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Rushing the season

August 16, 2019
By JOYCE COMINGORE ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

What is that smell in the summer breeze? Pumpkin spice lattes, muffins and candles - prepare ye the way for fall. A certain drink company is releasing its Pumpkin Spice Latte earlier than normal, by August 27, because it is a popular drink and reminder of coming attractions. By Halloween, we will be reminded of all things Christmas, almost ignoring Thanksgiving. August is normally our hottest month of the year.

We haven't even had crisp air and turning, painted foliage. The blend of cinnamon, clove, ginger, vanilla, all-spice, nutmeg, sometimes pumpkin, gives us a yearning for a drink that costs more than a cup of coffee. Even though our seasons are getting warmer and hotter, a drink first introduced in 2003, has now become the harbinger of falling leaves and changing of the season.

Its fragrance reminds us of childhood days when mothers baked fall and Thanksgiving desserts, a reminder of tradition and family. It was said, "in the Western world, the aroma of pumpkin spice immediately transports people to all the warm and friendly times associated with pumpkin pie, holiday gatherings, families, celebrations, treats, sweets things that childhood memories are made of, that is why pumpkin spice latte is trendy." Really a comforter.

I set about finding - how to make a pumpkin spice latte. I have the pumpkin pie spice, but if you don't, here are the ingredients. Have a small glass jar to store it in first, then mix 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon with 2 teaspoons of ground ginger, 1 teaspoon of ground cloves and 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg. Store in the airtight jar placed by the spices.

The drink can be made on the stove top, in a microwave, or a slow cooker. For a simple latte, use 2 cups of milk, 2 tablespoons of pumpkin puree (make sure you are using pure pumpkin and not the pie blend that contains added ingredients), 1-3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of pie spice, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1/2 cup of strong-brewed coffee or espresso, whipped cream is optional.

Combine milk, pumpkin puree and sugar in a 2-quart saucepan, whisk in puree and sugar. Whisk until puree is completely blended. Heat until milk starts to steam, stirring constantly, don't let it come to a boil. Add pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract and strong coffee. Whisk it all together, a blender makes it frothy. Divide between two mugs, topping with whipped cream and a dash of pie spice. Enjoy your own latte.

Nothing says fall like the Cucurbitaceae family, the Latin name for gourds, squash and pumpkins, the ground covering vines that fruit in the fall. Cucurbitaceae is to fall as snow is to winter.

The difference between gourds, squash and pumpkins is, a pumpkin you can carve, squash you can cook (thus eat), small gourds you can look at, dried, they make nice fall centerpieces in a cornucopia.

The answer is in the stem. All pumpkin stems are prickly, rigid and angular, not like the soft round stems of the squash. Gourds are ornamental squash with hard shells and not much for eating.

Dried, they make great centerpieces and decorations in the fall.

As a child, my family used a large, dried, scooped out gourd as a spoon from which to drink well water. Large dried gourds have been fitted for banjos.

Squash are perfect for roasting, soups, dicing, pureeing and all-around good eating. Crack open, scoop out the seeds, viola, a tasty food to bake. Winter squash is mild in flavor, full of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Pumpkins are both ornamental and edible. The mini ones are best dried for displays, the medium ones make great soup bowls and the larger ones make jack-o-lanterns or are cut up and cooked for pies.

Do not refrigerate pumpkins, that is too moist for them. Store in a dry, cool, dark place. Use for fall decorations, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Plan ahead, be ready when the season arrives. If pumpkin pie lattes are coming, can fall be far behind?

July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. Every month in 2019 has been hotter than normal.

Climate change, largely caused by emissions from industry, cars, animal sources, and other sources, has raised the average temperatures by about 1.8 degrees, with the temperatures over land and the Arctic.

The last five years are the warmest since reliable records started being kept in 1880. Nine of the top 10 have occurred since 2005. Wonder how this August will compare.

India has decided to help by planting 220 million trees in a single day. The trees were planted in the country's most populous state, northern Uttar Pradesh with more than 200 million people. Scientists say planting a trillion trees globally could be the single most effective way to fight climate change.

Many parts of the world are cutting them down, causing a major concern. The need for land to grow food to feed our masses is overcoming us. A worldwide planting initiative could remove a substantial portion of heat-trapping emissions. Halting deforestation and reducing animal agriculture would provide immediate benefits.

Remember to plant a tree and thank it.

Joyce Comingore is a Master Gardener, hibiscus enthusiast and member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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