OVERPLAYED.

The Great British Baking Show is the polar opposite of Cupcake Wars: the contestants are likeable and humble; judging is on skill, knowledge, and flavors; contestants help each other; the judges are respectful; and it’s simply a good watch. The show is sweet and you end up wondering if maybe the world isn’t such a horrible place after all .  I also end up feeling like I learned a little something.  It is a show where ALL the contestants end up being your favorite because no one ever says “I’m here to win! Not make friends” and none of them think that they are going to “win it all.”  How is everyone so damn likeable?   The show is filmed in a giant tent on Mr. Darcy’s estate (not really but possibly)  with windows that look out on to an amazing garden.  Often times you can see it raining through the windows.  What is better in life than baking delicious treats while it’s pouring rain outside . . . maybe baking delicious treats with your friends while it is raining outside and it feels like every contestant could be your new best friend.

When was the last time you watched a reality show and the producers weren’t trying to make the show something other than a mirror of “reality”?  Maybe season 1 of the Real World?  The show doesn’t put on airs.  It just is what it is: a show about baking and not about “man’s inhumanity to man.” This attitude is also reflected in the prize.  There is no prize other than a nice looking cake stand that says “the Great British Bake Off.”  It doesn’t event say “WINNER of the Great British Bake Off.” As an added bonus there is a strict NO ADVERTISING rule.  You don’t know what brand anything is—not even the oven or the fridge.

And the final reason to watch the show is for the adorable “Rachel Maddowesque” host because all the best tv shows have lesbians in them.

The only thing wrong with this show is that there isn’t enough pumpkin used.  I could only find 3 recipes that use pumpkin at all:

Even if you think that you’ve seen it all, in terms of reality and cooking shows, the Great British Baking Show is a breath of a quaint British garden’s fresh air.

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice K Cups

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I feel like August is autumn’s appetizer.  It’s just a nibble of all the joys that the fall season has to offer.  In August my Pinterest newsfeed starts to fill up with pumpkin recipes and stores are starting to get some pumpkin items shelved.  It’s a welcome transition month.

I even saw a brown leaf fall to the ground and got ridiculously excited because it was a tangible sign that FALL IS COMING!

Last week, we got a small autumn package in the mail from Starbucks.  It was a K-cup caffe latte sampler with pumpkin spice!   There was a caramel one too but who cares and it was not good.  I’m not a huge Starbucks pumpkin coffee lover but the Pumpkin Spice Latte is iconic in the cache of “Pumpkin Eatin’ Season” items.

A quick review is that it was totally drinkable but I would never purchase it and there were lots of grainy bits at the bottom of my mug that were unpleasant to drink.

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Prepare yourself for the onslaught!

Pumpkin All Things

Harry Potter’s Pumpkin Juice

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Not many people have a long pumpkin juice story but I do:

I am a long time Harry Potter fan. When I started reading the books there was only a book# 1 and a book #2.  I had to pace myself and do a lot of waiting.  This was back when J.K. Rowling wouldn’t allow the books to be turned into merchandise.  You couldn’t find a single shirt, pez dispenser, Funko Pop doll,   Hermione Granger American Girl doll clothes, Hufflepuff scarf, or anything else.  There were the books and that was it.  The world of Harry Potter existed on the pages of the books and in your head ONLY.  When the movies came out there started being more Harry Potter stuff but it never looked like I thought it should. I still don’t own anything Harry Potter but the item that I have most wanted is pumpkin juice.

My obsession with this beverage started simply.  I purchased some pumpkin flavored Torani syrup and added it to seltzer water for a pumpkin Italian soda.  That was okay but I didn’t think that the Harry Potter version would taste similarly.  Next, I tried to find some recipes but none of them sounded appealing.  I randomly found some pumpkin juice at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian food court and it was pretty amazing.  I felt like the Smithsonian’s version was the closest that I would ever get and I was satisfied enough to check “drink pumpkin juice” off of my mental bucket list.

When Universal Studios Orlando opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter I just knew that they would have pumpkin juice and so pumpkin juice went back on the bucket list.  It seemed like a far fetched goal; I’d never been to Florida and did not have any plans to go.  5 or 6 years ago a friend of ours went and brought us back a bottle of pumpkin juice.  It was such a cute bottle and it seemed so special that we put it in the fridge with the intention of drinking it on a special day.  It sat in our fridge for a few years.  The day just never seemed special enough or we would forget about it until the fridge was cleaned out and then the cycle would begin again.  Eventually, I looked at the bottle and there was no expiration date so I put it in the freezer where it stayed for many more months.  I realized that we were never going to drink it because it was old enough and had passed the expiration date of our willingness to ingest something that old.  I risked a quick lick of the now frozen pumpkin juice and threw it away.

