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Autumnal Gifts - and favorite pumpkin recipes

Fresh eggs from hens Fiona, Molly and Mona, on Cape Cod.
A new friend, gentlewoman farmer Catherine, with eggs from hens Fiona, Molly and Mona.

The bittersweet, textured beauty of Autumn has always gripped my heartstrings, pulling me in deeper, connecting with some invisible part of me, so much more so than Spring. Much more so than summer's flirtatious pleasures. And Winter, well. She is a dark and icy mistress. That relationship has always been complicated. So unlike my truly, madly deeply love of Fall.

And here am I. In L.A... Where Fall is just a pumpkin spice latte.

Los Angeles is without an Autumn. I know apologists who claim there is seasonal change (deciduous leaves do transform here- from dry green to crispy brown, sometime before Thanksgiving). But there is no Yankee eruption of brilliance- no reds, golds and coppery oranges. There is no softened, morning skyline heavy with balsam scented mist. Ardent Angelenos do not seem to bristle with three digit heat in October (it was 106ºF yesterday). They do not seem to crave L.L. Bean flannel shirts and cotton turtlenecks, like I do. Flip flops and tank tops are year round fashion choices. Along with hair dye, tanning lotions and injectables that promise eternal Spring. Los Angeles is a town of perpetual 21. In platform heels.

There are weeks (months?) on end I do not see a single woman sporting natural gray hair like mine. Never mind a natural neck- or- well. You know. That's another story. You get the picture. Not only do I feel invisible in sexualized So-Cal culture, I feel irrelevant, and bored. Restless. And unconnected. Year-round summer feels shockingly dull. Artificial. And uninspiring.

So I took my husband on a trip.

We spent a week on Cape Cod (my old stomping grounds, for decades). And I ate up every minute with a spoon. I spent entire days outside, wandering, hiking, drinking in the sea air, the peace and solitude, the creativity of the community (artists and writers, gardeners, crafters, gentlewomen farmers and furniture makers). Strong, independent women with silver streaked hair, and natural beauty that had never known a dermatologist's needle. Women not focused on a mirror. But focused on their curiosity. On creating something with their hands. Their spirit. It was grounding. And enlightening.

And it felt like home.

New Englander Ralph Waldo Emerson said, What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.

Not to wax too geo-pious, but New England does infuse your blood by birth. It roots you to its culture, its distinct sensibility. Its Yankee eye for simple elegance. An appreciation for patina. For thoughtfulness.

For me, my rural New England beginning fostered a life-long love of books. Music. Antiques. Landscape painting. Simple nourishing food. Walking in the woods. Quiet rather than noise.

Show rather than tell.

Autumn Light in Provincetown, Cape Cod by Karina Allrich

Cape Cod farm stand with corn and pumpkins by Karina Allrich
Cape Cod corn gives way to pumpkin season.

Karina's Best

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Recipes

(so far...)

One of the loveliest gifts of the fall season is a humble, orange squash we in the United States know simply as pumpkin. Earthy and unobtrusive, pumpkin's mild butternut flavor pairs beautifully with warming autumn spices. Ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and cloves all cozy up to pumpkin, especially when sweetened with brown sugar or maple syrup.

Here are my favorite gluten-free pumpkin recipes- for my very favorite season. Fall. In no particular order ...

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Pumpkin Pie Bread

Pumpkin Quinoa Cookies

Frosted Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin Cake with Maple Frosting

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Scones with Nutmeg Icing

Easy Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie with Praline and Coconut-Almond Crust

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin Sweet Potato Soup

Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Pumpkin Crumb Cake

Pumpkin Waffles

Mexican Pumpkin Soup with Black Beans and Lime 

Gluten-Free Goddess Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
Karina's Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Here is a handful of photographs taken with my iPhone, capturing the unassuming, quiet beauty of Cape Cod. I was after the mood, the soft and ambient light, the spirit of place- and not merely the obviously scenic (the Cape is abundant in post card worthy beauty). I shy away from brilliant blue marinas and sparkling white sailboats. I gravitate toward dusk-lit dunes and wind swept grasses, wild paths and thickets. We walked meandering, wooded trails in Ashumet Reservation and Nickerson State Park. We took in the weathered villages of Wellfleet and Sandwich, soaked up inspiration in Provincetown and Orleans, and stood in the foggy rain to photograph marshes in West Barnstable. I shot hundreds and hundreds of photographs.

