Fall is my favorite time of year, and according to our unscientific poll on ConwayWeather.com, many of you agree with me. 

There is just something about this time of year. The changing colors on the trees, the cooling weather, football season, the smell of wood smoke and the rapidly approaching holiday season just makes me feel more chipper. 

I love Halloween; it is one of my favorite holidays because of the sheer childish joy of it all. I’m not a terribly big fan of candy, but I love the holiday itself. My cousin and I always loved it; we would plan our costumes well ahead of time and discuss our plans. Things like when we returned from trick or treating we would have a bon fire and roast marshmallows and hot dogs and enjoy the chilly air chased away by the bon fire while we told or listened to ghost stories that left us checking under our beds afterwards. 

There were also fall festivals or parties we attended that we couldn’t wait to come again the following year. 

Following Halloween is Thanksgiving, which everyone – even dieters – can’t seem to resist the goodies on that one day. And of course it is the kickoff of the Christmas shopping season, once Santa passes by in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade we are already planning for Christmas. 

This is just a great time to me; fall for me means the three F’s in my household, family, football and food. I’ve also noticed that people tend to be in better spirits for the most part and baking and cooking hearty meals and yummy sweets seems to start being the office gossip. 

Things can be heard like, "Oh my aunt so and so makes the best cookies..." or chili or stew or dessert bread and so on. This is not "women" talk either; men get into the act too talking about their favorite foods as well. 

Fall foods tend to be comfort foods, things that make us think of holidays and special relatives we may not see that often. Children become more and more excited too with the prospect of hayrides and Halloween parties and the whole family getting together for Thanksgiving. This gets their parents in a good mood because their children are so happy. And since winter begins on Dec. 21, usually it is still fall for school Christmas parties or concerts, and normally it is still technically fall that golden day before Christmas break begins when they are just ready to burst waiting for that final day’s bell. 

When anyone talks about the fall season, it evokes thoughts of the colors of the changing leaves, the crisp air and the smell of cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg. Fruits like apples and gourds like pumpkins come to mind as well, with their own colors matching the colors of the season.

So in light of all this, I thought I would share a pumpkin bread recipe. 

Tam’s Pumpkin Bread

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree

4 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup applesauce

2/3 cup water

2 cups white sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Optional additions can be: 

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans 

Or 1 cup mini chocolate chips 

Or 1 cup of raisins pre-soaked in boiling water or apple juice and drained well. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, applesauce, water and sugars until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Add any of the optional additions to the recipe, careful not to over mix; just distribute them throughout the mixture. Pour into the prepared pans. Bake for about 50 minutes. 

Use the toothpick test to check for doneness. The toothpick should come out clean. If you used chocolate chips it may come out with melted chocolate on it, test again in another spot.