We eventually did visit Universal Studios Orlando and bought another bottle of pumpkin juice.  Guess what happened!  We brought it home, put it in the fridge, forgot about it and eventually had to throw it away.

A closer Wizarding World of Harry Potter was recently built at Universal Studios Hollywood and so we began the pumpkin juice hunt again.  We got annual passes and visited on the second day of the soft opening.  We intended to get pumpkin juice every time we went but the butterbeer always lured us in first.  While it is yummy, butterbeer is soo sweet that pumpkin juice just never sounded appealing afterwards and we didn’t want to purchase it and take it back to our refrigerator of pumpkin juice doom.  It wasn’t until our 3rd trip that we bought one. We refused to take it home and we drank it right there.

Finally!  I now know that Pumpkin Juice from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter tastes exactly like you think it would.  It’s a little too sweet.  It strangely tastes like pumpkin pie would taste if it was magically turned into a liquid.  The juice itself is a little too thick and textured…almost grainy.  It’s still really good and it’s even almost worth the splurge of $7 but it is certainly worth checking another item off of the mental bucket list. It’s just not super great.

We saved a small amount for me to take home so that I could take pictures.  I later noticed that the Pumpkin Juice from Universal Studios Hollywood does have an expiration date of only a few months.  Both times that we opened the super old Pumpkin Juice from Orlando it smelled fine and the lick from the old pumpkin juice popsicle also tasted fine.  It’s weird that one place would have an expiration date and the others none, right?

Anyway, our fridge is now a little less magical with no pumpkin juice inside but I can now say that I have tasted it and that you should too!

Rating for Pumpkin Juice: Rating of 4

David’s Tea Pumpkin Collection

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The first blog I had, Pumpkin Passion, was solely about my love of pumpkin and pumpkin products.  The blog was inspired by the first blog I ever read, the Candyblog, and it followed the same model of “eat it and then review it.”  It was a nice break from the policy writing that I was doing so much of at work.  Eventually, the pumpkin-eating focus was too restrictive and I wanted to branch out to other topics that I’m interested in and that is how this blog came to be.  I still have a deep love of all things pumpkin and I intend to keep doing reviews here on Pumpkin Pundit.

I have been daydreaming of being the type of person who drinks fancy posh teas in my quiet breakfast nook, in my clean house, while watching raindrops fall quietly on my vegetable garden.  It’s a whole lifestyle that I’ve conjured up around drinking fancy expensive tea.  This fancy tea would surely have been purchased from David’s Tea.  Their tea is ridiculously expensive and I have only tasted it a few times after pilfering my mother’s free samples.

While pumpkin-eating season has dwindled down to a trickle, I was able to snatch some pumpkin items on after Christmas sales.  After Christmas sales can be glorious things and I was able to get the pumpkin matcha and the pumpkin collection for 40% off.  Finally!  My fancy tea dreams were going to come true!

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When the box came, I ripped that sucker open and was a little giddy.  The pumpkin collection came with about 3 oz of each of their pumpkin teas.  As described by their website, there were tins of

  • Spiced Pumpkin–a sweet and comforting blend of pumpkin, honeybush, cinnamon, cocoa and real maple crystals;
  • Pumpkin Maté–a super-energizing yerba mate with butternut squash, pumpkin seeds and warming spices;
  • Pumpkin Chai–which needs no introduction.

The packaging on these teas is beautiful.  I love the colors, the simplicity, the cuteness, and the sweet little pumpkin graphic.  It speaks perfectly to my own aesthetic.  I want to live in a world designed by David’s Teas.  The hoarder in me wanted to keep all the packaging forever but I threw it away after taking the photos.  A David’s Tea world of simplicity would not appreciate such clutter.  I was not able to fulfill my entire tea drinking fantasy (there’s no breakfast nook, house, vegetable garden or silence) but it was a cloudy and rainy day.