I offer just a taste here, along with a round-up of my favorite pumpkin recipes, because I feel compelled to excavate and share this piece of me, this urge, this devotion that keeps calling me back.

The Cape is my True North, it seems.

And I am taking the long way home.

Fall morning in Orleans, Cape Cod by Karina Allrich

First Taste of Autumn on Cape Cod by Karina Allrich

Lemon Sky at Skaket Beach, foggy Cape Cod morning by Karina Allrich

Autumn at Skaket Beach, Cape Cod by Karina Allrich

Soft, autumn morning, with fog- Cape Cod- by Karina Allrich

Freshly dug potatoes, Cape Cod by Karina Allrich


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  1. Ooooohhh!!! I want to make the soup!

  2. Come home to New England. We have room for you here!

  3. I lived in LA for three years, and it has taken me 13 years to get over the experience. I'm an East Coaster by birth, and I absolutely understand your love of autumn. There is so much about the waning of the year, the sweet smell of decay, and harvest. Hoping that you were able to bottle some of that and take it home.

  4. Hi K,
    So happy that you came "home" and were able to soak up some of the beauty, inspiration and beautiful light. It has been so foggy and murky this week, yet, the light is still more beautiful than anywhere I've ever known. There is a freshness in the air, as well.
    Nice to know you were here, and your photos do say so much!

  5. Glad you visited Wellfleet, my home. The Cape is a stunning place and one that has drawn me back time after time. I have made forays into other places but always return. Folks don't ask what you do (as in where do you work) as the first question when meeting you. It's more like what do you DO. About as far from superficial as you can get. And I say yes to that.

  6. Dawn10:20

    Beautiful pictures! I REALLY like your Pumpkin Spice Bars with Brown Sugar Frosting.

  7. Anonymous10:35

    It is clearly fall here in Vermont. Yesterday we ate the best delicata squashes ever tasted - bought from the lovely gentle woman farmer at the farmer's market. I am right with you. Looking forward to the pumpkin recipes.

  8. Anonymous12:36

    Even though I now live in the beautiful PacNW, for a while in my far distant youth, I lived in the Hudson Valley of upstate NY...Rural, gorgeous and full of abundant change in each season...My time there did infuse my sensibilities and whenever I need grounding, I crack open a bottle of 'real maple syrup' from Vermont, make pancakes (gluten-free of course *_*), reread 'Little Women' and for few precious hours I am taken back to a place I love...Even though you live in LA, you can surround yourself with bits of things that feed your soul...I do that with music...My darling daughter laughs at my Celtic collection of folk tunes but I catch her foot tapping now and again and feel vindicated...Sending warm, leafy NE hugs from one real woman to another..Take care Karina

  9. You are so right. No better time of the year than Fall. I wait all year for the sights, the SMELLS! I soak up the colors hoping they will last until next year.

  10. I grew up in L.A., moved away - lived in Ohio for 4 years (but didn't appreciate it all), came back - and am SO HAPPY to NOT be living in So Cal anymore now! Too many people... too many - well, you described it to a "T", so not necessary to get back into it again. Just went on a 10-day road trip to the east a few weeks ago, just as the leaves were beginning to turn. It is so BEAUTIFUL there! We live in Wyoming where we get autumn in about a 1-week period, and then we get 10 months of winter. I would love to try living in the east...

  11. I completely agree with you! Once you've experienced the magic of fall it becomes a part of you. Living in Michigan, we have the luxury of 4 seasons and Fall is their crowning glory. Thanks for sharing. :)

  12. The leaves have "peaked" here in the western mountains of all the talk is about how much snow we will have this winter. I LOVE the seasons! I thought fall was nice in the Mid-Atlantic where I grew up, but nothing beats a New England fall. You're right! Thanks so much for your always-thoughtful writing.