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I tried the Spiced Pumpkin first and it was freaking fantastic.  I wanted to ditch the hot water and start spooning the leaves directly into my mouth.  It tastes like refreshing pumpkin candy.  There’s a hint of sweetness but it needs some sugar.  Usually I drink my tea with milk but it really doesn’t need it.  I made it in an orange cup and at first glance I thought that the tea hadn’t steeped at all.  The color is really light.  It’s caffeine free so I drink it all day long.   This is the tea of my breakfast nook fantasies.

The Pumpkin Chai was next.  After a couple of sips, I wasn’t a fan.  It doesn’t taste strongly like the chai teas that I’m use to drinking.  I think that I expected a lot more spice.  I added more sugar and some milk to my cup and that made all the difference.  It went from mediocre to super likeable.  It is only lightly caffeinated.  There are cute little orange pumkinish sprinkles mixed in with the tea leaves that make it look extra festive.

The Pumpkin Mate looks like a strong black tea and it is the most caffeinated out of all the pumpkin teas.   This one is my least favorite of the pumpkin collection.  It doesn’t take much like pumpkin.  It mostly just tastes like an ordinary black tea. Humdrum!

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Lastly is the Pumpkin Pie Matcha.  I became interested in matcha last year while watching Mozart in the Jungle on Amazon.  I totally love that show mostly because the orchestra players are living their dream job but they’re deeply miserable.  It’s an easy and smooth show to watch—if that makes sense.  On the show, the conductor drinks a ton of tea and it’s brought up frequently in the first season.  There’s even a mildly sexy scene all about the making of this tea.  The funny thing is that I thought he was drinking matcha and so I did all this research on how to make a perfect match.  When the second season was released, I realized that he’s drinking an Argentine mate tea, duh!  Anyway, I still like matcha and when I saw that David’s Tea had a Pumpkin Pie Match I wanted it BAD.  At 40% off, it was going to be MINE!

I waited a while to make this one because matcha is fairly strongly caffeinated and caffeine is probably my #1 migraine trigger.  I had been trying to wean myself off of a Christmas season coffee binge.  By the time I finally decided that I was decaffeinated enough, I was still super excited to try it.  My first taste was disappointing but I kept on sipping.  I tried adding some milk and more sugar.  Matcha is supposed to be strongly presweetened but this is the least sweet matcha that I’ve had.  Ultimately, I did not like it and that’s kind of an understatement.  It didn’t taste anything like pumpkin but it did taste like grainy green tea water.  So disappointing!

The Spiced Pumpkin tea will surely be a lifelong favorite and I will stock up heavily during their next sale.  The Pumpkin Matcha, I will try it again as a latte and see if that helps a little but I will more likely be using it in matcha baking recipes that I’ve been stocking up on over at Pinterest.  These matcha donuts sounds promising!  The others, Pumpkin Chai and Pumpkin Mate, will be sipped and enjoyed but I probably wouldn’t purchase them again.

The David’s Tea brand I have swallowed whole-heartedly!

Pumpkin Haul 1

It’s (sort of) here!

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We saw our first pumpkin item of the 2014 Pumpkin Eatin’ Season. Typically the first sighting happens at a craft store in early July but since my crafting well ran dry over the summer we hadn’t seen anything even slightly resembling a pumpkin.

We found this little guy at Disneyland on the first day of August. It was kind of a magical moment. There was nothing else fall/pumpkin in the park but this.  An unobtrusive “remember me?” sign on fall.

Seeing my first pumpkin so late into summer was especially strange because for last few weeks we have been heavily focused on upcoming fall plans.  We’ve already purchased tickets to “Mickey’s Halloween Party” and started working on our costumes.  I have even done some fall baking, a Stout Pound Cake with Roasted Pecans from the Cakelove Cookbook .  The cake was amazing but I had to make a couple substitutions which basically destroyed any chance of getting it out of the bund tcake pan in under 750 pieces.  The cake was a test run for our “Welcome to Fall” party that we usually do the first weekend of September.  Then, there’s our big fall vacation that we’ve been heavily planning over the summer . . . we are going to DISNEYWORLD in November!!! Holy crap I can’t believe it.  It makes me yearn for fall even more that usual.

Seeing this little pumpkin Mickey was extra special because it was a tangible reminder that fall really is coming and there’s no stopping or hurrying it!

Tasted great but looked horrible.

Tasted great but looked horrible.

The 6 cupcakes that I made with leftover batter survived better.

The 6 cupcakes that I made with leftover batter survived better.