  13. You should drive up to the central coast. Up here in the Santa Ynez Valley it's beautiful with the yellow/brown hues of the hills set with dark green grape vines and the huge oak trees everywhere. Very pretty.

  14. Your website is amazing. I love pumpkin. I made your pumpkin soup is it was delightful! I am new to gluten free. Thank you!

  15. Thank you for a peaceful glimpse into your journey of life!

  16. Anonymous00:38

    I am a native Northern Californian transplanted to the beaches of Los Angeles 40 years ago. The pull of the fall is not to be ignored, went to Quebec last year and Chicago this year. Cape Cod may be next year. Thank you for the beautiful pictures and evocative musings.

  17. What a gorgeous post! As a Boston-bred girl whose father's business was on the Vineyard, I have to say - you captured it perfectly.

  18. Denise11:27

    Lovely photos. ..and I know what you mean about the place of your birth & youth being like a true North in your life. I'm from Oregon and I feel this way about the Pacific NW too.

  19. I think it is time for me to roast a giant pumpkin and try a bunch of recipes. Thanks for the round-up.

  20. I found myself in tears by the end of your post...Connecticut own love affair with the East coast for 40 years came to an end when I moved to the desert of AZ......and now 15 years later I read your words that so eloquently express all that I have been missing......all that I long for. Beautiful post.

  21. DebNY01:07

    I too am from the Hudson Valley, NY, area. The autumn has always been my favorite, and is just taking off her in October. The most incredible colors of gold, burnished reds, yellows and vibrant pink leaves fill me with awe, but especially when framing the steel blues and green of the mighty Hudson River, which winds through some of the most scenic drives in New York State. This area is rich with history and color in the fall. Your pumpkin muffins will be the perfect thing to take along on my annual fall drives. Thanks. Love your website. Be well.

  22. Anonymous08:12

    I loved your thoughtful writing on the 'real' life in other parts of the country compared to life in LA. I was born in LA and luckily my parents moved to northern CA when I was a wee babe where I grew up. I eventually ended up in the Blue Ridge mountains of VA where life is also down to earth and 'real'. I have natural gray hair and skin beginning to sag from age. It's all OK as long as my body is healthy and I enjoy an active life. LA can keep it's superficial attitudes. I'm sorry that you have to live there. You need to refuel more often with trips home where people and daily life is honest and 'real'. I love your writing on all subjects.

  23. Thank you for such a wonderful tour of Cape Cod! When I was growing up, we lived in upstate NY and vacationed at Cape Cod. As an adult, I've lived all over the country but spend quite a few years in VT, and I so miss the gorgeously-colored autumns.

    Blessings from another woman who lives joyfully with the gray hair God gave me!


  24. what a great post! i can't wait to try so many of these recipes! yuM!

  25. Pumpkin is by far and by large one of my most favourite vegetables. I cannot WAIT to try your pumpkin streusel muffins!

  26. I adore everything about this post, especially the picture of the hands and eggs. And the one of the spuds {what good Irish girl can't appreciate a spud?!}. I love your vacation and now I have to go to Cape Cod :-}

  27. I moved from the Midwest to the LA area 10 years ago. I remember being surprised that they had so many "pumpkin patches" in the area at Halloween time... until I found out that they didn't actually grow the pumpkins in the "patches", they're more like street carnivals. LOL. Now I live in Anchorage, AK, and it's winter already...

  28. You are beautiful, and if your state-of-residence makes you feel otherwise, it has no soul.

  29. Pumpkin is one of my absolute FAVORITE ingredients! Thanks for the delicious list of yumminess! :D

  30. Anonymous12:09

    I grew up in LA, then at 19 moved to Philadelphia for three years. I never "knew" Autumn until then. Being back in the west now for many years, I crave it still. I yearn for that crisp cold air, the beautiful colors, and the scent is like none other. Thank you for reminding me! I need to take a trip back.

  31. Awesome post Karina! I have been online looking at Cape Cod vacation rentals trying to plan a vacation. That's one of the main things I love about Cape Cod, all the delicious recipes and food. Thank you for sharing this with us!


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